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.

What You Need To Know About Bwindi, The Best Gorilla Trekking Destination

Mountain Gorilla tourism has over the years gained popularity as people seek exclusive gorilla trekking experiences. People travel from different parts of the world to the forested mountains of East and Central Africa for mountain gorilla trekking. One may wonder what are mountain gorillas and why are they special?

Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species with over 95% DNA similar to humans. They live in the forested mountains at elevations ranging from about 8000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. They are covered with fur that helps them survive the cold temperatures of the forested mountains.

Gorillas live in families headed by a dominant male called Silverback and are pure vegetarian with their diet consisting of plant vegetation and bamboo shoots. They are endemic to the Virunga massif along the Rwanda, Uganda & DRC Border and Bwindi impenetrable Forest in Uganda. 

The total mountain gorilla population is now estimated at over 1000 and Bwindi Impenetrable forest has almost half of the total population. Bwindi is currently the best gorilla trekking destination and here is more information you might need to know.

1. Various Gorilla Trekking Sectors

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is an extensive park covering about 321 square kilometers. The park has different gorilla trekking sectors evenly distributed each sector with various gorilla families.

The northern and busiest sector is called Buhoma with 6 mountain gorilla families. Closer to Buhoma is Ruhija the eastern sector with 4 mountain gorilla families. It takes about an hours drive from Buhoma to Ruhija and you can therefore have a gorilla trek there incase you had accommodation in Buhoma.

Rushaga and Nkuringo are situated in southern Bwindi. Rushaga has 8 gorilla families while Nkuringo has 4 gorilla families. The Nkuringo region is however steep and one having a gorilla trek there will require some level of fitness. Ensure to know the exact sector where your gorilla trekking experience will be and book your accommodation accordingly.

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi. Gorilla Trekking
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable NP. Courtesy Photo

2. Varying Gorilla Trekking Elevation

Bwindi has many hills with a gorilla trekking elevation from 1190 to 2607 meters above sea level. With this, the gorilla trekking experience comes in handy. You must therefore know if the gorilla family you are tracking will require a lot of hiking.

Much as gorilla trekking doesn’t require any levels of fitness, there are some gorilla families that live at high elevations. Those with altitude sickness, the elderly and some health restrictions need to ensure they track families that don’t require a lot of hiking.

Luckily Bwindi has over 22 gorilla families and one has a range of options to choose from. An average hike takes 2 to 4 hours though others take longer and a full day. Talk to your local safari guide or park ranger to ensure you are allocated an easier family to track.

3. Accessibility

Bwindi impenetrable can be accessed by both road and air transport. If you are coming from Entebbe international airport or Kampala by road, it takes a 9 to 10 hours drive. Its a long one but impressive going through the Ugandan countryside. You would have en route stop overs for photography at the Equator and for a lunch break and proceed to Bwindi.

Incase you don’t want the long drive you can fly to an airstrip near the park. There are two airstrips serving the park, one in the north and the other in the south. Kihihi airstrip serves the northern and Eastern sectors. Its 30 to 40 minutes drive to Buhoma sector and about an hour and a half drive to Ruhija

Kisoro airstrip serves the southern sector and its an hour drive to the park. Flying saves a lot of time and its the best option for those who don’t want the long drives. It also offers great aerial views of the countryside and other open savanna parks.

4. Best time for Trekking

Gorilla trekking in Bwindi can be enjoyed anytime of the year. The best time though is in the dry season from June to September and December to March. During this time there is minimal rainfall disturbances and the tracking trails are therefore dry. With this, there is easy movement and great chances for better wildlife photography.

In the wet season from April to May and October to November gorilla trekking is possible but rainfall can occur anytime of the day. Its an adventurous experience having a downpour while in the jungle but some people don’t like it.

5. Gorilla Permits

Mountain gorilla trekking permits for Bwindi cost $700 per person for international tourists, $600 per person for East African foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250,000 for East African citizens.

Gorilla permits are on a very high demand and only 8 tourists are allowed to track one gorilla family a day.  Ensure to book your permits in advance to avoid missing out. You can book and buy permits from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices. Incase you are using a tour operator ensure to pay for the permits in advance.

If you are interested in the gorilla habituation experience, permits are limited to only 4 people. Habituation permits cost $1500 per person for international guests, $1000 per person for East African residents and shillings 750,000 for East African Citizens.

Uganda Issues New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

Moutain Gorilla. Uganda Primates - COVID-19 Travel Guidelines
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda. Courtesy Photo

Uganda recently issued new COVID-19 travel guidelines as tourism steadily increase with the country receiving more tourists. Its coming to two years when the world was hit by the deadly Corona virus pandemic. This led to economies closing up making tourism one of the worst hit sectors as travel came to a standstill.

As the world has slowly coped up with living with the Virus, countries often come up with COVID-19 travel guidelines. These help in reducing the number of public transmissions of the Virus especially for the frontline workers. Its also protects the country’s citizens from travelers coming from highly infected areas.

Given that Uganda’s tourism industry features trips to primate national parks with mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, these COVID-19 travel guidelines help a big deal. The mentioned primates have over 95% DNA making them very susceptible to acquiring human diseases. With the continuously updated guidelines though all these amazing wildlife species are protected.

Before, travelers from various countries were required to present negative PCR test results tested not later than 72 hours prior arrival to Uganda. Fully vaccinated and asymptomatic individuals with negative PCR results were allowed without being tested upon arrival.

New COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

India has been removed from Category 1 countries that are red listed. It has been moved to category 2 and travelers from India can now come to Uganda. They will have to present COVID-19 negative PCR results tested 72 hours travel to Uganda. Category 2 countries include India, United States of America, United Kingdom, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan.

All other travelers will also be required to present negative PCR test results tested 72 hours prior arrival to Uganda. These will also undergo mandatory PCR testing irrespective of the vaccination status if they show COVID-19 symptoms.

Those who will take the test on arrival will have to wait at designated hotels for their results. If they test negative its when they will proceed with the tour. Incase one tests positive he/she will be treated as according to the Ministry of Health Protocol for COVID-19.

Anyone without a negative COVID-19 PCR test undertaken 72 hours from time of sample collection will not be allowed to enter Uganda.

Travelers departing Uganda will be required to take a departure test to ensure they have left the country COVID free. This has been ongoing and testing upcountry especially for tourists is arranged as per one’s itinerary.

Uganda Tourism

The tourism industry in Uganda has been open since July 2020 when savanna national parks were opened for domestic travel. The primate parks also eventually opened up in October and these have since been operating under strict Standard Operating Procedures. Since then tourism in Uganda has been slowly gaining momentum as the number of Visitors keep on increasing.

Major Primates national parks in Uganda are Kibale, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla parks. In Kibale national park are over 13 primates species and its the best chimpanzee tracking destination.

For ultimate mountain gorilla tracking experiences then Bwindi Impenetrable National park is the best option. The park has half of the remaining mountain gorilla population on the entire planet. If you are seeking exclusive and intimate gorilla tracking safari experiences then Mgahinga gorilla park would be a great option.

Book your safari now to any of your preferred destination in Uganda. Travel now is more enjoyable as there are not many tourists as before making Uganda safaris more intimate and enjoyable.