The Musambwa Island Where Men Live with Snakes but Not Women


The Musambwa Islands located somewhere on Lake Victoria (the largest freshwater lake in Africa) is a very unique place where you will not find a single woman. This is a very surprising and unique thing because all over the world it’s known that there are more women than men. In fact this is one among the very few communities on the African continent with no women. The island is about five kilometers off the Landing site at Kasensero on the lake.

So Who Lives on this Island?

This community is comprised of approximately one hundred (100) people. On this island you will be amazed how the people peacefully live with the numerous snakes and birds found here. It’s a great place for a bird-watching-tour were you will have an opportunity to see some of the rare bird species found in Uganda, you will see thousands and thousands of birds just on a single visit.

Women are also not allowed to visit let alone go near this island as a way from protecting these men from getting any sexual temptation. On this unique place which is worth visiting on your Safari in Uganda, the residents believe that the ‘spirits’ which present in form of the snakes are actually the owners of this island.  According to the testimony of a one Emmanuel Kaberenge one of the very first settlers here who reached the island back in 1964, he found only four (4) people residing on this island who informed him of what should and shouldn’t be done on this Island and advised him to pass these to the generations to come.

The Myths about the Musambwa Island

According to the myths of this island, once two spirits (misambwa) a male and female were on Lake Victoria and these however separated each of them occupying an independent island. It’s alleged that the female spirit occupied a smaller unoccupied island while the male occupied the bigger busier island. Both of these ‘spirits’ hated women so in an effort to please them, the early residents of these islands decided that they would never have sex on the islands and women were not allowed to ever visit these islands. These traditions have since then been passed down the generations to date.

The early tales say that one time some resident had sex while on the island; that angered the ‘spirit’ Musambwa which in turn acted brutally.  The lake turned wild; there were rough storms which washed down houses and trees and the strong winds raised a heavy cloud of dust. Its further said that that ‘spirit’ Musambwa took possession of the woman who was involved in the sexual act and belong long she started speaking in a strange way and even pointed out the man she was involved with. After a meeting by the elders, it was jointly decided and these two were chased from the island.

What is Unique about this Island

This is the only Island, where you will find man peacefully co-existence with several species of reptiles particularly snakes. These are commonly seen in people’s houses as well as even sharing beds with men. Some of the commonly seen types of snakes on the island are: cobras, vipers as well as the African rock-pythons.

Secondly, this Island is a breeding ground to a large number of different birds such as the Grey Headed Gull, Yellow-billed Duck, Long-Tailed Cormorant, Pink-backed Pelican, Little Egret, Herring Gull, Common Moorhen, Greater Cormorant, Squacco Heron, Water Thick-knee, African Fish Eagle, Egyptian Goose, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, White-winged Black Tern, African Marsh Harrier, Open-Billed Stork, Pied Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Lesser Flamingo, Green-backed Heron, Black Crake, Sacred Ibis, Hamerkop, Black-headed Heron, Spur-winged Plover and the  Lesser Black-backed Gull.

As you plan to take a Safari in Uganda, this is a place that you could consider including on your itinerary to have a personal feel of the unique Island on Africa’s largest freshwater lake.


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