After spending a couple of weeks in Ethiopia, climbing mountains, sleeping on the rim of a volcano, and exploring some of the strangest natural phenomena I've ever seen, I was ready for a bit of comfort and relaxation before embarking on the next big part of my African adventure: a 5-day road trip through Uganda, to Rwanda. Fortunately, I'd already scheduled in a few days in Entebbe; a little town located on the shores of Lake Victoria, and rumoured to be much more laid-back than Kampala, the country's busy and vibrant capital.
Entebbe turned out to be the perfect place to pause for a while, and I only wish I'd had some more days to spend in this super friendly, very relaxed town, which really has a lot to offer! I've put together a list of my highlights, as well as some practical information for visiting this little gem in the Pearl of Africa.
where to stay
I stayed at 2 Friends Beach Hotel, and it was an excellent choice! It's located on the shores of Lake Victoria, on a lovely little laid-back street with other hotels, restaurants, and beach bars nearby. The staff were all extremely friendly, airport pick-up was included, as was a delicious breakfast every morning, and a very generously poured glass of wine my first night. Kayaks and bikes are available for guests to use at no cost, and the pool was the perfect place to relax with a Nile Special beer (or two...) on a hot afternoon. My room was comfy and featured views of wild vervet monkeys playing on rooftop next to us... what more could you want?! Oh, the wifi was solid, too ;)
what to eat
Fresh produce is abundant in Uganda as a whole, it seems, and there were plenty of produce stalls located along the main road. Avocados are so plentiful they practically give them away (10 for $1), and since I basically have to sell my soul (i.e. pay $4) for a single avocado on Koh Tao, I thought about living on avocado alone during my 3 days in Entebbe... but then I found Gioretti's Beachside Pizzeria, and ate pizzas on two consecutive evenings, instead. They are absolutely delicious, but be warned: lake flies can be pretty intense at night, so once the sun sets, it's very dark (lights are kept off since the flies are attracted to light). If seeing your food is important to you, go during the day.
When I needed an afternoon coffee fix I'd stop by Café Javas, located in Victoria Mall. This spot seemed to be popular with locals and tourists alike, and offers a huge menu of pizza, tex mex, pasta, salads, curries, burgers etc., in addition to cakes, ice creams, and a huge drink menu.
If you prefer a cute little independent spot rather than a chain restaurant like Café Javas, definitely check out Anna's Corner, which was excellent! They offer a large selection of casual meals, and gorgeous, sprawling gardens to relax in while you eat. I brought my book and spent a couple of hours eating, drinking coffee and chilling. Anna's Corner also has a lovely boutique with lots of crafts, jewelry, and art for sale, but the prices seemed a bit steep compared to the little craft markets that I found along the main road. Still worth a browse, at minimum, though!
what to do
Go to the beach: Entebbe is located along the shores of Lake Victoria, which is the biggest of Africa's Great Lakes, and the largest tropical lake in the world. Swimming in the water is generally not recommended, as there's a pretty significant presence of a Schistosomes parasite which does not make a nice travel souvenir. However, you can still go kayaking, relax on the shores, or do some birdwatching, if you're into that sort of thing.
Hang out with wildlife: The Entebbe Botanical Gardens was a short walk away from my hotel, and a great place to relax in nature, take a guided tour, or do some more birdwatching. If you're after some time with larger animals, head to the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre to visit cheetahs, a white rhino, lions, etc.. But listen... I didn't go to either of these places myself, though I walked by... since my next couple of weeks were about to be spent trekking with apes and going on safaris, I figured I may as well prolong the anticipation and hold out for the wild ones. I still want to mention these places in case you're looking for something a bit tamer than a full-blown safari.
Go horseback riding: Through a little bit of serendipity (and my innate horse-radar that allows me to track down new horse friends within a 50km radius), I stumbled upon Palmira Horses, who offer lessons and hacks, and train their horses using the principles of Natural Horsemanship. I spent an amazing day at Palmira, taking the gorgeous and sweet Esperanza, a young Anglo-Arab mare (pictured top left) out for a hack through villages, fields, and forest trails with a view of the lake. I also spent a good bit of time hanging out at the stables, petting the horses, cuddling the many rescue dogs, and trying to befriend the donkeys. Katia, the woman who runs Palmira, is truly wonderful, and takes excellent care of all her horses and animals (I also stopped by her house and met the ~18 rescue dogs who she has adopted... Katia is basically living my dream life!). She also runs a dog rescue organization in Kampala, and has started a mobile spay-neuter clinic in the surrounding areas. The horses are more of a passion project rather than a business, so she's not always offering rides, but it's absolutely worth contacting her to inquire (and to make a donation to her rescue organizations)!
Do a little shopping: There are a few lovely craft markets located along the main road in Entebbe. Each market is filled with stalls, staffed by very friendly Ugandans, and offers an abundance of goodies to bring home: jewelry, handicrafts, clothes, and art fill the shelves and hang on displays. I ended up taking home four beautiful wildlife paintings that are now hanging on my walls in Thailand, reminding me of my trip every time I look around. Prices are very reasonable, and a bit of friendly bargaining is expected. Also, don't forget to bring home some local coffee... it's delicious, and currently fuelling the writing of this blog post.
Just chill: Entebbe really is laid-back, and I did take full advantage of the opportunity to relax in the midst of a very active and adventurous month in Africa. I went roaming through the streets, chatting with the locals who always stopped to greet me, worked my tan by the pool, and made new friends at Freedom Beach bar (which was the only spot I found along the lake that was populated by locals rather than other tourists).
To check out my candid shots + travel outtakes, visit my Uganda Instagram story highlights!
Have you been to Entebbe? Are you adding it to your Africa wishlist? Let me know!
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