Kololo is a Neighborhood on a Hilltop in Uganda’s Largest City, Kampala
The area is known for its serenity and its cultural attractions.
BY NANCY A. RUHLING | | MANSION GLOBAL
Kololo, the upscale neighborhood in Kampala, surveys Uganda’s largest city and capital from its historic sky-high hilltop.
The community, which is in the center of the city, gets its moniker from the Payira Kingdom’s Acholi chief, Rwot Awich. The chief, who was from northern Uganda, was arrested by the British in 1912, when he resisted their rule and was transported to Kampala, where he was locked in a hilltop prison.
Awich, in his native language, kept lamenting that he was left all alone or “kololo” in the wilderness to die. The British, who did not understand what he was saying, began calling the hill Kololo, and the name stuck. (The chief did, indeed, survive and continued to rule until his death in 1946.)
Today, Kololo is a vibrant neighborhood renowned for its serene beauty, its diplomatic community and its variety of cultural attractions.
Kololo, which rises 4,305 feet above the city it crowns, is bordered on the north by Upper Kololo Terrace Road, on the east by Acacia Avenue, on the south by Lugogo Bypass and on the west by Jinja Road.
Kololo’s single-family detached homes and apartments generally sell for US$200,000 to US$1 million, according to Farah Bandali, property manager for Pam Golding Uganda, who said that prices are quoted in U.S. dollars for the international market.
David Tumwesigye, a real estate associate for Victoria Nile Homes, added that one-bedroom units in condo developments run US$150,000 to US$200,000.
Although most of the standalone houses and apartments in the neighborhood are in the traditional Colonial style, recent developments are in a modern style with open-floor plans and automated home technology.
There are several condo developments, including Roze Courts, Baskerville Avenue, Speke Apartments, Summit View, The Seventeen and Millenium Heights, that offer a variety of amenities, including swimming pools, gyms, 24-hour security and on-site maintenance teams.
“The area has seen a rise in the development of apartment blocks over the last few years, which means most of them are new and in good condition,” Ms. Bandali said.
Mr. Tumwesigye agreed, adding that the new condo and office developments that are cropping up offer “five-star experiences” and are packed with amenities that include swimming pools, health clubs and gyms.
What Makes It Unique
Ms. Bandali said Kololo not only offers superb views from its hilltop perch but that it also “is pretty well planned with a road network that is great for morning and evening runs.”
She noted that it’s also appealing because it’s surrounded by commercial areas and amenities, such as malls, hospitals, schools and restaurants, and “it’s one of the safer neighborhoods in Kampala.”
The charm of Kololo lies in its natural beauty, said Mr. Tumwesigye. “Shrouded in greenery, the neighborhood offers serenity,” he said. “And it comes with a spectacular view of Lake Victoria. It’s also conveniently located near the main Central Business District, which makes it attractive.”
Steeped in serenity, Kololo has a variety of big-city attractions at its doorstep.
Acacia,one of the city’s larger malls, is in Kololo. It has a number of retail outlets, a cinema, a gym, three dine-in restaurants and a nightclub on the rooftop, according to Ms. Bandali.
She noted that the complex also has the women’s shoe emporium Modal Brasil, and the bookshop Aristoc, which specializes in English-language publications, as well as Mr. Price, which sells clothing for men, women and children.
The mall is a few meters away from the hub, known as Kisimenti, which is the location of Krsna Mart Complex, a mall that has a Millennium Supermarket; a number of shopping clubs, including Sky Lounge and Cielo Lounge; and a variety of restaurants, such as Que Pasa, which serves Mexican fare, and Meza, which is known for its shawarma, kebabs and falafel.
The neighborhood also has a number of standalone restaurants and bars. “Cuisines range from Chinese, Indian and Thai to continental, fast food and traditional African,” Ms. Bandali said.
One of her favorites is Tamarai, which bills itself as the only restaurant in the city with a tea bar. Its website notes that there are “over 16 tea flavors imported all the way from Sri Lanka.”
“It serves Thai food and has a sheesha (hookah) lounge as well,” Ms. Bandali said. “The food is consistently good, and service is up to the mark.”
Bushpig Backpackers, a hostel with a restaurant and bar, “has some of the best burgers and pizzas in town,” she added.
Another place to socialize is the Uganda Golf Club, a par-72 championship course that’s open all year, due to Kololo’s mild climate. In addition to a driving range, putting and chipping areas, it features a bar and grill.
The Uganda National Museum, which was founded in 1908 to showcase Uganda’s cultural heritage, is the oldest and largest such institution in the country. Right outside the borders of Kololo, it includes a cultural village featuring traditional Uganda huts.
There are several private schools that are a 15- to- 30-minute drive from Kololo.
Kampala Parents’ School is a primary day school with some 3,000 students from around the world. Kampala International School Uganda is a primary and secondary school for students ages 2 through 18 that offers an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Lohana Academy, a primary school, was established in 1995. Acorns International School offers an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme and a Middle Years Programme, and enrolls students ages 18 months to 16. Aga Khan Nursery School is a co-educational day school. 7Hills International School, which opened in 2017, enrolls students ages 11 through 14.
Who Lives There
Like Kampala, Kololo is very cosmopolitan, Ms. Bandali said, adding that its residents are a “very mixed group that includes some prominent families in the city, government officials and also blue-collar families who rent homes.”
Mr. Tumwesigye noted that it is the “preferred residence of European Union staff, and most embassies have their official residences here, thanks to the serenity of the neighborhood.”
There are more than a dozen embassies and ambassadors’ residences in Kololo, including the home of U.S. ambassadorDeborah Ruth Malac and that of Jamal Rafah, the Saudi Arabian ambassador, according to published reports. Billionaire businessman Sudhir Ruparelia also lives in the neighborhood, published reports say.
There was an average annual decline of 3% in sales prices for two-bedroom units in prime residential suburbs such as Kololo in the first half of 2019, and a 4% decrease in sales prices for three-bedroom units in the same time period, according to a market update report on Kampala by Knight Frank.
Although occupancy rates increased in suburbs such as Kololo to 78% from 69% from the first half of 2018 to the comparable period in 2019 and rents for two-bedroom apartments increased due to high demand and low supply, rents for three-bedroom apartments declined an average of 5%, according to the report, which noted that demand for the smaller apartments outstripped supply.
Separately, the report also noted that with demand increasing for modern stand-alone houses and with their supply limited, prices are expected to rise 5% to 10%.
“The future of real estate in Uganda, in general, and Kololo, in particular, is attractive given the strong demographics, notably the rising of the middle class, among other factors,” Mr. Tumwesigye said.