Kampala is the capital city of Uganda stretching to up to 189km2, 13km2 of these are covered by water. The city is commonly known as the city on 7 hills. These include; Rubaga hill, Namirembe hill, Makerere Hill, Nakasero Hill, Kampala hill, Makerere hill, and Mulago hill.
The city is further subdivided into five divisions; Rubaga division, Nakawa division, central division, Makindye division, and Kawempe division. In case you are interested in slum outreaches and tours; Makindye division and Kawempe division would be the top-recommended divisions for your adventure.
Main Activities in Kampala
Unlike other cities in Uganda, Kampala mainly offers religious tours which include; visits to the Catholic church cathedral in Rubaga, the Anglican church cathedral in Namirembe, Bahai temple in Kisaasi, National mosque at old Kampala hill, and the Hindu temples in Kampala central business. Other attractions include; Kabaka’s lake, Ndere central, Nakasero Market, Uganda museum Owino Market are other sites.
Uganda Museum is the most recommended go-to place around Kampala for both a summarized and in-depth insight into the ethnological, archaeological, historical science, and cultural heritage of Uganda. From traditional music instruments to ancient hunting tools, almost everything in the historical heritage of Uganda can be found at the Uganda Museum.
The Museum was opened in 1908 and it is currently located at Kira road next to the British council and Uganda wildlife Authority offices. Anyone intending to visit Uganda wildlife Authority offices would highly be recommended to spare a few minutes of their precious time to visit Uganda museum
The Kabaka’s lake is one of the historical sites of Buganda Kingdom birthed out of Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga’s enthusiasm for sailing. The king wanted to construct a water channel that would connect his palace in Mengo to that of Munyonyi located at the shores of Lake Victoria. It seemed a long journey to trek given the huddles of road transport back in time compared to water transport.
One of the most fascinating things about this lake is; it was dug manually by the simple tools the King’s subjects had at their disposal. It is believed that if it was not for the interruption of the colonial masters; the project of digging a lake that would connect the Mengo palace to that of Munyonyo would have been a success.
Today the Kabaka’s lake is anticipated to undergo some development that will allow proper tourism activities in the place. Unless you are considering a guided tour, there are no entrance charges for accessing the place more so for birding.
Rubaga Cathedral (St Mary’s Cathedral)
It would be true that every tourism site in Kampala is more of a historical heritage site; the same applies to the commonly known Rubaga Cathedral which is also known as Saint Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga has a long line of religious history in Uganda.
It was the foundation for the catholic Uganda martyrs whose story is also a long tale of faith worth every minute of attention. The place offers wonderful architecture, Buganda kingdom history, dividing marks of the foundation of Uganda’s politics.
Some of the things that stand out in place include; the remains of the first African arch Bishop Joseph Kiwanuka, the electric power free Harmonica, the court of arms of the different popes as well as the arch Bishops, the arch Bishop’s chair which is actually the major icon of the cathedral.
The place can be visited on both a self-guided and guided tour.
The story of Namirembe cathedral (the main cathedral of the Anglican church in Uganda) is quite a different one from that of Saint Mary’s cathedral.
Legend has it that Namirembe hill was prior occupied by a demi-god. It is believed that just beside this very hill was a well of water where the locals used to fetch water. (Several legends surround wells and water) But unlike other wells and places that were occupied by rude demi-gods; this hill was kinda different since its demi-god was a peaceful one thus the name “Namirembe”
However, this hill like Rubaga hill was given to the Anglican sect by Kabaka Mwanga the son to the Ssekabaka (the late king) Mutesa I to set up a church as a victory reward for the religious wars in Buganda that were mainly between the Muslims and the Christians.
The Bahia faith is one of the many recognized religions in Uganda. Its core is to unite all the other religions into one religion that will help all humanity to experience peace and harmony as a human race.
The Bahai temple is the only Bahai temple found on the African continent. It has 9 doors representing the 9 recognized prophets of the Bahai faith. However, because it is a place of worship, it is not recommended for mere tours unless you are interested in religion, you should not simply be moved by the scenery.
It is the best place to relax for meditation. Actually one of the main reasons for its existence is meditation. As long as you are doing quiet mediation, the place is highly recommended. its location on Kikaaya hill near Kisaasi town is a strategic location surrounded with silence unlike the worship places in the heart of the city.
Miracle Center Cathedral
Miracle center cathedral is the biggest non-deonminational church in Uganda. It has an auditorium that seats about 15,000 people every weekend. When you visit this church, you will be taken through the journey of how many people have received miracles including those who came in wheelchairs and went back normal.
Besides visiting for tours, you can also visit to attend a church service in case you are on a spiritual journey of finding the actual place to belong.
National Mosque/ Gadaffi Mosque
You might have seen several aerial views of Kampala but that is already enough proof that you saw the recorded feed without the ultimate experience of seeing Kampala from a raised ground. Gadaffi Mosque is one of the must-visit locations for the best view of all the seven hills that make up Kampala
When you visit this mosque, the tour guide will take you the history of Kampala hill, how it comes to transfer from the Christians to the Muslims and how the biggest mosque in Uganda came into existence in the early 2000s and reasons why it was never completed in the 70s
A visit to this mosque will grant you access to the basic principals of the Muslim faith since there are certain things mainly contrary to the Islam maxims that may deny you access. These include; dress code and alcohol to take some precautions before you visit
Ndere cultural center is one of the must-visits in regard to Uganda’s culture. Its mission is to ensure that Uganda’s arts are not relegated to the museums rather, make it possible to be experienced even today. The team believes that if they can master the rhythms of the ancient arts, they will directly be in a position to create special art whose signature carries the local touch.
Therefore, when you visit the Ndere center, you will encounter the different indigenous Ugandan dances but on top of this, music and arts have had their foundation or DNA on traditional rhythms. Anyone interested in the traditional music and arts will obviously find it worth to visit Ndere cultural center.
It has to be noted; music in the African society was never passive, it always intended to pass a message or acted as a catalyst in a given spirit ritual. Therefore, you might only experience this music and art free of its actual environment which is sometimes sacred
Nakasero market is basically a food market. In Uganda, almost all the foods are sold fresh, there is nothing like keeping items in the refrigerator in the local markets. You will find a variety of vegetables, fruits, and food in Nakasero market.
You will find people of all races mostly residents in Kampala doing there shopping in the Nakasero market. The market is relatively smaller compared to the Owino market which sells almost everything ranging from clothes, shoes, raw food, fruits, vegetables, and a lot more non-bulky items.
Watch out for the safety of your bag and variable when walking on these streets.
There are 3 Hindu temples in the city of Kampala. Two are located in the city center while the third one is located in Naguru off Lugogo bypass. In case you wish to avoid the busy traffic in the city center, I would recommend a visit to the Hindu temple in Naguru.
Their architecture tends to look similar; and the places can be visited throughout the week.