Where Entebbe fits in a Ugandan adventure
Your Ugandan adventure will begin and end at Entebbe International Airport. However, Entebbe is not the focal point of your adventure, and this will be reflected in the amount of time that you spend here. There's just too much to do in the countryside beyond.
Your visit to Entebbe will most likely last for a half-day or day whilst you wait for transport to your next destination.
Entebbe is a great place to stretch your legs after a long flight. You can do this at Mabamba Swamp, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, or the Entebbe Botanical Garden.
Where is Entebbe?
Entebbe is a small city of around 70,000 people located on the shores of Lake Victoria, 40 km south of Kampala.
Entebbe is often the start and finish point of a trip to Uganda, and it has clean air and relatively safe streets.
History of Entebbe
Colonial History of Entebbe
Prior to European influence in Uganda, Entebbe was the centre of the Bugandan Mugala clan and had little wider importance. Things began to change when the first Europeans arrived in 1879, a gang of hardy French missionaries, washed ashore after a horrendous 300km boat journey across Lake Victoria from Kisumu in what is now Tanzania.
The settlement grew quickly when the East African Railway arrived in Kisumu in 1901, linking with the nascent steamship service across the lake and simplifying the journey from the East African coast considerably.
Entebbe was made the seat of government for the British Protectorate, sealing its position as the most important town, but that was to change in the 1930s when the railway reached Kampala, making the historical capital the centre of industrial production.
Entebbe’s fortunes began to wane, but it received unexpected support in the aftermath of the Second World War with the arrival of international flights and the creation of the airport in 1951.
However, upon independence in 1962, the new government made Kampala the formal seat of government for Uganda.
Although some government ministries and State House remained, Entebbe lost the tussle for pre-eminence with Kampala and settled into its semi-retirement, content to welcome visitors and not much more.
The Entebbe Raid
Entebbe is infamous for the Entebbe Raid of 1976, when Israeli paratroopers completed an audacious rescue of the passengers of a hi-jacked Air France flight that had been diverted to Entebbe.
The events are depicted in the 2018 film, 7 Days in Entebbe.
The hulk of the aircraft remains, a curious testament to a troubled time.
The journey from Entebbe to Kampala used to be arduous. However, the opening of the 51km Entebbe-Kampala Expressway has greatly improved the journey.
What to do in Entebbe
12km west of Entebbe lies the Mabamba Swamp, a Ramsar Site and Important Bird Area that is an excellent place to see the famous shoebill stork.
A road transfer will take you to the village of Mabamba, where a local boatman will take you out in local dugout canoes to look for the famous Shoebill.
This is a lovely half day excursion
that works well when you have a few hours between flights.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
Opened in 1952, this animal orphanage is a sanctuary for animals that are unable to survive in the wild. It is also an important base for conservation work in Uganda.
A standard visit allows you to see lions, two re-introduced black rhinos, and the aviary.
There is also a 2 hour ‘behind the scenes’ tour which provides insight into how the centre cares for its animals. This tour allows animal lovers to get closer to the lions and elephants.
Entebbe Botanical Garden
Established in 1898, the Botanical Garden is the perfect place to stretch your legs between arrival and a later internal flight, or for a short excursion.
The gardens contain a rich variety of plants of the tropical, sub-tropical and temperate zones. There is a captivating blend of indigenous forest, cultivation, and horticulture.
The gardens contain a strong bird population, including the palm nut vulture, the red-chested sunbird, and the giant kingfisher.
The gardens are also home to several primates, including the black-and-white colobus and the white-tailed monkey.
Where to stay in Entebbe
The Protea Hotel Entebbe
One of the best bits about Entebbe is that none of the accommodation options are far from the airport, making arrival and departure easy.
Located next to the airport, the Protea Hotel Entebbe is a luxury 4-star resort hotel which provides excellent access to the airport.
Its restaurant offers a delicious à la carte menu and its speciality dishes are Tilapia and Nile Perch.
The Tides Spa offers a range of beauty and massage treatments, and it is the perfect place to relax at the end of your Ugandan adventure.
Entebbe is best known for its small and characterful guesthouses and our favourite is Karibu Guesthouse.
The charming boutique hotel is situated in a former presidential residence, just ten minutes from Entebbe International Airport.
Catering for a small number of guests, Karibu’s team of highly dedicated staff strive to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The hotel offers bespoke accommodation, and its eight en-suite rooms have unique designs.
The main house maximises its stunning surroundings and its rooms have a spectacular view of Lake Victoria’s sapphire waters.
The Boma Hotel
The Boma provides a warm and homely welcome, with comfortable rooms, a lovely garden and excellent food.
If you like small lodges on safari, then The Boma will be perfect for you.
The staff provide a great service, and always go the extra mile to ensure you have a comfortable stay.
The Lake Victoria Serena Hotel
The Lake Victoria Serena Hotel is a large, beautifully designed resort hotel in between Entebbe and Kampala. It is the only luxury accommodation available in Entebbe.
Overlooking the crystal waters of Lake Victoria, it is a great place to relax lakeside before at the start or end of your adventure.
Home to Uganda’s finest championship golf course, the hotel also offers a boating marina, an outdoor pool, and a spa.
Getting to Entebbe
By Plane: Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s main international airport, and there are flights from Dubai with Emirates, Amsterdam with KLM, and Brussels with Brussels Airlines.
By Road: Most journeys will involve travelling via Kampala. The Entebbe-Kampala Expressway has made the journey far easier. Small minibuses go from Kampala to Entebbe every half hour. If you book with us, all transport will be arranged for you.
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