Situated on Lake Victoria at 1,146 metres above sea level and home to Uganda’s main international airport, Entebbe is the gateway for most visitors to Uganda. Located at the end of a peninsula which juts into Lake Victoria, the town lies only 37 km from the capital city of Kampala. It is a traditional lakeshore town with lovely tree-lined avenues and a laidback atmosphere.
In the local Luganda language the word Entebbe means “seat” or “chair”, and it gained this name from a legend which related that a local Buganda chief, Mugula, used to rule the area from his chair, or throne, which was carved out of the rock near the present airport. The site of the throne has since been submerged.
It first became a British colonial administrative and commercial centre in 1893 when Sir Gerald Portal, a colonial Commissioner, used it as a base. Port Bell went on to become Kampala’s harbour. Although no ships land there now, there is still a jetty, which was used by Lake Victoria ferries.
The lakeside setting on Lake Victoria, one of the world’s great lakes, is justification alone for a visit to Entebbe. However, the Entebbe Wildlife Educational Centre (originally a zoo) and the Botanical Gardens are the only real attractions in the town itself, along with a number of elegant old colonial buildings with painted red roofs and spacious verandahs. Kitoro market operates on Tuesdays and provides a feast of local colour and life. Out of town, Kasenyi fishing village provides a glimpse of lakeside village life.
Outside of busy weekend and local holiday periods head for the Botanical Gardens for a great spot to unwind and relax. The Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel is a pleasant place for a relaxed ambience, afternoon tea or lunch.
Entebbe is linked to Kampala by a busy tarred road. The town itself is small and can be explored on foot around the area between the golf course, pier, Wildlife Educational Centre and town centre. Alternatively taxis or local matatu minibuses provide the best means of transport if you are without a private vehicle.
- Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of an old colonial town on the shore of Lake Victoria
- Boat out to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary to see orphaned chimps
- Take a stroll through Entebbe’s Botanical Gardens