Entebbe in Two Days

Entebbe in Two Days

(Image) Shoebill Boat Bird-watching –  by Leslie Nielsen

How to make the most of a short visit to Uganda’s gateway city!
By Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan

When people consider spending time in Entebbe, the first advice they usually receive is: “Go to the zoo!” Officially called the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) [1 on our map], “the zoo” certainly is not to be missed!

Entebbe Map Gustav Oct Dec 2022

Especially recommended is the more-expensive-but-worth-it BEHIND THE SCENES tour for up-close engagement with the magnificent animals. (Call +256 414 320 520 for times. BEHIND THE SCENES fees payable on arrival: Non-East-African: Adults $70, Kids $35. Residents: Adults $50, Kids $15. East Africans: Adults Ugx 50k, Kids Ugx 30k. Regular admission much cheaper.)

But there is even more to do in Entebbe!

Here are my top suggestions for spending two enjoyable days in this charming community by the lake.

Entebbe Za Mugula [2]

This cultural site with remarkable rock formations—between the airport and the lake—is a must-visit. Tradition says that in the 18th century—Mugula, a Muganda chief—carved a seat for himself into the rocky shore. From here, judicial hearings were held, decisions were made, and penalties were enforced. It is believed that this is where “Entebbe” gets its name—from the word for “seat” or “chair.” This is an extraordinary site in many ways.
**NOTE: Due to changing security protocols (given the proximity to the airport), allow extra time for checks, detours, and to ask folks for directions—and be prepared to be turned back. But for my money, it’s worth the try.**

The National Botanical Gardens [3]

The National Botanical Gardens are among the oldest in East Africa, dating back to 1898. There are more than 100 species of trees and plants in the vast gardens, as well as a lovely stretch of beach—and birds and monkeys, oh my! You can hire a guide, or roam freely (after paying the entrance fee), lay out a picnic, or even camp overnight in your own tent. Fees payable at the gate on arrival—cash only. (Non-East-African: Adults Ugx 20k, Students Ugx 10k. Residents [Adults or Students]: Ugx 10k. Ugandans: Adults Ugx 5k, Students Ugx 3k. Guided Tour or Camping: Ugx 10k.)

Za Mugula by Frederic Lepron
Za Mugula by Frederic Lepron
Botanical Gardens by Fr‚d‚ric Lepron
Botanical Gardens by Fr‚d‚ric Lepron

Evening Bird-Watching from a Local Fishing Boat [4]

Call Rogers at Shoebill Boat Tours, pack some cheese, crackers and a sundowner, and then hoist yourself into this vessel. Rogers is a bird enthusiast, making it a lovely-and-informative float through the reeds. (He also has life-vests and a motor, so it’s safe, and speedy when needed.) This is an authentic, “local” excursion.

Nakiwogo Landing Site. Booking ESSENTIAL: +256 785 723 338. Starting at Ugx 70k for two people. Secure parking is available at the MV Kalangala Ferry terminal for a very small fee.

Bicycle Tours

Let the fantastic guides at Gregg Uganda Tours show you Entebbe as you pedal! They have a wide-range of bike-tour options—from historical, to giving-back, and from relaxing rides to intense experiences for expert riders—and more. Most can be arranged with as little as an hour’s notice, and prices start at only $20/person. Their bikes are the quality Giant© brand, and are well-maintained. For a list of their many offerings, call or WhatsApp: +256 740 913 423. They also have a small office in the lobby of the Protea Hotel by Marriott [8].

Picnic!

At nearly 0 degrees latitude, and at almost 1,200 meters above sea-level, this is the perfect climate for a picnic—year-round. If you didn’t pack a blanket, you can easily buy a handmade mat from a street vendor, and then do some quick food shopping. Try Gorilla Conservation Café [5], across the street from Victoria mall. Their proceeds go to the protection of endangered mountain gorillas at Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and to the health of people, too. Preorder salads, burgers and more via WhatsApp: +256 786 358 081. And don’t forget a bottle of wine. There’s a great selection at Yash Supermarket [6] in Kitoro, +256 758 463 226. Then head to the Botanical Gardens or to Entebbe Za Mugula!

Pizza!

For a delightful pizza experience, visit Cinque at Hotel No. 5 [7] in Bugonga. Charming setting, excellent service. Cinque has really raised the bar for what it means to serve a “pie” in Uganda, and they’re right here in Entebbe! They also offer some vegan and gluten-free pizzas. “Foodie” dishes available in the boutique hotel’s main dining-room. +256 779 299 625, @hotelnumber5 (f i t).

Swimming!

After spending time on the Entebbe peninsula—surrounded by water—why not take a refreshing dip? The pool at the Protea Hotel by Marriot [8] is right on the lake’s majestic shores. For only Ugx 15k/adult and 10k/child, you are welcome to lounge poolside, swim, relax, and to buy food and drinks. For 35k, you have access to the gym and spa which include sauna, steam—AND the swimming pool. +256 414 323 132. Or you can visit the pool at the historic Lake Victoria Hotel [9] (opened in 1948). It is larger and has a high-dive, but is not on the lake. 25k/adult and 15k/child. +256 414 351 600. (These are also great options for spending the day before a flight out. Showers and luggage-storage available.)

UWEC by Umamah Badru
UWEC by Umamah Badru

2 Comments


  1. Robin Y

    Nathaniel, thanks for highlighting some of these little known spots. I’m saving the link for when I’m down in Entebbe next!

    Reply
  2. Ngan

    Thanks for finalⅼy talking about > Entebbe in Two Daүs ⋆ How to make the most
    of a short viѕit! ϲranes

    Reply

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