Kampala, the heart of the Pearl of Africa

Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is spread over seven hills. Kampala takes its name from the term Kasozi k’impala literally meaning the hill of Impalas.
An Aerial view of Kampala Road.
An Aerial view of Kampala Road.

Kampala is the capital of Uganda and is spread over seven hills. Kampala takes its name from the term Kasozi k’impala literally meaning the hill of Impalas. TImpala, a kind of antelope, graced the landscape of present day Kampala. From the colonial times, the city grew around the court of the Kabaka of Buganda in Mengo, spreading through Old Kampala Hill to the settlements of the Indian merchants settling on adjoining hills. Today, Kampala is a fully-fledged cosmopolitan city, very busy and crowded.

When it comes to accommodation, one of Kampala’s best kept secrets is in the little explored boutique hotel just on the outskirts of the main city in Bugolobi, Hotel Le Bougainviller. Its location is most likely a stone throw away from Jazz Supermarket and Shell Bugolobi - literally. Located only three kilometres away from the heart of Kampala, it is a pocket of calm and quiet bursting with Mediterranean charm. It is just what you need for a rest filled weekend break away from the bustle of a busy dusty city. It is indeed a great hideaway from the Kampala bustle and traffic noise yet still within city parameters.

Breakfast is served in the terraced cafe between 7am and 11am. The hotel also has a restaurant wing right across the road that offers a cooked breakfast which you may enjoy in the terraced cafe or by the poolside. The restaurant itself is still done in a very rustic theme in earthy colours, stone tiles and dim lighting making it very cosy and intimate.

I learned quickly that there is a reason the beds are fitted with mosquito nets. With all the lush greenery, there will be mosquitoes so go well armed with a repellent.

A taste of culture

If you’re interested in traditional dance and music, try to catch a performance of the Ndere Troupe. It’s composed of members of the many ethnic groups in Uganda and has gained international acclaim on world tours. The troupe has a new base in Ntinda, the Ndere Centre, out beyond the Blue Mango, which includes an auditorium, a restaurant-bar and even accommodation. Performances take place every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 19:00 and 18:00 hours on Sundays. Priced at $10 which also includes your buffet dinner, the shows are inexpensive.

Lifestyle Flavours

Perhaps the one thing that is sure to sum up Kampala for the tourist visitor is the very impressive Walter Boda-boda tour. Walter Boda-boda Tours is the latest innovation in Kampala tourism and tours start, at 10USD -30USD a day. The Boda-boda is the Ugandan term for the motor bikes that ride you around the city. The higher end of the price margin will take you outside Kampala city to as far as Jinja where the source of the River Nile is.

The Walter boda-boda tour is a really fantastic tour of Kampala from the back of a boda-boda (motorbike). It is especially ideal for the budget traveller.

You can arrange for a full-day, customized tour of whatever you want in Kampala--hear all the history about Uganda, check out the 7 hills of Kampala, see the best views, eat local food (including fresh fish from Lake Victoria).

Walters Boda-boda tours got his business down to a T. Walter bikers and it will take you on a tour to showcase Kampala’s lifestyle. Highlights include a rolex (eggs and chapatti) or katogo (bananas mixed with meat/offals/beans) and a variety of local cuisine for your dinner. Places of worship, cultural significance, architecture, and even ‘Enfuddu z’emengo’ or in English, the Tortoises of Mengo are infamous for predating the colonial era.

In downtown Kampala do not forget to check out the Nakasero fruit and vegetable market, the general goods market and the crafts market.

There are a number of interesting buildings in the city, including the buildings that housed the colonial administration and the houses of the Indian merchants, the Parliament, the museum and buildings of different religious faiths including the Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrine.

To top it all, Walters has a bargain for the souvenir shoppers and puts you in direct contact with a variety of excellent local artists.

Bark cloth, local basket ware, pottery, gourds, kikoi cloth, carving, traditional weapons and musical instruments are some of the souvenirs available for purchase.

 

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