Welcome to Kampala
Kampala is Uganda's largest city and its chief urban centre, and
is known for its friendly, welcoming people, and beautiful setting.
The city is built over seven hills, and stretches to the shores of
While the buildings and other vestiges of urban infrastructure
may still have a ramshackle quality and an air of neglect about
them, aspects of the city are booming: tourism, and the presence of
NGOs, has brought new money and fresh ideas to Kampala, reflected
in the diverse international cuisine, burgeoning local art scene,
broadband Internet facilities, and inevitably, the increasing
number of traffic jams to be found there.
Many visitors come overland from Kenya, and find Kampala's
relaxed air and reputation for safety a welcome relief from the
(comparative) hazards of Nairobi. Perhaps the biggest danger facing
tourists to Uganda's capital are the Boda-boda motorcycle taxis -
these should not be used, unless one has a burning desire to add
the inside of a hospital room to one's Kampala itinerary.
There is little in the way of must-see attractions in Kampala
itself: a former key site, the Kasubi Tombs, was extensively
damaged by fire in 2009, and remains closed; while the Uganda
National Museum is a pleasant afternoon diversion at best. The
Uganda Railway Station building is worth a look, as it remains a
wonderful example of grand colonial architecture.
Some of the most appealing experiences are to be had in the
city's vibrant markets. Owino market is a famously chaotic and
eclectic place, with everything from original artworks to charity
clothing for sale. The smaller Nakasero fresh-food market is very
colourful, with fruit and vegetables from all over the region for
sale, much of it unfamiliar to western eyes (and palates). For arts
and crafts, the roadside market on Buganda Road rewards those with
a keen eye, and robust bargaining skills.
Kampala is typically used as a base by visitors, who are en
route to the one of the great natural attractions found in its
outlying areas. The most popular of these is undoubtedly the
gorilla-viewing experience at Bwindi National Park, closely
followed by wild chimpanzee feeding at Ngamba Island near Entebbe.
The nearby Nile River also offers numerous activities: rafting and
jet-skiing in the headwaters is an exhilarating experience, while
an excursion or weekend trip to the Ssese Islands is also well
worth the time.
Information & Facts
English is the official national language in Uganda.
Luganda is also widely spoken and is the most common of the
numerous indigenous languages.
The official currency is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX), which is
divided into 100 cents. Foreign currency, like US dollars, Euros or
Pounds Sterling, can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change.
Travellers cheques are not widely accepted outside of Kampala. ATMs
are available in Kampala. Credit cards are only accepted at major
hotels, shops and restaurants, usually only in the cities.
Local time in Uganda is GMT +3.