Entebbe is a city built on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda.
The city is the location of Uganda's international airport. The drive to or from Kampala is about at least a 90 minute one and can take 2 hours, the new Expressway is nearing completion and then it should be only 20 to 30 minutes to the outer ring road. The United Nations uses Entebbe as its Sub-Sahara base, depot and staging area for their vehicles and heavy equipment that are part of peace keeping and other missions in the central African region. Entebbe offers a relaxed stop-over alternative to Kampala on your way into or out of the country by airplane, as the air is clean, the streets are safe to walk, and the old Botanical (colonial) gardens and parks with the lake in the background make for a serene atmosphere. Far too many people rush through Entebbe and don't realise what a great place it is to visit and live.
Entebbe is perhaps most famous for an Israeli commando raid on July 4 1976, when over one hundred mainly Jewish hostages held on a hijacked Air France plane were rescued. The rescue was complicated by the fact that the then Ugandan president, Idi Amin, was supporting the hijackers. Over 40 Ugandan troops were killed by the Israelis during the rescue.
State House, the official residence of the President of Uganda, is on a hill overlooking the center of Entebbe, the original house on the site was the Governors Residence which was previously on the site of the Lake Victoria Hotel.
Entebbe is an easy stop if you just landed at the airport. But there are no tour operators that can organize your trip to Jinja or one of the National Parks, you must go to Kampala for that.
Entebbe airport is Uganda's major gateway and is served by several African and international airlines. As of 2018 there were daily flights from Addis Ababa with Ethiopian, from Cairo with Egyptair, from Dubai on Emirates, from Istanbul with Turkish and from Johannesburg with South African. British Airways stopped flying in in about October 2016, Brussels Airlines and KLM have several flights weekly. Kenya Airlines flies in more than once a day from Nairobi.
To get to Entebbe from the rest of Uganda will usually involve passing through Kampala. Small minibuses go to Entebbe from Kampala every few minutes or so. The fee is UGX 3000 (USD1) but for foreigners sometimes the driver will ask more so haggle. The journey itself takes from 1 hour to 4-6 depending on when you decide to travel, never leave after 4 if you want a reasonable journey time! it is hard to avoid Kampala's chaotic traffic and rush hours are especially bad. You can take the minibus in the minibus station near to the Kampala central market, look for signs of nearly every destination is served.
Boda-boda (Motorcycle Taxi) is the easiest choice to go around on, costing from 1000 Ugx upwards. But beware ss boda-boda accidents are one of the most common medical concerns in Uganda! Statistically killing more people than Malaria. Take a Taxi (Matatu) or hiring a private taxi from a trusted source (decent hotel, friend, or colleague recommendation) is wiser.
A good rule of thumb is approx 1500 shillings per mile.
- Entebbe Wildlife Centre (Zoo) - If you don't have a safari planned, then this might be your opportunity to catch a glimpse of Africa's wildlife. The zoo (formally known as Uganda Wildlife Educational Center) has a medium-size collection of wildlife saved from captivity, orphaned or injured including lions, rhinos, zebras, crocs, giraffes, hyenas, chimpanzee and others. All animals are held in large, natural-like areas that give a nice semi-authentic feeling. Admission for foreign adult is 30k Shillings (about $12) and you end up with 1.5-2 hours of good-old fun. TIP: The zoo opens daily at 9am and it is advised to come early before the animals go hiding in the shade from the mid-day sun.
- The Botanical Gardens - while not spectacular, the gardens are of interest to botanists and bird-watchers. They host stands of large trees in a parklike setting, a historical filming site of a Johnnie Weissmuller "Tarzan" movie, a troop of colobus and vervet monkeys, and various birds. The unofficial guides at the gardens will try hard (for Uganda) to get you to engage them for a fee (they will all claim to be University students studying some tourism related degree), you do not have to employ them but they do usually add to the experience. Ensure you agree a fee before the start of the tour.
- Reptile Park - This is a small privately locally owned park with a variety of reptiles in captivity, you may not like the sound of captive creatures but the owners encourage locals to bring them live captured snakes instead of killing them. The owners will also come and catch snakes that may be causing a nuisance in the locality.
- Entebbe Market - This is held on a Saturday on land near the Mayors park as you enter Entebbe proper, this is a lively and colourful place to visit and for the avid bargain hunter many items can be found from Gucci handbags to Jimmy Choo shoes and I don't mean fakes. The vendors buy bundles of whatever it is they specialise in selling that have been sourced in Europe etc and sorted and packed in containers. So you may well see one of your old shirts for sale that you gave to charity as you no longer felt you wanted it. Unfortunately one of the downsides of Europe/USA etc charitable giving is that there is little demand for locally made clothing products as the imports are so cheap. Some African countries are now banning these imports to encourage a local manufacturing and tailoring industry.
- Boat trips - on Lake Victoria. These include fishing trips with Wild-frontiers and a visit to see the chimpanzees on Ngamba island, or a romantic sunset cruise also with Wild-frontiers. You can also go to the Botanical Garden, a great place to have bird watching or enjoy fresh fish by the shores of the second largest lake in the world.
- Golf - Entebbe boasts East Africa's oldest golf course, originally laid down in 1901 as a 9 hole course just in land from the lake. The British Protectorate of Uganda was a part of the British Empire from 1894 to 1962. However the first European Anglican missionaries to Uganda arrived in June 1877. So basically once British Governance began formally it took only 7 years for them to realise a golf course was essential! I for one am very grateful they did as Entebbe now has a magnificent 18 hole championship course of 6784 yards and a par of 71 but SSS should if applied be 72. The club members planned and laid out the 2nd nine in 2000-2001 to celebrate the clubs centenary, With members paying for the work from their own pockets and planning each hole as they wanted it to be, all in all its a real test of golf.
Beware of your drive down the 3rd from an elevated tee with lovely lake views you may just end up visiting the Rhino enclosure of UWEC which part of the course shares boundaries with. Beautiful Colobus monkeys can regularly be seen playing in the trees along with sometimes a hundred or so Vervet monkeys roaming the fairways. One member found to his cost that bananas in a golf bag are not a great idea as the monkeys took them out along with his phone which they also tried to eat.
Fresh fruits and wonderful vegetables are widely available from small entrepreneurial shops wherever you are along with samosas and Uganda's own 'Rolex' which is a chapati with an omelette inside it with fresh onion and tomatoes. They are made fresh while you wait and cost just 2000 Ugx and provide a filling snack. Ugandans are the most entrepreneurial people in the world according to a recent survey and the sheer number of little stalls and shops, many in containers adapted for the purpose indicate they are probably correct.
Curios are widely available but don't pay the first price asked and be prepared to walk away if your not happy with the price. Entebbe has a lot of curio shops and they basically sell the same goods, local artists are currently (2018) focussing on producing very 1970-ish psychedelic paintings of lions, elephants etc.
- 4 Points, Kampala Road, (By the airport and Pearls supermarket). Great Indian food, good atmosphere cheap beer. Has a bar with a pool table, and expats are welcome. Mid. edit
- The Gately, Kampala Road. Thai inspired menu. Open for breakfast, and is the only "English" breakfast other then the Boma (need reservations. Friendly atmosphere and warm, oddly quick, service. edit
- China Garden, Kampala Road (Across the street from the war monument). Every town has a Chinese restaurant. The food is good, and its all outdoors so watch the weather. edit
- Goretties Pizza, Lake Victoria. A good pizza by the lake. Service is VERY slow, so plan on having a few drinks. Beautiful scenery, sand in your toes kind of place. Don't go around dusk unless you don't mind being eaten while you eat. edit
- Nickey's Pizza, Kampala Road (Beside the mosque). Wood fired, clay oven pizza. Indoor and outdoor seating. Slot machines and a pool table. Good service and good pizza. edit
- Faze 3. New place in town. Great Deck, overlooks the lake. Good assortment of western and Indian foods. Try the daily pot pie. Great coffee end excellent fruit shakes! edit
- Boma Guesthouse, Julia Sebutinde Road, ph: +256(0)772 467929, (email:) They have excellent food, good service, and a friendly atmosphere. from $147 a night.
- Karibu, Just 10 minutes from Entebbe Airport, we are a boutique hotel set in a former presidential residence. Catering to a small number of guests at any one time, we offer a high level of personalised service, quality food, 24 hour reception, relaxing swimming pool and a comfortable sleep. Whether your visit to Entebbe is for business or pleasure, you’ll feel at home with us. Single room from $129
- Carpe Diem, Carpe Diem Guest house has 4 luxury rooms, all with ensuite bathrooms.
The rooms are finished to a high standard and promise of a good night’s sleep is given. Each room can be made into a single, twin or double room.The Guest house is located on a hill with perfect views of the lake. Single room from $85
- Entebbe Travellers Inn, Portal Road (center of Entebbe on the Kampala road), ☎ 0414 321 946 ([email protected]), . $80 for a single. edit
- Banana Village Eco Resort, off Garuga Road (12 Kilometers from Entebbe Town, off at the Garuga stage and 25 Kilometers from Kampala city center), ☎ +256 772 509692 ([email protected]). checkin: 11:00am; checkout: 10:00am. edit
- Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, (bottom of Lugard Avenue), ☎ +256 (0)414 311400 ([email protected]), . checkout: 10:00. A large hotel on land allegedly originally grabbed from the Botanical Gardens by someone with political clout. Mainly used for conferences and functions and there are many large meeting rooms dotted around the grounds. Can get rather depressing when no meetings are in progress as it is very quiet and the service somewhat lacking. The "beach" is very small and swimming is forbidden but, in compensation, there is an enormous swimming pool. Bill Clinton stayed here and you can stay in his suite for a nightly rate of $1750 according to the web site. Ordinary rooms are of a good three-star standard but you may have to call maintenance once or twice! Around $100. Prices quoted on the website start at $265 however but the room quality certainly does not justify such prices. edit
- Laico Lake Victoria Hotel (Libya Hotel), 9 Circular Road (on the Kampala-Entebbe Airport road near the center of Entebbe town), ☎ +256 312 310 100 ([email protected]), . 4-star hotel bordering the golf course. All the usual facilities. edit
- Thames Hotel (Thames Hotel Entebbe), Entebbe (17 Mile Entebbe Road Off Mpala Trading Centre), ☎ +256 (0)702 358534 ([email protected]), . Thames Hotel offers all guest a free two way airport transport and the have excellent food, good service, clear rooms, free wi-fi (wireless internet) access and a friendly atmosphere. From $50 for a Single Room. edit
- Alison & Dave's Guesthouse, Buwaya View Rd (10 minutes from the airport), ☎ +256 777526772, . small 4 bedroom family friendly guesthouse is run not surprisingly by Alison & Dave. An English couple who moved to Entebbe in 2012, Dave grew up in Uganda in the 60s and 70s and following a career in the UK as an Engineer and teacher brought Alison to live here in Uganda. Alison volunteers and manages a local school that teaches both the Cambridge curriculum and the Uganda National curriculum. They have 2 double rooms and a twin room all in the main house with ensuites and working HOT showers. Their cheaper option is the 'Cottage' with bunk beds and and external but private, cold shower. Prices range from $40 to $70 a night with a delicious breakfast of eggs, fresh fruit, jam & toast. Enjoy the magnificent African sunsets from their roof terrace with lovely views out over Lake Victoria while sharing a cold beer or tasty Ugandan gin and tonic with them. Dave can organise your Safari to any part of Uganda with safe and secure drivers and ensure that you get the best rates and experiences available. High end or budget Dave can plan and organise a trip of a lifetime for you. From $50 for a Single Room. edit
- Matatus (mini busses) run from the Entebbe Taxi Park frequently throughout the day. Locals will tell you that you can't do it or it's not safe, but really, they are trying to get you to pay for a taxi - Which is, admittedly safer, faster, and more comfortable. To Kampala its 3000 +/-. 2-3 hrs.
- Private taxi service to Kampala is roughly 100,000 shillings.
- Private taxi service to Jinja can be booked through any hotel for around $80.
- A minibus company called Pineapple Express advertises a Entebbe-Kampala-Jinja service for reasonable prices.