Kampala, definitely not a must see but surely a must experience!
After our adrenaline fuelled experience in Jinja, we were up for some more action in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. This was the second African capital we visited and immediately we noticed the huge difference with the clean and well organised Kigali.
During evening rush hour we arrived by public transport in the outskirts of Kampala. Here we noticed first-hand the daily hustle of this incredible busy city. Due to the constant traffic jams, there’s some sort of market next to the slow moving vehicles where merchants sell water, fruit, clothing,… to the waiting commuters. In between the lined up vehicles, a stream of boda bodas*, bikers and pedestrians are on the move. Welcome to Kampala!
A bit delayed we arrived at our hostel ‘Fat Cat’, managed by a friendly Dutch guy. The hostel has a really nice rooftop. After we disposed of our backpacks, we enjoyed a colourful sunset despite the very visible layer of smog on the horizon. We socialised with some fellow backpackers, but left just as quick to participate in a pub quiz. There we met up with Andrew, our guide during the Queen Elizabeth National Park visit, and a friend. The quiz wasn’t top notch but we really liked quizzing with the locals. They talked about Kampala, the city that never sleeps. “The only thing that can stop you from going out in Kampala is running out of money, because there will always be some party going on somewhere.” So we checked our wallets after the quiz and headed out for the Kampala nightlife.
Following day we were ready to explore the real Kampala. The typical western touristic attractions in Kampala are pretty scarce, so just sightseeing for one day is sufficient. However it was a truly busy day, what you can see in our timelapse of Kampala!
We went out to visit the Museum of Uganda, the oldest museum in East Africa. This is definitely something else than your average museum in Europe. Some interesting artefacts but the museum is definitely in serious need of an upgrade to the 21st century. Educated we hitched a ride by boda boda* towards the city center. Surely not the safest ways to get around town, but if you don’t mind the risk it’s definitely the fastest and cheapest. When you reach the center the traffic gets from normal Ugandan busy to ants nest crazy busy. This gets the adrenaline at least as much pumping as white water rafting on the Nile in Jinja. We were dropped off at the ‘Old Taxi Park’, where you can witness the incredible hectic coming and going of taxis, drivers loading their taxis, some guiding travellers and others selling their goods from taxi to taxi. We went up to Indigo, a bar on altitude to have a better overview of this spectacle, a unique experience.
Afterwards we walked in the dust filled streets towards the Khadaffi mosque, where a guided tour is recommended. Climbing up the minaret of the mosque, we had a full view on the city and were told about the city’s history by our local guide. Kampala is built on seven hills and its name is derived from the contraction Camping – Impala. This name was given by the Brits because of the thousands of Impalas which resided in the surroundings by that time; really hard to imagine this now when you look down on the incredible restless streets of Kampala. We entered the impressive mosque while our guide narrated about the city’s history, Idi Amin and the Muslim faith in Uganda, very interesting.
To complete the day we went to the rooftop of Fat Cat Hostel to enjoy some chill vibes and great company. As we were obliged by the city’s reputation we once more explored Kampala’s nightlife, which is very energetic, surprising and adventurous… As mzungos**, we definitely enjoyed the true African vibes.
Before we took off to Entebbe we could escape from the daily hustle, and relax at the poolside of the Kabira country club. We really craved for this after experiencing the daily/nightly razzle-dazzle of the Ugandan capital.
Check out our other destinations during the round trip through Rwanda and Uganda.
*Boda Boda = Moto Taxi
** Mzungo = How the locals refer to people from a European descent. This is mostly used in an affectionate way.