Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

Posted by on October 13, 2019

The Question in 2019 “Is Uganda Safe for American Visitors?”

Is Uganda safe for Americans and anyone else in 2019?

 Is Uganda safe for Americans who show up in our Blog analytical statistics several times? You do not find the query “Is Uganda safe for residents of the UK, Germans, Danes, Belgians, Canadians, Russians, Chinese, Indians?” Each day Americans search on Google whether Uganda is safe for Americans?

The Answer to that question changed for one 56-Year-Old American Grandmother, Kimberly Sue Endicott from Costa Mesa, Orange County, California, and her Driver-Guide Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo on a Sunset Game Drive in the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth Park on April, 2nd – 2019.  They were ambushed by men in military Uniforms with weapons (There was no armed Ranger in the vehicle).  An elderly Canadian Couple was released, but unknown abductors kidnaped Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver. 

The American Tourist and Driver have been rescued unharmed

The alleged Ring Leader who set up the kidnapping and who trailed supposedly trailed then used others to do the crime, who also negotiated for ransom was charged in court with the charge of kidnapping on April 18, 2019.  You can be sure that the book will be thrown at him.

How to reduce the likelihood of being Kidnapped on Safari

Are Americans Safe in Uganda in 2019? 

I am an American living in Uganda, a sort of partner and mentor in Kabiza Wilderness Safaris.  I do not, have not  and probably will not feel threatened or in danger in what I consider is the Pearl of Africa. The concern of all in the Tourism Community have is that Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Driver Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo are safely released.

The Present International News Reports are, for the most part, are presenting Uganda as being dangerous based on one isolated and most unfortunate incident, the Kidnapping of Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Driver.  One needs to put it into perspective.  Uganda has been safe, secure, and stable for years, something that has been the focus of President Yoweri K. Museveni, who has led this nation since 1986.

Safe Safaris are the norm and not the exception.  Fewer Tourists have been hurt in Uganda than in the UK, France, the USA, even Canada.  The richest man in Africa was recently kidnapped in Tanzania, and there have been lodge attacks such as in northern Keny, Nairobi, the Coast of Kenya.

Robberies of Tourists, Tourist Vehicles are a rarity unlike in South Africa, and no Africa is not one country is over 50, and most of them are Safe and Secure.  The African Myths, in the case of Uganda, the Ghost of Idi Amin still linger on and haunt us in 2019.

It was inevitable, and it came – a Tweet from President Trump, which ruffled a few feathers in the Pearl of Africa, “Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American Tourist and guide before people feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly!” Read Our Response

 Dr. Peter Tarlow, an International Travel Security Expert, told the reliable and well-known in travel circles TurboNews this week: “The tragic kidnapping that recently occurred in Uganda should not be seen as indicative of overall safety in Uganda.“Very much to the contrary, Uganda has been known over the decades to be a safe and secure destination. Unfortunately, there are bad people in every part of the world, and travel implies risk.“However, Uganda cannot afford to rely on its recent past but must show the world what it is doing in the future.”

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else? Americans will still be pleasantly surprised as to how reliable the Pearl of Africa is. The Pearl of Africa is one of the safest, stable, and secure countries in Africa. Tourists and other Visitors to Uganda stay even more reliable if they follow some Safety, 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 is safe to Travel to Uganda in 2019.

Your Well-Being is on Everyone’s Mind

 Safe & Secure Lodges  – Hotels:

Lodges and Hotels have been and are safe and secure.  Most have their security staff or an arrangement with police.  Most lodge and hotel security are behind the scenes.

In Entebbe, Kampala, the vehicle will be checked, and you will be scanned on entrance into the larger hotels.

Whether you are in Entebbe or Kampala, in Murchison Falls Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, there is a layer of the lodge or hotel security that is provided for you.

There have been no significant incidents or security breaches at lodges in recent years. Midrange and Luxury Safaris have that extra layer of Security.

As a Tour Operator, we use only safe and secure lodges.  Ten years ago, we had an incident of theft by a housekeeper in an upmarket lodge, the lodge dealt with the employee and returned the money to the client.

Security will vary from lodge to lodge, at times it will be Askaris (Guards), other times police or even the military. All security is handled professionally.

Safe Parks with Security Minded Rangers:

The National Parks in the Pearl of Africa remain Safe Zones in spite of the recent kidnapping, in fact, more.  Security has been cranked up quite a bit, and we concur.  The same level of protection that has been there for tourists trekking Gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest should be there for Queen Elizabeth Park, Murchison Falls Park, and Kidepo Valley Park.

None of our Clients go on an activity, whether it be a game drive, a hike, nature walk, Boat Safari without an armed UWA Ranger escort.  In the recent kidnapping incident, there was no UWA Ranger present.  Whether it would have made a difference is only a speculation.  We do not allow our clients to conduct any park activity without armed rangers. The border area with DR Congo will also be heavily monitored, and any movement across it apart from wildlife will lead to further scrutiny.

Safe and Security Minded Drivers/TourGuides:

The Driver-Guide is the key to a successful, reliable, and secure Safari.  Most Tour Operators use well-experienced, security-minded drivers on a safari.  Drivers with common sense that use defensive driving techniques on the road and do not need GPS to get them to the park and places you are going to.  Your security and safety is always his focus,

Safe, your security and well-being is his focus.  Good drivers are not risk-takers but calm. Customer service orientated professionals who, in most cases, have years, even decades of experience in Tourism.

The government in 2019 requires that all Tourist Drivers be certified. Another that a self-drive Safari should be out of the question for most.

 Is Uganda safe for Americans and anyone else in 2019? The Ugandan government fully realizes that it is its sacred duty to ensure the safety of visitors to Uganda and its citizens. Tourism is one of the largest revenue earners generating 10% of Uganda’s income; it is also the provider of meaningful jobs.

The presence of police is found almost everywhere, ranging from traffic police to the Tourism Police all there to make sure that Tourists and Visitors are safe, not harassed, and even protect Tourists from unscrupulous Tour Operators.

In the light of the kidnapping in Queen Elizabeth, one can be assured that the safest, most on its toes country security-wise in Africa, will be in Uganda. The President of Uganda, Yoweri K. Museveni, will release all the resources necessary along with parliament to ensure the safety of visitors and Ugandans alike.

Are LGBT Travelers Safe on Safari:

Uganda certainly is not on the Bucket List of most Gay Travelers. The reason is that the AntiGay Bill that hung over Uganda for way too long. It was called internationally Kill-the Gays Bill. The Supreme Court of Uganda rescinded it due to a technicality. In October the Minister of Ethics, Simon Lokodo wanted to revive it. That again made headlines around the world. Powers higher than him in Uganda pulled that plan.

The Uganda Tourism Board has stated repeatedly that LGBT Travelers are welcome in Uganda. No one at Immigration will ask any travelers their sexual orientation. Though the British Colonial Laws about homosexuality they are rarely enforced and unlike in Tanzania they are not enforced with tourists.

Uganda may not be on the Bucket list of LGBT Travelers, it is, however, the best Mountain Gorilla Trekking Destination.

 Uganda Has Gorillas but no Guerrillas:

Uganda is the only Mountain Gorilla Destination that has had no Guerrilla Activity. Rwanda had a Guerrilla Attack near Volcanoes National Park in which 14 Rwandans were killed.  Rwandan Security Forces repelled the attack killing 19 and capturing five guerrillas. No Tourist facilities were attacked and all the Tourists were safe.

The Democratic Republic has had ongoing rebel and guerrilla activity taking it off of the list of most Gorilla Trekkers. Uganda is the only country without a Guerrilla attack. We as a Tour Operator do Gorilla Safaris but no Guerrilla Safaris.

Uganda is Guerrilla-Free, another reason that it is Premier Mountain Gorilla Destination in Africa. Add to that affordability and you have a great combination.

In 2019 the US Army gave specialized training to the leaders of the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers.

Why Do Americans feel that Uganda is not safe? When dangerous things that happen in the US and Elsewhere do not happen in Uganda.

    • Uganda is safer to visit than the USA or for that matter, parts of Europe at this time.
    • Americans and anyone else do not know Africa, much less Uganda and think that the myths and prejudiced opinions online or in print are the reality
    • You cannot purchase a concealed weapon here – most of the population has no gun in their home as in the USA.
    • We do not have weekly, or now twice a day, mass shootings like in the USA.
    • We have not had a vehicular assault on large groups of people in Uganda.
    • Gun Permits are only issued to people in business who deposit large sums of money in the bank. In 2019, Weapons of all kinds were confiscated by Police.
    • We have had no terrorist attacks in Uganda since 2010, and that was a security wake-up call, which has led to some of the tightest security measures in Africa.
    • We have armed security outside of every more giant supermarket, bank, hospitals, larger hotels, vehicles are searched when you enter into a more large shopping center, so we have no shootings in the WalMart owned Game Store.
    • Uganda is home to over a million people who fled their country; it is the number one refugee receiving country in Africa.
    • In our Wildlife and Primate Parks, you have the Security of the Park Rangers and Army  Personnel, plus the Tourism Police.

Ugandans often wonder about Americans who are besieged by acts of violence from sea to shining sea yet worry about their safety in Uganda, where there are no mass-shootings.  Where when you enter the local Walmart or most any other store or market or size, you are scanned. Your vehicle is even searched entering into hotel or shopping mall parking lots.

Kanye West, you may or may not like him politically, or you just might. He, with his wife Kim Kardashian, daughter North-West, fellow rapper Big Sean visited Uganda in October of 2018 on a working Safari in Murchison Falls Park.  While here, he recorded some tracks for his upcoming album along the River Nile, all without incidents.

Understanding African Hospitality:

An African Welcome is not just a verbal greeting. It is welcome that takes on the responsibility for your well-being. That is what we do for our clients when on Safari.  The concept of African hospitality begins with acceptance. While with us, while under roof on Safari, your well-being, 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 to learn a bit of Uglish, Ugandan English.

The Ugandan Tourism Board has stated time and time are LGBT Travelers are welcome in the Pearl of Africa. It certainly is not the easiest thing to do, to convince someone that Uganda is safe for LGBT travelers on a Safari.

More and more are accepting the offer and came to Uganda to see the Mountain Gorillas, Chimpanzees, the wildlife, the River Nile.

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 have focused on Uganda, we know it, we live here and work here.  We have refused the temptation to sell safaris into neighboring Kenya or Tanzania but focus on Uganda and in part, on Rwanda. 

We keep up with the latest when it comes to your wellbeing and realize that when you come to Uganda, you entrust yourself into our hands.  We, in turn, will do whatever it takes to implement a meaningful safari.  Safaris are the only thing we do, and safe ones at that.

The statistical reality that remains in April of 2019 is “the Safest Place to be is on a Safari in Uganda,” and that includes Gorilla Trekking Safaris.  One airplane Crash does not mean one gives up flying. One incident in Uganda does not mean that all Safaris will end in the same manner.  Not at all.

If there are any changes in the Security Status in Uganda, we will be one of the first to let you know on this page…Enjoy Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. I have since 1992…jon

Find the latest Security Updates on our Facebook Page:

Advisories for Uganda. 

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else? Find out more on our Know Before You Go to our Uganda Page