Welcome to Kampala…the land of Seven Hills
The capital city of Uganda, Kampala, is spread over ten hills and derives its name from a kiganda expression “kasozi k’empala meaning – the hill of antelopes. The origins of the Kampala go back to 1891 the when King Kabaka of Buganda had his court on Rubaga and Mengo hills.
Today the city views are of magnificent evergreen trees, gently disrupted by red-tiled villas, green iron-roofed bungalows, as well as taller modern city profiles that give way to attractive views of the surrounding countryside and nearby Lake Victoria.
The City has traditional charm, and is certainly the greenest city in Africa and yet Kampala is the commercial centre of Uganda, as well as the seat of government. It is a vibrant modern metropolis adorned with gardens and parks providing colorful oases for its citizens and visitors alike. If the National Museum is open & you have time, be sure to see its excellent historical and cultural displays.
The broad range of cultures in Uganda is also reflected in the wide choice of restaurants in the City, all featuring the wonderful produce of the fertile countryside and fish-filled lakes.
Kampala city tours
Kasubi Tombs located off Hoima road in a small Kampala suburb called Kasubi is the burial place for 4 of Buganda’s prominent kings, Mutesa I, Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II and former president Edward Mutesa II. The Tombs were constructed in a traditional fashion with thatched poles and reeds that make up the roof into a splendid dome structure. It houses a variety of artifacts that belonged to the former Kings. Today, it is a UNESCO world heritage site and must visit on Kampala city tours-Uganda safari.
Naggalabi Buddo Coronation site off Masaka road is another place to discover Buganda which has remained strong since the 17th century. The site is located on a hill top with panoramic views of Kampala and its surburbs. Naggalabi Buddo is the historic heart of Buganda Kingdom telling the history of the beginning of Buganda Kingdom.
Kabaka’s Lake located within Kampala is a man made lake that refreshes the air in Kampala with relaxing views after a hard day of Kampala Uganda safari tours. This lake was dug out on the orders of Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga in the 1880’s for political reasons. The Kabaka’s palace is not far from the lake site and is one of Uganda’s best kept secrets located on Mengo hill within central Kenya. Bulage Mengo. Visit the offices of the Kabaka in Bulange Mengo and take pictures of the king’s statue. The Kabaka’s Palace consists of the Kabaka’s House commonly Known as the Twekobe House.
Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo is a stronghold for religion and Christianity in Uganda. The religious place is the ground where more than 20 Christian youth men were martyred on orders of reigning Buganda king Mwanga II in 1886. Many of the burnt men were Kabaka’s aides.
Bahai Temple is found 6km from Kampala Gayaza road in spectacular beauty, one of a kind in Africa. The worship temple and its architecture are inviting to very tourist that takes on Kampala tours. It is a place only known for prayers and meditation.
The different cathedrals smell of old architectural work and lie in centuries of astonishing beauty.
St.Paul’s Namirembe Cathedral is the Anglican Church set high up on Namirembe Hill with amazing views of Kampala both by day and night. On Rubaga hill lies St. Mary’s Cathedral previously royal site for Kabaka Mutesa. It was constructed between 1914 and 1925 with the help of the Catholics’ donations from the Missionary churches abroad. Kibuli Mosque found in the outskirts of Kampala in serene queues of palm trees and a majestic white and green mosque. The new dome mosque at Old Kampala is awe-inspiring site, never ever seen in Uganda!
Uganda Museum is Located on Kira Road in Kampala city and houses a unique collection of ethnological exhibits covering hunting, agriculture, war, religion, witchcraft and natural history, as well as a great collection of traditional musical instruments from all over the continent. The building also houses the Uganda Society and their Library with a wide range of books on Uganda’s history and culture. Take some time off to the National theatre and find the best of African entertainment and artwork.
The are several African curio shops in Kampala selling beautiful African crafts, clothing, art paintings, sculptures and many other inspiring craft pieces.
Kampala hotels and accommodation
You don’t have to worry about where to spend the night or have diner in Kampala. There is everything from luxury hotels, up market apartments and budget Kampala hotels. Luxury Kampala hotels include Kampala Serena hotel, Kampala Sheraton, imperial Royale hotel and budget overnight at tourist hotel, Holiday Express Inn, Speke hotel, Mosa Apartments and many others
Eating and dining in Kampala
Dining and Kampala night should not give you a head ache; enjoy tasty food and cuisines from Kampala’s hotels, eateries, cafés and night clubs. Some of the eateries include Crocodile Restaurant Kisement, great wall restaurant, Dominoz pizzas, Nandos and the list is endless. Some of Kampala’s suburbs never go to sleep… be sure to find a snack in Wandegeya and Kasanga
Kampala has a number of fast food points and restaurants preparing anything from international cuisines, local delicacies and fast foods. Check out points like Steer and Dominoz Pizzaria for 24/7 service, Mateo, Food Court at Garden city mall, Just kicking bar & restaurant, Ethiopian Village, Fang Fange Chinese restaurant, Kampala Club, Sizzlers and many other.
Leaving this capital without making a few stops at the shopping malls, markets and village craft centres is impossible. Some of the biggest shopping points in Kampala include Uchumi at Garden city Mall, Nakkumatt Oasis Mall and many other supermarket –actually you’ll find anything from bedding, groceries, clothing, electronics and household items. Some of these shopping malls accept credit cards and VISA.
There are African craft centres and villages selling locally made jewellery, sculptures, art pieces and clothing. Best suited for souvenirs for all tourists visiting Uganda. However, you have to trust your bargaining power with the women selling these items-it will be good to use a bit of local language in the process!
Take a walk through the fresh fruits and food markets dotted throughout the capital such as St Balikuddembe Owino Market and Nakasero Market to buy some of food and fresh fruits grown in Uganda. You will be amazed by the diversity of Uganda’s food!
Banking in Kampala
There are more than 40 banking institutions in Kampala, both local and foreign banks opening at 8h00 and close at 16h00 through the working days. Foreign exchange facilities, ATM services, and money transfers are packages for many banks in Uganda and Kampala. Some of the international banks include Stanbic Bank (U) Ltd (a member of the Standard Bank Group in South Africa), Barclays bank, Orient Bank, Tropical Africa Bank, Eco Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and United Bank for Africa among others. Check with your tour guide or map for location of these bakns.
Entertainment and Nightlife
This capital is one of the safest places in the world. Kampala is quite safe for walks in the night as long as you do not take your valuable properties like Passports and such along.
Many restaurants and bars have live music for the evenings with different bands while the night clubs are full every day of the week. Check out the music in Angenoir, Club Silk, T1, Sway and Pa Lui in Ntinda. Your Tour guide will give you details of the best places to visit on particular days.
Gambling is allowed in Uganda and there are many casinos and betting centres in Kampala. Some of the best casino facilities are at Kampala Casino, Mayfair, Simba and the amazing Egyptian inspired Pyramids Casino.
Transport and Getting around
Kampala is a few minutes drive from Entebbe International Airport located south west of the city centre. There are airport taxis and travel agents with car hire facilities at the airport upon landing. A taxi cab from the airport to Kampala city centre costs between USD 20-30. Alternatively, your hotel shuttle may pick you up incase you made a reservation before your flight to Uganda.
The city center is rather hectic and streets are fairly filled with people. You’ll most certainly need a motorcycle called Boda Bodas to take you through the city streets to be on time! Buses and taxis /minibuses are also used (never run on schedule).
If you are travelling up-country, you may use charter aircrafts or domestic airlines such as Eagle air and kampala Aero club flights