Entebbe is a small city that sits on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. Less than an hour’s drive from Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city, Entebbe is best known as the location of the country’s largest commercial airport.
Entebbe became a British colonial administrative and commercial center in 1893 and was the seat of the government of the Protectorate of Uganda before the country peacefully achieved its independence in 1962. The location of the President’s official residence, the city is home to around 80,000 residents, many of whom work in the civil service.
Due to its status as a safe, serene, and organized city, the United Nations uses Entebbe as a depot and staging area for their peacekeeping missions in the central African region. Entebbe is also a frequent starting point for tourists and business travelers looking to explore central Africa.
Few visitors remain in Entebbe; most use the small city’s international airport as a stopover before exploring the rest of Uganda. However, Entebbe lies on a peninsula that juts into Lake Victoria, and those who stay to explore the city are captivated by its subtle charms.
Start your tour at the edge of Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake. Its tranquil waters are perfect for paddling, fishing, and water sports, while the lake’s beaches are a beautiful spot for picnicking or barbecuing the day’s catch.
If you’re looking to explore the wider realms of the lake, take a ferry to Ngamba Island, where you can visit orphan chimps rescued from the wild at the island’s Chimpanzee Sanctuary. A little further afield is the Sesse Islands, a remote archipelago located at the far northwest end of Lake Victoria and characterized by lush vegetation and excellent bird watching.
Once back on dry land, you can enjoy a kaleidoscope of exotic birds and troupes of playful monkeys at the National Botanical Gardens. The peaceful gardens are laid out in different sectors; the rainforest zone was the setting of the 1940s Tarzan films.
Finally, barter for beautiful hand-carved crafts and curios at the popular Kitoro Market. Tuesdays are the busiest days, and you’ll find everything from batik wall hangings to tan-colored bags and clothes made from soft tree bark.
Entebbe has a laidback reputation, and locals can often be found enjoying a picnic by the lake. Those looking for a busy nightlife scene need to make the hour-long trip to Kampala (where you can listen to traditional Ugandan live music), while the more relaxed can pass the time with the locals at any of Entebbe’s many bars and expat watering holes.
To enjoy Ugandan cuisine, head to Kampala Road, which is lined with a variety of restaurants. A typical Entebbe experience is to enjoy muchomo (grilled meat) from a Kampala Road bar, washed down with an ice-cold Ugandan beer. Other specialties include matooke (mashed green bananas), malakwang (lemony spinach in peanut sauce), lumombo (chicken stew cooked in banana leaves), and Tilapia fish, fried whole or cooked in a tomato stew.
Visitors can also take their pick from Thai, Chinese, Italian, Indian, and other African cuisines, although for the widest choice, Kampala is again the recommended destination.
Half of the world's remaining mountain gorilla population is in Uganda, and many of the tourists who arrive in this part of the world come to see these critically endangered primates.
Head south (enjoy the obligatory photo opportunity as you pass the Equator) to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This pocket of primeval forest in the Virunga Mountains is one of the most biologically diverse areas on earth and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bwindi is one of the best places to observe mountain gorillas; tracking these gentle giants through the matted undergrowth and damp forest floor is both challenging and rewarding.