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Kampala and Entebbe

Kampala and Entebbe

On the shores of Lake Victoria

All visitors to Uganda will, at some point during their holiday, find themselves in either Kampala or Entebbe.  Both are situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake which borders not just Uganda, but Tanzania and Kenya as well.

Kampala

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda.  Known as the 'City of Hills', it stretches across no less than 20 hills, and is a vibrant, modern and fast-growing city which has been ranked as the best East African city to live in.

Local artworkThe city is a beguiling blend of tradition, culture, art, fashion, food and music, and is certainly worthy of a short stay if you wish to really get immersed in the true Ugandan way of life and explore some of the city's attractions.

The best way to get around Kampala is by 'boda-boda' - a motorcycle taxi, which enables you to dodge and weave through the city traffic. Whilst maybe not the ideal form of transport for the truly faint-hearted, it will add a sense of adventure and fun to your day!

If you are looking for arts and crafts, you can explore the many market stalls in search of a bargain, or head to the contemporary Afriart Gallery which showcases works from young, aspiring local artists.

The Ndere Cultural Centre also has art exhibits, plus a popular programme of cultural performances by the outstanding Ndere Dance Troupe, who perform authentic Ugandan dances and songs from all parts of the country accompanied by traditional stringed, wind and percussion instruments.

The Uganda Martyrs Shrine, 15 km outside Kampala at Namugongo, is one of the largest Christian pilgrammage destinations in Africa, and marks the spot where many young men were burnt to death in June 1886 by the then King of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga II, for refusing to renounce their faith. These Uganda Martyrs are commemorated annually as a national Ugandan public holiday on June 3rd.

The Kasubi Royal Tombs are an UNESCO World Heritage Site, set on a large expanse of hillside within the Kampala district. They are the ancient burial grounds of the former Kings of Buganda, the old kingdom where Kampala now sits. Although destroyed by fire in 2010, the renovation work to bring this historic site back to its former glory is now in its final stages.

During your exploration of Kampala, you may well end up enjoying a Rolex - not an expensive wristwatch, however, but a local snack food consisting of an omelette with a filling of your choice, wrapped in a chapati.  As the phrase goes ' Ugandans don't wear Rolex, they eat them!'.

Entebbe

Entebbe is about a 45 minute drive south of Kampala, also on the shores of Lake Victoria.  All visitors will certainly encounter Entebbe, as this is where the international airport is situated.

ShoebillThe Botanical Gardens are attractively laid-out across 40 hectares, and offer a tranquil setting to escape the busy streets for a few hours. The gardens house a collection of tropical and exotic plants, and Colobus monkeys are frequently seen, along with several interesting birds including the Palm Nut Vulture and African Grey Parrot.

Mbamba Swamp is 12 km from Entebbe and is home to about 300 bird species, including the remarkable shoebill, which derives its name from its rather large shoe-shaped bill that resembles a Dutch clog but with a vicious looking hook at the end. Reaching up to 5 feet tall and with a wing span of 8 feet, this prehistoric-looking bird is a real bucketlist sighting for keen birders. Often referred to as the shoebill stork, they are actually in a species class/family all of their own.

The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a safe haven to nearly 50 orphaned chimps who have been rescued from across East Africa. The sanctuary offers half or full day trips to give visitors the opportunity to learn more about the work carried out here, enjoy informative talks from the staff about their rescued residents, and to observe the chimps from the visitor platform as they enjoy either their morning or afternoon feeding sessions. Ngamba Island is 23 km offshore from Entebbe, and the journey across takes about 90 minutes if you opt for the standard motorised boat journey, or 50 minutes if you opt for the more expensive but faster and thrilling speedboat journey.