Kampala has become a modern, bustling capital, after suffering a great deal during the years of civil strife. Under President Museveni the city has gone from a looted shell to a thriving city befitting the capital of one of the most rapidly developing countries in Africa. The electricity works, clean water comes out of the taps, damaged buildings are now habitable, many new ones have gone up, and the shops and markets are once again well stocked. There are casinos, nightclubs and fancy restaurants. Compared to neighboring African cities it's safe place to stroll around.
Kampala is built on seven hills, the city center is on just one of them, Nakasero. The top half of the hill is a garden city of wide, quiet avenues lined with large houses behind imposing fences and a golf course. Embassies, international aid organisations, up market hotels, government offices and the rich reside here. The bottom half of Nakesero hill is a world away from this, composed of shops, small businesses, budget hotels, cheap restaurants, street markets, Hindu temples, the bus station and taxi parks. The streets in this congested area overflow with people, battered old cars, lottery ticket sellers and pavement stalls offering everything from rubber stamps to radio repairs.
Kampala is a city where you feel quickly at home, and get used to it's layout and structure. It is simple to navigate around even with a complete lack of signposting. The main street is Kampala Rd, with Bombo Road, & Jinja Road at either end of it. The banks and many forex bureaus are located along Kampala Rd.
View over Kampala from Stanbic Building
The Owino Marked is situated close to the Nakasero Stadium is Kampala's main market. A great place for second hand clothing but more over just about everything else you don't need. Pickpockets are a problem so heed warning. There are several smaller markets one of particular interest is Nakasero fruit and vegetable market off Kampala Rd.
There are 2 backpackers in Kampala looking for your custom. They are both located out of the city necessitating a matatu ride to get to either or.
Backpackers Hostel and Campsite: (The original backpackers sometimes known as Natete Backpackers). Tel 0414 272012, email email@example.com, www.backpackers.co.ug.
Located 3 km from the city centre on the Natete/Wakiliga Rd. Shared Mini bus taxis depart from the New Taxi Park. You need only ask one of the drivers where taxis to the Natete Backpackers Hostel depart from. The hostel is well signposted off the main road.
The Backpackers is a good place to gather information and meet fellow travelers. Free Internet and e-mail, gorilla tracking information, bar and restaurant, Satellite TV, public telephone, clean showers and toilets, storage facilities.
Camping: Ushs10,000-, Economy dormitory: Ushs12,500- (no bedding), Dormitory with 4 beds Ushs16,000- (including bedding),
Single room: Ushs20,000-, Twin room: Ushs40,000-/Ushs50,000-, Double room: Ushs45,000-/Ushs50,000-, Self-contained Double room: Ushs55,000-.
Red Chilli Hideaway Backpackers and Campsite: Tel/Fax 0414 223903 or Cell 0772 509150, 0752 584054, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
From either the taxi park or along Kampala Rd catch a shared mini bus taxi going to Bugolobi, Luzira or Port Bell. Get out at the taxi stop on the left after the Silver Springs Hotel in front of the Shell Station. Those with their own transport coming from Jinja to Kampala on the Jinja road should turn left at the large set of traffic lights about 2 km after the Nakawa/Spear Motors junction. Distance from Kampala (Jinja Rd round about) to Red Chilli is 5 kms.www.redchillihideaway.com
Red Chilli has a lively bar and restaurant, large camp site, secure, hot showers and clean toilets, hand wash laundry service, satellite TV, all the usual Uganda travel information. Free Internet access for residents 09.00am till 21.00 and a small swimming pool.
Dormitory tent with linen Ushs18,000-
Single room Ushs30,000-, Twin rooms Ushs40,000-
Double rooms Ushs50,000-, Double rooms en-suite Ushs60,000-
Self contained cottages 1 bedroom Ushs110,000-
Self contained cottages 2 bedrooms Ushs150,000-
The Ywca: Tel. 0414 342024/243686, email: email@example.com. Located one block south of the Central Police Station off George St. The YWCA has rooms sets aside for Transit Guests as well as providing for long term residents. Camping in the grounds is permitted.
Self-contained rooms US$40- per night, other rooms US$30- per night inc continental breakfast.
Namirembe Guest House: Tel. 041 273778, (0)772 434506, Fax. 0414 273904, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Plot No. 1085 Willis Road, Kampala. 5 minutes drive to city centre, 20 minutes walk. Restaurant with excellent buffet lunch and internet facilities on site.
Single room non-self-contained US$33-
Single room self-contained US$45-
Double room self-contained US$52-
Twin bedded room sel-contained US$58
Family room 3 beds self-contained US$77-
Family room4 beds of more self-contained US$20- per bed
Rates are inclusive of VAT and local hotel tax.
Kolping Guest House: Tel. 041 543990, Fax 0414 543982. Plot 132 Bombo Road. Five minutes to the city centre. Good value single and double accommodation, bar and restaurant. A chain of Kolping Guest Houses can be found in Hoima, Masindi and Mityana.
Bencathy Hotel: Tel. +256 (0)312 294993, Mobile. +256 (0)783 032040, email: email@example.com. Located in the suburb of Kabalagala a short distance from the city. 11 spacious self-contained rooms fitted with DSTV on the door step of the best night life Kampala has to offer.
Single: Ushs50,000-, Double: Ushs70,000-, Twin rooms: Ushs80,000-
Executive (Honey moon suite): Ushs100,000-
All room rates include bed and breakfast
The College Inn: Tel. +256 (0)41 4533835, mobile: (0)772 897710, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located on Bombo road in the buzzing university area of Wandegeya. Fresh clean rooms with Dstv, popular courtyard restaurant.
Single: US$30-, Double/Twin US$45-.
Room rates per night including breakfast.
Excellent Hotel Kampala: Tel. +256 (0)713 660020. Bed and breakfast hotel in central Kampala offering cheap accommodation while combining quality and affordability. All rooms are equipped with in-house video, cable satellite programs on large screens and Wireless Internet.
Single Room - US$35, Double Room - US$40, Suite - US$60. The rates are inclusive of bed and breakfast and applicable taxes.
Hotel Triangle: Tel. +256 (0)414 231 747, (0)414 233 410, (0)414 662 722, email: email@example.com. Plot 16 Buganda road, close to the cities business and commercial district. The popular tourist craft market is directly opposite the hotel. Facilities included in this modern 60 room hotel include a swimming pool and health club.
Single deluxe room US$100-, Double deluxe room US$120-, Deluxe twin US$140-, Suite single US$160-, Suite double US$180-. Rates include breakfast.
Mamba Point Guest House & Restaurant: Tel. +256 (0)312 563000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 22 Aki Bua Road, Nakasero. Very much an upmarket venue with swimming pool. Located in a quite residential suburb 2 minutes from the city centre. 6 en-suite air conditioned twin-bed rooms with satellite TV, direct dial phones and Internet connectivity.
Single room US$115-, Double room USD150-. Rates include breakfast.
Fine Italian restaurant attached to the guest house. Mamba Point Restaurant has been rated one of only four **** star dining establishments in Uganda by The New Vision and The Monitor newspapers (Uganda's leading daily) and awarded the title of best restaurant in Uganda, consecutively for the years 2004 and 2005, by the readers of the authoritative Travel News and Lifestyle Magazine of Nairobi, Kenya (Travel News and Lifestyle Magazine is also the exclusive in-flight magazine of Airkenya, British Airways/Regional Air and Regional Air Services of Tanzania).
The Emin Pasha Hotel: Tel: +256 (0)414 236977/8/9 +256 (0)312 264712/3/4 Fax: +256 (0)414 236231, email: email@example.com. Located at 27 Akii-Bua Road set in 2 acres of leafy landscaped gardens, this is a tropical version of the country house hotel. Centrally located and within walking distance to Kampala's business district. 20 Bedrooms in a lovingly restored old colonial building, swimming pool, massage rooms and top class restaurant.
Garden Rooms (8)
Single US$260-, Double US$290-
Garden Suites (2)
Single US$280-, Double US$310-
Superior Rooms (8)
Single US$260-, Double US$290-
Superior Suites (2)
Single US$330-, Double US$350-
Kampala Serena: Tel: +256 (0)414 309000, Fax: +256 (0)414 259130 email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This 152 room hotel opened August 2006 has set new standards for 5 star luxury in East Africa. The hotel boasts all the usual facilities you would expect from such a landmark establishment. Room rates on application.
Sheraton Kampala: Tel. 0312 322337/8, Fax 0414 342357,
email: email@example.com, www.sheraton.com/kampala.
Centrally located and one of the most dominant and visible buildings in the city. Free wireless Internet available in the reception area and Rhino bar for residents, whilst visitors can subscribe for Ushs6,000- per half hour or Ushs10,000- per hour.
Accommodation rates from Single US$305-, Double US$330- depending on the season and hotel occupancy. Rates subject to 18% VAT.
Hotel Africana: 2-4 Wampewo Ave. Tel. 0414 777500, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hotelafricana.com.
Single US$108-, Double US$132-
Executive Deluxe Single US$150-, Executive Deluxe Double US$180-
Suite US$280-, Executive Suite US$300-
Athina Club: 19 Acacia Ave. Tel. 0414 341428, email email@example.com
Equatoria Hotel: William Street. Tel. 0414 250780/9, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Single with A/C US$109-, Single non A/C US$79-, Double with A/C US$119-, Double non A/C US$89-.
Holiday Express Hotel: Tel. 0312 262858/7 or 0414 253451/253455, email: email@example.com, www.holidayexpresshotel.com. 42 room hotel located on the corner of Luwum and Dustur Streets in central Kampala opposite the colourful Nakasero market.
Single occupancy US$45-, Double occupancy US$77- w/o A/C
Single occupancy US$65-, Double occupancy US$89- with A/C
Rates include breakfast, but subject to 18% VAT.
Hotel Diplomate: Tel 0414 572828, Tank Hill Muyenga, www.diplomatekampala.com.
Standard Single US$35-, Twin US$55-, Superior Single US$45-, Suite US$79-.
Room rate includes full English breakfast.
Hotel International: Tank Hill Muyenga. (2000). Tel. 0414 510202/4, Fax. 0414 510203, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hotelinternational.co.ug.
Single standard Ushs120,000-, Standard double Ushs155,000-, Single executive Ushs165,000-, Double executive Ushs179,000-.
Tourist Hotel: Nakasero Market. Tel 0414 251471, email: email@example.com, www.touristhotel.net
Standard Single: US$25-, Superior Single: US$30-, Standard Double:US$35-, Superior Double: US$40-.
Accommodation Ntinda (Fashionable area of Kampala's northern suburbs only a short commuting distance from the city centre)
Blue Mango: This venue unfortunately closed down in February 2007.
Jicca Hotel: Tel. +256 414 299195, 0772 590111, firstname.lastname@example.org. Located on Kabira Road (Bukenya Zone). This 23 room hotel offers fast Internet connections in all the rooms with DSTV. The hotel has a health club, swimming pool, restaurant and bar.
Room Rates include bed and breakfast
Hotel Sayona: Tel. +256 (0)712 716090. Located on Old Kira Road.
14 room hotel.
Room Rates on a bed only basis
Accommodation Mukono (21kms from Kampala on Kampala - Jinja Highway)
Colline Hotel: Tel. 0414 290533, 0414 290240, email: email@example.com. 202 self-contained rooms with modern facilities including DSTV.
Room rates 2009 inclusive of breakfast and hotel tax
Standard Single US$90-, Double US$105-
Standard Twin US$115-
Deluxe Single US$125-, Double US$140-
Superior Deluxe Single US$140-, Double US$170-
Suite Single US$170-, Double US$210-
Mukono Resort Hotel: Tel. +256 (0)392 834775, Mobile. +256 (0)712 348300.
26 delux rooms all with Dstv, intercom, Internet connections and excellent room service. Twin standard rooms at attractive rates. Airport transfer services.
Single Ushs20,000-, Twin Ushs40,000-, Delux Double Ushs50,000-.
Money Matters: (Read also document Uganda Facts)
Kampala is the best place to change whatever money you need for your stay in Uganda. There are countless foreign exchange bureaus around town. If you are with a vehicle in Kampala and are concerned about leaving your vehicle unattended when making your forex transaction go to the Grand Imperial Hotel. You can safely park your vehicle in view whilst changing your money in the Shumuk Forex Bureau kiosk adjacent to the main entrance of the hotel. All vehicles are parked inside a 24hour security barrier. The same can be said if you are on foot and feel anxious about making your forex transaction. The best rates tend to be found along the top end of Kampala Rd just out of the city centre. For additional information on money matters please read again the details in the document 'Uganda Facts'.
Bus and Taxi Parks:
There is one main bus park in Kampala although the Akamba Bus arrives at it's own depot near the National Theater. The Nile Coach also leaves from it's own location but few travelers will be considering a journey to West Nile and Arua districts.
The 'Old Taxi Park'
There are 2 shared taxi parks. Known as the 'Old' and the 'New' taxi parks. Make sure you know which one you must find your taxi at. Generally taxis heading west out of Kampala depart from the New Park and Taxis heading east depart from the Old Park. Taxis to Entebbe depart from both, as do taxis to the North of Uganda.
Parking in Kampala: Finding a parking place in Kampala is surprisingly easy considering the amount of traffic. You will however need to purchase parking tickets from an authorized kiosk. Tickets are sold in strips of 5 with a value of Ushs1,000-. Each parking costs Ushs200-. Some Shell Service stations also sell strips of parking tickets but the best place to buy what you need is from one of the many parking kiosks around town. Kampala council employs hundreds of parking inspectors which patrol on foot and issue tickets to parked vehicles in demarcated parking bays. The ticket is left under the windscreen wiper or even handed direct to the driver. You can exchange a Ushs200- ticket to the parking inspector in payment for parking. Driving away without paying is quite normal whether intentional or not. However if you accumulate unpaid tickets do not be surprised if you get wheel clamped.
Entebbe Road taffic jam
You can park for free at the Sheraton but do not be blinded by the apparent vehicle security in doing this. Vehicle break-ins and body part rip offs are common place especially from tourist vehicles parked here.
Leaving your vehicle unattended is unwise especially if you have valuable items in the vehicle. There is not a theft crisis on the scale of Nairobi but vehicle break in's do happen in town and you would be advised to leave vehicles in a secure pay to park location in town or better still at either of the Backpackers and take a taxi into town. Likewise beware of distraction tricksters that gain the attention of any single occupant of a vehicle whilst he/she is sitting there with both windows open. Once your attention has been gained a co-conspirator will grab an unattended bag left on the adjacent seat and make off with it.
Eating and Drinking:
South African and Zimbabwean fast food chains have finally arrived in Kampala. Nando's, Steers, and The Chicken Inn have all taken up residence along Kampala Rd. This is not for everyone obviously but needless to say Kampala has a restaurant to suit you. Whether Indian, Chinese and even Ethiopian cuisine it can all be found at several restaurants around the city. If you're looking for a bottle of wine for a special occasion Kampala has its own wine shop now on Luwum St off Entebbe Rd. There is a large selection of wine from around the world though more especially from S.Africa at affordable prices.
Haandi's - Commercial Plaza, 7 kampala Rd. Tel. 041 346283/4. Indian food never tasted better.
Pavement Tandoori - Cooper Rd, Kisementi, Tel. 041 344994. Excellent presentation and taste.
Masala Chaat House - 3b Dewington Rd, located behind the Parliament Building. Tel. 041 255701. Good value although not in the same league as the two restaurants above.
Fang Fang - 1st Floor, Communications House, Colville St. Tel.
Great Wall - 21 Kampala Rd. Tel 041 230064
Golden Fish - Spring Rd, Bugolobi. Tel 041 222040, 0772 407464
Fasika - Gaba Rd, Kabalagala. Tel. 041 268571
Mamba Point - 22 Aki Bua Road, Nakasero
Bars and Night Clubs:
The best of these are out in Kabalagala district on Gaba Rd that include Al's Bar, Hunters cafe Bar and Half London. The hostels will advise what is currently the in place to be. In Kismenti 'Just kicking' sports bar is a very popular hang out.
Out of town in Kabalagala on the Gaba Rd there are several small supermarkets. You may find yourself out here if you are looking for Quality Cuts Butchery. Kabalagala is however not walking distance from town. If on foot get a shared taxi from town. The new Shoprite is without a doubt the premiere supermarket in Kampala. Located close to the new taxi park and the Clock Tower off Entebbe Rd. With secure parking and just about everything you expect from a supermarket. Shoprite has opened a second shop with better access for vehicles on the Kampala- inja road 3 kms out of town opposite the Lugogo sports stadium. Garden City Mall is Kampala's answer to under cover shopping. Here you will find the Kenyan Uchmi supermarket. In Bugolobi you will find a Payless Supermarket very close to the Red Chilli Hideaway.
Cyber cafes are on just about every street corner in Kampala. The internet revolution has most certainly come to Kampala. The appertite by Ugandans for internet access and online time is staggering. Lotus Cyber Cafes have 5 locations around Kampala and offer the cheapest online time @Ushs20- per minute. Quality surf time can be experienced in an air-conditioned environment at The Web City Cafe on Kimathi avenue next to Emirates Airlines office. Coffee and a snacks menu available. Surfing time @ Ushs50- per minute. Join their loyalty program and then surf for Ushs30- per minute.
There are Uganda Telecom Hotspots around town where by you can buy an airtime card for either Ushs5,000 and Ushs10,000-. This will give you 30 minutes or 1 hour of online time. Some of these UTL Hotspots include Blue Mango Restaurant, Faze 2 Restaurant, Rwenzori Coffee Shop and Emin Pasha Hotel. CelTel Mobile also have several hotspots one is to be found at Cafe Romana on Parliament Avenue.
Other cafes around town include: Cyberworld Cafe: Park Royal Shopping Arcade, Kampala Rd. Globenet Cafe: 32 Kampala Rd (Radio One Building). Frans.com: Shop 2 Pioneer Mall, Kampala Rd. Kiatec: 3 Cooper Rd, Kismenti. Microskills: 9 Grand Imperial. Niagra Falls: 4 Pilkington Rd.
Gift Shops and Crafts:
Uganda Crafts 2000 ltd: Located slightly out of town along Bombo Road - This fair trade shop works with disadvantaged artisans,
Ucota Craft Shop: Plot 11 Portal Ave - Works and supports local communities to market and develop their hand crafts.
A&K 97 Crafts: Crested Towers - A selection of quality crafts and materials form across East and Southern Africa.
Craft Village National Theatre - Here you will find a myriad of traders hawking local crafts in a vibrant and colourful atmosphere.
Banana Boat: Three exquisite shops located at 23 Cooper Rd, Kismenti, Garden City Mall and Lugogo Mall. Quality merchandise, books and much more.
Gerald's Antiques: Ground Floor, Colline Shopping Mall, Pilkington Rd (Next to Mukono Bookshop). Dealers in quality African Tribal Artifacts, African Art, Old Africana Books, engravings, stamps, coins and paper money.
Aristoc: Kampala Rd and Garden City Mall.
Colour Chrome: 54 Kampala Rd. A large range of slide/dia and print film avavilable. E6 slide film processing and quality print fill processing. Scanning services. Selection of quality postcards.
There are 2 excellent butchers in Kabalagala on the Gaba Rd. The first you come to on the right is 'Quality Cuts' used by many of the expatriate community resident in Kampala. Obviously you pay for what you get, but if you have been craving fresh pork, pate, cheeses and excellent bread Quality Cuts will satisfy your needs. There is a large secure car park in front of QC's and a fresh produce shop with fruit and vegetables available. Beyond QC's in Kabalagala proper is Farmers Choice Butchery on the left. Farmers Choice is usually cheaper than OC's with a more limited choice however quality is comparable.
If your tired of the sweet yellow bread that tends to be more popular with African pallets you can find excellent salted bread in Kampala. The Hot Loaf Bakery in the court yard between the Uganda House building and the Uganda Commercial Bank has a range of bread, cakes and savories. Vasillies adjacent The Chicken Inn franchise has some of the best bread on sale in Kampala. The City Bakery is located almost next door on the same side of Kampala Rd to Chicken Inn. For those out on Gaba Rd Quality Cuts Butchery has very good bread.
There are 2 locations where you can get gas bottles recharged. The first on the left side of Kampala Rd heading out of town towards Bombo Rd. There is a large sign BIPLUS 200m prior to the junction of Kampala Rd and Ben Kiwanuka Rd. The second location in on Entebbe Rd next door to the Uganda Batteries premises. You will usually have to leave your bottle, a deposit or even pay in full and pick it up in 4 hours.
Toyota, Landrover and Nissan all have dealerships in Kampala. These brands also have the lions share of the 4-wheel drive vehicle and utility vehicles market in the country. For vehicle repairs they are expensive as they are also for spare parts. You can find genuine spare parts as well as OEM spare parts at several reliable and credible vendors in Kampala. The best of these are located along Ben Kiwanuka St opposite the 'Old Taxi Park'. Fontana Auto Spares on Entebbe Rd close to its junction with Kampala has an incredible stock of genuine spare parts, a computer database of manufacturer part numbers and prices are fair. If you cannot find what your looking for at Fontana you probably cannot get it in Uganda.
Iron roofs of Kampala's shanty area
On Ben Kiwanuka Rd Mandela Auto Spares are without a doubt the best of the dealers here. Seals, gaskets, shocks, bearings, filters, bushes etc, Mandela Auto Spares has it or knows where you can get it.
If you need tyres Uganda is not as cheap as Kenya. There is a variety of brands including 'Kenya Firestone', Hancook and generally the cheapest are an Iranian brand. Hancook tyres of 750x16 (Landcruiser Hard top) and 750x15 (Landrover and Landcriuiser Station Wagon) 12 ply, they have a very aggressive tread, are used throughout Ethiopia by all 4x4 vehicles and are probably the best buy. They are however noisey on tarmac, need balancing and the ride is hard. They come with a 40,000 km guarantee and are great in the mud.
Uganda Batteries make heavy-duty batteries for 4x4 vehicles. Uganda Batteries have a shop on Entebbe Rd close to the Shell Garage on the roundabout above the 'Clock Tower' roundabout. The Uganda Batteries factory is signposted off Jinja Rd on the approach to Kampala. You will not however get a better price from the factory.
If you have a mechanical problem that needs skills or equipment that you do not possess and the vehicle must be taken to a garage to be worked on, insist on being present during the repairs or better still actually involved in the repairs. Part switching is common especially when using 'Mango Tree Mechanics'.
International Medical Centre: KPC Building, Bombo Rd, Kampala Tel. 041 341291 or emergency cell 077 741291. The Surgery: 2 Acacia Ave Tel. 041 256003 or emergency cell 075 756003. There are hospitals at Kololo, Mengo, Mulago, Nsambya, & Rubaga.
Dentists: Sterling Dental Clinic: Tel. 077 488592, Bhatia Towers, Kampala Rd. Jubilee Dental Practice: Tel. 041 344647, 13 Wampewo Ave.
The office has been moved from the Crested Towers building to a location out of town on the Jinja Rd close to the Zain premises on the opposite side of the road. You must pay for the Visa Extension application form Ushs500-. Recent reports suggest this process can take up to a couple of weeks so allow sufficient time for your application if you will need to extend your stay. Extensions are free for stays of up to 90 days. The best advise is to ask for 3 months on arrival.
Activities in and around Kampala
Visitors that come to Kampala rarely come to visit sights or particular places of interest around the city. This is probably because most of their time gets eaten up in trying to buy Gorilla tracking permits, getting visa extensions, doing general business like changing money or plain and simply people like to relax around the Backpackers before embarking on a couple of weeks of travel in Uganda or are en-route back to Kenya after time spent 'up country'.
The Buganda Museum on Kira Rd next to the Uganda Wildlife Authority will interest those with time to spare.
Concept: Uganda Travel Planner (U) Ltd. http://www.traveluganda.co.ug
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