What can you expect when you arrive in Uganda? It is safe for an independent traveler? I tested the vibe in Entebbe for a couple of days.
So, the new adventure has started. After a not so short break in Europe, where I have been seeing friends, training, and fattening up, I flew to Uganda. The goal this time is a bit different. I’ll visit national parks, possibly go see the chimpanzee and gorilla etc. But for most of the time I’ll be volunteering, everywhere I’ll go in Africa.
That is not to say that I won’t provide information for travellers. For example, arriving in Uganda can be quite a shock. Especially if you have never witnessed this kind of poverty, with slums all around, dirt and muddy roads, pollution and chaos. It somehow reminded me of Kathmandu or some places I have seen in India, although here the vibe is different.
There isn’t the other side of the coin: the opulence that you can also witness in India, for example. There are a few malls, yes it’s starting here too, but they are just regular places, with heavily armed guards to get in. In fact, there are heavily armed guards everywhere, all houses that are not made of mud have broken glasses on the outside walls, and military wires on top of that.
It doesn’t give you a feeling of safety, that’s for sure. Still, at my arrival, I stayed a couple of days in Entebbe, where the international airport is, and I took a couple of walks around. Some people talked to me and were nice, some others asked for money, I did notice some weird looks as I was basically the only foreigner around.
All in all I was fine, despite the insistent warnings of the hotel staff and owner to “be careful”. I am always careful, what do you mean? But yeah, especially overnight, getting robbed is a concrete possibility. So, be careful or get organised with trusted taxis or Boda Boda (motorbikes giving rides to people).
Anyways, Entebbe rests on Lake Victoria’s shores, the second biggest lake in the world, and it is the birdiest town I have ever seen. There are Marabous Stork and Kites flying high in the sky everywhere, and many species of birds in every garden. Uganda is known to be the home of over 1,000 species after all!
A great thing to do in Entebbe is to try your first Ugandan food, like the Rolex, which is an omelette rolled inside two layers of chapati bread. You can find it everywhere, it is cheap and filling.
There are a few possible activities, like fishing, cruising, visiting Chimpanzee Island on the lake, or visiting the local zoo and the wildlife education centre. I didn’t do any of that, as I plan to visit the national parks for wildlife spotting.
Instead, I took a stroll around the Botanical Gardens, truly an amazing place, where locals go to picnic or to spend some time in nature, and where you can see and photograph monkeys and many birds. In my opinion, a must-do.
And that’s 500 words, let’s go!