A City That Wakes Up At Bedtime!
Let’s talk about a city in East Africa that never sleeps, let’s talk about the lively people and the vibrant energy. Let’s talk about the Crazy Crazy daily nightlife in the city of the glorious Pearl of Africa, Kampala. One might ask themselves, how is it possible to keep the night activities alive and exciting every day of the week?
Since 77% of Uganda’s population is under the age of 25, Kampala city is predominantly inhabited and enjoyed by the younger population. Most of these decide to live in and around the city for purposes of convenience in terms of transportation, proximity to amenities and of course, being closer to exciting activities such as night-time amusement.
As earlier mentioned, the nightlife in Kampala is not tied to a specific day of the week. The Kampala nightlife thrives more towards the weekend and on Saturday especially, because people prefer to prepare for the week on Monday, Wrong!
People in Kampala can make merry every day, every night, Christmas Day, Easter, Eid or New Year’s, you can never worry that you will be out of season to take part in an activity or two!
I’ll take you on a trip of what a week of Kampala Night Life might look like. Sundays are usually times people spend with their loved ones. If it’s not a graduation party, it will be a birthday party, bridal shower, baby shower, a child’s christening celebration, or even just a get together because it had been a while.
Some people like to celebrate at family homes and can go even deep into the night, while others prefer to go to a restaurant or hotel and reserve spots to celebrate. Of course, while this happens there will be other individuals in these places having a drink and sharing a laugh.
Restaurants and hotels can even close as late as midnight on Sunday. Occasionally there are events that extend till late such as Blankets and Wine events that are starting to return since their halt due to COVID 19.
Monday nights are known for cinemas and their mega price drops. A movie with a friend or a lover might be the extra kick to get your week going or a perfect way to recover from a long day at the office on Monday. Places to eat like Meza, at Acacia Mall are known to lower their Sharwama prices on Mondays, so they are sought after till closing time at the joint.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are known to be the days where people get deals on two for a pizza. What better excuse than this to catch up with a group of friends in the evening? Some lounges and bars also offer live band sessions at these places so people show up to groove along to the serenading voices. These days you can even enjoy Karaoke in certain bars and lounges such as
Friday night is the climax of the week. The bars are in full action, the restaurants are packed to the overflow, and you might find it difficult to find a cozy corner table at the hotel you like to sit at in the week. People will go the extra mile and “dress nicely” when they get the chance to go out.
The streets in and around the city suburbs are usually packed to capacity as cars with people trying to get home from a busy day collide with those that wish to start their second part of the day with some enjoyment, paid for.
Saturday nights host the after parties and dance parties as well as food sharing sessions at wedding parties especially. People are never in a rush to get home after a wedding on Saturday in Kampala. Concerts are slowly returning as people get used to the fact that there is no more curfew as a result of the significant drop in the spread of Covid 19.
Keep your eyes and ears on the ground and on social media because there will be an occasional silent disco event at a location like the University Hostel nightclub or a lounge. (If you came towards the end of the year, you could even be lucky to enjoy a carnival event or MTN’s famous Nyege Nyege that is held in Jinja.)
There may also be pop up events such as Trekking Timmy’s “Chummy walkers” that will have you and the group walk for a cause or towards a goal like planting trees. If you are into the performing arts, a play at the Kampala National Theatre might also be something to suit your interest.
People are thrilled to be able to enjoy life out and about once again and the fun is only getting started. In Kampala today, we like to say, “Tuli Wawelu” meaning we are outside! Will you join us?
The ‘Adungu’ loop trek! Sound like the one you would try? Here are some fun facts!
The Adungu loop trek is another one of the exciting walks that Trekking Timmy gives you a chance to experience in fun-filled Kampala city!
First, the trek gets its name because the route is shaped like a local instrument called the Adungu (or Ekidongo or Ennenga) that was originally invented and most commonly used by the Alur people of North-Western Uganda. You can call it a locally improvised harp.
DISCLAIMER: You will not be seeing any adungus on the trip but you can see one at the Uganda Museum while you take the Colony loop. In case you are wondering what that is about, you can read it here.
This trip is advisable for you only if you are fit for a long walk. It is about 15km (approx.9.8 Miles) and can take you anywhere between 4 to 7 hours. Kindly note that if you have some extra time on your hands, you can ask your guide to take you to visit some of these sights and you go along.
You will be intrigued to hear about the history of the ancient kingdoms of the 1800s and the era of the Arab traders. Get ready to listen to stories of the colonial era and the journey to Uganda’s independence.
Keep your eyes open because there is a lot to see! There is a lot to document if you like to write! Just like the Colony loop trek, you set off from Uganda Manufacturers Association Gate.
As you walk, You will see the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds, the Lugogo shopping mall, the KCCA sports grounds as well as the Lugogo complex stadium where concerts take place, not forgetting the Centenary Park. (A Ugandans version of a park you would get to sit in and chill from back home. You can ask your tour guide to show you around.)
Along the Kampala- Jinja road highway, you will see the industrial area, the Uganda Management Institute, the Toyota Auto parts warehouse and the British-American Tobacco offices. You will also see the Internal Affairs Offices, the Electoral Commission, a couple of banks like the Bank of Africa and the National Environmental Management Association (NEMA) offices.
You will continue past Cham Towers to Absa bank bringing you to a place commonly known as “downtown Kampala. As you walk on Luwum street, you will see various shops in the different plazas like Avemar plaza and Zai plaza.
You will continue down to the Old Taxi Park, the Nakivubo Stadium and you will even see the new park at a distance. (You can ask your tour guide to show you a market called Owino, in case you have some extra time on your hands).
NOTE: The taxis in Uganda are not your regular curbs but instead take the form of minivans. ( Your guide will show you.) They are known as “special hires” because people commonly request them on special occasions and sometimes use apps like Uber.
Carrying on, you branch at Mackay road and next up, Aga Khan mosque. You will walk along Martin road all the way to Namirembe road. Here, you will see the Old Kampala Police Station and the Uganda National Mosque ( There is a minaret from which you can stand and view most of Kampala City, you’ll be delighted!).
The area from Old Kampala, Mengo and Rubaga is also known to be home to many foreigners in the country like Somali and Eritrean people.
At Namirembe hill, you will see the Namirembe Cathedral, then go down to Mengo Hospital and in the area, the Rubaga Cathedral and Hospital. The Zaake road will lead you to the Buganda Parliament and the ‘Kabaka Anjagala’ (meaning ‘the king likes me’) road, will be your way to the Buganda Palace. Wait till you hear the story behind the name of this road!
Now, what are you waiting for? Get your shoes on and let’s go trekking!
A trek around Kampala, anyone?
Did you know that you could do more than just riding around in a taxi cab, taking a stroll in a tour van, or taking a daring trip on the city’s famous fast-moving motorbikes commonly referred to as “boda boda”?
Trekking Timmy introduces your mind to explore the possibility of taking a walk around and through key landmarks, sites and places from which old tales can be retold and from rich historical information can be attained. Kampala is a city that bears such places and as a matter of fact, a majority of key place names such as roads, hospitals and streets have their names as a result of the historical connection affiliated to them.
The history of these places is both cultural and colonial; that is to say, from the times before Uganda attained her Independence from the British Colonial rule, as well as cultural, concerning the practices and norms that existed among the Ugandan people before, during, or even after the colonial rule era.
We walk through these places with you as the stories are retold and this is sure to take you way back on a trip to the olden days where everything happened. As you walk, you will come across some artefacts that will serve as solid evidence to prove that the tale you are listening to is not just fiction.
You will be able to take some selfies with your friends as you move along, so carry your camera along and make sure that the phone is charged!
The fact that Kampala is a city that is full of life and activity is a reassurance that you can find something to eat, drink or take a break and freshen up if you have to! Stay on the lookout for your property as you trek the busy streets; some people on the streets are friendly but some are not!
If you care for street food, there are plenty of options to choose from ranging from groundnuts, roasted corn on the cob, as well as the all-time Ugandan delicacy, the rolex! Yes, we eat them, we do not wear them!
Trekking Timmy offers you a variety of routes to choose from for your trek, for example, the mountain trek, the colony trek, the adungu loop trek, the dog loop trek and so much more. You will have your shoes dusty by the end of the day, but we assure you that what you will get to see and experience is worth it!
Kampala before Covid-19 was a city that came to life at night! Kampala is predominantly full of predominantly younger revellers of the Ugandan population and for this reason, the city was known to get loud from the evening hours into the night, and especially on the weekends.
The ‘busyness’ of the city was not only limited to bars and nightclubs, but also other places like restaurants, cinema halls, shopping centres and even places of worship like churches that would have overnight prayer gatherings. Interestingly, the other “unobvious” places that would have large gatherings of people would be the small local restaurants and food stands commonly known as “bufunda.”
These places are normally found on the sides of busy streets and opted for because they sell cheap food and drinks that people still find tasty. They are also found to play the music that people like to groove to as they enjoy time with their friends.
The well-loved “chapati and egg” combo commonly known as a ‘rolex’ could be found anywhere on the streets at night in Kampala and even fast foods like chips- though in this case, served in a polythene bag- “ akavera” and not on a plate!
When this pandemic hit in March 2020, this highly coveted pass time of the population came to an end as a result of the night curfew that was implemented countrywide as one of the measures to curb the spread of the fast-spreading virus that was robbing the lives and livelihood of many.
The nightlife was now enjoyed through other ways like the weekend nighttime music shows. Television Stations for example NBS had the ‘Katch Up’ show where Anita Fabiola started as the host. The show would host musical artists and public figures that people could relate to. NTV Uganda also had a Friday Night show called “ Mix show live” where they also had a familiar style of hosting and presentation.
At a point during the lockdown, it felt like the different television channels competed to see who would attract the most viewers. Each weekend would be a battle to see who was being talked about by the public more than the other. The success of the shows would be measured by things like the hashtags on Twitter where the audience would express themselves and share what they had been enjoying the most.
Another way people enjoyed nightlife was by having parties in their compounds with their families to celebrate events together.
Now that the lockdown has finally been eased and the city is returning to some sense of normalcy, are people looking forward to the nightlife as they did before? Is curfew something people have come to appreciate as necessary or do they look forward to picking off from where they left off?
With the easy-going bunch that the Ugandan people identify as the nightlife is bound to return. Masked or unmasked, sanitiser or no sanitiser, vaccinated or not vaccinated? We will only be able to tell as time goes on.
Whether we choose to go out or stay in, our health is a number one priority and everyone has a part to play in keeping each other safe and healthy! It will help us enjoy the things that we formerly loved without compromising our health or that of our loved ones.
Trekking Timmy is back to take you on a journey to explore what Kampala nightlife will look like even after such a long time and the many changes that took place!
Hi, my name is Tim. I am a Kampala-based travel guide and I’m inviting you to join me this Easter Monday. 2nd April 2018, for a walking tour of Kampala City.
The Easter Monday Challenge is 12km hike on a route I call the Colony Loop. Trekking is a fun and easy way to keep fit. It is also the best way to learn your way round the city.
The trek will start and end at Red i Lounge in Lugogo (UMA Showgrounds).
Everybody knows that Kampala was originally built on 7 hills. Did you know that it was designed to accommodate 500,000 people? Did you know that of the 3.5 million people who walk its streets everyday, only in 1.7 million actually reside in Kampala?
Here’s an easy one. The building in the picture below is Uganda House. What year was it built? How many floors does it have?