The most popular route to the islands is through Nakiwogo at Entebbe. MV Kalangala is the main gateway to the archipelago. It departs Nakiwogo at exactly 0200pm and arrives at Lutoboka on Bugala Island at 1730.
First class seats are at 14,000/= per person and second class are at 10,000/=. Saloon cars are transported at 50,000/= inclusive of the driver. SUVs are at 70,000/= and larger trucks and buses are at 100,000/=. The number of vehicles that may be carried is limited depending on size but about 9 vehicles can be accommodated.
It is recommended that one gets to the landing site at least 2 hours before departure especially if they have a vehicle. The service is on “first come first served” basis unless one made a prior booking and payment with management. The ferry service is currently operated by Nation Oil Distributors (NODL) (+256 702 455851)
There is now a new service by a luxury boat, MV Vanessa, which leaves the Waterfront Club (near Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre (formerly Zoo) at 1600 on Fridays only and returns on Sundays at 1400. This takes just over one hour to get to Kalangala. Price is 35,000/= per person. The MV Vanessa is operated by Nyanza Evergreen Waterways. You can book or make a reservation by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +256 774 034362/ +256 752 371 829 or +256 78 275 187.
The other route is through Bukakata in Masaka. There is a free ferry that links Bukakata to Luku (Bugoma) on Bugala Island. Bukakata is about 35 km east of Masaka town and the road is currently being upgraded to bitumen standards.
This is particularly appropriate for people travelling back from western Uganda and wish to take a detour through Kalangala. The ferry sails several times a day to and and from Bukakata which is about 40minutes of sailing. The schedule is 0700, 0800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1500, 1600 and 1800h Mondays to Saturdays and 0800, 1000, 1400 and 1600h on Sundays. The distance from Luku to Kalangala town is about 32 km. The ferries are operated by Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS) (+256 788 166887).
The more adventurous types can hire various types of boats from wooden canoes to fiberglass speedboats.
There is a helipad close to Philo Leisure Gardens for the affluent who wish to charter a helicopter from Kajjansi or Entebbe!
Kalangala is one of the ….districts in Uganda. It is made up of 84 islands surrounded by the waters of Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world. The islands were originally known as Ssese Islands. The shape of the District is unique – a square shape – covering a total area of 9,066.8 sq.km. The land area covers 454.8 sq.km representing only 5% of the total area of the District, while area under water is 8,612 sq.km (95%). The perimeter of the District is 387 kilometres long. The islands occupy the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria in the southern part of Uganda lying between Latitude 010’ South and 100’ South, and, Longitude 3201’ East and 3252’ East. The district is bordered by districts of Masaka and Rakai to the west, Mpigi and Wakiso to the north, Mukono to the east, and by the Republic of Tanzania to the south.
The largest island is Bugala and it has the headquarters of the district at Kalangala, from which the district name is derived. This district capital also lies at the highest point in the district at 1,552m a.s.l. The lowest points in the district are at the level of Lake Victoria at 1,460m a.s.l. This archipelago, called the Bugala Group is separated from another one to the east, the Koome Group by the Koome Channel.
Originally, almost half of the total land area was covered by tropical high forest, the bulk of which was on privately owned land. Over the years, this has declined as a result of human activities, the most significant of which was the development of an oil palm industry; in which the private sector run core plantation is augmented by hundreds of individual private out-growers. At that time logging was a significant economic activity, particularly as supplies on the main land dried out. Being islands, another major economic activity is fishing. However, in recent years, as a result of a poorly regulated fishery industry, the lake has been overfished and it took central government intervention to halt most fishing malpractices. The fishery is showing signs of recovery.
The original inhabitants of the islands are called Bassese, an ethnic group closely related to Baganda and Basoga. Lussese is their language but it is currently little known by the existing inhabitants due to the gradual assimilation over centuries by Baganda. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the islands were an important spiritual centre in the region and several Buganda clans have attachments to Ssese. One of the distinctive characteristic of Bassese is their love for “essiinya (amasiinya-pl.)”, a fatty and protein rich beetle larva found originally in raphia palm trees but currently boring into oil palm trees as well. Visitors are always welcome to try out this local delicacy when it is in season. The abundant lake flies also used to be harvested and dried to form another protein rich sauce but this practice has gradually declined.
Because of the attraction of the various economic activities, particularly fishing, Kalangala is now a largely multi-ethnic district although Baganda/Bassese are still the dominant tribe.
Philo Leisure Gardens is a family partnership established in 2017; which in the medium to long term is expected to grow into a company limited by guarantee.
The partners are Dr. Pantaleon M.B. Kasoma and Mrs. Dorothy Kasoma. Dr. Kasoma is a retired Associate Professor of environmental and natural resources studies and till 2018, Country Director of the Jane Goodall Institute, a conservation organization, in Uganda. He is passionate about nature hence his interest in the hospitality industry based on the living environment. Dorothy is a retired banker with a special interest in nature and human development, both spiritual and physical.
Philo Leisure Gardens’ slogan is “Rhythms of Nature” to reflect the setting that any visitor will encounter at the premises. It is a serene setting curtained on the western side by the natural Lutoboka forest at the edge of the town.
The forest is home to a multitude of monkeys and a variety of bird species, which regard the garden full of beautiful trees and flowers as a natural extension of the forest.
To ensure the proper day to day functioning of the facility, there is a General Manager overseeing a Sales Manager and hospitality as well as several support staff.