Kampala City tour, A local Guide

A Kampala City tour in Uganda‘s biggest and main capital City is very ideal and a better way to start the pearl of Africa exploration. Kampala City is located in the central part of the country. The city was established In and its most famous for its vibrant life. Beyond that are very exciting and interesting places to explore. These range from cultural, historical, Religious, political and social aspects.

Much as the city is a bit congested, it can be explored and below are a Must Visit to a Kampala city expedition

Old Kampala Mosque. Kampala City tour
Old Kampala Mosque. Courtesy Photo

The Bahai Temple located in Kikaya Hill is the only temple of the Bahai Faith on the African continent. The Temple construction work was completed in 1961, 10 years after the Bahai Faith had been introduced in Uganda in 1951. The Bahai temple is very outstanding icon and a religious landmark best to visit to a Kampala City tour.

Named as the Mother Temple of Africa, the Bahai House of Worship in Uganda was designed by Mason Remey. Its green dome is made of mosaic tiles from Italy. The temple is seated on 50 hectares of land that also the over 600 seater temple, gardens, an administrative centre and a guesthouse. While on a Kampala City tour ensure to add the temple on the Must Visit places. You will get to know more about the Bahai faith and relax in the lavish green gardens if you like.

Kasubi Tombs

The Kasubi tombs are a burial ground for the Kings of Buganda Kingdom. The burial site has great cultural significance in the Buganda Kingdom. It has Four royal tombs in the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga the main building that is circular and was constructed using purely local and organic materials. The tombs were designated a United Nations Educational Scientific and cultural Organization (UNESCO) Heritage site because of its cultural significance.

The tombs sit on a 30 hectare piece of land. The site was formally a Palace of Kabakas’ (Kings) of Buganda having been built in 1882. Two years later it was turned into a royal burial ground. For those interested in African culture the Kasubi tombs a Must visit place. Its strategically located in the city centre and can be easily accessed by those on a Kampala City tour.

Uganda Museum

The Uganda Museum was founded in 1908 and is one stop centre for those exploring Kampala city. It is the oldest in East Africa when Uganda still a British Protectorate. It has a collection of archaeology, science, natural history and cultural facts of Uganda. The Museum is strategically located in Kampala just 5 kilometers from the city centre.

Uganda being one of the most diverse countries on the planet, it has a beautiful culture and heritage that are well exhibited at the Uganda Museum. There are musical instruments From all tribes of Uganda that one is free to play while at the Museum. The Museum has an open ground with traditional huts and enough space where one can relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of the area.

The Uganda museum is open from 8 to 5 pm and a must visit while on a Kampala city tour.

Old Kampala Mosque

The Old Kampala Mosque is also known as the Uganda National Mosque located in Kampala City. With a sitting capacity of over 15,000 worshipers, its the largest mosque in East Africa. It is an iconic religious attraction and very symbolic to the muslim community.

The mosques’ construction works started as early as 1972 but was completed and officially opened in 2007. Constructions was first halted in 1976 and later restarted in 2001 to be completed 6 years later and was officially commissioned by Colonel Muamar Gaddafi the then President of Libya.

The Old Kampala mosque offers a 360 degree view of the City and its the best place to have a panoramic view of Kampala city. The Unique architectural design of the mosque is also an attraction with a beautiful dome and Minaret. If interested in religious tourism and best views of the city this is the place to be.

Craft Villages

These are located along Buganda Road in the city center with a collection of locally made crafts and paintings. All of the crafts here are made using local materials and the clothes and bags are made with local fabric. The craft villages are best places to get to know about the rich Ugandan and African heritage. They are the best places for shopping souvenirs and local items you will not find in any other places.

The craft villages are strategically located and are highly recommended for one exploring Kampala City. Many of the items here are very affordable ranging from $10 to $50. Purchasing items here is a direct support to the Ugandan local community enabling them to directly earn from tourism.

Nakasero Market

Nakasero market is a food market situated in the heart of Kampala. Uganda being the food basket of Africa, there is a variety of foodstuffs and vegetables grown around the country. Some of these include Avocados, tomatoes, watermelons, pawpaw, eggplants, mangoes among others. Many of these and much more are supplied daily to Nakasero market to meet the demand of the highly populated Kampala City.

The market is open daily from early morning and it’s a great place to visit while on a city tour. Here you get to meet vibrant and hard-working men and women who will serve you with a smiling face. While on a Kampala city tour do not miss tasting Ugandan fresh fruits and getting to know more about the ever-growing agricultural sector In Uganda.

Kampala city is known as the city that never sleeps with very vibrant night clubs. Often times there are musical performances by Ugandan and international artistes celebrating African culture and heritage.

During the day because of traffic, it might be a little hard to access some parts of city. You can however explore the city on a boda boda another unique and adventurous experience. Beyond the city Uganda has a lot to offer ranging from the rare mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, Big Five mammas and much more. Visit Uganda today and be part of the never-ending adventures in the city and beyond.

Kigali Hosts CHOGM 2022

Rwanda Commonwealth Day. CHOGM 2022
Commonwealth Day Celebrations. Courtesy Photo

Rwanda is the host of the commonwealth heads of government meeting CHOGM scheduled from 20th to 25th June this year. Commonwealth is an association of 54 countries most of which are former colonies of Britain. The commonwealth was instituted in the mid 1900’s when a number of British empires started gaining independence from British Rule. It was formally established in 1949 by the CommonWealth foundation that established the member states free and Equal.

Since 1971, leaders from commonwealth countries meet every two years for CHOGM. Each meeting is held by a different member country on a rotational basis with the last one held in the United Kingdom in 2018.  The one happening in Rwanda was supposed to happen in 2020 but was postponed because of the COVID pandemic.

Various leaders from all the Commonwealth countries are expected to be in Kigali for CHOGM. They will hold a series of meetings to discuss policy and how to improve the lives of their citizens.

This years theme is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’. This years’ CHOGM was kick started by the Commonwealth Youth Forum that started today and will end on 21st June. This will be followed by the Commonwealth Women’s Forum from 20th to 21st at Kigali Serena Hotel. On Wednesday 22nd June and Thursday there will be ministerial meetings. It will be officially opened on 25th June then followed by executive sessions and the closed on Saturday 26th.

What to do in Rwanda During the CHOGM week

Kigali City tour

Kigali Rwanda’s capital city is very vibrant and the cleanest city on the African continent. The city has a number of attractions ranging from the Art centers, local markets, genocide memorials, Restaurants, craft shops and others. The city can be explored on foot giving one an opportunity to interact with the very hospitable Rwandan citizens.

Kigali city is very green and organized and very safe for a guided walking tour. For those who would like to explore more destinations outside the city center can still do so as there is a lot to see in the land of a thousand hills.

This will be showcasing local Rwandan and international commonwealth fashion. It will feature a number of designers showcasing their works. The fashion week will have a series of activities all aimed at uplifting designers worldwide.

The fashion week will be taking place at different venues and will also feature shop tours plus visiting artisans in the city. This will be one stop center to be as you will get an opportunity to learn about diverse African art and craft industry. With the different art works on display, one will be able to buy some souvenirs.

A visit to Rwanda is not complete without a mountain gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park. The park is located in Northwestern Rwanda just a 3 hours drive from Kigali Rwanda’s capital city. Volcanoes national park is home to half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga massif. It has 20 habituated gorilla families that are open for tourism.

Each mountain gorilla family is tracked by 8 tourists a day in an awesome primate once in a lifetime experience. Mountain gorillas are special primates with over 95% DNA similar to humans. Just like humans they live in families headed by a dominant male called silverback. They are predominately vegetarian and feed on plant leaves and bamboo shoots and occasionally on small insects.

The gorilla trekking experience starts with a briefing at the park headquarters where you are briefed about the do’s and don’ts of gorilla trekking. You are then guided in the light bamboo forest amidst sighting of a number of wildlife including birds. You are allowed to stay in the presence of the mountain gorillas for an hour taking photos and getting to know more about them. From here you are led back to the park headquarters for your certificates of participation.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time in Kigali a gorilla trekking tour is doable. You can do a 1 day tour with an early morning (4:30 am) pick up from Kigali. You will then take a 3 hours drive to the park arriving in time for the gorilla trek and later be transferred back to Kigali. For those with more time you can do a 2 or 3 days tour that can include golden monkey trekking.

A safari to Akagera national park is another activity you should not miss while attending GHOGM 2022 in Kigali. Akagera national park is located in eastern Rwanda and its the only savanna national park in Rwanda. It is home to the big five mammals that include Elephants, lions, buffaloes, Rhinos and Leopards. Most of these had been extinct but were recently restored in the park all thanks to the great conservation works.

Akagera National park stands out because of its diverse ecosystem and wildlife species. The big five safari experience here is complemented by sighting of other savanna favorites like the giraffes, Topi’s while on game drives. Rhino tracking is among the newly established activities in Akagera National Park giving one an opportunity of a close encounter of one of the big Five.

A tour to Akagera is doable in 1 day with enough time to explore the park. For more chances of wildlife viewing though it is good to visit for 2 or 3 days. A boat cruise a long Lake Ihema is a must do as you will get to see Nile Crocodiles, hippos and a number of bird species. 

As you attend the CHOGM 2022 let’s celebrate our culture, wildlife and heritage and you can a part of the above mentioned experiences. There are many more experiences that Rwanda has to offer. You can also check out Nyungwe forest National park located in the southwestern part. It is home to chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, blue monkeys and many other primates. 

Remember June is the start of the peak tourist season. You will therefore have to book your accommodation and activities in advance to avoid missing out. For any other information about your other favorite destination in East Africa, you can check on our blog page. 

5 Affordable Places To Visit On An East African Wildlife Holiday

Going for a wildlife holiday has become a trend to many travelers visiting the East African region. East Africa boosts with diverse wildlife species from the most rare and endangered to the commonly known wildlife species.

The region comprises of 5 major countries that are Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania & Burundi. These are unique in-terms of wildlife that has made each become a leading wildlife holiday destination in its own right. Close by is Democratic Republic of Congo which is still relatively less explored making it a giant wildlife tour destination as well.

Wildlife tours to this beautiful region always seems very costly as majority of tourists travel several Kilometers from their home countries. When you incorporate the international flight fares plus the park fees and accommodation expenses, it becomes quite expensive.

Important to note though is that there are affordable Wildlife holiday tours you can do and still have a great time. Lets briefly look at these Must Visit affordable safari destinations in the area.

Murchison Falls National Park

This vast national park is stretches from Mid Western to Northern Uganda and its among the most diverse wild places. The park’s most outstanding land mark is the Murchison falls listed among the most strongest waterfalls on the planet. The falls were formed along the Nile River and plunges about 7 meters down a narrow gorge with a great force.

It forms a permanent rainbow that can be visibly seen when the Sun rays hit that waters of the Nile at the falls. These magnificent falls are often seen while on the boat cruise to the bottom at only $30 per person. There is also an option of hiking to the top of the falls at only $15 per person. Driver guides also have an option of driving a 10 kilometer distance to the top of Murchison falls for better sight seeing and Photography. This option works incase you don’t intend to hike from the bottom to the top.

Four of the big Five mammals freely roam the open plains of this beautiful park. These include lions, leopards, Elephants and buffaloes. The 5th species (the rhinos) can be tracked at $50 per person at the Zziwa rhino sanctuary found en route to Murchison. With this, a wildlife holiday tour to Murchison guarantees you of the big 5.

Major tourism activities done here include game drives, boat cruises, ballon safaris, nature walks, birding, sport fishing among others. The park also has a tropical rain forest – Budongo forest a home to chimpanzees and other Primates. Park entrance fees is only $40 per person per day which comes a long with never ending adventures.

Giraffes in Murchison Falls NP, Wildlife Holiday
Giraffes in Murchison Falls NP. Photo by Craig Trexler

Virunga National Park

A trip to this region without Mountain gorilla trekking is often seen as incomplete. Gorilla tours have over the years become the most desired wildlife tours as people seek to meet one of mans’ closest primate species.

Mountain gorillas are endangered primates living in the forested Mountains in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The first two mountain gorilla destinations are however a bit expensive compared to DRC’s Virunga National Park. Its located in eastern DRC and one of the oldest national parks on the African continent.

The park has about 10 habituated mountain gorilla families open to tourist visitation. Gorilla permits here cost $500 per person which is way cheaper than the $700 per person in Uganda and $1500 per person in Rwanda. While here you can also see a number of other primates including golden monkeys, baboons among others.

Mount Nyiragongo with the world’s only lava is also situated in Virunga national park. The mountain recently erupted affecting the neighboring communities but studies are being done to determine when it will be safe again for tourists. While on a wildlife holiday here ensure to add Virunga national park for the most affordable gorilla tracking tour.

Golden Monkey in Virunga National Park. Wildlife Holiday
Golden Monkey in Virunga National Park DRC. Courtesy Photo

Serengeti Tanzania

Serengeti is the most famous savanna wildlife tour destination in East Africa because of its wildebeest migration. The park is located in northern Tanzania and together with Kenya’s Masai Mara forms an ecosystem where an annual mass migration happens.

4 of Savanna’s big five also live here that include lions, buffaloes, leopards and elephants. Some of the last remaining large prides of lions are seen roaming the plains of Serengeti national Park. Many of these are seen while on game drives, nature walks and ballon safaris that are organized within the park.

Unlike expensive wildlife tour packages like gorilla tracking, a safari in Serengeti is very affordable and worth. Here you not only get to witness the wildebeest migration but also get to see a variety of wildlife including birds.

There are a number of affordable accommodation options including campsites for budget travelers. For your ultimate and affordable wildlife tour expeditions in East Africa, ensure to add Serengeti on your bucket list.

Serengeti National Park
Wildebeest Migration Serengeti National Park. Courtesy Photo

Nyungwe National Park

In the land of thousand hills is Nyungwe forest national park located in the southwestern part. Its home to chimpanzees and many other primate species including the black and white colobus monkeys, Blue monkeys among others. Nyungwe forest National park is however most famous for chimpanzee tracking and its ideal for affordable chimpanzee tracking wildlife tours.

Tracking permits here cost $90 per person and one gets a chance to hike the tropical rainforest to meet chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe is very adventurous as you get to see other wildlife in the forested Park. You can engage in other primate treks where you can do an exclusive Hike to see other wildlife in the park.

Birding safaris are very rewarding here as well as. There are a number of the endemic bird species to the forest and the Albertine rift valley. Notable birds here include the great blue Turaco, regal Sunbird, Ruwenzori Nightjar, Kivu-ground Thrush among others.

All Nyungwe forest national parks activities are very much affordable. With the diversity the park has, on a visit there for a couple of days you can explore the major tourist attractions.

Great Blue Turaco Nyungwe National Park Rwanda
Great Blue Turaco Nyungwe NP Rwanda. Photo by Eric Manzi

Nairobi National Park

Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife protected area near the city center. The park is located only 10 kilometers from Kenya’s capital city Nairobi and its home a variety of wildlife species.

Its the best safari escape from the city congestion as you get to explore the best of East Africa’s wildlife. Notable wildlife here include the endangered black rhinos, lions, buffaloes, leopards, hyenas, zebras and others.

The park is also a birders haven with over 400 bird species 20 of which are migratory coming as far as Europe. The park entrance fees is $40 per adult and $20 for children. Citizens and foreign residents have discounted rates making the park among the best affordable destinations for wildlife tours.

Leopard in Nairobi National Park. Wildlife Holiday
Leopard in Nairobi National Park. Photo by Samuel Vellas