Entebbe

Entebbe, city located in south-central Uganda, it sits within the boundaries of wakiso district and is situated 21 miles (34 km) south of Kampala, at the end of a peninsula that juts into Lake Victoria, which is the largest lake in East Africa.  Entebbe covers an area of 56.2 kilometers squared and is surrounded with water bodies. Almost half of its land of about 26 kilometers is covered with waterbodies.

Entebbe is a city in Uganda. The city was, at one time, the seat of government for the Protectorate of Uganda, prior to Independence in 1962. Entebbe is the location of Entebbe International Airport, Uganda’s largest commercial airport and is the principal international airport of Uganda. Entebbe airport became the main destination of international arrivals and departures in Uganda and it was opened in 1929. The word, Entebbe, means seat or chair in the Luganda language. It was named after this because that was where a colonial governor sat to arbitrate legal cases in 1900s. It then became the official office and residence of the President of Uganda, which dictates that Entebbe is the chief seat of power in the country.

Entebbe features a tropical rain forest climate with relatively constantly temperatures throughout the course of the year. Within the town of Entebbe, being strategically located near the International Airport and on the shores of the Lake Victoria, it has good Uganda Safari hotels and guest houses that accommodate visitors upon their arrival without troubling to drive to Kampala, depending on their program of travel in the country.

Entebbe is the serene Peninsular and gateway to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa with many attractions which tourists can engage in and enjoy the beauty of the country. These attractions include beaches, islands, schools and universities, the Entebbe golf course, nature walk in the Entebbe botanical gardens, Ngamba Island with various chimpanzee species among others. Below are a few of these in details:

What to do in Entebbe

The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre- popularly known as Entebbe Zoo was opened in 1952, by the Colonial Government in Uganda, as a reception centre for wild animals that were found as casualties (sick, injured, orphaned, confiscated from illegal trade etc.). In the early 1960s, it changed its role to a traditional zoo (“Entebbe Zoo”), a name that rings memories in the minds of many Ugandans to date. At that time, a number of non-indigenous species, including bears and tigers, were kept as attractions.

In May 1994, the UWEC Trust was founded to take over the zoo primarily for Conservation Education purposes. The Centre’s location on the edge of Lake Victoria, its rich vegetation and its surprisingly wide range of birds, butterflies and other indigenous animals make it an attractive venue for education as well as a pleasing one for those who visit, whether Ugandans or people from overseas.

The centre is a fun and exciting place to see and learn about the animals of Uganda and the ecosystems in which they live. Take some time to learn how they live, eat, play, and walk. You will come across free ranging Velvet monkeys and a family troop of DeBraza monkeys in the jungle of hillside forest. Over 120 bird species can be watched ranging from the famous African fish eagle, the Great Blue Turaco to Hammerkops, Giant Kingfisher and even the smallest sunbirds among others.

Some of the memorable activities at the centre include the behind the Scenes tour a two hour educative adventure that offers special inside look tours and interesting information about how residents (animals and birds) are taken care of!. You will have a close up and personal encounter with the lions, elephants, Rhinos, Giraffes, Chimpanzees plus many more wonders you have perhaps never imagined meeting. One can opt to be a keeper for a day. Here, participants spend the day with the Zoo’s animal keepers who share their passion for animals with participants. Participate in hands-on-activities such as preparing animal meals, cleaning enclosures and providing enrichment to stimulate them both mentally and physically. One can also decide to carryout Day Visits where they can either hear a lion’s roar, see chimps in a semi natural environment, or enjoy a one-kilometer forest walk or just some memorable encounters with the animal ambassadors. During your visit, you will develop an important understanding of their role in protecting and conserving our planet’s natural resources.

For more details and a visit to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, kindly contact Hotana Safaris via hello@hotanasafaris.com

Botanical GardensBotanic gardens were established on the shores of Lake Victoria in 1898.The gardens are perfect for an afternoon out as you stroll through its four zones including a rainforest zone where you’ll see much wildlife including the black and white colobus and tree squirrels.

The Entebbe Botanic Gardens are home to around 115 species of bird, an ideal opportunity for bird watchers to capture some amazing photographs and, if you are very lucky you will spot the Verreaux’s eagle owl; Africa’s largest owl, Northern Brown –throated, yellow backed, Jackson’s Golden –backed, Black-headed and Vieillot’s black weavers among others. The gardens were also at one point a home to around 2,500 species of plants of tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperature zones. They also contain over 120 plants used for making medicine. The gardens were also a place where a film titled Tarzan was acted in 1957. The gardens are also a habitant for monkeys such as the black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and the beautiful vervet monkeys soaring high in the branches above the natural, cool, ever flowing forest springs while going on with their daily duties unbothered by your presence.

Visitors can get a nature guides walk at the rocky area near the magnificent lake and to the forest canopy with breath taking views while viewing more bird species and getting enchanted with cool breeze. Tourists visiting the botanical gardens can come along with packed lunch to munch on the picnic areas and perhaps see tree squirrels and many more.

Botanical gardens can be accessed from Entebbe International Airport within 5 minutes’ drive; the botanical gardens are located 34 kilometers away from the capital city. The gardens are open every day from 9am to 7pm.

Mabamba Swamp- Mabamba swamp or Mabamba Wetlands sanctuary is a vast waterlogged area stretching through a long/narrow papyrus filled channel on the outer showers of Lake Victoria in Entebbe Uganda. The swamp is located at Mabamba Ramsar site in Zziba, Kasanje Town Council in Wakiso District Uganda. The Mabamba Swamp has over 2424 hectares with a number of different bird species, plants, butterflies and dragonflies, Reptiles and other nature too.

The swamp is a birders destination, it is said to be with over 300 species of birds, 12 of which are restricted to Lake Victoria and 7 to Uganda. The swamp is an elusive site to spot the rare shoebill while on a Ugandan safari. Mabamba swamp is also a home to other water birds, which can also be seen within the swamp. Bird watching is done on a boat and one can expect to see birds like Papyrus Gonolek, Blue Swallow, high chances of seeing the Spot-necked Otta, Monitor Lizards, Lesser Jacana, Orange weaver, Black Egret, Black Crake, Black-faced Rufous Warbler, Goliath heron and common waxbill among others.

Mabamba swamp is also a home to the endangered sitatunga antelopes, when on a birding tour, one is most likely to encounter these exclusive creators in the area, and they are a treat to the eye as you witness them in their natural habitat. Over the past few years, their population has dwindled because of poaching.

Apart from the shoebill storks and other bird species, one can also spot countless butterfly species that will leave one awestruck. The swamp is a home to more than 200 species of butterflies that attract many visitors from all walks of life. Common species include bicyclus sebetus, Acraea consanquine, Acraea aganice, Achaea aurivilli and Abisaraneavei among others.

The Mabamba swamp can be visited any time of the day though the best time to enjoy the birding tour is in the morning hours. The climate of the swamp is the same as in other areas of Lake Victoria, which has an average temperature of 17 degrees Celsius minimum and 26 degrees’ Celsius maximum.

Mabamba swamp can be accessed from Entebbe town within an hour’s drive, but alternatively one can use a ferry to cross from Nakiwogo landing site to Kasanje landing site and then drive for about 20 minutes to Mabamba swamp. The swamp can also be reached from Kampala.

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuarythe Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located in Lake Victoria and a home to over 49 chimps rescued from across Uganda. The Chimpanzee Trust, a Ugandan-based non-profit manages the sanctuary and was established in 1998.

Ngamba Island is entirely dedicated to the chimpanzees with 95 acres of open forest habitat available to the chimps every day. They have the freedom to stay in the forest or return to large enclosures at night where they receive extra food and hay to build their nests. Their behaviour and health are monitored daily and an extraordinary team of veterinarians and caregivers provide round the clock care.

At Ngamba Island, not only do you experience what it’s like to see chimpanzees up close but the island also offers a range of activities designed to create a rich and memorable visit. There is an exclusive sunset cruise for overnight guests, enjoy the unique view of fishermen casting their nets, fishing villages as they wind down the day and of course the golden circular site of nature’s eye going to sleep. The island also  offers either half or full day fishing excursions on Lake Victoria, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to catch a Nile Perch on this iconic lake, one of the largest in the world.

One can reach the island by using a Speedboat from the dock in Entebbe to Ngamba Island and this takes approximately 45-50 minutes; travel by traditional motorized canoe takes approximately 90 minutes and by air, it’s approximately 20 minutes from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi Air strip.

For more information about the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary or how to get here, please contact us.

 Uganda Reptile Village is located in Abaita Ababiri along Entebbe-Kampala road. The village is a home to over 20 species of reptiles and was established in 2002 by a Ugandan man called Yasin Kazibwe who was formerly a speedboat captain but also had good knowledge and training about reptiles and had a passion to save them. Reptile Village in Entebbe was established to sensitize and educate the community about the importance of wildlife, how to protect and conserve them and their importance to the future generation. It also educates about the importance of many other natural resources such as swamps, forests and water bodies, which are important in saving these threatened reptiles.

A visit to this village rewards one with view of over 50 reptiles, which are categorized into 20 species; there are dens, which were built for some reptiles as you watch them from there. You will also be thrilled to see reptiles such as cobras, Gabon viper, Nile monitor lizards, boomslangs, chameleons and leopard tortoises among others. A walk around the village rewards visitors with sight of the two basins one with different species of tortoises and the other basin with non-climbing reptile species. There is also a point where you will watch camouflaging chameleons.

There is a nearby swamp, which is a habitat to a number of birds, fish, many other reptiles and a few primates. Visitors can enjoy adventurous activities like sport fishing as well as canoeing which takes places on a 3km manmade river stream. There are also wetland walks and these reward visitors with a direct adventure of the reptile village to find all the hidden beauty of this site.

The Reptile Village in Entebbe attracts different people for varying reasons, besides adventure, some go there for study purposes while others visit the village to carry out research.

Lake Victoria and Beaches- Lake Victoria is the largest inland Lake in Africa and the largest tropical Lake in the world. Covering a surface area of 68, 800 square kilometres, this Great African Lake is located in East Central Africa and lies nestled in an ancient basin on the borders of three countries: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

The mighty Lake lies in a shallow depression between the Western and Eastern Rift Valley and is made up of several archipelagos shared between the three countries. The two most stunning attractions in the Lake Victoria Basin are Rubondo Island National Park, which is the largest island park in Africa, and the Ssese Islands, which is spectacular archipelago, made up of 84 islands.

Lake Victoria is marketed as ‘The Pearl’ or ‘Pride of Africa’. It’s one of the greatest lakes in the world and is renowned for its spectacular beauty, lush tropical islands and beautiful beachside hotels and resorts. There are over 200 fish species in Lake Victoria, which makes it a sought-after destination for a fishing tour in Africa. A tour of Lake Victoria appeals to nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the people of Lake Victoria. The great lake is conveniently located to the major safari game reserves in Tanzania and Uganda and is the perfect add-on destination for people who travel to those regions to see the gorillas or the annual wildebeest migration.

 Uganda is endowed with attractions that lure visitors to its shorelines every year-thanks to Lake Victoria, which is highly endowed with several beaches. More than 80 percent of the beaches in Uganda are situated in Entebbe or along the Entebbe – Kampala stretch. At these beaches; clean and beautiful white-sand, celestial sunrises, remarkable rare birds are but a few of the treats that await anyone.

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