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My Kampala: Uganda's capital is a blend of traditional and modern structures

Uganda's capital is blessed with pleasant weather and great entertainment options

Published: Nov 2, 2016 06:36:51 AM IST
Updated: Feb 16, 2017 01:40:13 PM IST

Image: Joe Scherschel / National Geographic / Getty Images

Kampala is becoming a good place to do business in East Africa. I frequently visit the city five to six times a year to meet my regular clients, and for my construction business. As the city is the centre of transportation, communication and commerce in Africa, it widens the scope for any entrepreneur.

Once you touch down in Kampala, the first thing you notice is that the air is exceptionally clean and crisp. The city is blessed with pleasant weather, is cosmopolitan, and has a blend of traditional and modern structures. The city has two very distinct looks: The local African flavour, and the erstwhile British flavour. You can get the best of both cultures, which blend seamlessly. Kampala is also picturesque, and is the greenest city in Africa. If it’s your first time in Africa, you will notice a stark difference in the flora and fauna from back home.

My favourite hotel is the Sheraton Kampala, as their service takes note of their guests.

Since connectivity is critical when travelling for work, I prefer the Sheraton since it is located in the heart of the city. Apart from the Sheraton, I would recommend the Kampala Serena and the Speke Hotel. While the first is a luxury hotel known for its intricate architecture, the second is known for its service and food.

Sheraton Kampala and Kampala Serena are also good places to have business meetings. In addition, there are a couple of coffee houses such as Endiro and Café Javas that have the finest coffee in town and are great places to get your laptop out and work, or conduct sundry work meetings in an informal setting.

I prefer to have Indian food and would recommend Indian Zaika Indian Cuisine, and Khana Khazana, The Verandah for their flavoursome kali dal and tikkas. I also like the spread at Kati Kati, an African restaurant.

On the weekends and days off from work, Bubbles O'Leary’s is where I hang out with my friends. If you are staying at the Sheraton you have a plethora of choices to satiate your taste buds.

Getting Around
Kampala, being a capital city, is characterised by impossibly chaotic traffic jams. While staying at the Sheraton, I prefer to book a car in advance from the hotel for my business meetings. But there are days when I drive with my friends or work associates. Since the city follows right-hand drive, like in India, it’s not difficult to drive yourself.

After Hours
Kibale National Park is the most attractive national park in Uganda, and gives you a first-hand experience of a rainforest. Visiting it is an ideal way to take a small break from work and recharge your batteries. You could take a road trip to the park, which would be an experience in itself.

Kampala is full of entertainment options, which include night clubs, casinos, poetry events, art exhibition openings, private parties, and live music gatherings.

If you have an interest in architecture, you can visit the parliament building, the Kasubi Tombs, the Uganda Museum, and the Rubaga Cathedral.

The city’s nightlife is vivacious and enjoyable. There is a good old Ugandan saying: “You’ll be sleeping in your shoes.” The bars and pubs cater to European and American outlanders, and dish out the latest music. There is a fusion of East African, South African and Nigerian music, complemented by international music, which is a very good mix for a night out.

If you are a mall rat, head to The Acacia Mall, touted as the No. 1 destination for dining, shopping and entertainment. My memorable buys have always been showpieces like African busts, wooden animals and shields, and paintings.

If you have more time on hand, you must explore the captivating tea and coffee farms around the city. Alternatively, visit the famous Lake Victoria, the Equator line and the town of Jinja; it is an excellent getaway from Kampala where you can find inner peace.

Visitors should avoid going out with strangers, especially at night and in isolated areas. Like any other city in the world, common sense is the biggest weapon to protect yourself and stay safe.

The writer is chairman and managing director, PNG Jewellers Pvt Ltd
(Coordinated by Jasodhara Banerjee)

(This story appears in the 11 November, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)