Kampala Things to Do

  • Gorilla trackers
    Gorilla trackers
    by Africancrab
  • Kampala downtown, Uganda
    Kampala downtown, Uganda
    by georeiser
  • Kabalagala, Kampala Uganda
    Kabalagala, Kampala Uganda
    by georeiser

Most Recent Things to Do in Kampala

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    Sipi Falls

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
    The Falls from across the hills

    Sipi Falls is located in Kapchorwa near Mbale district and at the edge of Mount Elgon. The Sipi River is named after the ‘Sep’, a plant indigenous to the banks of the River. Resembling a type of wild banana, Sep is a medicinal plant; the translucent green frond with a bolt of crimson rib is used for treating measles and fever. Sipi is an ideal place to relax in the warm mountain sun and to go for rambles in the shambas - homestead gardens- of the local Sebei people. Because this is a rich coffee producing region, you will have the best Arabica coffee produced locally by the Sebei farmers.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Lake Mburo National park

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    This is a smaller park located about three hours outside of Kampala. It is the closest national Park to Kampala, known for its Zebras. Besides the zebras it has other animals and primates like baboons. Crocodiles in the lake, so be cautious when you get to the lake.

    Topis, deer and Impalas are plentiful, you will be able to see them, I recommend taking the boat ride to enjoy the scenes of the mountains and view the many birds in the air and trees around.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Birdwatching

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    Mount Elgon national Park

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    Mount Elgon is located in Eastern Uganda within the Mount Elgon Forest. Once the highest point in Africa, even higher than Kilimanjaro, the now extinct volcanic mountain is one of Uganda's popular tourist destinations. Due to continued erosion through the years, the mountain is not as tall standing anymore, at about 4000 ft, it is a much safer and easier mountain to climb. The non seasoned climber would get "bragging rights" from climbiing this mountain.

    The vegetation in this park is unique to only east Africa. The Afro-Alpine and moorland are high altitude vegetaions. Perfect location for activities like:

    * Mountain Climbing

    * Hiking

    * Bird watching

    * Game Viewing

    * Primate viewing

    * Hot Springs

    * Cave paintings after a great hike

    The giant Lobelias offer great photo opportunities for the flora and fauna lovers.

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    • Safari
    • National/State Park

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    Uganda Equator

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    The Equator is an imaginary line that divides the earth into two. It crosses the earth running latitudinal, East to West. The Equator crosses through particular countries along it’s path: Uganda Included. I grew up in Uganda and crossed the equator more than a dozen times as a child and as an adult. In Uganda, one has a chance the experience the awe of standing at the point of two hemispheres at the same time.

    What is fascinating about being at the Equator, is that one can vividly see the theory of the longitudinal and latitudinal forces at play. Water drains clockwise at the Northern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise at the Southern Hemisphere. It did not make sense to me as a child, but as I studied my geography and learned about earth, I became fascinated with seeing more of it.

    There isn't much more at the Equator really, except a circular monument with the word “Equator” written on it to mark the point of crossing between the two hemispheres.

    It is cheap to get there and you can do it on your own too. from the Kampala taxi park, jump on a taxi going to Masaka and let the driver know to drop you off at the equator. It should cost no more than 2,000 shillings.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography

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    Lake Victoria & Ssese Islands

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
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    Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and one of the largest fresh water lake in the world: it is the main reservoir of the Nile with a larger portion of it in Tanzania and Uganda respectively. Among the freshwater lakes of the world it is exceeded in size only by Lake Superior in North America. Its waters fill a shallow depression in the plateau that stretches between the Western and Eastern Rift Valleys. At 1,134 m above sea level, it has an area of 69,484 square km, max north-south length of 337 km, max breadth of 240 km, and a coastline over 3,220 km.

    Many archipelagos are contained within the lake, as are numerous reefs, often just below the surface of the clear waters. It has more than 200 species of fish, of which the Tilapia is the most economically important. At the lake's northwestern corner are the 62 islands of the Ssese archipelago, some of them of awe inspiring beauty. The cities of Kampala and Entebbe lie along or near the northern coast. The search by Europeans for the source of the Nile led to the sighting of the lake by the British explorer John Hanning Speke in 1858.

    Formerly known to the Arabs as Ukerewe, the lake was named by Speke in honor of Queen Victoria of England. A detailed survey of the lake was made by Sir William Garstin in 1901. Plans for gradually raising the level of the lake's waters were completed in 1954 with the construction of the Owen Falls Dam on the Victoria Nile at Jinja, Uganda; the dam, which provides hydroelectric power on a large scale, made the lake a vast reservoir.

    Related to:
    • Fishing
    • Kayaking
    • Beaches

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    Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
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    This is a primate sanctuary for Chimpanzees. It is located southeast of Uganda’s International Airport, Entebbe and about 23 kilometers from the capital Kampala. This Chimpanzee sanctuary was constructed in 1998 to protect orphaned chimps. Most of the chimps become orphaned as a result of poaching. Even though poaching is illegal, you still find a few cases here and there.

    The Island is part of the Kome archipelago, a group of about 15 different Islands on Lake Victoria seperated from the North shores of the Lake. It was chosen as a sanctuary because it was uninhabited with the natural setting identical to that in which many Chimpanzees live. The sanctuary is supported by Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Born Free Foundationand Jane Goodall Institute.

    Many Tour companies in Kampala provided guided tours to and from the Island. The tours includes Chmpanzee viewing and feeding, Nature walks, Informative tours and boat rides.

    Price: Uganda is generally an expensive country. Tour prices are never set the same so it is hard to quote the price. When I was there last (which is more than 3 years now), we paid $185 per person in a group of 8 for an overnight trip. I recommend you check prices from different tour companies to find what suits your budget. I was a travel consultant so I got better rates too.

    Accommodation: There is accommodation on the island so you can stay overnight and participate in the staff meetings and enjoy the very dedicated staff that take care of the chimps. This is a typical jungle so there is no electricity in some of the accommodation and you will have to wash like you have never before. Hand filled water buckets for your bath, exciting indeed. Ngamba Island Tented Camp is run by Wild Frontiers tour company and provides pretty good accommodation. I would recommend an overnight or two nights to expereince the amazing chimpanzees.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Safari

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    Chimpanzee Tracking & Bird Watching

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
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    Kibale National Park is Uganda's most accessible rain Forest with a larger population of primates. Kibale protects a large block of the rain forest that offers some excellent venues for bird watching. It is home to an amazing 13 species of primates including the localized Red Colobus Monkeys, La'hoest monkeys and Chimpanzees. It has been a subject of many foreign Universities, Scientists and Primate supporters. Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and the opportunity to track habituated Chimpanzees make this forest a much sort after safari destination in Uganda. Many of the facilities are community based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the area.

    Bird watching safaris to Kibale will expose the waters to a variety of birds including the Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Fly catcher, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Grey-headed Olive-back.
    The area is mainly occupied by two tribes like the Batooro and Bakiga traditionally both tribes utilized the forest for food, fuel, building materials and medicines. They continue to do so even today, a cultural tour of the villages can be organized.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Gorilla Tracking Safari

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
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    The driving distance to Bwindi from Kampala is 550 km with some 400 km on bitumen surface via Kabale. I do recommend the route via Rukungiri, which is slightly shorter. Dare I mention this is Africa? Well, the roads are no pieces of cake either, they rock your world. Anyway, you have to prepare for at least 9-10 hours on the road to reach your accommodation in Buhoma.
    Having been a travel consultant, I do have friends in the industry, my friend Ben, at African Pearl Safaris (www.africanpearlsafaris.com) will take good care of you if you use me as a referral! Of course he takes care of everyone, but you, he will give special attention - something you will want out there in the wilderness: The gorillas in Bwindi live in thicker tropical forest and tracking is more challenging, as the hillsides are steeper.

    In order to track gorillas, you will need a tracking permit. I recommend that you pre book these permits at least 2-3 months earlier as you might be disappointed. There are a limited amount of permits sold per day of tracking. PHYSICAL FITNESS - Tracking gorillas is a very hectic thing to do, and considering you will be tracking in a mountainous region, physical fitness is required (that is why children below the age of 15 are not allowed to track). Please remember to carry tracking boots, dark colored clothes, cameras without flashes as the flash from a camera can turn these giants against you, and carry rain jackets (it is a rain forest, lol!).

    RULES & REGULATIONS FOR TRACKING GORILLAS:
    1. Stay together in a tight group while with the gorillas, don't surround them
    2. Don't get closer than 7 meters (21 feet) to the gorillas
    3. Don't use flash on your camera while photographing
    4. Don't eat or smoke when with the gorillas or within a distance of 200 meters from the gorillas
    5. Turn away from gorillas if you have to sneeze or cough. Cover your mouth in the process
    6. Bury all human feces a minimum of one foot deep and ensure that hole is properly covered
    7. Do not leave litter. All litter must be carried out of the park and disposed of properly
    8. No person under the age of 15 is allowed to track gorillas.
    9. Do not make loud noises or move suddenly
    10. No one with flu or any communicable disease allowed
    11. You are allowed a maximum of one hour with gorillas
    12. Do not spit on vegetation or soil while in the park

    Your group must not exceed 6 people and must be all over 15 years old.
    Some of the safari companies that run gorilla tracking safaris in Uganda include Volcanoes (www.volcanoesafaris.com), Pearl of Africa Tours and Travels (www.pearlofafricatours.com), wilderness Travel (www.wildernesstravel.com), Wildfrontiers (www.wildfrontiers.com), and African Pearl Safaris (www.africanpearlsafaris.com). If you love adventure, this is as adventurous as it gets in Africa.

    Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park was also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for it's Forest program focusing on conservation of Tropical Forest biodiversity. I have a list of World Heritage Sites I have visited.

    Related to:
    • Safari
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park

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    Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
    Gorilla trackers
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    This safari was taken on September 25, 2002:Of recent years Gorilla tracking has become one of Uganda's leading tourism activities: Uganda boasts of two National parks in which mountain Gorillas inhabit. The first and most popular is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the second being Mgahinga which closely boarders Rwanda. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is found in the South Western region of Uganda, at edge of the western Rift Valley. Bwindi has an average of 120 species of mammals, 348 species of birds, 200 species of butterflies and 324 species of trees, making it the center of biodiversity in Eastern Africa. Because of the density of it's vegetation it is popularly referred to as Bwindi impenetrable forest. It is also home to the Giant Mountain Gorillas.

    Bwindi is home to almost half of the world's population of mountain gorillas. Bwindi is an impenetrable forest with dense under growth of fern, vines, and shrubs. About 324 tree species have been recorded in Bwindi 10 of which occur no where else in Uganda. It has 90 species of mammals including 11 primates including the black-and-white colobus. Gorilla safaris vary in length from 3 days to fourteen days safaris. There are two habituated groups of Gorillas in Bwindi: The Mubare group of 16 gorillas and, the Habiyanja group of 23 gorillas. Both groups are tracked daily by no more than six visitors at a time.

    The trackers are escorted by National Park rangers and guides who are familiar with safety and handling of the gorillas. Bwindi is also home to an estimated 360 bird species as well as over 200 species of butterflies. For those of you who love birds, this is a bird lover's paradise, with almost 90% of the Albertine Rift Valley endemic that are difficult or impossible to see in any other part of East Africa, Bwindi takes bird watching to a different level.

    Now if you are looking for new adventurers, I say take on bird watching what the heck you might just have fun talking birrrrrrrrrd, lol! Tracking the giant mountain gorillas on foot through the equatorial rain forests of Uganda (Bwindi & Mgahinga) has been ranked as one of the world's most thrilling wildlife expeditionary, adventurous experiences of our times.

    Related to:
    • Safari
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Kibuli Mosque

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    Kibuli Mosque is the biggest Muslim religious site in Kampala. It is also the oldest mosque in Kampala. Located on Kibuli hill, it is of religious, cultural and historical significance. The land on which it is built is the oldest hill in Kampala, originally owned by the Kabaka of Buganda, he donated most of it to have the Mosque constructed.

    Kibuli Mosque is also counted among Kampala’s Landmark buildings because of it’s religious and historical significance. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Uganda.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel

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    Namirembe Cathedral

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    Namirembe Cathedral is one of the only three cathedrals in Uganda. It sits on one of the 7 major hills in Kampala and was constructed in 1890. The Anglican cathedral also known as St. Paul’s cathedral is the biggest protestant church in Uganda. Built in red rock, it stands out from atop the hill impressing upon the faithful the significance of prayer. Not only is the exterior facade impressive, it is a wonder to marvel at considering it’s construction many years back.

    The interior of the cathedral is not anywhere near to those you see in Europe. The modesty of it is meant to command respect and grace. Next to the cathedral is a graveyard where the body of Bishop Hannington was laid to rest in 1885.

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    • Religious Travel

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    Rubaga Cathedral

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012

    Rubaga Cathedral is a religious and sacred site for Roman Catholics in Uganda. It is among the top religious attractions in Uganda. Located on the Rubaga hill, one of Kampala’s 7 hills, the cathedral is also known as St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral. It is a magnificent structure located on the hill overlooking the city, and was constructed in the first half of the 21st century as a place of worship for Roman Catholics. The cathedral was run down in the years past, but was restored prior to the visit of John Paul II during his visit to Uganda.

    The cemetery at the church has the remains of the first African Catholic Bishop and the first African Archbishop of Kampala Diocese, Joseph Kiwanuka. It is a significant religious site in Kampala and visited by thousands of tourists and locals each year

    The Cathedral is also counted among Kampala’s Landmark buildings because of it’s magnificent construction. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Uganda.

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    • Religious Travel

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    Bahai Temple

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
    Bahai Temple
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    The Bahai temple, the only one in Africa was built in Uganda. It is a unique building and a source of awe to many. It has become a tourist attraction not only to the locals but foreigners too. The Bahai faith is a phenomenon of it's own. Founded over a century and a half a go, the Bahai faith is one of the fastest growing beliefs/ religions of the world. With more than five million adherents residing in over 124,000 localities, the Bahá'í Faith is established in 204 countries across the planet.

    The spiritual principles of the Bahá'í Faith affirm its overall purpose--to bring about the oneness of humanity. In cooperation with these same principles, Bahá'ís also believe that there is only one Creator and that the spiritual truth of all religions is the same.

    Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion. Bahá'u'lláh said, "The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens," and that, as foretold in all the sacred scriptures of the past, now is the time for humanity to live in unity. Bahá'ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the nature and purpose of life and of the future of society.

    Bahá’ís worship God through prayer and meditation, by participating in devotional gatherings, and through active service to their communities. They individually recite one of three obligatory prayers each day as prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh. The Bahá’í scriptures offer much guidance on the uses of prayer and contain many prayers for various purposes and occasions. Moreover, work performed in the spirit of service is, according to the Bahá’í teachings, a form of worshiping God. My friend Jackie in Wisconsin is married to a Bahai and she is Catholic. I have always wondered how she would raise her children knowing the Catholics are so strict on their beliefs.

    There is no cost to pray at or tour the Bahai Temple in Uganda. You can not take photos inside the temple.

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    • Religious Travel

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    Kasubi Tombs

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
    Hans Peter at the Tombs at Kasubi 1998
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    The Tombs of Buganda Kings. The Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi covers over 30 acres of hillside land. The top of the hill is Palace of the former Kings (Kabakas) of Buganda, built in 1882. It has now been converted into royal burial ground. Four royal tombs now lie within the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main building, which is circular and surmounted by a dome. For someone like me who loves and craves architectural beauty, I can testify to the fact that the tombs are a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials: Made absolutely from wood, thatch, reed, wattle and mad. The main significance of this site is the preservation of traditional values and beliefs, spirituality, continuity of life after death and human identity.
    I can tell you that the architects of today would speak to the fact that these Tombs are a masterpiece of human creativity both in its conception and its execution. It is also a living testimony of the strong values the Baganda attached to their traditions and belief systems. I the earlier times, the Ganda (Central people) were known to be great architects and hard workers. Disciplined, respectful and loyal to their kings unto death. Because of the respect accorded the dead, it is almost impossible to take pictures at this site.

    Visiting the Tombs would be part of a great Cultural Tour; I love culture and enjoy the background history that is the tradition and belief system of different people. I will tell you right now that my part of the world has history like you do not find in books. My friends never did understand why I knelt down to greet my own father, or why I will not talk back to my older sister even when she is WRONG!. That is what we call respect. Where I come from, respect is synonymous with life itself. It is the core, of who we are, but of course times are changing and the older generation is fighting to preserve the traditions and the older ways.

    Update: The Tombs burnt down to the grounds a couple of years ago, they are being rebuilt.

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    • Arts and Culture

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    Queen Elizabeth National Park

    by Africancrab Written Dec 31, 2012
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    The Park is located in the western rift valley, together with the Kyambura and Kigezi reserve, the National park covers approximately 2475 sq kilometers. Nestled at the base of the Rwenzori Mountains and is characterized by craters in its hills. As you plan your safari to Queen Elizabeth, please note that the wettest season in during March to May and then September to November. The best time to visit this park is between December and February. The park offers an abundance of wildlife, ranging from elephants, lions, and leopards to the Warthogs, Water bucks, chimpanzees, baboons, antelopes and Kobs. The park is well known for the thirty-two kilometer Kazinga Channel that links Lake Edward to Lake George. A boat trip on the channel from Mweya lodge will confirm the fact that this channel is host to the world's largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles. With an amazing population of bird life, Queen Elizabeth Park is home to a quarter of all bird life on the African continent! If you are a bird watcher, this is paradise.

    Queen Elizabeth National Park was named the world bio-sphere reserve by UNESCO in 1979 because of the diversity it offers. Some of the tourist attractions in the park include the Launch trips on Kazinga Channel that takes you down to the shores of Lake Edward providing great viewing of wildlife. A launch trip starts at Mweya the park headquarters along the Kazinga Channel, which joins Lake Edward and Lake George. You must not miss out on this trip; I have probably done it more than seven times. During my employment with Mweya Safari lodge, I did take a few boat trips each time I was on site.

    In the Southern part of the park is shasha which is famous for having tree climbing lions. There is a high concentration of game in this Savannah setting, which includes Lake Edward and the Ishasha River flats, and the Ishasha River Rhine forest. The hippo pools in the Ishasha River and Congo escarpment provides splendid scenery.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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Kampala Things to Do

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