Kampala the capital city of Uganda ranked 13th by Shop Africa report, 2014 among the fastest growing commercial business cities in sub Saharan Africa in terms of shopping center development. So any tour of Kampala’s historical and cultural heritage sites, places of warship or night clubs, shopping is a must do experience for tourists.
A tour of Kampala can appeals to more unique interests and hobbies for travelers on a vacation to Uganda. For example religious visitors can visit holy places around Kampala. A birding tour to Mabamba wetland is perfect for birders. An educational tour that stops at several magnificent universities like Makerere University is perfect for any research groups of visitors traveling together. And photographers too can enjoy a tour can stop at various beautiful landscapes and architectural buildings and sites.
Tourists can be guided on foot walking around the city center but using a vehicle is good since it require driving few kilometers on the outskirts of the city.
Uganda National Museum
This is the largest and oldest museum in East Africa with a collection of more than a million specimens. Tourists who want to learn Uganda’s history and culture from ancient to present times expect to spend 2 hours at the Uganda national museum. Beginning from exhibit one, you’ll see a collection of artifacts, learn about traditional musical instruments, science and industry, early human life, natural history to traditional life. And by the end of your visit, you would have a better understanding of Uganda’s culture and appreciate some of the animals to visit in Uganda wildlife national park. Uganda national museum is located on kira road in Kamwokya about 1 km from Kampala.
Kasubi Tombs, the UNESCO world heritage site
The famous tombs of the four kings who ruled Buganda kingdom dating back around 12th century are one of the important cultural heritage sites Kampala that have been included on the UNESCO world heritage sites list since 2001.
It’s actually the four succeeding kabaaka’s of Buganda kingdom who were buried here hence the Kaubi tombs is a great royal cultural shrine for Baganda people.
When you visit the site; you could spend about 45 minutes to 1 hour learning about the cultural dimensions of Buganda kingdom’s clans and their rituals that have been carried out there for centuries. The rituals demonstrate the power of kabaaka whom they say does not die but rather gets take by God demonstrating a close relation between the living and the dead.
More importantly, the tombs are sheltered in beautiful architectural design of a traditional African hut. Decorated with traditional materials such as bark cloth, thatch roofs, papyrus reeds,, add majesty for photographers.
Currently, the inside of the tombs is still under renovation having been destroyed by fire in 2009 hence the inside section of the tombs is not accessible. Kasubi tombs are located on Kasubi hill about 5 kilometers from Kampala city.
“Lubiri” or Kabaaka’s place and Buganda parliaments
Situated on Mengo hill along Rubaga road, the Kabaka’s palace tour comprises of 9 interesting sites. Tourists are encouraged to visit all of the 9 sites along the royal mile to gain a thorough insight of Buganda kingdom and the 52 clans which are ruled by Kabaaka.
The first site to start with on your kabaaka’s palace tour is the Buganda tourism center/parliament. Visitors are guided around the Lukiko/parliament of Buganda, the kabaaka’s monument and the gardens of Buganda’s TV station, the central broadcasting services.
In front of the Buganda tourism center is the Zakariya kisingiri house, one of the oldest built around 1890’s. Lukoma Nantawetwa also known as kabaaka’s round about is a big monument on rubaga road. An ancient story is always narrated that kabaaka walks in a straight line from his palace to the parliament; hence it’s where his majesty passes. After this monument, you enter the palace visit the rock of the nation and Amin’s toucher chambers shade a dark history of his presidency. Lastly, visitors walk around the palace and end the tour with a cup of coffee.
Naggalabi Budocoronation site
Naggalabi is the place where the Kabaaka’s of Buganda have been crowned kings of the kingdom since the 14th century about 900 years past. The Kabaaka goes through various rituals and the recent were held in 1993 when the current Kabaaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi the 2nd was crowned king. Buddo hill is belived to be the site where the first king of Buganda fought and won the war to become king with a battle cry “I have learnt my lesson”
Visitors are always guided and involve in touring the Buganda house where kabaaka stays for 9 days after being enthroned. The ancient tree called Mbonelede which means “I have learnt my lesson” was used as a court by the first king Kintu.
This traditional cultural experience rewards visitors with storytelling, traditional cultural dance and music. Naggalabi buddo coronation site is located on Buddo hill along the Kampala-Masaka high about 20 minutes drive Kampala.
Nakasero fresh food market
Want to shop a variety of fresh food from around Uganda; Nakasero Market is just situated Kampala road. Go for shopping and you also get to interact with sellers including women and children.
There’s only 1 Bahai temple on the African continent hence you need to visit while in Kampala Uganda. This house of warship for the Bahai faith has architectural design is very impressive for photos especially during sunrise. The green gardens have lots of trees that attract a variety of more than 50 species of birds and you can make a birding excursion here.
National theatre craft Markets
One of the places to shop Ugandan craft, arts and souvenirs, the craft markets at Uganda National Cultural center have a variety of local and imported items such as drums, jewelry, wood carvings, art pieces, baskets, clothing, bags, mats and much more. You cannot fail to pick up a souvenir on Uganda safari with other best craft markets along Buganda road in Kampala such as banana boat, Uganda arts and craft village, Uganda crafts 2000 ltd, exposure Africa, Nomo gallery, Friday craft market.
Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo
The most beautiful Basilica religious place of warship in Africa, Uganda Martyrs shrine in Namugongo Kampala has historical record of hosting Roman Catholic popes including Pope Paul VI in 1964 and Pope Francis in 2015. Millions of pilgrimages from around the world come together on 3rd July every year to honor the death of 23 catholic and Anglican martyrs who were burnt and killed alive in 1885 to 1887 having refused to denounce Christianity while in Buganda kingdom.
Visitors can tour the museum with statue description of the martyrs, the library, the holy water pool and the Basilica itself has picturesque architectural design.
Visitors can take a guided walk to visit some of the famous monuments in Kampala. The independence monument is located next to grand imperial hotel and on just opposite lies the Uganda’s first president monument of Sir Edward Mutesa 1.
Located on old Kampala hill, Gaddafi mosque has a tall tower where you can climb to get aerial views of the whole city of Kampala. You can also go there to witness how Muslims pray and everyone is welcomed to join them.
Kampala night life areas
Kampala is famous by its nickname, the sleepless city of East Africa. When the sun goes down, the traffic congestion is no more hence the streets are safe and relaxed for tourists to check in different night clubs one by one. The nightlife around Kampala is reputed as wild and fun with famous areas such as Kabaragala. There are good drinking spots like club governor, Silk, Amnesia, Deposh, Nandos, 9 degrees,
Ndere cultural center
Ndere cultural center is located in Ntinda area along kira road. As one of the top cultural centers in Kampala and Uganda in particular, Ndere center welcomes tourists and the public who come for leisure and cultural performances by Ndere troupe including music, dance and storytelling. The shows on Wednesdays, Friday 7pm and 6pm Sunday family show always happen live on stage of the auditorium. Many people usually attend the shows hence tourists need to be there early to get front seats. There’s accommodation for overnight visitors and a lot can be enjoyed including buffets served daily.