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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Kampala From The Back Of A Boda Boda

On our first weekend in Kampala we decided that we need a personalized and an authentic guided look at the city's highlights. The Boda Boda (a motorbike), along with matatu (a taxi shuttle), are the common modes of public transport in East Africa. So we went with one of the local  Boda Boda tour companies that advertised that they "ARE RANKED #36 OUT OF 100 ON A LIST OF UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD." Safety wise, it was advertised that they comply with all road requirements. All Safe Bodas are thoroughly checked to ensure maximum safety. Safe Bodas mainly means a regular motorbike but with two helmets: one for the driver and one for the passenger, a rarity on most other bodas.

We booked the full day of Boda Boda tour and we were met at our hotel by Apala, one of our drivers for the day. The tour took us about 6 hours and offered a look at Kampala that originated from surrounding seven hills.

You can customize your trip if you have specific interests, but here is a list a list of places we visited:

  • Constitutional Square, Freedom Square and the Independence Monuments, which were actually 200 feet away from our hotel. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962.
  • A tour of the Buganda Kingdom (King's Palace, King's Lake, New Scottish Parliament and the museum of the Buganda Kingdom). Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala.
  • At King's Palace we visited Idi Amin's and Obote's torture chambers, where over two hundred thousand people were killed. Idi Amin Dada was the third President of Uganda, ruling from 1971 to 1979. His rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement.
  • We stopped for a short break at Mango Market to get chapati, a rolex and soda. Chapati is an unleavened flatbread and rolex is a rolled chapati filled with 2 scrambled eggs, often cabbage, onions, tomatoes.
  • At downtown we went to one of the bar's balconies to get a view of the Kampala matatus parking lot or organized chaos, that means that even though the place looks like a huge chaotic crowded parking lot, there is still a logic how matatus are coming and going out.
  • At Old Kampala we visited Uganda National Mosque or Gaddafi Mosque (it's construction was financed by Gaddafi). Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya built the mosque as a gift to Uganda, and for the benefit of the Muslim population.We also climbed the minaret, which offered magnificent views of the city. From the top of the minaret we saw Owino market, known for its london-used goods, that is greatly preferred by locals, since they got better quality than China-new.
  • Our last stop was at Bahai Temple, where we learnt about the new religion of Bahá'í Faith. It is the only Bahai Faith temple in Africa. Bábism was a new religious movement that flourished in Persia from 1844 to 1852. Its founder was ʿAli Muhammad Shirazi, who took the title Báb "Gate", broke with Islam and started a new religious system.

I have to admit, that Boda Boda tour was a risk I gladly took, since Boda Bodas are considered to be one of the most dangerous ways to drive in Kampala, but the tour was great and very safe. Each of us paid UGX 100,000 ($33), but for locals they offer reduced price at UGX 70,000 ($23).

Overall, it was an amazing tour to discover the city while enjoying the ride. Safe Boda Bodas drivers provided useful explanations. I recommend this tour to anyone landing in Kampala.