Kampala Serena Hotel

Kampala, Uganda

Located on 17 beautifully landscaped acres in central Kampala’s Business District, the hotel is just 40 kilometres from Entebbe International Airport. Among our tranquil water gardens you’ll feel secluded from civilization, yet within moments of all Kampala has to offer- just a seven-minute walk from the Uganda National Cultural Centre, 3 km from Uganda Museum and 11 km from Mandela National Stadium.

Kampala is the capital city of Uganda, and is said to have been built on seven hills- Kasubi Hill: site of the Kasubi Tombs, the tombs of the Kabakas, the Ugandan kings, Mengo Hill: site of the present Kabaka’s Palace and the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice, Kibuli Hill: home to the Kibuli Mosque, Namirembe Hill: home to the Namirembe Protestant Cathedral, Rubaga Hill: site of the Rubaga Catholic Cathedral, headquarters of the White Fathers, Nsambya: site of the Nsambya Hospital and the little hill of Impala: once the hunting grounds of the Ugandan kings.

Other features of the city include the Ssezibwa Falls, the Ugandan National Theatre, St. Balikuddembe Market (formerly Owino Market) and Nakasero Market. Kampala is also known for its nightlife, which includes a casino. The main campus of Makerere University, one of East and Central Africa’s premier institutes of higher learning, can be found in the Makerere Hill area of the city. Kampala is also home to the headquarters of the East African Development Bank.

Before the arrival of the British, Mutesa I the Kabaka (king) of Buganda had chosen the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favourite hunting grounds. The area was made up of numerous rolling hills and lush wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various game, particularly a species of antelope, the Impala (Aepyceros melampus). The British called the area the hills of the Impala. Translated to Luganda it became “kasozi ka Impala”. With time, local usage took to referring to the Kabaka’s hunting expeditions as “Kabaka agenze e ka´empala (“The Kabaka has gone to Ka’mpala”). Eventually the hills became known as Kampala. The city grew as the capital of the Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survive, including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881), the Buganda Parliament, the Buganda Court of Justice and the Naggalabi Buddo Coronation Site.

Kampala has a diverse ethnic population, although the Baganda make up over 60% of the Greater Kampala region. Other large ethnic groups include the Banyankole, Basoga, Bafumbira, Batoro, Bakiga, Alur, Banyoro, Iteso and Acholi.

More recently emerged as a tourist destination than its neighbours, Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda has always been viewed as the ultimate African gem. It was to Uganda that the early explorers were attracted; and Uganda was the objective of one of the greatest engineering feats of history, the so-called ‘Lunatic Express’, the railway, which in 1899 finally reached the shores of Lake Victoria, 1,000 kilometres from Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.

Blessed with one of the most delightful climates in the world, Uganda occupies a serene green plateau, which lies between the eastern and western branches of the Great Rift Valley. Thought by many to be Africa’s finest birding destination, Uganda boasts over 1,000 species, which in relation to her relatively compact size (236,580 square kilometres) is a tribute not only to her fertility, but also to the diversity of her landscape.

25% of Uganda’s entire surface is covered by a glittering skein of lakes and rivers, earning her the title ‘The Land of Lakes’. They include the mighty Nile, which rises in Jinja, and the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria.

As to scenery, Uganda has been dubbed ‘The Switzerland of Africa’ thanks to its impressive mountain ranges, which include the legendary ‘Mountains of the Moon’, the snow-capped Ruwenzoris, and the enormous and immeasurably ancient Mount Elgon which, at 4,324 metres is all that remains of a massive volcano, now extinct, which forms the boundary between Uganda and Kenya.

The meeting point of the East African savannah and the West African rainforest, Uganda’s vegetation is immensely diverse stretching from snow-capped peaks and Afro-alpine moorlands to dense rainforests, golden savannah and semi-arid landscapes. Incredibly fertile, agriculture is the dominant sector of Uganda’s economy, contributing more than 70 per cent of gross domestic product and providing a livelihood for 90 per cent of the population.

Although not as plentiful as that of its neighbours, Uganda’s wildlife definitely has the edge on them in terms of diversity. Its pristine rainforests protect a wealth of wildlife including an astonishing number of primate species. Indeed, of the few thousand mountain gorillas that remain on earth, over half of them live in Uganda. Uganda is also one of the top places in the world to see chimpanzee, which are abundant in the Kibale Forest National Park, the Budongo Forest, and in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Murchison Falls National Park, meanwhile, is thought by many to be one of the most exciting wildlife experiences Africa has to offer and is THE place to see hippos and crocodiles.

Uganda’s cultural history is one of the richest in the world. Today, still ruled by the Buganda, the Ugandan King, who maintains his glittering royal court at Bulange, just outside Kampala, the Ugandan people are one of the most warmly welcoming and gently gracious in the world. Speaking over forty languages, they can broadly be divided into four major language groups, Bantu, Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic and Sudanic.

Borders: A landlocked country on the equator in East Africa, Uganda is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally Zaire) to the west, Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east and Rwanda and Tanzania to the south.

Climate: Uganda’s temperatures are moderate throughout the year. In Kampala, near Lake Victoria, average daily temperatures range from 18 to 25 [degrees] C. There are two dry seasons (December to February, June to August); semi-arid in the northeast.

Language: English is the official language, Swahili is also spoken. There are some 40 indigenous languages the most common being Luganda and Luo.

Flora & Fauna: The vegetation of Uganda can be divided into; forest, moist savannah, dry savannah, semi-desert, aquatic vegetation, afro-alpine moorland and grassland. The East African plains support some of the last great herds of wildlife left in the world, offering a greater number and diversity of species than any other continent: Uganda offers 50 large mammal species all members of the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard and rhinoceros) and she is particularly famous for her primates – especially the mountain gorillas (western lowland, eastern lowland and mountain). There are also 300 species of butterfly. Uganda offers over 1000 avian species including many migratory species from Europe and Asia.

Vaccinations: A number of vaccinations are recommended for visitors to Uganda (check with your doctor in advance). Visitors arriving from areas affected with yellow fever and cholera require certificates of inoculation. Malaria and bilharzia are endemic.

Security: Uganda is a safe country to travel in. Ugandans are warm-hearted and generous people and are eager to help visitors get the most out of their stay. Uganda is a politically stable, multi-democratic country. As in all countries, a little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe and not walking alone at night.

How to dress: Uganda has no winter and lightweight clothing is worn all year-round. It is considered insulting by local tradition to dress scantily or improperly. Daytime temperatures are generally warm to hot, evenings are cooler, especially at high altitudes.

Photography: It is considered courteous to ask people if you may take their picture before doing so, particularly in the more far-flung rural areas. A small (token) payment for the photograph may be expected, rather more as a form of polite appreciation than anything else.