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 do you avoid being kidnapped while on a safari in Uganda or anywhere else, for that matter? On April 2nd, 2019, the unthinkable happened to an American on her African Dream Safari in Uganda.
Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver were kidnapped on a Game Drive in the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth Park. That nightmarish event remained in news headlines worldwide for over one week. Even President Trump got involved with a couple of Tweets.
This was the first time a tourist had been kidnapped and held for ransom in Uganda. It was an isolated incident, and many take that isolated incident and paint the whole Country with that same brush.
Despite the kidnapping, Uganda remains one of Africa’s friendly, most welcoming, most secure safari destinations.
The Security and Safety of Tourists is something the Ugandan government and its President, Yoweri K. Museveni, take pretty seriously. As Ugandan Tour Operators, we share that sentiment and create Safaris where a safe and secure outcome is the goal, not just income, unlike the nightmare that Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Driver, Jean-Paul Mirenge, endured. Memorable Safaris.
There is no one in Uganda Tourism, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Ugandan Police, the Tourism Police, or the Security Forces such as the Military that wants 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:
We all have Common Sense shaped by parents, teachers, faith, and past experiences. Life is like a game of dodgeball. The harder you try to stay in the game, the more you fear you will hit and be knocked out of the game, and the more likely it will become a reality.
Common Sense is what we learn in Kindergarten of Life and includes basic survival instincts, knowing when things may seem unsafe, even in unfamiliar settings.
When travelers do things while traveling, they would never do them in their Country of origin.
To most tourists, Uganda is an unfamiliar Territory, and most visitors know extraordinarily little about Uganda upon arrival. Common Sense will tell you you should travel with a local driver-guide who knows Uganda, its culture, and ways.
Our guides have years of experience keeping Visitors safe and secure. We call them our Guardian Angels, which implement a safari in a safe, fast, and 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 you encounter.
Know the route you are traveling, the vehicle you will use, and the lodges you will stay in. Know about the various activities you will be on, such as Gorilla Trekking and Game Drives.
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 and Uganda. Locally, one would say they are tough, and how others perceive you is essential. Do not stand out and blend in. Leave expensive jewelry at Home, dress culturally appropriately, and speak softly but confidently.
Stay aware of the people around you. Never be distracted by 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 know little about the Pearl of Africa besides “The Last King of Scotland” or the newer “7-Days in Entebbe.”
The Ghost of Idi Amin lingers for many, only enforced by periodic sensational headlines from Uganda. Most of these are not realities but perceptions of a newspaper reporter based in Johannesburg or Nairobi but not Kampala.
You are coming to Uganda on an African Dream Safari. You have your flights booked and Safari Itinerary in hand, but that is it. We suggest learning about Uganda to become familiar with the Pearl of Africa.
Knowing as much as possible before going is critical to your security and well-being. Leave nothing to chance; the last thing you want is to arrive at Entebbe International Airport without anyone to meet you.
We provide our clients with the name and telephone number of the 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 away from a club; you are in the wilderness. Avoid walking alone at night is best in cities like Kampala, Entebbe, and Jinja. 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 kidnappers.
Do not show your travel plans to somebody who does not need to know. Leave all pertinent information, including a passport copy, travel insurance, itinerary, flights, and other vital information.
Publishing your Travel itinerary also makes your unattended Home a target while you are gone. It is even a wise idea to post your trip after returning 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 and gives information to Criminals and those with ill intent. Unfortunately, we see this all the time.
You should post an account of your Safari on social media when you are back home.
5. Stick to the Guidelines for a Safe and Secure Safari:
We know Uganda – we live and work here, as we like to say. We know the parks, which lodges are secure, and which activities are safe and sane. We know the latest security updates, suggestions, and regulations from the 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, not on our profits. The kidnapping was a one-time incident, and we like to keep it that way.
Your safety and wellness on Safari are our focus. We do not take clients into DR Congo but remain in what has been and is safe in Uganda. We use armed Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers for treks, game drives, hikes, and nature walks. We do not recommend self-drive, but be with an informed driver-guide who thinks first of you.
Security Guidelines and tips are 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.
6. 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 who wish 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 watches or jewelry. 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 have 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 souvenirs; 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:
To avoid being kidnapped while on a Safari in Uganda: We had one incident in Uganda. The unfortunate Kidnapping of an American Tourist and her Driver. That incident has sparked a review of everything related to keeping Tourists safe. As an American, I feel safer in Uganda than in other parts of the world, including the USA.
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 minimize the horrible incident, which is not normal in Uganda. However, it has been a wake-up call to all involved in Tourism. 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