Although they lie only 35 km apart on the northern Lake Victoria hinterland, the twin cities of Kampala and Entebbe – present and former capital of Uganda respectively – could scarcely be more different in character. Kampala is the archetypical African capital, more verdant than many of its counterparts and not quite so populous or chaotic as others. Entebbe, by contrast, scarcely feels like a town at all. Located at only a 30 minute drive south from Kampala, it is a remarkably unfocused urban city. With their contrasting atmospheres, Kampala and Entebbe make a fascinating introduction to Uganda.
Like Rome, Kampala was originally built across seven hills. Today, that figure is more like two dozen, with a population of 1.2 million according to the 2002 census. By 1986, when the civil war ended, Kampala was in complete chaos. Kampala today is practically unrecognisable from its war-scarred incarnation of the mid 1980s. The main shopping area along Kampala Road could be that of any Africa capital, and has recently been supplemented by a clutch of bright, modern supermarkets and shopping malls. The most beautiful is the area immediately north of Kampala Road, where foreign embassies and government departments rub shoulders with renovated tourist hotels. Kampala is a pleasant enough city and remarkably safe. Its glut of restaurants, nightclubs, bars, cinemas and other modern facilities has made it a popular place to hang out for a few days. Conventional sightseeing within the city is restricted to the Kasubi Tombs and National Museum, but several other worthwhile sites of interest lie close by. These include Jinja and the chimpanzees on Ngamba Island.
The following accommodations are recommended by Africa Miracles:
Kampala & Entebbe: Cassia Lodge , Kampala Serena Hotel , City Royal Hotel, Emin Pahsa, Le Petit Village, Sophie’s Motel, Nanirembe Guest House and Gately Inn.
Jinja: Jinja Nile Resort, Nile Porch and The Haven Lodge
In 1913, Sir Frederick Treves described Entebbe as “the prettiest and most charming town on the lake”. Almost a century later, this still could have been written yesterday! Sprawling along the Lake Victoria shore some 35 km south of Kampala, Entebbe makes an appealing introduction to Uganda. Entebbe is also the site of Uganda’s only international airport.
Being Uganda’s second-largest town, Jinja lies about 80km east of Kampala and 131km west of Tororo, overlooking the point where the Nile flows out of Lake Victoria. It is the mighty river rather than the moderately interesting town that attracts visitors to Jinja. The thrilling series of grade-five rapids below Bujagali Falls has emerged in recent years as perhaps our most popular activity in Uganda. Jinja has an attractively lush location with a population of around 100,000.