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Living in Kampala
A comprehensive guide about living well in Kampala
Living in Kampala as an expat can be difficult until you do not get use to the mix of cultures, the different types of the transport and to know how the city works. But all can be easier with the helpful and welcoming locals generally willing to help you. Find out more in our guide!
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Life in Kampala
Culture and Leisure
Kampala is divided into clear sections, and the most significant features of the city are split into several “hills”, which have historic significance. These hills are home to the Kasubi Tombs where the former Kabakas are buried, the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice, different places of worship for several religions and also a hospital. Nakasero Hill is home to the business and administrative center of the city, and this area is also where the wealthiest people in Kampala live. Some of the more significant sights in the city are the Uganda Museum, and also the National Theatre, but possibly the most exciting place to get a feel for the city and to get involved is the Nakasero Market and other smaller markets, where the buzz and bustle is contagious from the moment you arrive. Be prepared to haggle when buying anything in the city.
Transportation in Kampala
The closest airport to Kampala is actually in the Entebbe, which is just over 30 km away from Kampala. The easiest way to get to the city is by the airport shuttle bus, which is inexpensive, and will drop you off right in the city center. From here, it is advisable to get a taxi to your destination if you do not know your way around the city. Once you are in Kampala, the quickest way to get around is by boda bodas, which are motorcycles, which will take you all over the city. These are very inexpensive and efficient, but can be dangerous, and the drivers will weave in and out of traffic to get you to your destination as quickly as possible, so matatus might be a better choice if you are not comfortable with the boda bodas. Matatus are minibuses that drive around certain stops throughout the city. It is not always clear where these are going, so the best thing to do is say the name of your destination to the driver, to find out where the vehicle is going. If you are an expat who wants to drive in Kampala, be aware that road safety is not the number one priority in Uganda, and the system may take some time getting used to. Quality of roads can vary, with the more rural routes tending to be unpaved and difficult to traverse, especially in the rainy season.
Safety and Security
Kampala is not an unsafe city, but as with any African city, it is smart to take precautions. If you are going to use the boda bodas around the city often, it is a good idea to buy your own helmet as this will not be provided. Credit card fraud is not common, but it does occur from time to time, so the best thing to do is to take out cash at an ATM, rather than using your credit card in bars or shops. Some areas of the city are notorious for prostitution, and men particularly can be tricked by these women so it is best to avoid these areas of the city completely, particularly if you have been drinking. City officials may also target foreigners and come up with false charges in order to illicit a bribe. The people of Kampala are generally friendly, helpful and welcoming, and you should not feel uncomfortable approaching anyone for help or directions in your new home.
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