Both Humans and birds have found warmth at samuka Island. Photo by Dalton Wanyera

Samuka island in the eastern district of Jinja is possibly one of Uganda’s unique get-away destinations.

The island is a bird sanctuary in the middle of the vast Lake Victoria waters, a world away from the crowd.

According to the island manger, Daniel Tyler, it is inhabited by 50 species of migratory and resident birds. samuka is now one of the two known breeding sites for long- tailed cormorants and little egrets in Uganda.

The about 12 acres of unspoiled natural beauty is a bird sanctuary that offers tranquility. Besides an excellent cuisine and accommodation, the island stands proudly high resisting the wave shocks that saw its original habitants flee.

A story is told of heavy waves that tormented fishermen around this island.

Fishermen, especially from the eastern bank (Bukaya), who frequented the island regularly complained about the bubbling winds; empewo yawano esamuka. Thus the name Samuka was born.
Today, these waves are but mere tribulations to the sailors. The pleasure overshadows the tension of travelling on a swing water vessel.

The island is a place guests can relax, work and or hold private meetings in total privacy and absolute comfort. The island offers the highest standards with a vast range of luxurious rooms that have well hand-crafted beds. Outside lays a beautiful imposing water garden and a new marina.

But more to this is the newly constructed swimming pool that tails into the club house. Here you encounter all tribes of drinks, all sorts of foods (local and exotic); whole fish direct from the lake into the frying pan, Nyama choma (whole roast goat) but no whole cow yet.

How it operates
The island runs on solar. It gets water from the middle of the lake, into the treatment plant before it is sent through the faucets for use.

Still to discover was the self-reliance of the island managers.

In the back yard, a fruit garden blooms enviably. I am told all fruits deserts or starters are from the mini-all-year-garden which explains the freshness in the juice.

Our White friends love this for the beer has the fresh taste too as water moves the lake or river into the brewery then the bottle.

The bars and restaurants consume a huge concentration from the aging pensioner and a glance at the cottages immediately wins you love for the afro-artistic touch.

The only way to understand and enjoy Jinja is by experiencing the unique range of multicultural lifestyles and scenic national surroundings yourself.

Toward Samuka, you race up the rapids, if you wish, at a life threatening speed, skimming by the rocky outcrops at close range.

You at one moment twist past a thickly forested Island.

It is a place that asks people to come back because of what they experience while there. The rooms, come in double, single and family cottages fitted with television sets, water heaters and relaxing classical music outside.

Deluxe cottages are in their final stages and these come with the luxurious touch to a formerly previous primitive fishermen’s Island. A young couple on honey moon or an old one for jubilee celebrations and a corporate seminar/conference; all find a suiting environment at Samuka.

There are also outdoor activities like swimming, Chimp Island trips, Gorilla island trips, Entebbe trips Speedboat trips, Sun downer Boat Trips and fishing trips.

Travelling to Samuka Island, one takes a 10- minute speed boat ride from Rumours Pub situated at the Source of River Nile. Rumours was started as a relaxation area for the island guests.

In 1999, Daniel Tyler Jr, the son of an American missionary Daniel Tyler, identified the empty island and set out to develop it as a tourism destination.

Tyler Jr. first came to Uganda as a little boy in 1960. He went to Nakasero Primary School.
When he attended a workshop in Jinja in 1998, he said of the town, “This could be the Mombasa of Uganda”. The following year, Samuka Island started receiving visitors from near and far.

By Dalton Wanyera, Daily Monitor

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