So, you find yourself in Kampala and have 24 hours or more before moving on to your next destination. Or maybe, you have guests in town and are wondering how to keep them entertained. Better still, you live in Kampala and have an unlimited abundance of time to explore, but no clue where to start.
Well, welcome to Part II of my series – 24 hours in Kampala. If you missed Part I, you can check it out here and catch up with the rest of us. But for today, we are going to explore the original seven hills of Kampala and appreciate the best views of this energetic, mostly warm and sometimes wet city. Here we go:
- Kololo Hill
Once again, I selected holy crepes as the vantage spot to enjoy the view of Kampala. You can start your tour here with a sumptuous breakfast and a cool breeze. It remains my top choice because, Kololo has remained a predominantly residential area for the affluent, and not many public establishments are located that high up on the hill. However, if you choose to drive through other areas on the hill, exercise caution to avoid wandering into restricted areas.
- Nakasero Hill
The Pearl of Africa Hotel Kampala stands tall and bold at the top of Nakasero and is one of the highest points in the city. The view from its highest floor is nearly 360 and absolutely spectacular. Sadly, for you, its proximity to state house meant I could not capture the splendid view from the top. But again, this is the perfect opportunity to go check it out for yourself.
- Makerere Hill
As one of the first institution of higher learning in Uganda, it was only fitting for Makerere University to seat at the very top of a hill. The main administration block is the iconic structure of the university and served as the perfect backdrop for my shoot. It was also pretty special to sit and hang out at the grounds on which graduation ceremonies have been held since time immemorial. Take a walk around the different faculties and you might find a romantic shade like I did!
- Old Kampala Hill
Nothing says Old Kampala, better than the Uganda National Mosque. Completed in 2006 with support from Libya, it is commonly referred to as the Gadaffi mosque after the then President Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Its shimmering gold accents send you back in time, to an era so golden it blinded the sun. The climb up the minaret, though completely exhausting, was totally worth it. Although Old Kampala is not as high as the other hills, it gives a perfect 360 view of Kampala and was the highlight of my tour. You will be charged a fee of 10,000 UGX for Ugandans and 15,000 UGX for foreigners. Unfortunately, the guide was unprofessional and abandoned us midway the tour!
- Namirembe Hill
Atop this hill seats St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe. As the oldest cathedral and Provincial Cathedral for the Church of Uganda, it is a pivotal reminder of Uganda’s historic and religious past. It was built between 1913 and 1931 with earthen bricks and earthen roof tiles and is a popular choice for weddings. Its well-maintained gardens are a haven for church choir rehearsals and leisurely evening walks.
- Rubaga Hill
This hill is home to St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga, the parent church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kampala. Lined along the wall of its front entrance are busts of what seem to be its founding fathers. In the evenings, the small well-manicured gardens around the chapel are ideal for prayer, meditation and relaxation. I did not take any photographs of the cathedral because we got here too late in the evening to get permission to do so.
- Mengo Hill
Mengo hill is home to the palace (Lubiri) of the Buganda Kingdom. The palace was first constructed in 1885 and is where the agreement establishing Uganda as a British Protectorate was signed. Sadly, I did not take any photographs of the palace because we got here too late in the evening to get permission to do so.
Before touring and taking photographs at any of the above establishments, seek clearance from authorised personnel. Failure to do so could result in distressing situations.
Remember to dress up appropriately when visiting cultural sites and places of worship. Long loose clothing is always a safe and comfortable choice.