Mbarara, with its population of just under 85,000, is both the largest town in south-west Uganda and the administrative and commercial centre of the district named after it which came into being in 2005.
On 7th August 2015 it was granted city status, a decision awaiting ratification
following 2016 elections.
Built on an elevated basin that forms part of the African Rift Valley and nestled amongst hills and shallow valleys, Mbabara was almost destroyed in the internal Ugandan conflicts of 1972, 1979 and again in 1985 before emerging into the vibrant and bustling town it is today complete with good shopping, restaurants, hotels, night clubs and bars.
Often seen as a gateway to the Great Lakes Region, some 180 miles south-west of Kampala, modern Mbarara has a cosmopolitan flavour with a population of both locals as well as Rwandans, Indians, Asians, Chinese and Somalis.
It has a number of tourist attractions
(see below) as well as nationally respected institutions of learning such as Ntare School where a number of African presidents were educated, Mbarara High School, Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Bishop Stuart University.
Mbarara is good for a short stay particularly if you have been travelling and
want some decent food and accommodation but you will probably run out of things
to do after three or so days once you have recharged your batteries and you will
be ready to move on as you further explore Western Uganda.
Oh, and make sure you stock up at some of the larger local supermarkets if you are heading
south as Mbarara has the last decent supermarkets in Uganda before you reach Rwanda!
If you know of other tourist attractions in Mbarara
get in touch and let us know using our contact form.