Things To Do in Entebbe, Uganda

If you have an afternoon or day to spend in and around Entebbe, there are several areas we can recommend visiting.

  1. Botanical Gardens
  2. Uganda Wildlife Education Center
  3. Mabamba Swamp Visit

1) Botanical Gardens

The Entebbe Botanical Gardens, which border the shore of Lake Victoria, are home to an impressive collection of indigenous forest, shrubs and plants. Laid out in 1898, these expansive gardens are perfect for a leisurely stroll.

The highlights are its pockets of thick rainforest, which locals claim some of the original Tarzan films were made in, and excellent bird-watching with 115 species. You’ll see plenty of monkeys, including black and white colobus, and tree squirrels too. There is also a superb array of birdlife here, ranging from species endemic to the Lake Victoria area (such as the grey kestrel, Jackson’s golden-backed weaver and yellow-throated leaflove) to more widespread species (such as the red-chested sunbird and black-headed gonolek). If you’re lucky, you may even spot a great blue turaco, which are truly magnificent, in the forest areas!

The gardens are also home to tree squirrels and vervet and black-and-white colobus monkeys. This is a lovely place to stroll for a few hours.

It is a 15-minute walk from the hotel and costs about $10/person.

2) Uganda Wildlife Education Center

Another option is the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, commonly misconceived to be a zoo, but actually an animal orphanage that is home to wild animals which have been rehabilitated but cannot be returned to the wild. It’s a good place to see some rare and endangered species, including a pair of black rhino, giant forest hog, chimpanzees, grey-cheeked mangabeys, lion, shoebill and serval.

There is a good curio shop here if you’d like to buy some souvenirs, too.

It is a 15-minute walk from the hotel and costs about $15/person.

3) Mabamba Swamp Visit

Around an hour outside Entebbe is the Mabamba Nature Reserve. You’ll have a guided boat ride in either a traditional canoe or small motorboat. The main attraction is the fiendish-looking shoebill, a member of the stork family that stands over a meter tall. As you negotiate the papyrus waterways, there is also the opportunity to see a number of other birds, such as the blue swallow, the yellow warbler and the papyrus gonolek. There is also the opportunity to go on a guided walk at the reserve to see wildlife that lives closer to the shore.

It is a 45-minute drive from the hotel and costs about $150/person.

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Patagonia W-Trek Mountain Huts

You can stay at mountain hut refugios while hiking on the W-Trek. Here are the available huts:

  • Central Sector
  • Frances (French) Sector
  • Paine Grande Sector
  • Cuernos Sector
  • Chileno Sector

Central Sector

Offering mixed dormitory rooms with bunk beds for 6 people, shared bathrooms, and hot showers. Curl up at night in a warm, fully made bed, equipped with sheets, a pillow and a bed cover.

Strategically located close to the stunning Lake Nordenskjöld and at the beginning of the trail that heads to the famous Las Torres Mountains. This is the primary base to reach the Las Torres Base Viewpoint.

Alternatively, stay at Hotel Las Torres (self-guided treks) or EcoCamp (guided treks).

Open September 12th (camping) and October 20th (mountain hostel).


Frances (French) Sector

Offering mixed dormitory rooms with bunk beds for 6-8 people, shared bathrooms, and hot showers. Sleeping bag required.

This is the primary base to reach the French Valley. The stunning 360 degree views from the outside of this hostel will be beautifully ingrained in your memory forever. Looking around at Lake Nordenskjöld, Mount Paine Grande, Mount Ferrier, Mount Tenerife and the Balmaceda and Chacabuco Mountain Ranges is a humbling and inspiring experience. You’ll likely also see the famous “foehn” winds zipping like little tornadoes of water around the lake, and hear the sounds of avalanches from the Francés Glacier.

Open September 12th (camping) and October 20th (mountain hostel).


Paine Grande Sector

Our refuge has capacity for 100 passengers daily in private rooms with 2, 4 and 6 bunk beds (with mattress cover, pillow and pillowcase). Sleeping bag required.

On the shores of Lake Pehoe there is an incredible refuge, with beautiful views of the Cuernos del Paine and Cerro Paine Grande. It is the starting point of the route to the French Valley and the path to the Grey Glacier.

Paine Grande refuge is open from October to April.


Cuernos Sector

Offering mixed dormitory rooms with bunk beds for 6-8 people, shared bathrooms, and hot showers. Sleeping bag required.

It’s hard to pick favorites in Torres del Paine, but this camp is truly stellar. The Cuernos Mountain Hostel sits under two epic mountains, next to the Lake Nordenskjöld and not far from a powerful, cascading waterfall.

Open December 1st (camping and mountain hostel).


Chileno Sector

Offering mixed dormitory rooms with bunk beds for 6-8 people, shared bathrooms, and hot showers. Sleeping bag required.

Being the closest camp to the Las Torres Base Viewpoint, you can relax at the end of the day and get a good night’s sleep, making sure you’ve got your internal batteries recharged for the highly anticipated next day. This camp is perfect for those who want to wake up before dawn, hike in the dark, and arrive in time to watch the iconic red sunrise over the Las Torres Mountains.

Open December 3rd (camping and mountain hostel).

Posted in Chile, Patagonia, Trekking | Leave a comment

5 Options for the Ultimate Luxury Fly-in SkySafari in Tanzania and Kenya

Loisaba Star Beds

There are now 5 amazing luxury fly-in safaris in Tanzania and Kenya to choose from:

  1. 8-day / 7-night Tanzania (Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti)
  2. 10-day / 9-night Tanzania (Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti)
  3. 8-day / 7-night Kenya (Meru, Loisaba, Masai Mara)
  4. 10-day / 9-night Kenya (Amboseli, Loisaba, Masai Mara)
  5. 13-day / 12-night Kenya + Tanzania Combination

See Also:


#1) 8-Day Tanzania SkySafari

VISITING: Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti

  • DAY 1: 1 night at Arusha Coffee Lodge (suite)
  • DAY 2-4: 2 nights at Tarangire Treetops
  • DAY 4-6: 2nights at the Manor at Ngorongoro
  • DAY 6-8: 2nights at Serengeti Migration Camp (Jun-Dec) or Pioneer Camp (Jan-May)

#2) 10-Day Tanzania SkySafari

VISITING: Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti

  • DAY 1: 1 night at Arusha Coffee Lodge (suite)
  • DAY 2-4: 2 nights at Tarangire Treetops
  • DAY 4-7: 3 nights at the Manor at Ngorongoro
  • DAY 7-10: 3 nights at Serengeti Migration Camp (Jun-Dec) or Pioneer Camp (Jan-May)

#3) 8-Day Kenya SkySafari

VISITING: Meru, Loisaba, Masai Mara

  • DAY 1: 1 night at Hemingways in Nairobi
  • DAY 2-4: 2 nights Elewana Elsa’s Kopje
  • DAY 4-6: 2 nights at Loisaba Tented Camp in Laikipia
  • DAY 6-8: 2 nights at Sand River Camp in Masai Mara

#4) 10-Day Kenya SkySafari

VISITING: Amboseli, Loisaba, Masai Mara

  • DAY 1: 1 night at Hemingways in Nairobi
  • DAY 2-4: 2 nights at Tortillis Camp in Amboseli
  • DAY 4-7: 3 nights at Loisaba Tented Camp in Laikipia
  • DAY 7-10: 3 nights at Sand River Camp in Masai Mara

#5) 13-Day Kenya+Tanzania SkySafari

VISITING: Amboseli, Loisaba, Masai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater

  • DAY 1: 1 night at Hemingways in Nairobi
  • DAY 2-4: 2 nights at Tortillis Camp in Amboseli
  • DAY 4-6: 2nights at Loisaba Tented Camp in Laikipia
  • DAY 6-8: 2 nights at Sand River Camp in Masai Mara
  • DAY 8-11: 3 nights at Serengeti Migration Camp (Jun-Dec) or Pioneer Camp (Jan-May)
  • DAY 11-13: 2 nights at the Manor at Ngorongoro
Tarangire Treetops
Posted in Kenya, Luxury, Safari, Tanzania | Leave a comment

Dolomites: Hiking Cinque Torri

The Cinque Torri (or “5 Towers”) is between Corvara and Cortina. It can be visited in a day trip or spend the night at one of the 4 rifugios in the area.

The views are amazing, and the Cinque Torri is very striking at different times of day in different light. It is very popular for rock climbing and doing a via ferrata.

There is also a WWI outdoor museum which is fascinating to explore.

Rifugios are 50-70 Euros per person per night including breakfast and dinner. They have 2-person, 4-person, and dorm rooms.

  • Rifugio Cinque Torri — This is
  • Rifugio Nuvalau
  • Rifugio by the chairlift
  • Rifugio in the saddle

The Rifugio Nuvolau is one of the oldest rifugios. It is up at the top of the mountain. People who spend the night can enjoy an amazing sunrise and sunset. They grill up hamburgers outside on the deck, and it gets very busy at lunchtime. There is also a popular via ferrata circuit.

There are multiple ways to get to Cinque Torri, including a chairlift or hiking from short to long routes (2-4 hours one-way).

One possible hiking circuit is to park at Rifugio Col Galina, then hike up the short trail, spend the night and hike back down a longer trail.

  • 7-Day Best of the Dolomites >>
  • Posted in Travel Advice | Leave a comment

    Dolomites: Hiking in Colfosco in Alta Badia (from Selva or Corvara)

    This hike can be from Selva to Colfosco, or can be based from Corvara. You either go

    1. From Selva up the Dantercepies cable car to Rifugio Jimmi, lunch at Rifugio Puez and down to Colfosco
    2. Up the gondola, over to Rifugio Jimmi for lunch, and down the red and yellow gondolas to Colfosco (taxi/bus from Corvara or San Cassiano).

    You can do this hike on our 8-Day Dolomites Three Valleys Hiking Traverse or on a custom trip.

    Up the Gondola


    Hiking near Rifugio Puez


    Over the Pass


    Rifugio Jimmi


    Down the gondola

    Posted in Dolomites, Europe | Leave a comment

    Planning your Trip to Chile & Patagonia

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to Chile and Patagonia!

    The best time to travel to Chile is November-March. October and April are shoulder season. You can also travel May-September, but this is winter.

    Most people do this general itinerary:

    1. Fly into Santiago and spend a few days
    2. Fly to Punta Arenas
    3. Torres del Paine (Patagonia)
    4. Other Tours in Chile (Mendoza, Atacama, Easter Island)
    5. Extend the trip to Argentina

    1) Fly into SANTIAGO and spend a few days.  Things to do:

    • City tour of Santiago
    • Wine tasting – Day trip (Vina del Mar)
    • Coast (Valparaiso) – Day trip
    • Tours in Santiago >>

    2) Fly to PUNTA ARENAS, transfer to Torres del Paine

    • It is worth spending an extra night in Punta Arenas to do a day trip to see the Magellanic Penguins (typically, after Torres del Paine), also a fun town.

    3) TORRES DEL PAINE (Patagonia)

    4) The top ADD-ONS in Chile (all accessed from Santiago):

    1. Mendoza, Argentina – 4 days for wine tasting and beautiful mountains
    2. Atacama Desert – 4-5 days, world’s highest desert, amazing scenery
    3. Easter Island – 4-5 days.  Flights can be expensive.
    4. Lakes District – 4 days, Puerto Varas, Bariloche

    Here is a map to give you a visual on where things are (Easter Island is way off to the left in the middle of the ocean):

    5) Extend the Trip to ARGENTINA

    If you want to do Chile + Argentina, typical you would

    • Drive from Torres del Paine to El Calafate/El Chalten (5.5 hours) for a 4+ days (Argentina Patagonia)
    • Fly up to Buenos Aires for a few days
    • Fly home from Buenos Aires or extend your trip in Argentina (Iguazu Falls is most popular)

    All Argentina Trips >>

    Posted in Chile, Patagonia | Leave a comment

    When to Visit the Hidden Pools and Dunes of Lencois Maranhenses (Brazil)

    See our 4-Day Hidden Pools and Dunes of Lencois Maranhenses >>

    There are three primary seasons in the Lençóis Maranhenses: 

    1) Rainy Season:

    The rains start between the end of January and February and generally cease in May (rainy season). This time of year is not recommended to visit given that the sky is generally overcast and the rains make for a less pleasant visit. 

    2) Start of Dry Season:

    Immediately following the rainy season, when the rains cease, yet the lagoons remain very full from the rains. Depending on how much rain has fallen in any given year during the rainy season, this period can vary. But generally goes from June to September/October.  October is the end of the mid-season and start of the hotter months, the chance of finding lagoons still with water is high. The lagoons definitely won’t be as full as they would in July of August, for example, but there should still be a good number of lagoons with water. Moreover, October is the low season in Brazil (the highest season is between July and August given school holidays in both Brazil and most countries in the northern hemisphere), thus a visit in this season would offer much more intimacy and less crowds.

    3) Dry Season:

    With no rains and when the lagoons have mostly all evaporated. Again, this season can vary slightly depending on the rains. For example, on my most recent visit, in late November, 2019, there was still water in some of the larger lagoons, but for the most part the lagoons were dry. 

    We HIGHLY recommend both sunrise and sunset tours. Independent of the lagoons, the immensity of the Lençóis Maranhenses and the beautiful colors at sunrise and sunset are well worth a visit. 

    The Dunes and Pools at Lençóis Maranhenses truly are a special place in Brazil!

    Posted in Brazil | Leave a comment

    Planning Your Trip to Costa Rica

    Luxury Costa Rica

    Read on to find out what you need to know to plan your trip to Costa Rica!

    1. Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less
    2. Where To Go –Traveling for More than 1 Week
    3. What To Do
    4. When To Go

    See All Costa Rica Trips >>


    Samara Zipline Costa Rica
    Samara Zipline

    1) Where To Go — Traveling for 1 Week or Less

    On a short trip, most people visit 2 areas like one of these options.

    OPTION #1

    1. Fly into San Jose Airport
    2. Arenal Volcano
    3. Beach on the Pacific Coast

    OPTION #2

    1. Fly into Liberia Airport
    2. Rio Perdido
    3. Beach on the Pacific Coast

    Where To Go in Costa Rica >>


    Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio
    Nighttime wildlife hike in Manuel Antonio

    2) Where To Go — Traveling for More Than 1 Week

    If you 10 days, you can visit 3 areas. If you have 14 days, you can visit 4 areas. Start with one of the 2 options above and then add from there.

    To pick the “other place”, it depends on what is most important to you, how much time you have, and when you want to travel. In particular:

    • River rafting or surfing or yoga
    • Wildlife or birding
    • Active adventures or more quiet
    • Whales in August-September (Osa Peninsula/Golfo Dulce)
    • Nesting sea turtles: July-October (Tortuguero)
    • August-November: Rainy on the Pacific side, but nice at Arenal on the Caribbean side

    Where To Go in Costa Rica >>


    3) What To Do

    In particular, your trip or where you stay will defined if you want to do any of these activities:

    • River rafting
    • Surfing
    • Sea turtles
    • Whales

    Other activities can fit into just about any itinerary.

    What To Do in Costa Rica >>


    Romantic dining in Costa Rica

    4) When To Go

    The main travel season in Costa Rica is mid-November to mid-April.

    Mid-September to early November can be very rainy on the Pacific side, but Arenal and the Caribbean side will still have nice weather.

    Mid-November to January is more rainy on the Caribbean side.

    If you arrive in San Jose before 2:00pm, you can get a transfer to Arenal/La Fortuna that day (3.5 hour drive). If you depart San Jose after 4:00pm, you can get a transfer from the Nosara/Samara/Tamarindo area and fly out that day. Otherwise, you will need to spend the night in San Jose.

    When To Go To Costa Rica >>

    Posted in Costa Rica | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Planning Your Trip to Iceland

    Iceland trips

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to Iceland!

    First decide when you want to travel:

    • Midnight Sun / Summer: March-August (Puffins May-Aug)
    • Northern Lights / Winter: September-March (Nov-Jan are cold and windy)

    The top trips to Iceland are

    1. Quick trip based out of Reykjavik (5 days is a good time frame)
    2. Driving tour around the island (8-12 days)
    3. Cruise around the island (10 days)
    4. Northern Lights (September-February)

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    5-Day Iceland Highlights from Reykjavik

    1) Quick trip based out of Reykjavik

    If you just have a week to travel, or if you are flying through Iceland en route to Europe, you can easily see the highlights in about 5 days.

    The top excursions around Reykjavik are

    • Blue Lagoon – Typically done upon arrival to relax after the long flight
    • Golden Circle – Full day to the south with Thingvellir National Park, geysers, and Gullfoss Waterfalls
    • City Tour of Reykavik – Can be a private guided tour or a hop-on-hop-off bus
    5-Day Iceland Highlights from Reykjavik

    2) Driving tour around the island

    The Ring Road can be done in 8-12 days either self-drive or a guided tour.

    In the summer, you can see Puffins, whales, and fishing activity. In the winter, you can see the Northern Lights!

    There are so many activities to choose from:

    • Whale watching
    • River rafting
    • Glacier walks
    • ATV tours
    • Horseback riding
    • Hiking
    • Helicopter tours
    • Snorkeling/Diving
    • Kayaking
    • Golfing
    • Snowmobiling
    10-Day Iceland Ring Road (Self-Drive)

    3) Cruise around the island

    This circumnavigation takes 8-10 days, or 12 days that includes Greenland. They operate May-September. It is a great way to explore the fjords along the coast.

    10-Day Iceland Cruise Circumnavigation

    4) Northern Lights

    You can see the Northern Lights September-February. September, October, and February are the most popular because November-January are cold and windy.

    The Northern Lights can be experienced on any of our Iceland tours, but be sure to check out the 8-Day Iceland Northern Lights (Small Group Tour).

    Iceland Northern Lights

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    Posted in Europe, Iceland | Tagged | Leave a comment

    Planning Your Trip to the Galapagos and Ecuador

    Here is what you need to know to plan your trip to the Galapagos Island and Ecuador!

    1. Start your planning with the Galapagos then add your mainland activities.
    2. Pick a Galapagos Cruise or Island Hopping
    3. Beyond the Galapagos — Top Activities in Ecuador
    4. Getting to Ecuador and the Galapagos
    5. When to Go

    Contact us with any questions you have!


    Galapagos Island Hopping

    1) Start your planning with the Galapagos then add your mainland activities.

    If you are doing a Galapagos cruise, they start on certain dates, so ideally, you want to pick that first, then add your other activities around these dates. If you book an Island Hopping trip, you have more flexibility. We recommend at least 5 days in the Galapagos (8+ is better!).

    Most people do this general itinerary:

    1. Start in Quito and spend a few days there.
    2. Do other activities around the Quito area (Otavalo, Amazon, Cotopaxi, etc.).
    3. Fly to the Galapagos (start with these dates and work around them).
    4. Fly from the Galapagos home (through Guayaquil/Quito).

    Galapagos Island Cruise

    2) Pick a Galapagos Cruise or Island Hopping Trip

    The Galapagos cruises are typically 4, 5, or 8 days long (a few have 6 or 7 day itineraries, but it is not as common). Most boats are 16 passengers. The largest boat allowed in the Galapagos is 100 passengers. They are not what you think of as “cruises”, they are more like “yachts”. We can book any of the boats in the Galapagos.

    For us to find the best boat option for you, we need to know:

    • When you can travel and for how long
    • What your budget is, or what level of accommodation you prefer (mid-range, first-class, or luxury)
    • If there are any specific islands or animal/birds you want to see
    • If you want and specific activities/amenities: sea kayaking, stand-up paddleboard, jacuzzi, yoga, etc. All the itineraries will have hiking and snorkeling. Scuba diving is best with an island-hopping extension.

    With an Island Hopping tour, you can start on any day and stay for any number of days. We recommend 5-8 days or more to explore the islands. There are a variety of accommodations to stay at, and we can customize the itinerary. This is also a nice option for multi-generational families that have diverse interests.

    See also:


    Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador

    3) Beyond the Galapagos — Top Activities in Ecuador

    Quito is a lovely city and worth 1-2 days there.

    The other most popular trips around Quito are


    Explore Quito, Ecuador

    4) Getting to Ecuador and the Galapagos

    The flights to the Galapagos go from Quito through Guayaquil (on the coast) and then to the Galapagos. The return flights make this same path back. In Guayaquil, you stay on the airplane while some people get off and on.

    Most people get their international flight into Quito. It is typically easier and cheaper to fly into Quito, and also there is more to do in and around Quito.

    However, if you are just doing the Galapagos and nothing else, you may want to get your international flights into Guayaquil. Quito is 9350 feet in elevation, which can bother some people who do not do well at altitude.


    Beaches of the Galapagos Islands

    5) When to Go

    You can visit the Galapagos all year!

    The hottest months in the Galapagos are Feb-Apr. The nice thing about this is that the water is very warm, and you probably won’t need a wetsuit. However, hiking in the afternoon can be a bit hot.

    The coolest months in the Galapagos are Jul-Sep. Nicer for walking, but you will want a wetsuit for snorkeling.

    November at Cotopaxi can be rainy.

    Contact us with any questions you have!

    Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos | Tagged | Leave a comment