Introduction

Entebbe’s dominant neighbour, the area that is now central Kampala, 10km north of Lake Victoria, has long been important to the kings of old Buganda who used the city’s hilltops as citadels throughout the 1800s.

European explorers did the same when they first made contact with Buganda, when Captain Frederick Lugard established a fort on Kampala Hill in 1890.

However, the conditions were not beneficial to the vulnerable Europeans and so pleasant Entebbe grew in importance, becoming the seat of government for the protectorate.

Kampala’s stock rose with the arrival of the East African Railway in the 1930s and its supremacy was cemented in 1962 when upon achieving independence, the government of Uganda was transferred to Kampala. 

The city was now an attractive garden city, home to Makerere University, one of the best in Africa and a shining example of the East African Community.

But all good things come to an end and with the arrival of the dictatorship of Idi Amin, the city’s fortunes began to fade. By the mid 1980s, a series of civil wars had left the city in a state of shell-marked, pot-holed collapse.

Happily, the years since then have seen the city slowly recover and it is now very different. Kampala, now covering 200km and with a population of about 1.8 million, is one of the most important cities in East Africa.

The capital city of Uganda, it has all you would expect: government buildings, museums, a cathedral, impressive mosques, shops, restaurants, cafes - and lots of traffic. 

Things to do

Kampala is primarily a place of government and business, but there are lots of things for the intrepid visitor to enjoy. Highlights include the city centre (in general), the Old Kampala National Mosque, Namirembe Cathedral, the National Museum of Uganda and Makerere University.

Places to stay

The majority of people who decide to stay in Kampala these days are either eager to sample a taste of true Ugandan city life or have old family connections to the country.  If you are visiting Uganda for the first time or focusing on up-country adventures, then you will probably opt to stay in Entebbe now the Expressway links the two cities quickly and without jams.

Of the large hotels, the historic Emin Pasha, the Sheraton and the Serena (the former Nile Hotel)  are the most popular. If you like character, then the Speke Hotel, is simpler property, but is a good option.