Once in Kampala, you will notice that most people there are easy to approach and are kind to all tourists trying to talk with them. Since it has an average population of 2.5 million people, Kampala is one of the biggest cities in Uganda, with few hassles and lots of attractions. You can’t get bored in Kampala since it holds many possibilities. You can go on walking tours through the city and do some quality shopping in a modern-looking town, go on heritage and historical tours or go on various safaris around the place. It’s your decision where you stop, because the options are numerous.
- +Visit the Uganda Museum in Kampala which holds various cultural symbols, featuring ethnographic collections regarding clothing, agriculture, religion, medicine, and recreation.
- +Be impressed by the cultural magnificence of the Kasubi and the Buganda Parliament, which holds great importance for the Buganda kingdom.
- +Go to East Africa safaris from Kampala and see zebras, gorillas and other kinds of wild animals.
- +Hit the local markets and buy souvenirs that can go from medicine to clothing, trinkets and even excellent paper products.
- +Watch traditional dances in places such as the Ndere Centre and the National Theatre.
- +Visit popular restaurants and bars which serve East African specials.
- +View the Cathedrals of Kampala as well as the shrines, and receive insight on their religion.
- +Go rafting and jet boating on the Nile, and have fun in adventurous ATV safaris.
About Kampala, Uganda’s Life Centre
Kampala is one of the largest cities in Uganda. Tourism is always high in this region, and various safaris can be done around the city in less populated areas. At the moment, Kampala is divided into five different areas: Kampala Central, Kawempe, Makindye, Nakawa and Lubaga. The city is synonymous with the Kampala District, and it is surrounded by the Wakiso District, which is growing year by year. Ever since 2002, the population has doubled and now stands at an average of 2 million people.
Placed on Lake Victoria, Kampala is also Uganda’s administrative, economic, communications and transportations center. Within the city, the manufacturers work to produce beverages, processed foods, furniture, and also machine parts. It also handles agricultural exports such as sugar, tea, cotton, and coffee. The railroad passing through Kampala links it to Kasese, which is one of the greatest mining centers in South-West Uganda. It also links with Mombasa, Kenya, around the Indian Ocean Coast. You can also find Steamers on Lake Victoria that will link Kampala with ports in Tanzania and Kenya.
Despite the fact that it’s close to the Equator, the city has a rather moderate climate, which is why tourists are attracted to the place. Built on and around many different hills, Kampala is equipped with commercial quarters and a modern government, as well as wide streets that connect the surrounding suburbs. After it had been overthrown and destroyed in 1979, Kampala recovered once the Museveni regime set in 1986. It became stable, and also received rehabilitation funding from foreign investments. The infrastructure was strengthened, and the services were restored. Currently, Kampala has taken Entebbe’s place as the capital of Uganda, and it has become the base for the Makerere University as well as the East African Development Bank.
Kampala is also known to be one of the “greenest” cities in Africa, being packed with gardens, parks and golf courses in the center of the city. However, since the city is rapidly growing, this reputation may change along with the population. But, until that happens, you can relish the magnificent green areas of Kampala.
Before arriving in Kampala, you will first have to arrive by air in Entebbe, which is about 35 kilometers southwest of Kampala. Fees will be paid in cash for the visa because credit cards are not accepted. From that point on, there are many ways for you to reach Kampala. You can opt for a shuttle service directly from the airport which will normally drop you off at the Kampala Shopping Mall, but it can also arrange for door to door service. You can also go by taxi or a hotel shuttle. Also, if you have booked a safari, most of them may have already arranged for a bus or other means of transportation.
When to Go & Weather
When it comes to weather, Kampala has been classified under a tropical rainforest climate. It has an overall warm weather throughout the year, and it features two seasons, a dry one and a rainy one. Temperatures rarely go above 29 degrees Celsius, with an average of 26 degrees Celsius every year.
Both of these seasons are also split in two different times of the year. Thus, the climate would look something like this:
- Dry season: This one ranges from June to September and from December to February. Even though rain may fall now and then, the sky will be usually pretty clear, with a pleasantly dry climate.
- Rainy season: Spreading from March to May and from October to November, rainy seasons include substantial rain falls per month. Although the rain may stop from time to time, it can make trekking and other activities in Kampala more difficult. The advantage of the rainy seasons is that you’re more likely to get discounts at lodges around the city.
It’s always a very good idea to be informed before traveling to a different country so that you know what to pack. So, for more details regarding the weather and climate in Kampala you can visit the following websites:
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Kampala was built by Captain Frederick Lugard in 1980, intentioned for the British East Africa Company. Before the arrival of the colonists, the zone was initially chosen by the Kabaka of Buganda to be a hunting reserve. The area had a lot of rolling hills packed with grassy wetlands throughout the valleys, and it was the home of various antelope species, particularly the impala. The place was initially called the “Hills of the Impala” by the first British who got there. Since the Buganda often interacted with the British, they ended up adopting a few words from their vocabulary. Translating the name into Luganda, the name became “Akasozi ke’Empala”, which later on was shortened to “ka’mpala”, meaning “that is of the impala”. The word Kampala became the name to describe the city that rapidly grew on the hills.
Not many buildings survived from the Buganda Kingdom, which is why those who have remained are known to have high cultural importance. The Kasubi Tombs, the Buganda Parliament, and the Lubiri Palace are some of the most important pieces of architecture. Being rebuilt after the war, the city gained more modern constructions such as banks, hotels, malls, hospitals and educational institutions. Originally, the place was built on seven hills. But, as years passed by, the area grew larger and larger.
While the city doesn’t exactly have wild animals roaming on the street, Kampala visitors can go on safaris in the rural zones or outskirts that were untouched by human constructions. Considering that impalas were predominant during early times, you can see them roaming on the hills. Gorilla trekking is also a very popular option in Kampala, and you can also practice horseback riding along the banks of the Nile River to see other signs of wildlife, from small mammals and birds to larger ones that will leave a strong impression. The areas situated around the city are packed with 50 different kinds of animal species, from fish to birds, reptiles, insects and monkeys. So, you will have plenty to see in your wanderings. Kampala has various reserves in which representatives from each species are brought. There are savannah ecosystems, as well as wetland, forest, and an herbarium.
It will be no surprise to see different kinds of monkeys in the forests, as well as antelopes and hundreds of beautiful butterflies. In and around the water area, you can find various kinds of fish from lungfish to various types of catfish, as well as shoebill storks, monitor lizards, and weaver birds.
The flora contains way over 250 types of herbal plants, most of which are also commonly found in the homes of the Uganda people since they are used to treat various kinds of diseases. Since they are located in a tropical rainforest, both the city and the surroundings are loaded with green places, so you’re bound to see some natural habitats wherever you may go. It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss, so if you visit Kampala, it would be a pity if you wouldn’t go see the surroundings as well.
There are various conservation organizations concentrating on preserving the ecology of Uganda, Kampala. Flora & Fauna International (FFI) is an old organization that had projects in different areas around Africa, being a groundbreaker for the innovative programs. FFI initiated the International Gorilla Conservation, helping to conserve gorillas from national parks and wildlife. Other organizations such as the Bakitara Environmental Works and Nature Conservancy Uganda plan different kinds of projects to protect the nature surrounding Kampala, Uganda.
- Kampala was built on the banks of Lake Victoria, which is known as the second largest freshwater lake in the world. The lake is also known to be the source of the Nile River.
- At the end of the 1970’s, a war broke out between Uganda and Tanzania to overthrow the brutal dictator Idi Armin. The war was called the “Liberation War”.
- Many of the buildings in Kampala were built in 1980 since the majority of the original buildings had been damaged in the war.
- The predominant languages found on the streets of Kampala are English, Luganda, and Swahili.