Whether you’re in town for a quick business trip or you booked yourself a little bit of leisure time after your safari, there are plenty of ways to spend an extra day in Entebbe. Known for being the home to Uganda’s international airport, there is plenty more to do than just fly in and out.
Entebbe is located 40 kilometers from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and there are lots of short trips that can easily fit within a day.
As the main entry point to Uganda and the country’s principal international airport, it’s understandable that many tourists arrive in Entebbe eager to explore the rest of what Uganda has to offer. In our humble opinions, though, Entebbe is as good a place to start or end your time in Uganda as any. From its place in Wakiso district, Entebbe is surrounded by Lake Victoria, meaning it’s not only a great jump-off point for day trips, but there are also a huge number of local activities, like exploring the lake or spending an afternoon at the beach.
The town has many rewarding opportunities for tourists planning to spend a day or two. Though housing Entebbe International Airport may make Entebbe sound large, it’s actually got a small town feel and is very walkable.
To help you make the most of your time in Entebbe town, we’re sharing a bit more about our lovely city and five easy-to-take day trips you can plan.
A Brief History of Entebbe
The town of Entebbe is essential in Uganda’s history, especially during the colonial period. The city was once Uganda’s capital city before the country’s independence, after which the role was transferred to Kampala.
Owing to this, Entebbe retains an old-world charm and boasts some relatively well-organized colonial-style accommodations. Even before then, Entebbe was initially where local Baganda Chiefs would meet to resolve legal cases. The word Entebbe originates from the Luganda word “e tebbe” meaning to sit on a chair (and with weather like this, sitting out on the patio is unbeatable!).
Entebbe’s historically explored attraction is the Ssese Archipelago, a collection of 84 Islands/Islets in Lake Victoria.
The town has much to offer, considering its size. It is still home to Uganda’s official statehouse, the only international airport, one of the UN’s largest logistics bases worldwide, and notable government offices.
Top 5 Day Trips From Entebbe
Entebbe Day Trip #1: Ssese Islands
Ssese Islands is a collection of 84 islands commonly referred to as the Ssese Archipelago. You can access the Islands through a ferry service that will transfer you from Entebbe or go for a short boat ride.
The best way to enjoy this Entebbe day trip is to spend time touring the islands before relaxing at a beachfront hotel to unwind at the end of the day. Some islands offer terrific views of crocodiles and hippos.
In contrast, others provide an assortment of miniature paradises with sandy beaches, unique bird species, thick vegetation and monkeys hopping from tree to tree. You’ll also find some islands with rural settlements with hospitable Bassese people whose homes may be open to visitation.
A day trip to the archipelago makes for a day well spent.
From Entebbe to Ssese Islands: 3hrs 30min
Entebbe Day Trip #2: Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary
The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located within the Ssese Archipelago within Lake Victoria. The island is an amazing place to visit chimpanzees. While most chimpanzees in Africa tend to be in their natural habitats, 95 acres of this landare dedicated to preserving chimpanzees.
Over 50 chimpanzees living on the Island were rescued from poachers and illegal traders. You can explore Ngamba Island during your day trip from Entebbe and even go birding if you are interested. The Island also harbors over 120 different bird species.
Time from Entebbe to Ngamba Island: 45min
Entebbe Day Trip #3: Mabamba Swamp Birding
Located on the banks of Lake Victoria, Mabamba Swamp is an extensive marshland that is home to 300 species of birds, including the notable Shoebill stork (famed for its unique beak). You can access this swamp by taking a boat trip from Entebbe or by road from Kampala city or Entebbe.
Be sure to book a tour to help you in spotting the different bird species. The best way to make good of your day excursion is by taking a boat through the narrow water channel that curves through the swamp.
Most birding excursions to the Mabamba swamp begin at 8 am and take two and a half hours to complete. Make sure to put on a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, and a hat to protect you from the sun.
Another exciting thing to see in the swamp is the swamp antelopes (sitatunga) which live within the marsh. You might want to carry some water and a snack since you will probably be traveling by a small traditional boat.
Time from Entebbe to Mabamba Swamp: 57 min
Entebbe Day Trip #4: Source of the Nile
This trip will take you most of the day, so to beat traffic and be able to go to the source of the Nile and return in one day, you need to set off from Entebbe latest at 6.30 am. The source of the Nile is one of the major tourist attractions in Uganda.
The Nile River is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered the longest globally. One of the stopovers along the journey from Entebbe to Jinja is in the Mabira forest, where you can take an hour or two of a guided walk and enjoy the rich greenery, red-tailed monkeys, hundreds of butterflies and take in nature.
Get back on the road and on to the Source of the Nile. Be sure to get on that boat that starts from Lake Victoria and leads you to the place where the river encounters the lake and starts its sojourn into the sea.
And if you like adventure, be sure to pair this trip to Jinja and the Source of the Nile with some whitewater rafting!
Time from Entebbe to Jinja: 2hrs 35min.
Entebbe Day Trip #5: Uganda Wildlife Education Center
Uganda Wildlife Education Center, also known as UWEC Zoo, is where you can see most of Uganda’s wildlife without going to any of the famous national parks. Instead, the wild animals here live in a semi-natural environment.
Some of the wild animals you will see here include the chimpanzee, giraffes, lions, leopards, peacocks, among others. In addition, the center offers general wildlife viewing, behind-the-scenes programs, and other exciting activities that will keep you hooked all day long.
Even better, you do not have to travel a long time to get to this delightful attraction! You can walk to UWEC if you are staying in Entebbe.
Time from Entebbe to UWEC: 7 min.
Planning Your Stay in Entebbe
Whether you’re planning a short stay in Entebbe town or a much longer trip through Uganda, our trip planning experts at Kikooko Africa Safaris would be more than happy to help. To plan your perfect Ugandan getaway, we encourage you to get in touch today.