So February half term was upon us and we had organised to go to Rubondo Island, Tanzania’s smallest National Park, with 3 other families: in total there were 13: us, a family of four and the four Long’s in our car and the three Hughes plus two in another car–– and possibly the hardest to get to – only two ways to get there: by car and boats(!) or fly. The latter was too expensive so we were up at 5.30am to be at the ferry before 6.30a.m. No pre-booking for this ferry meant we had to wait for the first one with space. We had an hour wait and then we were on our way for the 40 minute crossing of the Mwanza Gulf.
Once on the other side it was a 35km journey on a rough dirt road, then 60km on a proper road and then another 56km of dirt roads. Got to our boat at noon, loaded the bags and headed north across the Emin Pasha Gulf for an hour and a half arriving at Rubondo: first impression approaching it from the water was stunning: lush vegetation, a small beach and some tiny little bandas (small chalet/bungalow). After taking about 6 hours in total to get there we simply lazed about in the afternoon. We could see hippos in the tiny bay and hundreds of different types of butterflies. We were told that we weren’t allowed to leave the area due to hippos and crocodiles – this would become very apparent later.
It went dark about 7.30 and we could hear the hippos in the bay. They seemed to be getting much closer. One of the guards then came to tell us that the hippos were coming out of the water onto the beach right in front of us. We all came out to look and saw about 4 hippos on the beach – one was huge – sadly the light was poor, even with flashes, so none of the pictures really came out clearly. After the excitement of seeing hippos a few feet from us it was early to bed as we had to be up at 7am ready for our walking safari.