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Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

Posted by on April 8, 2021

The Question often asked, “Is Uganda Safe for American Tourists?”

We answer your question, “Is Uganda safe for Americans and anyone else?”

Find answers to your questions about staying safe and secure in the Pearl of Africa.


Is Uganda safe for Americans“Is Uganda safe for Americans?” A question that many Americans ask when they think about a visit to Uganda. It is also a question that Americans Google or write to us. 

Oddly, Germans, Danes, Belgians, Canadians, Australians, Russians, Chinese, or Indians do not often Google or write to us whether Uganda is safe for them.

 Many of the security reports are written by people or organizations that are not nor have been in Uganda. I answer the question, “is Uganda safe for Americans?” as an American living in Uganda. Someone who has been here off and on since 1992 knowing what Uganda is like “warts and all. “

I feel as safe or safer here as I would, living just south of the Canadian border in Blaine, Birch Bay, and Bellingham, Washington.

The page is about whether an American Tourist is safe in Uganda.  You will not find a political analysis from the US State Department or a biased armchair opinion expressed in the New York Times, Washington Post, or the Wallstreet Journal and often written by a person who has never set foot on Ugandan soil.

At the same time, you will not find anything reflecting the Ugandan government spokesperson’s defensive statements. This page, as said, is about the safety, security, and well-being of American Tourists and others to the country and not about politics.

Uganda, when it comes to tourism, has an image problem that goes back for decades. Some refer to them as lingering shadows or ghosts of Idi Amin. Those lingering ghosts remain to this day. It is reinforced at times by words uttered without thought or insensitive actions by various government officials or institutions.

 Uganda’s image and reputation have not been helped by movies such as “the Last King of Scotland” or “Seven Days in Entebbe.” Few saw the heartwarming Disney Film “the Queen of Katwe,” which showed another Uganda face. Uganda, right or wrong reminds me of the comedian Rodney Danger whose most famous line was “I don’t get no respect!”

Often American Tourists tell us that they are surprised as to how wrong that they were about Uganda. How safe and secure they felt during their time in the Pearl of Africa. How welcoming, friendly, and hospital Ugandans were.

Uganda is one of the safest, friendliest, welcoming, and hospital countries in all of Africa. Uganda has welcomed over a million refugees in the last few years. African hospitality is deeply ingrained in the Ugandan culture.

Uganda is unlike what you think it is. Most Ugandans are gentle, peaceful, and welcoming people. The added plus for Americans is that Uganda is the Best English Speaking Country in all of Africa.

The English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley was right when he wrote, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” 

Ninety-nine percent-plus of the Visitors, mostly Tourists on a Safari with an Association of Uganda Tour Operator, will never have any safety and security issues in friendly and welcoming Uganda.

The best advice that we can give you is to visit Uganda with a local on-the-ground tour operator. You will be glad that you did.


 Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

The safest place to be in Uganda is on a Safari. American Visitors and International Tourists will find that the safest place is on a private Safari with a Ugandan Tour Operator such as ourselves. On a safari, every security measure is taken to keep you safe from harm.

Guiding you through the Pearl of Africa is your personal seasoned and experienced driver guide. He knows the country’s current situation and, if necessary, adjust the safari on rare occasions such as bad road conditions. Your vehicle is marked as a tourism vehicle and is not hassled by the traffic police as you would be on a self-drive safari.

Safe Safaris are the norm and not the exception. The only excitement that you will have is the incredible wildlife and primate encounters.

Uganda is home to Gorillas but not Guerrillas. The National Parks are kept safe. The Park Rangers were trained in 2019 by the American Military, giving them new skills in maintaining safe parks for all. Uganda is the only East African country with a Tourism Police. They are at all significant Tourism points, and their sole job is to keep you safe.


Why Do Americans feel that Uganda is not safe?

The information that Americans have about Africa, about Uganda is most often incorrect. Life in Africa is not that different from America. The safety portion of Mazlow’s hierarchy of need applies as much to Ugandans as it does to Americans. However, Ugandans can thrive in sometimes chaotic conditions. However, Americans seem to have caught up in recent times.

Why Do Americans feel that Uganda is not safe? One reason is that In April of 2019, an American Tourist, Kimberly Sue Endicott, was kidnapped and taken across the border to DR Congo by Ugandan Criminals while on a Game Drive with her driver Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo. Five days later, they were released unharmed. 

The kidnapping news was covered in detail by American news outlets, including interviews after returning to America. She stated that she had no regrets about visiting Uganda and would do so again.
It was an isolated, one-time incident by criminal elements who are now serving time in prison. Security in all parks has been dramatically increased and includes military patrols on the lookout for poachers and intruders. Park Rangers have received training from the US Military and high-tech resources put at their disposal.
One must also note that Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver were on a game drive without an armed ranger accompanying them. Something we do not and never have done. We suggest that you read our “How to avoid being kidnapped page.”
Today, Uganda is one of the Safest Travel Destinations in Africa.  South Africa, one of Africa’s favorite American Safari Destinations, is a lot more dangerous for tourists than Uganda.
We suggest that you use Common Sense, which is the one thing you should not leave at home.  We recommend that you read the “is it safe to travel to Uganda” page and our Safe Safari Page for further information.
As a Ugandan tour operator, we offer more safety and security information than anyone else. The reason is that we want you to know what security is like in Uganda before you go. For a Tourist, the most dangerous thing you can do is attempt to cross the street in Kampala. At least, that is what the Bradt Guide to Uganda writes.

 Is Uganda Safe after the Presidential Election in January of 2021?

The recent Ugandan Presidential Election was featured in headlines around the world. It was causing the US Embassy to issue a security alert to its citizens living within Uganda to take extra security measures.  The alert was titled “Uganda, Election Activity May Bring Periodic Violence, Traffic Disruptions” described these as having the potential to occur throughout the country. Please read below.

April 8, 2021, The present Reality.

There were a lot sadder and more violent events in Florida than then here in Uganda.  Peaceful protests were called for, and the US Embassy predicted violence and mayhem in Kampala’s streets.

Bobi Wine and a few supporters hit the streets and were as expected and, as has been the usual practice, arrested and detained. Most Ugandans are going on with their lives after the election to make some money to live on and pay for their children’s school fees.

In Uganda, Parliament, unlike the US Congress, has not passed a third COVID-19 Relief Bill. Ugandans have not even seen a first one.

All is relatively quiet in the Pearl of Africa. It could have been as the US Embassy had predicted, but fortunately, that did not happen. Uganda has seen an increase in daily flights to and from Entebbe International airport. As a Ugandan tour operator, we see the light at the end of the COVID Tunnel, and we hope it is not an illusion our way.

We just had our first group of tourists on Safari, members of a Spanish chamber of commerce who come annually to do business with Ugandan companies. Others are with us on Safari this week. If you want more information on post-election safety in Uganda, click on the link.


How is Uganda protecting Tourists, including Americans, from the COVID-19 Virus?

Africa and Uganda have survived the COVID-19 pandemic far better than countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. That does not mean that Uganda will lower preventative standards, directives, and measures.

Everyone’s Wellbeing focuses on the newly implemented rules and guidelines to guide Tourism in the Pearl of Africa during these precarious times.

The pandemic has changed all our lives, it has changed the way we travel, and it has changed how Safaris are conducted.

The Ministry of Health has put together COVID-19 Tourism Protocols that cover activities in parks, hotels, and lodges, tour operators, plus arrival and departure.

We meet and exceed the protocols that have been put into place. Our driver guides are tested for COVID-19 before and after a safari. Safari vehicles are sanitized, and we provide clients with sanitizer and face masks.

If you are coming to Uganda shortly, we suggest that you read our COVID-19 Safari Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Ministry of Health.

Uganda today, on April 8, 2021, is the safest Safari Destination in East Africa. All East African countries are on a no-go level 4-State Department except Uganda and Rwanda. Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan is on the UK red COVID-19 travel list. Meaning you cannot travel from Rwanda to the UK. You can fly direct to Heathrow from Entebbe in May of 2021 with Uganda Airline’s new wide-bodied Airbus planes.


How do I stay Healthy visiting Uganda on Safari?

Visitors to Uganda are not only concerned about Safety and Security but about staying healthy while on Safari. The two go hand in hand, and as a tour operator, your well-being is on one’s mind while planning safaris.

Besides COVID-19 health measures, there are others such as a valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, Anti-Malaria prescription, to name a few.

We suggest that you read our “Staying Healthy on Safari” page.

Beyond that, we strongly suggest that you obtain Travel Insurance. We further suggest that you have a policy that covers COVID-19.

You will probably not need to use your travel insurance, but it is best to have it during the uncertain times that we live.

All Clients are covered by an AMREF Flying Doctors air evac insurance. In case of an emergency are taken to Nairobi, Kenya, for hospital treatment. The insurance we provide covers the evacuation by air only. Your insurance policy takes over from there.


How do I stay safe visiting Uganda on Safari?

Try not to stand out, blend in, and do not draw attention to yourself. Be aware of your surroundings. Unlike Kenya, there have been no hotel or shopping center attacks in Uganda. The most exciting thing we have is the police response to opposition politicians.

Be aware of yourself in public places such as hotels, lodges, restaurants, and bars.

Awareness keeps you safe. If you are on foot in downtown Kampala, be careful on the streets, marketplaces. It is where Ugandans have their earrings ripped off, their backpacks, purses ripped off. 

Dress to blend in. In Kampala and other towns, Ugandans are fond of dressing smartly. You will get more readily accepted if you do likewise. On Safari, wear protective neutral color clothing.

Don’t talk loudly. Leave your expensive things at home, including jewelry, watches. Most importantly, do not draw attention to yourself. Act if you know what you are doing. Your confidence will be seen as a strength.

Leave the swagger at home. Blend into your surroundings. It has worked for me since 1992 without incident.


African Hospitality in Uganda – Your Security Blanket: `

An African Welcome is not just a verbal greeting. It is welcome that takes on the responsibility for your wellbeing. That is what we do for our clients when on Safari.

The concept of African hospitality begins with acceptance. While with us, while under our roof on Safari, your wellbeing, safety, security is our focus.

Uganda is one of the friendliest countries in Africa.  It also one of the most welcoming countries, with over a million refugees from neighboring countries. It is the most culturally diverse country on the planet.

Over 40 languages are spoken here. English is spoken by many, and Uganda is considered the Best English Speaking Country on the Continent, though it might help learn a bit of Uglish, Ugandan English.

African Hospitality takes on your wellbeing as a responsibility that is not taken lightly by anyone.


US Embassy Contact Information

U.S. Embassy Kampala-Plot 1577 Ggaba Road, Kampala, Uganda, inEmbassy is like a Fort Knox mini-version.

Telephone:+(256)(0) 414-306-001  Emergency:+(256)(0) 414-306-001 Fax:+(256)(0) 414-259-794

Email: KampalaUScitizen@state.gov  Website: U.S. Embassy Kampala

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

There are no new travel alerts, travel advisories for Uganda since the one issued about potential election violence.

We suggest that you enroll in the Smart Traveler Program. You will receive updates issued by the State Department and Embassy in Kampala.

Take advantage of what the Embassy provides for Americans.


Our Take on Safety and Security in Uganda

Our focus has been and is providing Safe, Secure Hakuna Matata- Worry-Free Safaris in Uganda. We know and understand your concerns about safety and security.  We share those same feelings about your safety, security, and wellbeing. 

We put into practice the African Art of Hospitality that takes on providing a safe and secure Safari.

For over a decade, we have provided Safe, Hakuna Matata, No Worry Safaris in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. 

Uganda is one of the safest, most secure, stable, friendly, and welcoming countries in Africa.

Our Driver-Guides are proactive, security, and safety orientated. Their focus is based on Customer Service.

The Safe Outcome of a Safari is more important than income. We want you to enjoy the pearl of Africa and its People without fear.

My take as an American about staying Safe in Uganda:  I have been here since 1992. I Have kept a relatively small footprint and lived without problems. I feel safe and secure in Uganda…Jon.


We have a lot of other Helpful Safety and Security Information for Travelers to Uganda:

Know Before You Go to our Uganda Page.

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