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City Guide: Entebbe, Uganda

Located on the Lake Victoria peninsula, the town of Entebbe, Uganda is situated in Wakiso District, approximately 40km south-west of Kampala.

Before independence in 1962, Entebbe was the seat of government for the Protectorate of Uganda, under colonial rule. State House, the official residence of the President of Uganda, is located in Entebbe.

Entebbe is an attractive town right on the shore of Lake Victoria. Its main claim to fame is as the location of Uganda’s international airport. Actually, it’s best known for its laid-back atmosphere, with parks and gardens and the lake. State House, the official residence of the President, is on a hill overlooking Entebbe and Lake Victoria.

The town is only 38km away from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, where most people rush off to straight after landing. But there are lots of hotels and restaurants in Entebbe and it’s become a popular weekend retreat for many tourists.

If you need a stop-off point on the way out of Uganda, choose Entebbe rather than Kampala. It’s a lovely place to stay, and you’ll avoid Kampala’s traffic chaos when you’re trying to catch a flight.

Chimp in Kibale National Park. Image by Chris Renshaw

City Guide – Entebbe, Uganda

Getting there

SAA flies directly to Entebbe from OR Tambo International Airport seven days a week. The city is 37km from the capital, Kampala. A $100 visa is required by South African passport-holders. There are car rental agencies and taxis at the airport, and the higher end hotels run pick-up shuttles for their guests. Entebbe Airport Shuttle provides a cheaper shared shuttle service if you book online in advance.

When to go 

Uganda is on the Equator and is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, the DRC and South Sudan.

Uganda is sunny for most of the year with temperatures ranging between 26oC to 29oC. The two rainy seasons are from March to May and from November – mid-Jan. January is usually the warmest month, and August is the coolest.

Best times for tracking chimps and gorillas: During the dry seasons (June-August and January-February). For birding, visit from February-May and September-November. Uganda has over 1 000 species of birds, more than any other country in Africa.

Entebbe is often a few degrees cooler than you might expect, although summer clothes will be perfect all year round.

Language

Uganda is a multilingual country. Forty of its living indigenous languages fall into three main families—Bantu, Nilotic and Central Sudanic—with another two languages in the Kuliak family. English, inherited from the colonial period, and Swahili are official languages.

Currency & Costs

The Ugandan Shilling is the currency, and you can change money at banks and forex bureau, or withdraw cash from ATMs, which have become quite commonplace. Credit cards are also widely accepted but it may be easier to bring cash and exchange it into Ugandan shillings.

Safety tips

People walking along the roads carrying pangas are simply heading off to work in their food gardens.

Getting around

Boda-bodas, the motorcycle taxis, are the most common mode of public transport. They’re quick and cheap, but nobody mentioned safe. Matatus are the communal minibus taxis that ply pre-set routes throughout the town. Ordinary taxis, also called special hires, are readily available and are usually unmetred, so agree on the price first. Premier Safaris arranges superb itineraries and photographic safaris.

Mobile phone & Internet access 

Mobile networks have the place covered. There’s free Wifi at the airport and many of the hotels have hotspots.

Where to eat 

Faze 3: It’s close to the airport and offers wide range of international dishes.

Goretti’s Beachside Pizzeria: Sit dangling your feet in Lake Victoria while enjoying an excellent pasta or pizza.

Gately: For good meals in a garden setting.

Where to stay 

Marasa Africa offers excellent accommodation and proximity to wildlife across five lodges within national parks in Uganda. Most other accommodation is outside the national park borders.

Serena Lake Victoria: Just 20 minutes from Kampala, this golf resort and Mediterannean style marina offers luxurious accommodation.

Protea Hotel Entebbe: Close to Entebbe Airport, the golf course and the National Botanic Gardens, Protea Hotel Entebbe is a value-for-money option for both leisure and business travellers.

Boma Guest House: A popular upmarket B&B in lush gardens, close to the airport. Check out the video:

Gately Inn: An affordable boutique hotel in Entebbe, close to the main attractions and there is also a lovely restaurant on the property.

Where to go 

Entebbe Golf Club: Established in 1900, this is the oldest golf course in East Africa.

Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary: Set on an island in Lake Victoria, it’s a great alternative if you can’t get to see wild chimps in Kibale.

Mabamba Swamp: Just 28km from the city, this is a good spot to see rare shoebills. Early mornings are best and be sure to use local guides. Make contact with Premier Safaris.

Entebbe National Botanical Garden: Laid out in 1898, it has its own rainforest that is filled with birds and unique plants. There’s also an island-style pub on the lake beach.

The Ugandan Wildlife Educational Centre: Here you can feed rare Rothschild’s giraffes and walk with rescued young elephants.

Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 22km south-east of Fort Portal, offers great opportunities to see the unique wildlife of Uganda. You will be able to see chimpanzees, olive baboons and a number of monkeys, including vervet, colobus, L’Hoest’s, blue, grey-cheeked and red-tailed.

 

by Keri Harvey

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