Kampala, the bustling national and commercial capital of Uganda, stands proudly on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. This vibrant city blends the charm of tree-covered hills adorned with red-tile villas and modern urbanity reflected in contemporary skyscrapers. At its heart, the Uganda Museum stands as a testament to the country’s rich tribal heritage, housing an extensive collection of valuable artifacts. Nearby, perched atop Mengo Hill, the Lubiri Palace, once the seat of the Buganda Kingdom, whispers tales of regal history.
Nestled within Lubiri Mengo Palace, the Idi Amin torture chamber unveils a haunting chapter in Uganda’s history. Originally constructed as an armory for safeguarding firearms, it played a role during Idi Amin’s short-lived presidency.
The Uganda National Mosque, gracing Kampala Hill in the Old Kampala area, is a striking architectural marvel completed in 2006. With a capacity to accommodate up to 15,000 worshipers and an additional 1,100 in the gallery, it also boasts a terrace that can host 3,500 more.
Nakasero Market, nestled at the base of Nakasero Hill, is a bustling hub of commerce in Kampala. This vibrant market offers a treasure trove of fresh produce, textiles, shoes, and affordable electronics. Situated just 50 meters off the Entebbe Road, Nakasero Market stands as one of the city’s largest and most vibrant trading centers.
The Kasubi Tombs, a UNESCO-listed site, serve as the hallowed resting place for four kabakas (kings) and other members of the Baganda royal family. Beyond its significance as a burial ground, this site remains a spiritual and political sanctuary for the Ganda people, exemplifying traditional architectural splendor.
The Bahai Mother Temple of Africa, also known as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, graces the landscape of Kampala, nestled approximately three kilometers from the city center. As the only Bahá’í temple on the continent and one of only nine worldwide, it carries a unique legacy. English and Iranian Bahá’í followers arrived in Uganda in 1951, with over 100 followers by 1952. By 1953, these pioneers began spreading the Bahá’í faith throughout Africa, laying the foundation for the Mother Temple of Africa. The Bahá’í Intercontinental Conference for Africa was even held in Kampala, commemorating this momentous occasion.
Approximately 15 kilometers east of Kampala lies the Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine, an evocative site where more than 20 Catholic and Anglican martyrs met their tragic fate in June 1886. These martyrs, burned alive on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga, now draw Christians from across the globe who pilgrimage to Namugongo every June 3rd to pay homage and renew their faith. The shrine features a church designed in the shape of a traditional Baganda hut (akasiisiira), standing atop 22 copper pillars representing the 22 Catholic martyrs. Pope Paul VI consecrated the church on August 2nd, 1969, in a poignant ceremony.
The Parliament of Uganda opens its doors to the public, offering a fascinating opportunity to tour this impressive edifice or observe parliamentary proceedings from Tuesday to Thursday between 2 and 4 pm. Visitors are encouraged to dress decently, carry a valid identification card, and seek permission from the Public Relations Department to arrange a visit to Uganda’s Parliament building.
The Kasubi Royal Tombs serve as the final resting place for the kings and royal family members of the Buganda Kingdom. Recognized and listed by UNESCO for its significance to the kingdom, a visit to the Kasubi Tombs unveils an architectural masterpiece. The site boasts an impressive grass-thatched hut, initially constructed for Kabaka Mutesa I as a palace in 1882, later repurposed as a burial site following his passing two years later.
Established in 1908, the Uganda Museum holds the distinction of being the oldest museum in East Africa. This historical treasure trove showcases Uganda’s cultural heritage, featuring ethnological and natural historical exhibitions that offer vivid insights into the nation’s colorful history. Additionally, the museum boasts a collection of traditional musical instruments, inviting visitors to explore and even play these cherished artifacts.
Kampala is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking authentic Ugandan cuisine. A variety of restaurants offer a unique and upscale dining experience, focusing on local flavors, fresh ingredients, and expert culinary craftsmanship. With dishes that are both unpretentious and delectable, these restaurants deliver a remarkable dining experience that is both delicious and visually appealing.
Located in the school district of Kampala, Wandegeya Market pulses with youthful vibrancy. This bustling marketplace hosts boutiques, salons, fresh produce stalls, and offices. It’s renowned for introducing the world to two iconic Ugandan street foods: the Rolex and TV Chicken. The Rolex is a beloved concoction of omelet, raw tomatoes, grilled chicken, fries, and assorted vegetables like cabbages, tomatoes, carrots, and green pepper. When in Wandegeya, a taste of the Rolex or TV Chicken is a must for any visitor.
Bulange, housing the administrative and parliamentary functions of the Buganda Kingdom, serves as a testament to Buganda’s rich history and culture. The building’s construction began in 1955, based on a drawing brought back by Ssekabaka Mutesa I after his exile in Scotland. Completed in 1958, Bulange provides a compelling backdrop for learning about Buganda’s heritage and traditions. Visitors are encouraged to respect the cultural norms of the Buganda people, including the dress code for women.
For an optimal experience of Kampala city and its rich offerings, it’s advisable to hire private transportation. Public transportation can be subject to traffic congestion and delays. Adventurous travelers may consider using Ugandan motorbike taxis called “Boda Bodas,” although this option comes with some degree of risk.
Kampala is generally safe for daytime exploration. However, it’s advisable for travelers to exercise caution and avoid busy areas such as slums and heavily crowded business districts.
To thoroughly explore the diverse facets of Kampala, a full day is recommended. Navigating the city can sometimes be challenging due to traffic congestion, so allocating ample time ensures a comprehensive experience. Contact Trek Africa Tours for in-depth information about your Kampala city tour in Uganda.