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How to avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda

Posted by on February 28, 2021

Practical Ways you can take to Avoid Being Kidnapped on Safari.

Steps you can choose to avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda or anywhere else

How to avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda or anywhere else for that matter. On April 2nd, avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari2019, the unthinkable happened to an American on her African Dream Safari in Uganda.

Kimberly Sue Endicott was kidnapped along with her driver on a Game Drive in the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth Park. That nightmarish event remained in news headlines around the world for over one week and beyond. Even President Trump got involved with a couple of Tweets.

This was the first time that a tourist had ever been kidnapped and held for ransom in Uganda. It was an isolated incident. However, many take that isolated incident and paint the whole Country with that same brush.

Despite the kidnapping, Uganda remains one of the Friendlies, Welcoming, Safest, and Secure Safari Destinations in all of Africa.

The Security and Safety of Tourists is something that the Ugandan government and its President Yoweri K. Museveni take quite seriously.  As a Ugandan Tour Operator, we share that sentiment and create Safaris where a safe and secure outcome is the Goal and not just income.  Memorable Safaris, unlike the nightmare that Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Driver Jean-Paul Mirenge endured.

There is no one in Uganda Tourism, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Ugandan Police, including the Tourism Police, the Security Forces such as the Military that want to see a repeat of what took place on April 2nd, 2019.

How to avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda

Practical Steps you can Take to Stay Safe and Secure on Safari

1. Common Sense – Do not Leave Home without it:

Common Sense is something we all have; it is shaped by parents, teachers, faith, past experiences. Life is like dodgeball. The harder you try to stay in the game, the more you fear you will hit and be knocked out of the game, the more likely it can become a reality.

Common Sense is what we learned in the Kindergarten of Life and includes basic survival instincts, a knowing when things may seem unsafe even in unfamiliar settings.

When a traveler does things traveling, they would never do in their country of origin.

Uganda, to most Tourists, is an unfamiliar Territory. Most visitors know very little about Uganda upon arrival. Common sense will tell you that you should travel with a local driver-guide who knows Uganda, its culture, and ways, having years of experience keeping Visitors safe and secure.  We call them our Guardian Angels that implement a safari in a safe, secure, and most memorable way.

Common Sense – Do not Leave Home without it – that is the best Security Advice we can give you.

2. Be Self-Aware and Stay Focused:

Security experts tell us that many Kidnappings can be avoided by staying focused on the level of Self-Awareness. You always know who you are and project those strengths with those that you come in contact with.

Know the route you are traveling, the vehicle you will be using, the lodges you will be staying in. Know about the various activities, such as Gorilla Trekking and Game Drives, that you will be on.

Know Before You Go. Be and Stay informed about Uganda. We have hundreds of pages that do just that, read the local newspaper.

Exude Confidence. We call it the “Never Act Lost even if you are,” Strength, projected strength is respected in Africa, in Uganda.  Locally one would say he or she is tough. How others perceive you is essential.  Do not stand out. Blend in. Leave expensive jewelry at home, dress culturally appropriately, speak softly but confidently.

Stay aware of the people around you. Never be distracted with your smartphone or get lost in the sounds coming from your headset- stay focused – be aware.

3. Know Before You Go to Uganda:

This is probably some of the best advice that we can give you. Many Tourists that come have little knowledge about the Pearl of Africa aside from “The Last King of Scotland” or the newer “7-Days in Entebbe.” For many, the Ghost of Idi Amin lingers, only enforced by periodic sensational headlines coming out of Uganda. Most of which are not reality but perceptions of a newspaper reporter based in Johannesburg or Nairobi but not in Kampala.

You are coming to Uganda on an African Dream Safari. You have your flights booked, Safari Itinerary in hand, but that is about it.  We suggest, learn about Uganda, become familiar with the Pearl of Africa.

Knowing as much as you can before going is critical to your personal security and wellbeing.  Leave nothing to chance, the last thing you want is to arrive at Entebbe International Airport, and there is no one to meet you.

We furnish our clients with the name and telephone number of their drivers who will pick them up.  There is nothing wrong with asking for identification from the person meeting you.

During your stay, be aware of the layout of a hotel or lodge.  On Safari, never wander on your own away from a lodge. You are in the wilderness.  In cities like Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, it is best to avoid walking at night, avoid walking alone. Our driver-guide will be with you.

4. Do not post your Travel Plans and Safari Itinerary on Social Media :

People do post their travel-plans on Social Media.  It is not just your friends and family members who read your social media postings but potential enemies, criminals, con artists, and possible kidnappers.

Do not show your travel plans to somebody who does not need to know. Leave all pertinent information, including a copy of passport, travel insurance, itinerary, flights, and other vital information.

Publishing your Travel itinerary also makes your unattended home a target while you are gone.  It even a wise idea to post your trip after you return home.  You can keep your friends and family posted by posting them on OneDrive, Google, or DropBox instead of Social Media.

Social Media informs your friends but also gives information to Criminals and those with ill-intent. Unfortunately, we see this all the time.

It is best for you that post an account of your Safari when you are back home.

5.  Stick to the Guidelines for a Safe and Safari:

We know Uganda – we live and work here, as we like to say.  We know the parks, know which lodges are secure, know which activities are safe and sane. We know the latest security updates, suggestions, and regulations set forth by Ugandan Police, Military, Uganda Wildlife Authority, and Uganda Tourism board.

Our planning and implementation of a safari are based on your security and well-being and not on our profits.  The kidnapping was a one-time incident. We like to keep it that, and we stick to doing it safely.  We do not take clients into DR Congo but remain in what has been and is safe Uganda.  We use armed Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers for all treks, game drives, hikes, nature walks.

We certainly, at this time, do not recommend self-drive but to be with an informed driver-guide who thinks first of you.

Security Guidelines and tips such as found on our site for Safety and Security, Safe Safaris, Safe Gorilla Treks, Safety for Women Travelers, and safe Safaris for LGBT Tourists and whether it was safe to Travel to Uganda in 2019. Check our Facebook Page for the latest updates.

5. Act as if you are in Control – do not be a victim:

You never want to appear as a soft and easy target for people that might want to harm you for financial gain.  Exude confidence, even if you have to fake it until you make it until it becomes natural.  Act confidently. However, do not draw attention to yourself by making boastful statements, flashing cash, or wearing expensive. Become a Khaki person, blend in, and do not stand out.

Carry your valuables with you on safari like in a daypack.  Wear comfortable shoes or boots, avoid sandals, and no high heels in the vehicle. Be polite with a tinge of assertiveness when talking to strangers.

Do not show large sums of money when buying things like souvenirs and use the local currency instead of US Dollars. Use only ATMs in secure places. Your driver-guide will assist you.

Uganda is and remains one of the Safest Countries in Africa for Tourists to Visit:

How to avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda: We had one incident, the unfortunate Kidnapping of an American Tourist and her Driver.  That incident has sparked a review of all things related to keeping Tourists safe.  As an American, I feel safer in Uganda than I would in other parts of the world, including in the USA.

We have had no Terrorist attacks in Uganda since 2010. The April 2019 kidnapping created criminals who lived near Queen Elizabeth Park, which today is one of the safest parks in Africa. One does not want to minimalize the horrible incident. It is and has not been the norm in Uganda. It has, however, been a wake-up call to all involved in Tourism, and added layers of security had been added throughout the country, both within and outside of Parks.

Hopefully, this information has been of help to you – enjoy the Pearl of Africa, I have since 1992…jon


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