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Kampala might have long outgrown its initial sevens but it remains a simple matter to remain oriented within the urban sprawl. Uganda capital covers a landscape district hills separated by swampy valleys draining into Lake Victoria.
Many of these hills, both the historic seven (those included here are bold) and others settled more recently, bear landmarks that mean that you need never get completely lost in greater Kampala. This happy situation contrasts starkly to, say, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, where geography is less helpful.
The city’s most reference point is modern multi-storeyed city centre on Nakasero Hill. This is ringed by more discreet, but no less identifiable landmarks on neigbouring summits. These are described here moving clockwise around Nakasero, starting with Old Kampala Hill, just a few hundred meters southwest of the city centre. This stumpy knoll attained initial significance as the site of Lugard’s 1899 encampment/camp, but since 1970s has provided central Kampala with its most dramatic reference point. Initially this was the shell of an unfeasibly tall tower, noted for a distinct list halfway up, rising above an incomplete mosque initiated by Idi Amin.
This well-loved folly was demolished around 2001 to make way for the significant Old Kampala Mosque with its more practically proportioned tower. Due south of Old Kampala, the kabaka’s palace stands on the broad, low Hill of Lubiri. This circular area, a full kilometer in diameter remains mostly undeveloped and is conspicuously as a green expanse, enclosed within a crumbling brick wall in an area of low-rent housing and workshops. Lubiri is neigboured by Namirembe and Rubaga Hills, topped by the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals respectively. St. Paul’s on Namirembe is Identified by the dome(more modest than that of its Londan namesake but still striking) and Rubaga by two Bell towers. Moving to North of Namirembe, the white bell towers of Uganda’s oldest University is visible on the leafy ridge of Makerere.
Looking north from Kisement and Kiira Road, the striking Bahai is conspicuous on a glassy hill off the Gayaza road. Immediately behind the Kisementi Hill is leafy Kololo, the city’s heist hill and the sight of many embassies and diplomatic residences.
South of Jinja Road, a cluster of white minarates and palm trees mark Kibuli Mosque, where Uganda’s first Islamic visitors settled in the mid 19th century. Just south of Kibuli is the Up-market Muyenga Hill, on which posh homes mushroomed during Kampala’s 1990s’ renascence. Popularly known as “Tank Hill” after the conspicuous municipal water reservoirs on its summit, Muyenga is an effective beacon for nightspots of Kabalagala and Ggaba Road at its base.