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What is Kampala like?

edited January 2011 in - East Africa
Hi, I'm visiting Kampala, Uganda in mid February, (alone, semi work), never been there before but have been to Algeria, Tunisia and Libya a few times. What can I expect regarding, meeting people, nightlife, eating out, travelling around, safety etc. Any good hotels, places to go, places not to go!
Any tips welcome.


  • edited 5:02PM
    I Have spent a month in Uganda and four days in Kampala. The people of Uganda are exceptionally welcoming and kind, I felt completely safe in the country during my travels. I would recommend learning some words from the local Kampala language, Luguandan, the people will respect you more and really appreciate that you are trying to adapt to their ways not just being one of the many westerners that comes in with and "I am better than you notion." Enjoy your trip, should be a great time.

    I would also recommend venturing into some of the slums outside the city, you will be getting a bias portrayal of the living conditions of some in the country if you just stay in the wealthier hills of the town. Also stay tuned to the news, elections are coming up in the country (Feb. 18th) and although they will hopefully be peaceful it would be a time to exercise caution.
  • edited 5:02PM
    Many thanks for that. I had considered leaving my visit until after the elections, just in case, but didn't want to wait too long as would like to avoid the 'rainy season'. I also wanted to fit in a few days in Zanzibar, (funds permitting).
    Any tips on good hotels (at a reasonable price). I intend to get to Kampala and then find a hotel, rather than book in advance. Is that a good idea?
  • edited 5:02PM
    You will be fine getting a hotel when you arrive, plus then you can haggle a price down perhaps
  • edited 5:02PM
    Hi, I am of Indian origin and was born in Uganda but have lived in the Uk for over 40 years, and recently had three years in Uganda. Here are some comments that may assist you:
    1: Uganda really isone of the best countries in Africa - do doubt (I have worked almost all sub-saharan countries). The weather, the people, the land, the food, the lakes, the national parks. A must see country.
    2: There are so many quality hotels there -just google. The historic Speke hotel is right in the centre of the city, has great food, bars etc.
    3: As with elsewhere, be careful when travelling alone with a "look I am a tourist" tag. Blend in and you are fine. Avoid travel out of city after dark. Terrible drivers etc. Just not worth it.
    4: Dont forget to visit Murchisno Fall / national park. The wildlife is not abundant (as in Kenya / Tanz). Queen Elizabeth N.park is also good. Kisoro, aah, my favorite place.
    5: You are right to avoid the elections - this is Africa, so dont take anything for granted.
    6: Have a whale of a time, my love to Uganda !
  • edited 5:02PM
    Sorry - a typo in point 1: I meant "NO DOUBT" .
  • edited 5:02PM
    Thanks for that, seems that it is all I've been told.
  • edited 5:02PM
    The critical presidential and parliamentary elections are over. Now remaining the Mayoral and Local governance /district heads elections on 23rd Feb and 27th Feb. Otherwise they were peaceful contrally to the fears in the run up to elections. A few incidences in some upcountry districts but nothing much to worry about. Its warm, or rather hot, its the dry season now, if you are caucasian, carry your sun screen;) The people are nice and friendly. Just be carefull walking alone after dark. Afew bad apples who might want to snatch your phone or wallet. But nothing dangerous.

    You have to do a safari in one of the national parks, Murchison falls, Queen elizerbeth or Lake Mburo. Great experience. To Zanzibar, I will be going to Zanzibar myself 17th march. I advice that you ask for promotional packages. They are cheaper than booking direct. They would cover flight and all airport taxes, half board and air port drop and pick up. You will enjoy zanzibar. I suggest you visit stone town for a day and then go the North east or north west cost. Fantastic. Enjoy your stay in Uganda.

  • edited 5:02PM
    Thanks for that Kareen, Is it best to book a hotel in Zanzibar after arrival?
    I was thinking of heading to the Eastern side of the Island, how easy is it to get there from the airport?
    I may go late March after visiting Uganda, will the weather still be OK.
    Thanks again.
  • edited 5:02PM
    Hi Everybody,
    Just got back and must say it was as good as you all said.
    Many thanks to Kareen, Sunil and Traveler for the comments and advice. I must confess, I was a bit apprehensive before the trip and booked a hotel I was told about by a friend. It was safe, clean and comfortable, but expensive by local standards, still, 'Ya live and learn'. With the experience behind me, I would be much more confident now and also know the places that are good and reasonably priced. I Never had any hassle and everyone was very good natured and friendly, some of the girls a tad too friendly at times perhaps, but I made lots of friends and will never be short of a drink if I return.
    Although I stayed in Entebbe, I did venture forth to Kampala, which does indeed Rock ! The traffic though, is best avoided if possible.
    Sadly time and money did not allow for any 'Up Country' adventures, although I did take your advice Kareen and booked a trip to Zanzibar with Air Uganda. They managed to mess up the booking dates, but made up for it with a five day all-inclusive at the Mapenzi Beach Resort on the East coast, which was superb.
    The resort, adjoining beach and the Indian Ocean were stunningly beautiful and I would look to re-visit for longer and take full advantage of the watersport facilities, which the shallow, warm waters lend themselves to so readily.
    The only real downside was the poverty outside the resorts and the persistence of the beach traders, especially the 'Masai Warriors' who wanted $10 to be photographed in their 'Tribal Dress'. It was all very reminiscent of my first visit to North Africa some 35+ years ago. The big difference this time was that they all had better mobile phones than mine. Evidence of a changing world indeed.
  • edited 5:02PM
    Hello Friends, My name is Samrat and I am an Indian National working in Cameroon (Central Africa). I am visiting Ethiopia and Uganda for exploring the markets for my organisation. Could anyone help me to know following things;

    1. Is Visa on Arrival for Indian National available at the airport?
    2. How far is the Kampala business center from the Airport and are taxis readily (and safely) available from airport?
    3. Any recommendations for a good hotel around the main city center (also name of the main business district in Kampala)

    Thanks in advance..

  • edited 5:02PM
    Hi Sam,
    You should be able to get a visa upon arrival for US$50. Make sure you have six months validity on your passport as this is a requirement for Uganda. I'm afraid I don't know how far the business centre is from the airport but perhaps this short Uganda Travel Guide will be of help to you - it includes info on airports, doing business, safety, attractions and basic travel info.
  • edited 5:02PM
    Hi Ella,

    Thanks for your feedback. The URL shared by you is quite helpful.

  • edited 5:02PM
    Mentioned below is a short list of interesting places to visit during your stay in Kampala:

    Kasubi Tombs, Kasubi (a World Heritage Centre)
    Uganda Museum, Kamwokya
    St. Balikuddembe Market, Nakivubo
    Kabira Country Club, Bukoto
    Speke Resort, Munyonyo
    Didi's World, Kansanga (Children's entertainment)
    Craft Shops in Buganda Road and at National Theatre
    National Theatre, Dewinton Road
    Kampala Casino, Kimathi Avenue
    Bahai House of Worship, Kikaya Hill
  • edited February 2013
    Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.

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