Kampala City tour is one of the amazing safaris that a traveler can engage in to learn the countries origins and cultures adding the religions to it.
Kampala is Uganda’s capital city located in the central region of Uganda. Kampala is bordered by Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest fresh water lake and also the Source of River Nile. Kampala is the most developed town in Uganda and is Uganda’s National and commercial City. Kampala is surrounded by about 7 hills that make up the city and are covered with green vegetation that bring out the beauty of the city.
Kampala is divided into two; the urban section where you find the urban centre of contemporary skyscrapers and mainly offices, government institutions, shopping malls, and incredible hotels. The other area is the downtown section where you find mainly entrepreneurs and is the most congested part of the city. This population of people in Kampala makes up to 1.5 million people believed to stay in Kampala however during the night the population reduces as most people stay in the outcasts of Kampala city. For Travellers’ intending to visit Uganda, Kampala city tour is an experience that will give you an insight into Uganda in general. Kampala has several attractions that make her an outstanding destination in Uganda. Some of the most visited attractions include;
Kampala city seats on the land of the most interesting and known Kingdoms of Uganda that is the Buganda Kingdom and it belongs to the Luganda speaking people in Uganda. Before Kampala became the capital city under the management by the Uganda government, the area was under the leadership of a King locally interpreted as “the Kabaka”. In the olden days, the King then used to spend his leisure time hunting in some of the surrounding hills given that the hills were occupied by some of the animals specifically the Impala. So every time the king would go hunting, the locals would say “Kabaka agenzi ku ka sozi ka mpala”, meaning that the king has gone to the hill of Impalas hence the name Kampala. Buganda kingdom has a rich cultural experience for visitors and some of these places make up the Kampala city tour for visitors interested in a cultural tour while on a Kampala city tour including;
- The Kabaka’s palace; This was a former home of the Kings of Buganda by then was Sekabaka Muteesa II before it was abandoned after the ordered dramatic attack by Prime Minister Milton Obote during the governess of President Idi Amin when the soldiers stormed the palace with gunshots destroying the palace hence Sekabaka Muteesa was forced into exile . The building itself cannot be assessed but visitors can go there to see and learn more about the Buganda kingdom from there. At the King’s Palace, there was a dishonoring torture underground prison constructed by President Amin where prisoners were kept and suffered to death. This prison is open for visitors to see when they visit the palace.
- Bulange Mengo Royal building; this is one of the most respected buildings in the Buganda Kingdom. It is a place where the King meets his members of the kingdom more described as the Buganda Parliament. Before Bulange royal building was constructed outside the Kabaka’s Palace, members of the Kingdom would meet their king under trees sitting on the grass. They later decided to construct a grass thatched house for the Buganda parliament. As time went by, Prime Minister Sir Apollo Kaggwa, decided to give the Buganda parliament a better look by constructing it using bricks and this was constructed at the entrance to the Kabaka’s palace. However, the King’s parliament later expanded and there was a need for expand space for holding a meeting, this led construction of the Buganda parliament outside the Kabaka’s palace. During Sekabaka Muteesa’s period in exile in Scotland, he admired the plan of the King’s building in Scotland and brought it to be used as they constructed the parliament. The beauty of the building is that it was constructed on a straight road 2.3km away facing the Kabaka’s palace. The building was purposed to handle the cultural laws and discuss any developments for the good of the kingdom and the 56 clans of Buganda. Members of the kingdom include the 56 clans of Buganda and during your Kampala city tour, you will be able to see and notice that the clans have been shown on your drive from the King’s palace in Mengo Hill to Bulange royal building on Namirembe Hill.
- The Kabaka’s Lake; during your city tour for a cultural experience, a visit to the Kabaka’s lake is an added experience. It is closely located near the Kabaka’s palace. This is a man-made lake simply dag by the people of Buganda for the King. This was dag during the reign of Kabaka Mwanga as an escape corrida to Lake Victoria. However, later other kings’ used it as a relaxing place for them. During their leisure time, they would sail on the lake and also take time to worship their gods on the small island found on the lake. The Kabaka’s lake is also a suitable birding place around Kampala city.
- The Kasubi Royal tombs; this is one of the “not to miss” place for any tourist on a Kampala city tour because it’s at this place you will get all the cultural knowledge about Buganda kingdom and their kings. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site given its remarkable building built purely in vegetal materials in the whole of Africa thus the building is called “Muzibu Azaala Mpanga” which literally means “A tough one brings forth powerful ones”. The Kasubi tomb sits on about 26 hectares of land on Kasubi hill located about 5km from the Kampala city centre. The Kasubi tomb is a site where the last four Kings of Buganda were buried and other members of the royal family and it is an active site for religious, spiritual, and political of Buganda kingdom. In the tombs, there you will find the first kabaka that is Muteesa I who was also the 35th king, to replace the palace built by his then reigning father (King), Ssuuna II, the palace was turned into a royal burial ground on his death (Sekabaka Muteesa I). In Buganda tradition, the deceased Kings were to be buried in only one place with different shrines for the deceased kabaka’s jawbone believed to contain his soul. The other 3 kings who were buried in the Kasubi royal tombs include; Basamula Mwanga II, Daudi Chwa II, and Fredrick Walugembe Muteesa II. You may pay 10$ to 15$ dollars to access the site.
The Uganda Museum
The Uganda Museum is located on Kira road and its one stock place where you will get every kind of information about Uganda starting from years ago. It is the biggest and oldest museum in Uganda with the cultural heritage of ethnological and natural historical built-in 1908. The Museum has incredible collection spans of Uganda’s history cultures and treasures. It has different sections including the musical sections containing traditional musical instruments plus a practical musical performance for visitors. There is the archaeology section containing the parts of the stone and Iron age, while here you will be able to stone tools used so many years again. Communication sector; while here, you will find the very first telephone to be used in Uganda and East Africa at large, and the first printing press in Uganda. Transport sector; whilst here, you will see the first car to be driven in Uganda. The ethnography section provides visitors with a feel of the different cultures and peoples’ way of life in Uganda. You will also discover the different species of mammals like the Indian elephant, long-horned buffaloes to mention but a few. The museum is open to the public and visitors from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm during the weekdays and from 12 pm to 6 pm on Saturdays at a fee of 5$ to 10$. Hence do not miss out on visiting the Uganda Museum while on your Kampala city tour.
The Kampala Bahai Mother Temple of Africa also known as Mashriqu’l-Adhkar is the only Bahai temple in the African continent and among the nine existing ones around the whole. It is was built between 1958 and 1961 and is located on Kikaaya hill, 3miles from Kampala city on a 52 acres piece of land with incredibly unique architectural masterpiece built about 130 feet with a dome of about 44 feet. The temple was built in a 9 sided structure which represents the unity of faith’s biggest tenets. Interesting about the temple for visitors is that it has a beautiful park with a lot of fruit tree species, flowers and green environment with gazetted paths leading to the dome. It is a peaceful environment providing peaceful moments.
Gaddafi national mosque is Uganda’s biggest mosque and the second biggest after the one in Tanzania. It was named after the former president of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi who supported through providing funds for its construction through the World Islamic call Society. Its construction was completed 2006 and officially opened for the public on June 2013 and it doubles as the headquarters of the Islamic faith in Uganda and it’s is where we find the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. After the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2013, the mosque was declared a “Uganda National Mosque”. Today the mosque accommodates approximately 15,000 worshippers, about 1,100 people in the gallery and about 3,500 people in the terrace. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi built this mosque as a gift to the Uganda Muslim population given his close relationship with Uganda and the President of the Republic of Uganda.
The major reason why Gaddafi mosque is offered a Kampala city tour destination is that it is located on Kampala Hill in the Old Kampala area hence it has the best and gorgeous viewpoint of Kampala city. When you reach the site, you will be provided a site guide who will brief you about the mosque and all kinds of information you need to know about it. You will be guided through the different areas in the mosque and finally, climb up the stairs to the top of the minaret which has the best view of the City. Visitors are only accepted to visit the site from 8 to 6 pm at a fee between 10 to 20 U.S dollars. For the women, you are advised to come in long dresses and a scarf to cover your hair and ears. If you are not prepared with that, the mosque guides will provide such clothing for visitors so as to respect the Islam faith where women must be fully dressed up. There is a cultural market where visitors can visit and buy souvenirs in African materials.
- The Kampala Craft markets are located in different locations within the city. Craft villages are also one of those places to visit while on a Kampala city tour. For visitors interested in shopping and exploring of African made cultural items and probably take some souvenirs with you when you go back home, these are some of the places to visit. The craft villages are usually organized shops with several stalls that sell all kinds of African crafts and souvenirs even as far as Masai. Most stalls, sale the same items at different prices however it will depend on your bargaining power to acquire the item. Some of the items sold include; African Art pieces, Kitengi bags, and cloths (dresses, scarfs, pants), African necklaces, earrings, sandals or perhaps bangles. Some of the places include; Buganda Craft Village, Uganda Arts, and craft Village to mention a few. They are open from 8 am to 6 pm except during public holidays.
- Nakasero market is yet another market you can include on your Kampala city tour list. It is the biggest market that can give you an African adventure shopping experience. It is a market best to find fresh fruits and vegetables from the local farms of Ugandan farmers. It is located just below Kampala road from Bank of Uganda. Any kind of fruit or vegetable of your interest is found in this market.
- Owino Market. This is the busiest market in Kampala city. It is located in downtown near the taxi park. Owino market also known as St. Balikuddembe is best known for its wide range of second-hand clothes from Europe, Asia, and USA. Owino market got its name from a certain Owiny from Northern Uganda who used to sell corn, potatoes, and Cassava in the market. The phrase, “let me go to Owiny’s place” was often used and heard and hence the name became synonymous with the market. The market is very congested with a lot of noise from all angles of the market. So if you are interested in experience the locality of Ugandans, visit the Owino market.
Uganda Martyrs Shrine
Uganda Martyrs shrine is located in Namugongo town, a small town in Kampala. It is 16km north-east of Kampala city. For visitors interested in religious tourism, this is a magnificent site to visit while on a Kampala city tour. The reason while Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is recognized as a tourist attraction for Christians is that it holds a great history of the young people who rebelled against the worship of the king on earth and choosing to worship the heavenly God. Annually on 3rd June is a celebration day in Uganda where all Christians gather at the shrine to commemorate the lives of the saints who lost their lives because of their faith. This has become a world tourism event as many Christians travel miles from different countries to celebrate along with other Christians, an estimate of about 2 million people attend this event
In history, 3rd/June/1886, 32 young men were burnt into ashes at Namugongo under the role of Ssekabaka Mwanga II of Buganda kingdom for their refusal to renounce Christianity. These were mainly Anglicans and catholic Christians and some very few Muslims. This Namugongo shrine was first recognized in 1885-1884 by Joshua Serufusa-Zake when he was the Sabadu of Kira sub-county. He later constructed a building at the Namugongo site and shrines where built later for prayers.
The Namugongo Martyrs shrine construction started in 1967 and completed in 1975. The shrine stands tall with the splendour of an ancient cathedral with a structural design from an African hut. The structure has a basilica of 22 copper pillars over 100 feet long to support the shrine. It has a capacity of accommodating about 1000 people whose seats are organized in a circular format. The shrine has a lake that was simply dug in the honor of the Martyrs, and it has an island with a deck like a feature that is used for Holy Masses. A cabin beneath the alter bears the sacristy, a kitchen and bedroom which was occupied
Today there are several structures that have been named after the saints. For example, there are schools, buildings in Kampala city and churches which are also constructed in areas where the martyrs were killed. The most prominent shrine is the one at Namugongo where St. Charles Lwanga was burnt together with his companions and then the one at Munyonyo.
Namirembe Cathedral: Saint Paul’s Cathedral commonly referred to as Namirembe Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Uganda built in red bricks and it serves as the provincial cathedral of the Church of Uganda and the diocesan cathedral for Namirembe Diocese. This was the first dioceses found in the Church of Uganda in 1890. Later the Church of Uganda moved to All Saints Church in Nakasero and then returned to Namirembe. The cathedral interestingly is a graveyard with the remains of Bishop Hannington, a missionary who was murdered in 1885 and Dr. Cook who established Mengo Hospital. Namirembe Cathedral is located on Namirembe Hill, 2km from Kampala city and given its location, it has an incredible view of Kampala city. The church has an interesting history of the relationship between the Buganda kingdom and the missionaries; this is one of the experiences you will encounter while on your Kampala city tour.