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“Live the Robinson Crusoe Dream”
Review of Banda Island

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Banda Island
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Live the Robinson Crusoe Dream”
Reviewed May 26, 2013

Absolutely love it at Banda - I've now been twice. Andy has been a fantastic host; couldn't have asked for more. The island is unspoilt and beautiful. Its by no means luxury but for those who don't mind basic living this is Lake Victoria's version of paradise. Food was great too; included for $30 a night makes it super good value.

Call Andy ahead to see if you can help picking up some provisions. The ride over is a bit of a schlep but its worth it. I'd suggest two nights minimum to make the journey worthwhile.

Go & enjoy!

Room Tip: The 'Lazy Camper' tents beat the Bandas for me
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank Dan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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101 reviews from our community

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English first
Kampala
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed April 8, 2013

If you read this review, read it all of it!

So, how do I start this review? I have found Banda Island through this page and was directly hooked by the positive reviews and the promises of finding a paradise to get out of hectic Kampala. And I must say the promises were right. In my review I would like to focus on the potential this place has and how some people might give it a non-positive rating.

I would say that Banda Island and your experience is all about what you expect. As mentioned in some reviews the place is a bit run-down and needs some effort to get renovated. But for me, with the background the island and its ownership has, the place was absolutely perfect. The cottages and beds might not be in a great condition and here and there you will find a bit of dirt and garbage, but keep in mind that Andrew (an Australian who manages the place) only recently took over. Grab yourself a garbage bag while you explore the island and help cleaning up a little bit. If you expect any luxury (luxury in terms of its traditional meaning) you are wrong on Banda Island. If you expect a great African experience, from getting there, through staying there and talk to someone who truly knows the African culture and is committed to bring some change, you are absolutely right.

Andrew took over the place about a year ago and there are two reasons why his ideas and visions are not progressing as fast as he wants to. First, Andrew has toooo many great ideas, from making the island completely self-sustainable to building a school and water purification system for the islands village of around 200 people. Second, there just is no money. Not enough travelers and really low-budget accommodation don`t bring in enough money to turn the visions into reality.

Some features of Banda Island:
- An incredible clear sky and beautiful view of the stars
- The most probably biggest Backgammon table in the world
- 5 very lovely dogs, that sneak into your room when it rains
- A night concert that reminds you of the loneliness of that place
- A Hippo, called Herbier, that you can spot during the night if you are lucky
- An authentic boat ride to the island, filled with locals that are happy to see you
- The onsite fishing village, where you can stumble around and play some pool with the locals
- Silence
- Lake flies, when coming over in billions; make a sound you have never heard before
- Great food! Local Nile Perch fish and chips, Special Rolex for brekkies, Fish and Veggie Samosas, Tasty Bolognese (and that’s only what I had within two days)
- Did I mention that food is included in the rate of 30 USD per night??
- And well, it’s a frekkin Island!
- Beers go at 4000 UGX, which you won’t find in most bars in Kampala
- NO Electricity and Internet. If you really want to and have to (but you shouldn`t), there are some solar panels at the Islands castle where you can charge your phone/laptop/... and also access the Internet.
- A hot water shower. Although not necessary for me, water is heated the traditional way with wood and you have an outside shower, of which the head is a tin can with holes. Absolutely cool!

I hope I could convince you to give this place a try and make your own picture about it. Because when I read the bad comments here, especially about the manager Andrew, I have not a single clue where they are coming from.

By the way, Andrew is always looking for volunteers and if I wouldn`t have my great current job I would love to live there for a while.

Photos to follow!

Room Tip: Slept in the cottage, where you feel like you are lying in the forest. For someone who doesn`t enjoy...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Larnsce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Virginia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed March 25, 2013

I spent a wonderful 3 days at Banda Island, enjoying the quiet, the views of the lake and watching all the amazing birds (never got to see the hippos or the crocodile...guess i need to come back for that!) Andrew was an excellent host and made me feel at home. The food was quite delicious-especially the fish. The boat ride over from mainland (I recommend going with Vince) was enjoyable as well. If you are looking for rest and relaxation in a beautiful spot on Lake Victoria, with basic amenities and good price, I highly recommend Banda island.

Room Tip: i stayed in one of the "beach cottages" for 10usd more per night. very basic room, the ni...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank andrea4peace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nijmegen
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed February 27, 2013

After a roundtrip through Uganda, my friends and I had a very good stay at Banda Island Resort the last days of our holiday. It was a heart-warming experience, full of wildlife at the front door of our cottage!

Although our travelling plan towards the island was challenging and ran out of schedule all the time, we were assisted and guided by Petra and Andrew who stayed very patient with us. We were happy that Andrew and Vince (the boatman) were waiting for us at Lutoboka as sun was setting by the time we arrived. They took us to the island where a nice fire was made on the beach to welcome us. Andrew promised and rewarded us with warm showers and cold beers, which obviously was 100% spot on by the time we arrived. Andrew was a very pleasant host: present when needed but not intrusive at all. He is a nice animator in any case.

The Banda spot is beautiful, a nice garden alongside the beach, the cottages basic but clean and comfortable and absolutely stunning at sunrise. The best of Banda is the wildlife at the beach; pied kingfishers, ibis, aigrettes, otters, iguanas, fish eagles, weaverbirds, cormorants, hawks and many more. At night the lamps and silence of the fishermen at the lake are unearthly. You can sit in front of your cottage just only watching. Recommended!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Norbert M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
32 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
Reviewed February 1, 2013

I really struggled writing this review. On the positive side, the island is in a beautiful spot and is very secluded. The food is good, and it's a nice place to relax. Petra was wonderful in helping to organise transport to Banda.

However, two things really pulled down my experience of Banda. The first was the attitude of the current manager, whose sexist and racist remarks made me feel extremely uncomfortable, and it wasn't the odd infrequent comment, but a steady stream of discussion against women and Ugandans. When I was reading reviews before I went to Banda I noticed that someone else had also written about this manager, and I ignored those comments because so many other reviews were positive. More fool me. It significantly affected my experience on the island, and as the only guest for 3 of the 4 days I was there, made me feel very uncomfortable. The other thing which made me lower the score here was that the whole place feels a bit unloved: the rooms arent often cleaned and are covered in cobwebs and bits of bat poo, the bathrooms are the same, with no soap and infrequent cleaning. The whole place just feels a bit neglected, and could do with a bit more attention to detail.

I would probably go back if there was a new manager in place, but dont think I can recommend it otherwise, which is a shame as it has great potential.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Julia S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kampala
1 review
Reviewed November 14, 2012

Such a wonderful place! I spent a long weekend on the island and really enjoyed myself: beautiful landscape, exciting flora/fauna, nice people, excellent food, I highly recommend it! Banda Island really deserves a 2-nights trip minimum!

Blaise

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank BlaisePG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
36 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed October 2, 2012

Banda Island makes for a wonderfully relaxing spot for either backpackers who want to get a nice tan and stop moving around for a while or busy people wanting to blow off some steam.

Our adventure began at Kasenyi, being brought on board on a porter's shoulder (to stay clear from bilarzia) is awesome, after that there is about 1h30 by boat.

At first we were a bit put off by the cottages, we had pre-conceived idea about the place and did not think it would be as rustic (no private toilets for cottage), but now I think that the "raw" feeling of the place enhances it's charm. Perhaps next time we will try the dorm or tents wich seemed really comfy.

The pebble beach is nice, although it could use a clean up for the cigarette butts, the bar/dining room is awesome, the volleyball net near the lake makes for some wet volleyball (which is good because the sun is intense). I learned to play backgammon on their absolutely brilliant backgammon table. The bonfire at night is awesome.

If you want something to drink, you just go and get it and check your name... the paying part is managed in the end, no hassle. The food is fully inclusive and good.

The manager, Andrew, knows how to entertain without being pushy or needy, the dogs are amazing and not threatening at all.

Cell reception is not that bad if you call from the Castle.

My girlfriend and I stayed from Friday to Sunday for my birthday and we needed a break from work. We came back relaxed, with a great tan, heads full of nice souvenirs and a small hangover :).

Room Tip: The cottage are a little bit expensive for the amenities they offer, no private toilets, just comfor...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank David M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Banda Island

Property: Banda Island
Address: Banda Island | Ssese Islands, Uganda
Location: Uganda > Central Region > Ssese Islands
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 9 Specialty Lodging in Ssese Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Banda Island, the hidden gem of the Ssese Islands archipelago, is a beautiful place with the most amazing sunsets. Peace and tranquility are at the top of the list, with amazing staff and management making sure nothing detracts. For the adventurous at heart, there is water skiing, wake boarding and a small Laser yacht. We also offer fishing, boat trips, nature walks and have a beach volleyball net waiting for you. In the evening we light a bonfire on the beach so you can watch the lights of the fisherman on the lake. Above all, you can be assured that the people you meet there are friendly and like minded travelers, there to simply enjoy a piece of paradise. And .... Our food is great! ... more   less 

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