ONE DAY IN KAMPALA
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR STOPOVER
Sometimes travelling means spending a day or two in a place as a stopover before you reach your destination.
Sometimes you’re unluck with these stopovers – we’re talking 14 hours in an airport – there are only so many times you can visit duty free. Sometimes you’re lucky and your stopover allows you to explore a city you normally would not have considered.
If you’re off to see the gorillas in Uganda, then the latter applies to you. This is because you are likely to end up spending a night in the country’s capital, Kampala. This is something, in the words of Lonely Planet, to be celebrated rather than endured. Kampala is considered the best city to live in in East Africa. Old meets new to create a vibrant African atmosphere with something for everyone.
So if you’ve only got one day and you don’t want that time to be wasted, we’ve got you covered.
I Want to Souvenir Shop…
A stopover is a great way to squeeze in, what can be quite time consuming, souvenir shopping for friends and family back home (there’s always one who expects a destination-specific fridge magnet!). Kampala is a great spot to get this done and dusted.
If you’re in search of traditional East African crafts, then head either to the African Craft Village or the Exposure Africa Market. At both, you’ll find a variety of handcrafted items, from wood carvings to jewelry to beaded sandals.
If you’re not a fan of the hustle and bustle of markets, then it’s worth taking a look at one of the city’s three Banana Boat shops. These stock beautifully designed products carefully created by local crafters, small entrepreneurs and women’s groups.
I Want to Discover Uganda’s History…
Up until the end of the 1800s, Uganda was divided into five kingdoms. Of which one of them, Buganda, Kampala was the capital. You can take a visit to the Kasubi Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the four kings of Buganda are buried.
Another historical point of interest is Mengo Palace. A glimpse into the more recent past, it was the residence of former president, Kabaka Mutesa II until he was driven out during a coup led by Prime Minister, Milton Obote. The interior is closed; however, you can visit the disturbing underground torture chambers. Original charcoal messages left by prisoners still remain on the walls.
And of course, history in the traditional sense, you can visit the Uganda Museum. The carefully curated exhibits cover a variety of Uganda’s culture and history, from clothing and hunting to traditional music and the fossil remains of a Napak Rhino (a species that went extinct 8 million years ago).
I Want to Explore the Art Scene...
Music-lovers, art-lovers and theatre-goers – Kampala has something for you too – especially if contemporary art and outdoor entertainment are your things.
AKA Gallery is one of East Africa’s leading contemporary visual arts; and is home to a notable Geoffrey Musaka collection. Afriart Gallery is a wonderful small and elegant gallery showcasing the work of some of Uganda’s best contemporary artists. 32o East Ugandan Arts Trust is a non-profit organisation that focuses on the creation rather than the exhibition of Ugandan contemporary art. It is a multi-purpose space for local artists to create – it includes studios, accommodation, a contemporary art library, computer and editing suites and an exhibition space.
If you enjoy a sing and a dance, the National Theatre is the perfect spot. Grab a drink and chair for an outdoor open-stage jam on Monday, African drumming on Tuesday or stand-up comedy on Thursday. Their regular programme is also worthwhile.
I Want to Dance the Night Away…
If this is the case, you’re in luck, because Kampala comes alive at night. The party capital of East Africa, people come from as far as Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda to dance the night away. Acacia Ave is the strip of the local’s favourite bars and clubs. Big Mike’s Bar and Nightclub showcases excellent local bands. Bubbles O’Leary’s Irish Pub, rather unexpectedly, is also well-loved. Cayenne is a one-stop night out – eat dinner, sip cocktails at the poolside bar and then dance until dawn on the ever-pumping dancefloor.
I Want to Indulge in New Cuisines…
Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, Mediterranean or traditional Ugandan food, Kampala is sure to have a restaurant that tickles your taste buds.
Meditarraneo is the best spot for Italian. Upmarket, open-air and nestled in a tropical garden create a romantic, intimate atmosphere, accompanied by delicious food. Word across town is that Khana Khazana is the best spot for Indian cuisine in Kampala. If you’ve got a craving for Japanese, then head to Yujo Izakaya – they specialise in Japanese rice wine imported directly from Nara, Japan. And of course, let us not forget authentic Ugandan food. You’ll want to go to 2K Restaurant for that. A focus on fresh local produce, expert technique and natural flavours results in mouthwatering dishes.