AUTHENTIC TOURS & PERSONALIZED EXCURSIONS AROUND ENTEBBE WITH AFRICANMECCA
What Attractions & Tour Activities To Experience During Your Entebbe Visit?Guests planning trips to Uganda often ask our AfricanMecca Safaris consultants whether it’s worth it to stop in Entebbe, and what there is to do there. We like to tell them that this lakeside town, which acts as the main entry point for a country once dubbed the "Pearl of Africa," is a little gem of its own, full of surprises. You’ll be struck by its relaxed pace, somewhat modernized mix of colonial and rural elements, and what feels like a lakeside island getaway experience. Throw in avian opportunities for viewing some of the most beautiful birds of Africa, and you have the perfect recipe for fun-filled relaxation and exploration. Entebbe’s distinctive eateries serve a flavorful selection of local and international cuisine. You can enjoy yourself just lazing on a beach, feeling warm breezes from the lake. And, when the mood strikes, go fishing or boating, or perhaps take a sunset cruise.
Rising from the banks of scenic Lake Victoria are the beautiful Entebbe Botanical Gardens, established more than a century ago. In addition to a fabulous collection of unique flora, the gardens are home to a wide variety of avian life, butterflies, and other insects. You might even have a chance to spot the resident monkeys. Another historic location to visit on your tour is the Entebbe Golf Course, first created in 1901. Even if you’re not a golfer, the course is worth a visit for its scenic views of the lake and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWEC).
A conservation area, the UWEC aims to educate mostly Uganda’s young people alike about the importance of preserving wildlife and their habitats. You will be able to view some of the rare species of plants, trees, and herbs, some of which have medicinal properties. The area also provides a refuge where injured and sick animals can be nursed back to health, and various rare species of animals are protected here.
Next on your travel itinerary is the Mabamba Swamp, a veritable paradise for bird lovers. A Ramsar (international treaty for protecting wetlands) site, the area hosts about 300 species of birds, including the shoebill stork—just one of many species that avid birders can spend hours viewing. While taking a boat ride through the papyrus-lined channels, you may even spot the rare sitatunga.
If you enjoy that experience, your next stop should be on one of the islands in the Ssese Archipelago, located offshore within Lake Victoria. Revel in the magnificent beauty of the lake as you cruise your way to the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Every moment of the vacation time spent with the primates on the island will be truly memorable. You’ll learn about their histories, unique personalities, and behaviors from keepers who will talk fondly about their community life and how they arrived on the island sanctuary for rehabilitation. Before leaving Entebbe and traveling on to Kampala or other parks in Uganda, take a bit of time to visit the Uganda Reptile Village. A labor of love for its local community, the small sanctuary hosts many species of snakes, one of which is the gaboon viper, one of the most deadly in Africa. You will also have the opportunity to meet tortoises, monitor lizards, and chameleons.
- Main entry point into the “Pearl of Africa” showcasing colonial and traditional African elements
- Sightings of exciting avian life that abounds on the shores of Lake Victoria
- Visiting conservation and cultural centers that give guests a tantalizing glimpse into everything that Uganda has to offer
- Safari expeditions to the Mabamba Swamp, recognized as a Ramsar Birding Site hosting around 300 species
- Spending time on the islands of the Ssese Archipelago known for their stunning beaches and natural beauty
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Our Top 8 Tour Activities In Entebbe - Things You Can Do & See
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1. Tour The Entebbe Botanic Gardens
- Conservation site for flora that thrive on the banks of Lake Victoria
- Gardens also abound with beautiful butterflies that flit amidst the flowers
- Sightings of aquatic and terrestrial birdlife
Keep an eye out for the pair of Verreaux’s eagle owls that typically hang about at the entrance to welcome vacationers, or the orange weaver and orange-tufted and red-chested sunbirds. Your assigned AfricanMecca Safaris guide is an expert on the local species and will regale you with details about them. Closer to the lake, you might spot pied kingfishers, black-headed herons, African open-billed stork, and grey-headed gull, to name just a few. Your guide will also show you the medicinal plants that are featured in one section of the gardens, as well as the lush copses of bamboo found in another.
Look carefully and you’ll see many types of flowers with colors bursting from the undergrowth, along with beautiful shrubs that are enchanting in their variety of colors and forms. And, of course, you must look out for butterflies flitting around or chameleons on branches, as well as other insects. The Entebbe Botanical Gardens also has a resident troop of lively vervet monkeys.
2. Excursion To Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center
- Originally established in the 1960s as a zoo, later converted into a conservation center housing rare species of fauna and flora including medicinal plants
- Opportunity to educate on the importance of preserving the country’s natural treasures
- Center houses more than 120 species of avian life and rehabilitation of predators, primates, and herbivores. Haven for animals rescued from poachers and illegal buyers of exotic species
The UWEC is a haven for many animals that have been rescued from poachers and illegal wildlife purchasers. Orphaned, ailing, and injured animals found in the wild also arrive at the center for treatment and rehabilitation. They live here until they are ready to be released back into their natural habitats. Rare Ugandan species are also kept here in an effort to preserve those that are remaining and breed them to increase their numbers. In addition to protecting wildlife, the center also helps educate the younger generation of Ugandans and families with children touring Uganda about the importance of conserving the nation’s wildlife treasures. A team of onsite veterinarians take care of the resident animals and carefully supervise breeding to keep the gene pool as diverse as possible.
The center offers an opportunity to view a range of birds and animals up close. Some of the more than 120 avian species you might encounter are the shoebill stork, sunbirds, great blue turaco, giant kingfisher, hammerkopf, stork-billed crane, and African fish eagle. The center also has a resident lion, cheetah, and leopard. While UWEC offers photo opportunities and interactions with these animals, AfricanMecca Safaris encourages guests to refrain from participating in these activities. Among the primates at the center, you can meet a chimpanzee as well as vervet, de braza, black and white colobus, patas, and red-tailed monkeys. There are also many herbivores at the center, including giraffes, baby elephants, rhinos, reedbucks, impalas, hartebeests, giant forest hogs, elands, bushbucks, and buffalo.
3. Support The Uganda Reptile Village Community Project
- 2 acre conservatory established in 2003 to showcase the reptilian denizens of the country
- Developed by Yasin Kazibwe (founder) as a labor of love and designed to educate people on the importance of reptiles for the ecosystem
- Located on the main Entebbe-Kampala highway. Comprises of structures on the periphery with cages and enclosures for the animals set up in the center
Today, a small rural complex is being built around this community based attraction. A fence encloses the property, which includes three concrete buildings that house some of the species, as well as an open basin that houses non-climbing species. A must-see for those touring the center is another basin that houses four varieties of tortoises. You will also find a special enclosure for five chameleons that has a tree in its center, and a good-sized pool for the crocodile that lives here. While the reptile village is relatively small, it hosts some 50 specimens from 20 species of endemic reptiles, including monitor lizards, agama lizards, geckos, skinks, boomslangs, cobras, mambas, pythons, puff adders, and gaboon vipers—the latter among Africa’s most venomous snakes, with fangs 5 cm (2 inch) long.
In developing the Uganda Reptile Village, Kazibwe hoped it would become a place to educate Ugandans and outside visitors alike about the importance of reptiles to the ecosystem, and the need to preserve and protect these sometimes feared or snubbed animals.
4. Mabamba Swamp Birding & Shoebill Viewing Safari
- Important wetlands conservation area named a Ramsar Site and Important Bird Area (IBA)
- Houses some of the 300 incredible avian life that can be spotted during boating excursions. Also houses smaller rare animals like the elusive sitatunga antelope
- Most boat safaris are organized in the morning or evening and last about two and a half hours. Day-long trips with a lunch break is also an option
Most birding tours in the Mabamba Swamp begin at eight in the morning and take, at a minimum, about two and a half hours to complete. Dressing in a long-sleeved shirt and full pants with a hat for sun protection is recommended, as is carrying water and a snack. You will travel by a small traditional boat along the papyrus-lined channels. Each boat carries a paddler, an expert guide, and around three other guests. Look out for gorgeous specimens such as the African common moorhen, intermediate egret, swamp flycatcher, banded martin, black-headed weaver, malachite kingfisher, and African jacana. Typically, you will have your choice of either a morning or afternoon tour at Mabamba Swamp. Avid birding enthusiasts can opt to take both, supplemented by a lunch break in the middle.
5. Ssese Islands Explorations
- Islands can be reached with a boat ride or short flight. Possibility of booking day tours or overnight stays
- Experiencing a unique getaway abounding with folklore and fascinating legends. Visiting settlements of Bassesse people for a peek into their traditional lifestyles
- Exploring the island that is teeming with birds and smaller fauna species. Moonlight viewing in the soothing light of the millions of stars in the African sky
A few of the island bays offer tantalizing glimpses of gaping crocodiles and snorting hippos, while other islands are miniature Edens with pristine white-sand beaches, dense undergrowth, fascinating bird species, and monkeys chattering to each other in the trees. On your tour of Ssese you might also encounter small, bucolic settlements with friendly Bassese people who are happy to welcome you into their homes and let you peek into their traditional Ugandan culture and lifestyle. As the sun slides over the horizon, the sky may light up with the soothing white glow of a million stars in the African night sky. On some nights, the display of lightning in the sky seems like a superb natural celebration in the heavens.
Aside from Bugala Island, other islands that can be visited on your holiday in Entebbe include Bufumira, Bukasa, Bubeke, and the private island of Bulago. From the ferry dock in Bugala, you can drive to Kalangala, the main administrative hub of the island. Wander around this Ugandan paradise and you may catch sight of fauna such as vervet monkeys, sitatunga antelope, bushbuck, and, on rare occasions, black and white colobus monkeys. Also keep a look out for incredible birds such as flycatchers, robin-chats, turacos, barbets, brown-throated wattle-eye, and jewel-like pygmy kingfishers, to name a few. You might even spot gorgeous butterflies flitting in the bushes.
While on your island beach vacation you must sample freshly caught tilapia fish from the lake, paired with island delicacies such as succulent mangoes, watermelons, jackfruit, papayas, pineapples, and organically grown bananas that have a unique taste unlike those from elsewhere in the world.
6. Visit The Chimpanzee Sanctuary At Ngamba Island
- Day trips to Ngamba Island to view chimpanzees through electrified fences designed to protect them. Island accessible with a 45-minute boat ride
- Natural habitat provided for chimpanzees rescued from poaching and illegal trade. Around 50 individuals live here. Shopping for mementos to support conservation initiatives and fishing village
- Spotting around 120 species of birds around the island. Sightings of smaller animals like otters and monitor lizards
Between visits to the chimpanzees, you can explore more of Ngamba Island. This little Eden in the Ssese Islands houses some 120 species of gorgeous birds including African fish eagles, along with brilliantly-colored butterflies, fruit bats, and other insects that inhabit the dense undergrowth. Smaller animals such as otters and monitor lizards can also be spotted sunning themselves in the warm sunshine. You can spend afternoons beside the lake, soaking up the sun, or indulging in water activities.
You can arrive on Ngamba Island by way of a speedboat, which takes about 45 minutes to reach the sanctuary’s boat pier from Entebbe. When you arrive on the island, you will receive a short introduction to the residents and the history of the development of the reserve. You can view the primates from behind an electrified fence. Take all the pictures you want and watch them being fed on fruit sourced from the local fruit markets. There are two feeding times during the day, after which the chimpanzees return to the forest. Unlike on some of the islands, this forest has been preserved and is intact. Some of the chimps may return in the evenings to sleep in the enclosures, while others sleep in the forest.
Once feeding time is over, it will be time to go back to Entebbe by way of yet another pleasurable trip that lets you enjoy the panoramic beauty of the lake and its many inhabitants.
Just before it is time to leave for Entebbe, you can stop at the little store to pick up a few mementos. Proceeds from the store go towards assisting the fishing village on the island. Besides the Jane Goodall Institute, trustees for this sanctuary include the Born Free Foundation, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda (ECOTRUST), the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, and the Uganda Wildlife Society.
7. Entebbe Golf Club Experience
- Century-old golf course standing on the banks of Lake Victoria
- Ability to play on the 6,684 yards of greens. Various other sporting facilities also available
- Fabulous views of the lake and Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center
In addition to golfing, the Entebbe Golf Course also offers other sports facilities. Check out the basketball court, cricket ground, and tennis courts. You can also spend some vacation time playing snooker, darts, and badminton here. When you are ready for a snack or meal, drop by the clubhouse, which serves a tasty selection of dishes such as vegetable samosas, tilapia fish, muffins, and sandwiches—along with cold beer, of course. Enjoy the warm, courteous service that is characteristic of Entebbe.
8. Lake Victoria Fishing Tour From Entebbe
- Angling to catch the legendary Nile perch that can grow to more than 200kg
- Choice of full-day angling trips that can last for 8 hours for up to 3 anglers
- Half-day angling excursions that depart in the morning and after lunch for up to 4 anglers
- All necessary equipment available onboard the fishing boats, which are examined for proper functionality before departure
- Availability of snacks and beverages on the boat
You can choose a full-day fishing expedition or a half-day tour. Half-day excursions depart at 9 a.m. and return at 12:30 p.m., while those that depart at 1 p.m. return around 5 p.m. Full-day trips last for 8 hours, with all groups departing from the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center, just a short distance from the pier. Aboard the fishing boat you can enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Victoria as you travel for about 45 minutes to reach the prime fishing spots. If the weather is a little rough, your AfricanMecca Safaris assigned guide or skipper will choose a sheltered base where the water is less choppy. You also have the option of an overnight fishing expedition, in which case transportation will be arranged for you to and from your hotel.
While fishing is possible all through the year, holiday fishers typically avoid the wet seasons of April and May and full-moon nights. Angling on Lake Victoria is done on a catch-and-release basis, using the trolling method with lures. You will find all the necessary equipment you need aboard, to a maximum of 4 lines per boat, but feel free to bring your own gear. All the boats and equipment are examined to ensure they’re in perfect working condition before departure. The boat will also have additional items you might need, such as a raincoat to protect you from the spray, sun canopies for shade, life jackets, emergency cell phones, a first-aid box, and a fire extinguisher.
Any fishing tour at Lake Victoria you book with AfricanMecca Safaris includes the use of a fishing boat (shared or exclusive), gasoline, assistance of an expert guide, and the necessary fishing equipment. You can also have lunch on full-day fishing excursions and refresh yourself with a cool beer, mineral water, soda, or soft drinks from the cooler on board. Tea and coffee are also available.
To remain comfortable on your angling expedition on Lake Victoria, it is recommended that you wear a t-shirt and shorts with a hat for sun protection. Also have along insect repellent, sunglasses, and sunblock, since daytime temperatures can hover around 25 C to 28 C (77 F to 82 F). In case it gets cooler as evening approaches, you might want to carry a light jacket. Choose light footwear such as sandals or flip-flops. A fishing safari presents unique opportunities for viewing the incredible birdlife around the lake, so carrying binoculars and cameras is also recommended.
The boats made available to you can carry up to 4 anglers at a time and are 18 to 30 foot boats (6 to 10 meters) with twin outboard engines for power. Day-trip groups of 2 or 3 anglers can opt for a 24-foot fiberglass canoe powered by an outboard motor.
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GUIDE ON ENTEBBE
Entebbe near the fresh waters of Lake Victoria retains its old-world charm and boasts some colonial style hotels. The laidback town feels more like a tranquil lakeside getaway spot than Uganda's entry point.
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN ENTEBBE
Entebbe offers a diversity of accommodations, from the boutique chic Hotel Number 5 to the mid-range Protea Entebbe and Pineapple Bay Resort (Lake Victoria island). The value options are Karibu and Boma.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT ENTEBBE
The long dry season in Entebbe and Lake Victoria starts around the middle of December, January and February, and is considered the best time to visit. The alternate best time is June, July and most parts of August.
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LAKE VICTORIA GUIDE
Lake Victoria, also called Victoria Nyanza, is the largest tropical and the world’s second largest freshwater lake. It continues to captivate and awe many travelers, and the source of the mighty Nile River.
EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR ENTEBBE IN UGANDA
When visiting Entebbe near Lake Victoria, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala.
You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.
You can end your vacation on the beach by extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.
Best Safari Planning Ideas & Trip Experiences For UgandaBelow are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.READ MORE
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Hotel No. 5Entebbe - Lake Victoria Region
Protea Hotel Entebbe By MarriottEntebbe - Lake Victoria Region
Karibu EntebbeEntebbe - Lake Victoria Region
The Boma EntebbeEntebbe - Lake Victoria Region
Pineapple Bay ResortEntebbe - Lake Victoria Region
Best Western Premier Garden Hotel EntebbeEntebbe - Lake Victoria Region
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