Kampala, the capital of Uganda, situated at an altitude of between 1150m and1320m, is spread over seven hills and took its name from Kasozi k’impala, “the hill of antelopes”. This city dates back to 1891 when the Kabaka of Buganda had his court on Rubaga and Mengo hills. It is therefore one of the very few African capitals not founded by the colonialists. The city is marked by Kampala Road which runs around Nakasero Hill in a wide circle. This hill is home to the economically well to do part of Kampala, with government buildings, the highcourt, banks, etc.
The town achieved municipal status in 1950 and became a city in 1962. Today, as you stand on the hills, the city provides magnificent evergreen views gently disrupted by red-tiled villas, green iron-roofed bungalows, as well as skyscrappers that give way to attractive views of the surrounding countryside and the nearby Lake Victoria.
The city has retained its traditional charm, remains one of the greenest in Africa, it is a bird sanctuary, and is today the heart of Uganda. The centre of commercial life and the seat of Government, it is a vibrant modern metropolis adorned with gardens and parks providing colourful oases for its citizens and visitors alike. Accommodation facilities range from upmarket hotels with state-of-the-art conference facilities, to those for the more budget-conscious. The broad range of cultures in Uganda are also reflected in the wide choice of restaurants in the city, all featuring the rich produce of the fertile countryside and fish-filled lakes.
By Air: Through Entebbe International Airport, 40km away from the city centre.
By Road: A network of modern tarred roads feeds the city from different border posts, and other towns.
By Rail: Kampala has rail links with other commercial centres in Uganda and with neighbouring countries.
By lake: A cargo steamer service links Port Bell with Mwanza in Tanzania as well as with the nearby Ssese Islands.
Main Hotels in Kampala
- Sheraton Kampala
- Nile Hotel International
- Grand Imperial Hotel
- Equatoria Hotel
- Fairway Hotel
- Speke Hotel
- Diplomat Hotel
- Lion Hotel
- Hotel International
- Shires Country Club
- Reste Corner Hotel
- Shanghai Hotel
What to see
The Kasubi Tombs: Also known as the Ssekabaka’s Tombs, these are the royal tombs where four former Kabakas (kings) of Buganda are buried. They are situated five kilometres away from the city centre on Kasubi Hill, on the Kampala/Hoima Road just off Masindi Road.
The Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine: Situated 12km to the northeast of Kampala, off the Jinja Road. The impressive shrine commemorates 20 Ugandan Christians burnt alive in 1886 on the orders of the Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda.
The Uganda Museum: A display of Uganda’s cultural heritage where one can see ethnological and natural-historical exhibitions. It is a vivid reminder of the country’s colourful past. One of its most interesting features is the collection of traditional musical instruments, which one is free to play.
The National Theatre of Uganda: Opened in 1959, this is truly a national theatre for the people of Uganda, as artists from around the country stage shows here.
The Parliament Building: The seat of Uganda’s Government and symbol of the country’s independence.
Rubaga Cathedral: Built at the beginning of the century, the magnificent St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral stands on Rubaga Hill, overlooking the city.
Namirembe Cathedral: Built at the beginning of the century, St. Paul’s Protestant Cathedral, the largest in Eastern Africa, stands on an adjacent hill. The congregation is called to worship by the beating of the drums.
The Baha’i Temple: The only temple of this faith to be found in Africa
The Hindu Temple: This enourmous building is right in the city centre on Sikh Street.
The Kibuli Mosque: This gleaning white landmark dominates Kibuli Hill, across the railway station from Nakasero Hill.
Makerere University: The oldest and most prestigious University in East Africa.
The Market of Kampala: Visitors cannot afford to miss visiting the Nakasero fruit and vegetable market, or the Owino market in Nakivubo Place.