The Entebbe Botanical Gardens in Uganda feature some rare and magnificent specimens of flora and fauna. Established in 1898 and opened to the general public in 1901, this garden that sits on 35 ha was initially used as a trial centre - if you like, for growing plants introduced from different parts of the world and for scientific research.
Plants like; cocoa, rubber, tea and coffee - which have continued to be part of Uganda's established traditional crops for export, were initially introduced here for trial and assessment.
Photo by; Gotouganda.com
The years that followed its establishment to about the late 70's, the Entebbe botanical gardens saw its plant collection grow to over 2500 species on display. A large focus of the garden was on conserving rare and endangered species but also used as a test garden to introducing new plants to Uganda.
The period of political turmoil - through the 80's, had its toll on the gardens. The plant collections drastically diminished through neglect. Into the 90's to date, there has been stability and intent to re-establish its focus but perhaps not the will and the power - If you like, to return the garden to its glory days.
However, Entebbe botanical gardens continue to be a lovely place to visit - possibly not for the scientists who are into research, a lot of scientific research has been redirected to Kawanda, Namulonge and Serere research centres over the years. And if you are the kind that is into plant life and visited other botanical gardens, I doubt you would quickly pass these gardens as 'botanical gardens'!
African Harrier Hawk - Photo by; Gilles Bassière
'What you see is what you get' - heard of that saying before? This place is a nice park that will give you a quiet break away from the noise and hassle of the cities and towns. A good stroll through the park will perhaps rekindle your love life ... and if you love birds, you will spot quite some interesting species here; the grey parrots, the orange weavers, turacos, the green sandpiper and more ...
There are primates as well in the forested area, giant spiders and lots of other creatures and bugs that move on the floor and in the tree canopy. This garden is endowed with a variety of lovely butterflies - quite a collection of colours and pattern here. Have a stroll at the lake Victoria shoreline - very refreshing and magnificent place to sit, relax and ponder your next move.
Photo by; Gotouganda.com
There is an entrance fee to the park - the different charges are displayed at the gate. On the on-set, these charges will appear discriminatory ... but perhaps here is a little explaining;
To begin with, the fees are there to allow for the maintenance of the gardens. However, ....
...You will see that foreigners pay much more than the locals - about 3 times more actually! Not a charge that is unaffordable by any standard but one that looks extortionist - if you like. Such is the deliberate move by government that was done to encourage Ugandans to visit such places. If you have visited other tourist places in Uganda, you must have seen this already.
Vervet Monkey - Photo by; Justin Norton
Majority of Ugandans have not even visited the national parks in their own country, let alone other tourist and recreation places in the country - I bet, quite a few have seen a live lion and only because they were lucky to be on one of their school organised tours to the zoo in Entebbe;
First is; not many can afford such tours; the transport, the entrance fees, the upkeep and everything else that comes with such a weekend out ... but perhaps also quite evidently, it's not a cultural thing to go on vacaction! A few 'elite' Ugandans have gradually embraced the idea of taking some time on holiday to visit such places.
If you are in Entebbe town, the botanical gardens are quite close - 10/15 minutes walk and you are there. Follow the signpost, better still, ask a local.
If you are travelling from the capital - Kampala, you could choose to take a taxi (private of public) or drive; whichever means, Entebbe is about 21 miles from the Capital which should take you about 45 minutes to an hour - given the traffic.
Access to the botanical gardens is from Berkeley road and the gardens are open from 9am to 7pm, 7 days a week.
The Entebbe Botanical Gardens is another great way to experience the greenery and beauty of Uganda.
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