THE MAIN URBAN CENTRES
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 Namuugongo 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.
This is the gateway to Uganda for most visitors who arrive at Entebbe International Airport. The town is situated on Lake Victoria at 3,800 feet above the sea level. Until 1962, it was Uganda's national administrative capital.
The word Entebbe means "chair" and is derived from a local legend in which the King commanded his dominion from a carved rock that he used as a chair.
Entebbe is a traditional lakeshore resort town with lovely tree-lined avenues and some unusual and interesting buildings dating back to the 1930s and 40s.
Several government offices are still housed at Entebbe, including State House (the official residence of the President). Entebbe has excellent hotel facilities and restaurants.
- By Air: Entebbe International Airport is four kilometres from the centre of town.
- By Road: Entebbe is linked by a modern tarred road with Kampala, 40km to the north-west.
- By Lake: Boats can be hired to take you to many of the landing sites on the shores of Lake Victoria.
What to see
- Entebbe Wildlife Educational Centre: Originally started as an animal orphanage and zoo in the 1920s, it is a showplace of Uganda's fauna, especially chimpanzees and birds.
- Entebbe Botanical Gardens: First developed from a natural forest in 1898, the Gardens are a paradise of Uganda's tropical plantlife.
- Kigungu Landing Site: Site of the landing of the first Catholic missionaries to Uganda in 1879.
- Kasenyi Fishing Village: A traditional lakeside fishing village with a colourful market.
Jinja is a major commercial centre and the second largest town in Uganda. It is located 80km east of Kampala. It sits on the banks of Lake Victoria at the source of the River Nile.
While primarily an industrial town, Jinja is a good centre for exploring this central part of Uganda.
Surrounding Jinja is prime agricultural country with extensive plantations of sugarcane and tea.
- By Road: 80km by tarred road to Kampala, 143km to the Kenya border at Busia.
- By Air: Light aircraft access via Jinja Airstrip.
- By Lake: Ferry services on Lake Victoria, including services to Mwanza (Tanzania).
What to see
- source of the Nile: This famous and popular site was formerly Rippon Falls. The monument to the 19th century explorer, Speke, the first European to set eyes on the site in 1862, is three kilometres off Nalufenya Road.
- Owen Falls Dam: A magnificent example of modern engineering, the hydroelectric generating plant on the dam supplies electricity to most of Uganda and parts of Kenya and Rwanda. The Owen Falls have disappeared under the lake created by the dam. Photography is prohibited.
- Bujagali Falls: This one km of raging white water is10km north of the Kyabazinga Roundabout.
Many travellers stay overnight in this small, quiet and pleasant town in the northern end of the Rwenzori Mountains, en route to Murchison Falls national Park. Others use it as the base from which to explore Semliki Valley and the Kibale Forest Primate Reserve. Though not as conveniet as Kasese, it is also possible to organise a trek in the mountains from here.
Other attractions include, the hot springs in Semliki Valley and pygmy villages
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