Kampala City Tour is the expedition around the capital city of Uganda and the largest urban center with over 2million people making it an economical, social hub and tourist destination in Uganda. Kampala city is located in the south-central part of Uganda close to the shores of Lake Victoria and the city is divided into five divisions which include Kampala central division, kawempe division, makindye division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division. Kampala the capital city of Uganda was originally called the old Kampala hill; the summit is located on the former fort Lugard and was the headquarters of the British colonialist which is Uganda’s protectorate. Kampala city is also located on the seven hills which include Rubaga hill, Old Kampala hill, makerere hill, Kibuli hill, mengo hill, Kololo hill, and Mulago hill. Before the British colonial government turned Kampala into a major administrative center, the area was covered by vast grassland and wetlands that attracted large herds of antelope making it a favorite hunting ground for the kabaka of Buganda [mutesa1]. The colonial administrators named the area Kampala because of the large numbers of impalas that once roamed the area.
This was after the British arrival in Uganda when they spotted a number of impalas on the hill. Hill of impalas as [Akasozi ke’mpala] whereby Akasozi means hill ke’mpala meaning of impalas. The weather in Kampala is warm all year round due to the close proximity to the equator and there are two seasons that is the wet season in the months of February, June, August and December while the rest of the months its usually the dry season. The main transport in Kampala is road transport used by both tourists and the local people. There are cars and motorcycles[bodabodas], these motorcycles are very efficient in traversing through heavy traffic.
Attractions in Kampala city
Kampala the capital city of Uganda has a number of tourist attractions ranging from religious, cultural, historical, and commercial attractions which include;
Gadhafi Mosque: This is the largest mosque in Uganda with the capacity to accommodate over 15000 worshipers and it was Idi Amin Dada who first started building the mosque in 1972 and it was completed in 2007 with a generous donation from Colonel Muammar Gadhafi of Libya. The mosque was built on top of one of the 7major hills of Kampala and one can view Kampala city from the top of its minaret. The Gaddafi mosque itself is an impressive building and tourists are allowed to walk around it at will and women are given a headscarf and sarong to cover up and then taken around by the guide.
Kabaka’s palace and Idi Amin’s torture chambers: This is the historical seat of the Buganda king and is located on mengo hill exactly 1mile up from the Buganda parliament. The palace has been abandoned since Kabaka Mutesa ll was ousted by the president Milton Obote in 1996 and the palace later played a terrible role during the regime of Idi Amin Dada. A notorious torture chamber was built here by Idi Amin were over 250 people were murdered at different points during his rule. While at the chambers, you will listen to distressing stories of the people killed including politicians, soldiers and basically anyone who seemed a threat to the dictator. The walls at the chambers still bare blood and human waste as a reminder of the terrible ordeal the inmates faced.
Baha’i Temple: The Baha’i temple is built on Kikaya hill near Gayaza road and is also known as the Dawning place of the praise of God, the Kampala temple is the mother temple of the Baha’i faith in Africa. The temple represents oneness and unity with its nine-sided magnificent silhouette and is also surrounded by immaculate beautiful grounds which are serene with a wide range of birds and photographic opportunities. The temple grounds are also a favorite place for meditation and are frequented by people from all religious backgrounds.
Namirembe cathedral: This is the most beautiful cathedral of the Anglican faith in Uganda. It is also known as St. Paul’s Cathedral and was built in 1991making it the oldest cathedral in Uganda. Namirembe cathedral also has a graveyard with remains of Ernest cook and Bishop Hannington who was murdered on the orders of kabaka Mwanga in1885. Namirembe cathedral has a small hut housing the large drums used to call worshipers for service.
The parliament of the Republic of Uganda: The Uganda parliament building is located along Parliament Avenue in central Kampala. Visiting this can only be one on appointment and prepare to be thoroughly checked by security personnel at the gate.
Kabaka’s manmade lake: The kabaka’s lake was established by kabaka Mwanga between 1884 and 1888 and is located in Ndeeba. It is the largest manmade lake in Africa and runs about 200 feet deep. The kabaka intended the lake to connect to Lake Victoria while also providing an escape route during major wars and it is said that he even actively took part in the digging process to set an example to his subjects.
Kasubi tombs: This is one of the several UNESCO World Heritage sites in Uganda. This grass-thatched building is a very important site for the Baganda people. It is the burial ground for 4 of their former kings. The Baganda believe that their kings do not die but simply disappear to another world. While at the tombs you can spot the large hut holding the tombs, royal clothing, hunting tools and other monuments of these past kings.
Old Kampala: Old Kampala sits at the original hill and is where the first administrative blocks were built before the city expanded and most administrative buildings were shifted to a more central location. Old Kampala stands out because of the unique old colonial and Indian style architectural buildings. It also offers the best opportunity to see how Kampala looked then and now.
Kibuli mosque: This is the most popular mosque in Uganda. This is where the top sheiks reside and the mosque lies on one of the Kampala’s major hills offering great views of the Kampala city. Prince Badru kakungulu of Buganda donated the land where the mosque stands to the Muslim fraternity in Uganda.
Independence monument: Following Uganda’s independence from the British in 1992, the Uganda independence monument was set up and is located in the center of Kampala city next to the Sheraton Hotel. Visit this monument while in Kampala and take pictures.
Uganda Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo: Namugongo martyr’s shrine was built in honor of the Uganda Martyrs killed by the Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda between 1885 and 1887 at Namugongo after their refusal to renounce Christianity. People from over the world congregate at Namugongo every 3rd of June to celebrate the lives of the Martyrs. The shrine is located approximately 16 kilometers north east of Kampala the capital city of Uganda.
Uganda Museum: The Uganda national museum was founded by the British Governor George Wilson in 1908 and is the oldest and largest museum in Uganda. The museum was built to showcases the cultural heritage and historical milestone in the country covering religion, clothing, agriculture, and medicine among others. The collections in the Uganda museum include playable musical instruments, hunting equipment’s weaponry, and many others.
Buganda parliament [Bulange]: The Buganda parliament holds sessions every month where several issues pertinent to the kingdom are discussed. The kabaka of Buganda only attends the beginning and last sessions of the year. The kabaka’s role is to open and close the sessions. In the earlier centuries before the coming of the colonialists, these sessions were held under a large tree and then mud grass-thatched buildings.
Owino market: Visiting downtown takes you to st Balikudembe market popularly known as owino. This market is perhaps the busiest in Kampala and is usually filled with thousands of people each day. It is a chaotic market but with traders selling almost anything from shoes, food, clothes, and traditional medicine. You can find second-hand designs in good condition and you can also buy your own fabrics and have it sewed by expert local tailors. Apart from the Owino market, there are also Nakasero and Wandegeya markets. Nakasero market is found within the city center and is the best place to shop for fresh food, grains, and electronics. Wandegeya market is located close to Makerere University. It is a favorite shopping place for university students and other city dwellers staying in the suburbs of kamwokya, Ntinda, Bugolobi and kololo.
Rubaga cathedral: Rubaga Cathedral is built in one of Uganda’s main hills offering good views of the capital city, it is where the headquarters of the Roman Catholic faith in Uganda is located. Before the cathedral was built in 1914, one of the palaces of Kabaka Mutesal sat on the land and his son Kabaka Mutesall later donated the land to the French Catholic missionaries.
Makerere University: Makerere University is the oldest and largest public university in Uganda. It is one of the best 10 universities in Africa and is Uganda’s main center for research. Makerere University is close to Kampala city center and was also built on the major seven hills [makerere hill]. The university begun as a technical school in 1992 and later became part of the new university of East Africa .in 1970, the university became independent after the university of East Africa split into three main universities that is Makerere University in Uganda, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Nairobi in Kenya.
Ndere center: This cultural center is found outside the city center in kisasi. The Ndere center showcases the cultural heritage of all tribes in Uganda through traditional music, dance and drama among others. Ndere center offers opportunities to learn how to cook local dishes and dance to local tunes and these performances are done by famous Ndere troupe.
Restaurants and other eat-outs: Kampala brings together tribes and cultures from different parts of the country. Each tribe has its own special dish. Visit the restaurants and taste some of the local dishes available for example Kalo [mingled millet bread], matooke [smashed cooked bananas], steamed beef and Luwombo using natural and fresh Ugandan ingredients.
Lake Victoria: Lake Victoria is one of the 2nd largest freshwater lakes in the world. A boat cruise around Lake Victoria can take you to some of the best in Kampala and Entebbe. One can even go to beautiful islands like Ssese and Ngamba. Most of the boats stop at different landing sites and islands for sightseeing, refreshment, and lunch.
Craft markets, art galleries, and monuments: There are several permanent and temporary shops/markets that sell locally made jewelry, paintings, fabrics, art pieces, and sculptures. For travelers who love art, Kampala is just the kind of city for you. You can visit the Makerere Art Gallery, UmojaGallery, Afriart, and many others.
Mulago hospital: Mulago national hospital is the largest hospital in Uganda. It is built 3.5 kilometers away from the main city Centre. Mulago hospital started as a treatment center in 1913 before being upgraded to a referral hospital around the 1950s. Mulago is a major research center producing countless doctors and nurses operating across the globe.
Other tourist attractions include Jewish synagogue and community Uganda, Gurdwara Ramgarhia Sabha, shopping malls, coffee shops, bars, nightclubs and hangouts, festivals, kiwatule recreation center, Lugogo show grounds, Nelson Mandela National Stadium, kabaka landing site, and the Airport.