Kampala’s Swimming Pool Survey

Pickling myself poolside!

and its damn cold!

It just
calls to me!

sweetness is my weakness

Ain’t
that pretty!

and I am so sweet too

ISO: A
cutie to direct me

Now while my friends in Washington DC are
watching a freak snowstorm dust the city, I’m on the lookout for
something a lot more fun: the best swimming pool in Kampala.

This task is a little harder than you might think, for there is
much competition here, with pools at most of the major hotels, one
at the University, one next to Lake Victoria, and one even in the
middle of a bar. Moreover, I have to spend a day at each pool,
swimming, sunbathing, and sampling the bartenders’ skills. Still, it
must be done, and I’ve taken it upon myself to complete the
difficult task.

So, in order of luxury, here are the swimming pools of Kampala,
Uganda:

  • Sheraton Hotel Kampala: While it doesn’t really
    surprise that the most luxurious hotel in Kampala would have the
    best swimming pool, the Sheraton actually wins not on the design
    of the pool for swimming, as its circular with an island in the
    middle, but it is the second coldest pool in Africa (the Novatell
    in Arusha is first, with ice floes in the deep end!), taking your
    breath away when you jump in.

    Then add to that the fully stocked bar and extensive, if
    expensive menu, and the $5 USD entry fee allows a complete retreat
    from Africa. Well, an almost complete retreat, for while I never
    saw a single African swimming, the staff is all African, with one
    guy a little too eager to watch me shower.

  • Entebbe Beach Resort: Okay, so its technically not in
    Kampala, but Entebbe, the town just on Lake Victoria that has the
    lakeport and airport, does have the best beach resort I’ve seen in
    Africa. With a huge and cold pool, perfect for laps, a large
    manicured lawn filled with shade trees and tables, and even a
    white sand beach to swim in the lake, it definitely is worth the
    forty minute matatu ride from Kampala, as the locals know.

    Each weekend, the resort is packed with Ugandans escaping the
    city and if it wasn’t for the inability of the bar to make a
    margarita or daiquiri (they didn’t have mix or even a blender!) it
    would be the best spot in Kampala to get a tan or just lounge.

  • Bar TLC: While this is the place to be late Friday and
    Saturday night, it also happens to have a full health club somehow
    attached to the bar. Yep, only in Africa can you drink and lift!
    Oh, even better, they have a huge swimming pool set right next to
    the bar, with only a little rope holding back the drunken masses
    at 3am. Can you say ‘liability’?

    And it’s a distant third as the pool is surrounded on three
    sides by walls, killing any breeze that tries to cool you, and the
    water is lukewarm, which isn’t good for suntanning in equatorial
    heat.

  • Makerere University: As the cheapest option, about $1
    USD, at the University pool you get what you pay for. It’s a
    rectangle of semi-clear water, filled with jumping and splashing
    kids, lean muscular swimmers, and random students trying to cool
    off after classes.

    Actually, while the pool itself isn’t much, even though I did
    have a fun time teaching the kids ‘Marco Polo’ and freeze tag, it
    does make a great excuse to walk the University grounds, admiring
    the beautiful layout and asking beautiful students directions to
    the pool.

  • Fairway Hotel: Even though the swimming pool itself is
    better than the University pool, on the day I went there, the
    complete lack of anyone near it, be that swimmers or even hotel
    staff, was a signal I heeded after walking around the pool area
    looking for life.

  1. “Ssebo”(the luganda word meaning Sir or gentleman).
    Reading your article about Kampala swimmng pools was great for me.I have been in Kampala for twenty years but I have never visited those swimming pools.I dont even know how to swim but after this Iam definetly going to do something about it.