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Guide about Kampala, Uganda Backpacking

Are you considering embarking on a backpacking adventure in Kampala, but feeling uncertain about where to begin? How about experiencing a bus journey from Nairobi to Kigali via Kampala? If you find yourself inundated with the wealth of information available online about backpacking in Kampala, you can finally put your worries to rest. This article provides you with firsthand insights into travel requirements, a plethora of activities to explore, accommodation options, budget-friendly tips, essential city information, and a host of practical travel hacks. Look no further for all the guidance you need to make your Kampala journey a seamless and fulfilling experience.

Kampala Journey

Requirements and Tips for travelling

Embarking on your journey through East Africa requires careful consideration of essential travel requirements and practical tips. By following these guidelines, you'll ensure a smooth and enriching adventure:

  • Travel Passport

Before setting out, verify the validity of your passport and ensure it contains sufficient blank pages for necessary stamps and visas. If you're a Kenyan traveller, take advantage of the option to obtain a temporary travel permit for visiting Uganda. These permits can be acquired through the Ecitizen portal or at designated immigration offices.

  • East African Visa

While citizens of East African countries enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel within the region, other travellers must secure an East African Visa. These visas can be obtained at immigration points for a fee of US$.

  • Yellow Fever Vaccine Card

It's essential to possess a valid Yellow Fever vaccine card. If you're a Kenyan traveller lacking this card, you can attain both the vaccine and the card from accredited facilities or recognized hospitals.

  • Financial Preparation

Adequate financial planning is crucial for a seamless journey. Ensure you have sufficient funds to cover various expenses. It's recommended to carry a combination of cash and cards (Visa/MasterCard) to accommodate diverse payment options.

  • Proof of Accommodation

While strict advance booking isn't always mandatory, having a general idea of your accommodation plans is advisable. Consider making flexible reservations to prepare for unforeseen circumstances that may arise during immigration checks.

  • Travel Insurance

While travel insurance isn't compulsory, it's strongly advised to acquire coverage. You can inquire about insurance rates from your existing provider or explore international policies offered by reputable companies like World Nomads. This becomes particularly important considering the distinctive challenges of the region.

  • Health Preparedness

If you're on medication, ensure you have an adequate supply for the journey. Given that East Africa is in a Malaria-prone zone, taking preventive measures is crucial. Request a mosquito net from your chosen accommodation for nighttime protection. Additionally, consider carrying malaria preventive tablets or purchasing them locally in Kampala.

By embracing these travel requirements and practical tips, you'll be thoroughly prepared for your East African adventure. This preparation ensures not only your safety but also an immersive and memorable journey filled with enriching experiences.

Kampala General Guide

Prepare for a seamless exploration of the vibrant city of Kampala with these essential insights:

  • Getting Around

Moving around Kampala is incredibly convenient thanks to a variety of public transportation options. You can choose from buses (Matatus/Taxis), taxi cabs, TukTuks, BodaBodas (motorcycle taxis), and even Uber (rideshare taxis).

  • Security and Personal Safety

While Kampala is generally a safe city to explore, it's always prudent to exercise caution, especially in unfamiliar areas and when interacting with strangers. When seeking directions or advice, opt for guidance from reliable sources like bus drivers or shopkeepers.

  • Dining Options

Immerse yourself in Uganda's diverse culinary offerings. Enjoy staples such as Ugali (Posho) and Matoke, along with a variety of vegetables. If you're craving international flavours, numerous restaurants in the city offer global cuisine options.

  • Events & Festivals

One of the highlights on Uganda's cultural calendar is the internationally acclaimed Nyege Nyege Festival. This dynamic 4-day event, held in Jinja every September, attracts travellers from around the world for a celebration of music and culture.

  • Currency Exchange

Conveniently access currency exchange services at secure bureaus located in shopping malls and banks. To secure favourable rates, consider seeking recommendations from your host or accommodation. You'll also find a network of ATMs and banks throughout Kampala for added convenience.

  • Exchange Rates

Stay informed about the ever-changing exchange rates. As of now, 1 Kenyan Shilling (KES) equals 38 Ugandan Shillings (UGX), 1 US Dollar (USD) equals 3,800 UGX, 1 British Pound (GBP) equals 5,000 UGX, and 1 Euro (EUR) equals 4,500 UGX.

  • Banks & ATMs

Trusted international banks like KCB, Barclays, Stanbic, and Standard Chartered operate in Kampala, providing a reliable financial backbone for travellers.

  • People & Language

Communication is made easy in Kampala, where English serves as the official language. Engage with residents effortlessly, and also be aware that Luganda and Kiswahili are widely spoken, allowing for deeper connections.

  • Nightlife

Experience Kampala's vibrant nightlife scene in venues across the city, particularly in Kampala and Entebbe. From bars to lounges and pubs, the options are varied. For a thrilling night out during your backpacking journey, consider visiting popular spots like Club Play, Club Amnesia, and Guvnor.

  • Phone and Internet

Kampala operates on a 240V, 50Hz electrical system with a 3-pin plug. Most accommodations offer internet access. To stay connected, consider acquiring an Airtel or MTN mobile SIM card for both calls and personal internet usage.

With these comprehensive insights, your journey through Kampala promises to be an unforgettable and culturally immersive experience, filled with vibrant encounters and exciting adventures.

Accommodation in Kampala

Finding suitable accommodation while backpacking through Kampala doesn't have to break the bank, and you can still enjoy quality lodging. 

Kampala, a dynamic city, boasts a plethora of options for relaxation and lodging. You'll discover numerous choices to suit your preferences, all at affordable rates.

Budget Accommodation: $15 – $60 USD per night

Mid-range Hotels: $60 – $120 USD per night

Luxury & High-End: Rates exceeding $120 USD per night

Budget Suggestion on Accommodation in Kampala

For budget-conscious backpackers and travellers, I offer the following recommendations for budget accommodation in Kampala:

  • Bushpig Backpackers

A fantastic choice for backpacker accommodations. With rates ranging from $15 for a dorm room to $60 for a personal suite, Bushpig Backpackers offers affordable and comfortable options for your stay.

  • Fat Cat Backpackers

Strategically situated, Fat Cat Backpackers provides rooms ranging from $15 for a dorm room to $60 for a personal room. Take a look at the hostel and make a reservation if it aligns with your preferences.

  • Namayiba Park Hotel

Ideal for budget-conscious travellers seeking privacy, Namayiba Park Hotel is conveniently located in Kampala city centre, adjacent to the Namayiba Bus Park. It's a convenient starting point for travellers heading to Nairobi or Kigali. I've personally stayed here and appreciated the facility, though some noise from the Bus Park can be a drawback.

Room rates begin at $30 for a single Deluxe room and go up to US$50 for a Twin Room accommodating four people. Take a closer look at the amenities and consider booking if it suits your needs.

For those seeking midrange and luxury accommodations, I recommend exploring the "Best Luxury Hotels in Kampala" page on for more options.

Top things to see and do in Kampala

Explore the vibrant array of attractions that Kampala has to offer with these captivating options:

  • Kasubi Tombs

Also known as the Tombs of Buganda Kings, the Kasubi Tombs serve as the resting place for four Kabakas (Kings) of the Buganda Kingdom. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, this ancient burial structure showcases dome-shaped huts crafted from organic materials like wood, thatch, reed, wattle, and daub.

  • Uganda National Museum

A treasure trove of Uganda's cultural heritage, the Uganda National Museum showcases ethnological, traditional, and natural-historical exhibitions. Noteworthy exhibits include hunting equipment, weaponry, and traditional musical instruments that visitors are encouraged to engage with.

  • Uganda Martyrs Shrine

The Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs, located in Namugongo, commemorates the Martyrs and saints who faced persecution for their Christian faith. Pilgrims from around the world visit this sacred site to pay homage to those who refused to denounce their beliefs.

Christian Faith

  • Bulange Building

Perched on Namirembe hill, the Bulange Building houses the Kingdom of Buganda's Parliament (Lukiiko) and administrative headquarters. This iconic structure also accommodates the offices of the Kabaka (King) and Katikkiro (Prime Minister). Tickets are available at the adjacent Buganda tourism centre.

  • Uganda National Mosque

The Uganda National Mosque, also known as Gaddafi Mosque, graces Old Kampala Hill. This impressive mosque offers panoramic views of Kampala from its prayer tower. Constructed from 1976 to 2008, the mosque's completion was aided by the late President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

  • Rubaga Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral Rubaga, a Roman Catholic Church, occupies Rubaga Hill. Built in 1914, the cathedral honors the late Archbishop Joseph Kiwanka, the first African Catholic Bishop and Archbishop of Kampala Diocese.

  • Namirembe Cathedral

Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe, situated on the Namirembe Hill, holds the distinction of being Uganda's oldest cathedral.

  • Independence Monument

At the heart of Kampala city, the Independence Monument signifies the birth of an African child (Uganda), symbolised by a man unwrapping a child.

  • Bahai Temple

The Bahai Temple, located on Kikaya Hill, is Africa's sole Bahai Faith Temple, constructed in the 1950s.

  • Owino Market

For an authentic Kampala experience and a chance to hone your bargaining skills, venture to Owino Market. Located downtown, this bustling market offers a variety of items, from second-hand clothes to household wares and farm produce.

With these attractions, your exploration of Kampala promises a dynamic and enriching adventure. EXPLAIN ALL


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Guide to Backpacking in Kampala, Uganda

What are the transportation options for getting around Kampala?

Kampala offers various transportation options, including buses (Matatus/Taxis), taxi cabs, TukTuks, BodaBodas (motorcycle taxis), and Uber (rideshare taxis).

Is Kampala a safe city for backpackers?

Kampala is generally safe for exploration, but it's recommended to exercise caution in unfamiliar areas and when interacting with strangers.

What are the must-visit attractions in Kampala?

Some of the must-visit attractions include the Kasubi Tombs, Uganda National Museum, Uganda Martyrs Shrine, Bulange Building, Uganda National Mosque, Rubaga Cathedral, Namirembe Cathedral, Independence Monument, Bahai Temple, and Owino Market.

Where can I find budget accommodation in Kampala?

Budget accommodation options in Kampala include hostels like Bushpig Backpackers and Fat Cat Backpackers. Additionally, Namayiba Park Hotel offers affordable rates for budget travellers.

What is the cost range for accommodation in Kampala?

Accommodation costs vary based on your preferences. Budget options can range from $15 to $60 USD per night, mid-range hotels can cost between $60 and $120 USD per night, while luxury/high-end options can exceed $120 USD per night.

Can I use Airbnb or Booking Com for accommodation in Kampala?

Yes, platforms like Airbnb and Booking Com offer a range of accommodation options in Kampala, allowing you to preview facilities before making a reservation.

Are there mid-range and luxury hotels in Kampala?

Yes, Kampala offers mid-range and luxury hotel options. You can explore listings on platforms like Booking Com for more information.

What are some unique cultural experiences in Kampala?

Engage in the local culture by visiting the Kasubi Tombs, participating in the Uganda Martyrs Shrine commemoration, exploring the Uganda National Museum's exhibitions, and immersing yourself in the bustling Owino Market.

How can I exchange currency in Kampala?

Currency exchange bureaus in shopping malls and banks provide safe exchange services. Ask your host or accommodation for recommendations on bureaus with favourable rates.




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