Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

Posted by on April 20, 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 shows 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?” Yet 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 Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver were kidnapped by unknown abductors. 

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 kidnapping, who also did the negotiation 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, USA, even Canada.  The richest man in Africa was recently kidnapped in Tanzania, 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.

Security Alert U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda (April 4, 2019)

Location: Ishasha, Uganda

Event: The U.S. Embassy in Kampala advises U.S. citizens of an ongoing criminal event in the Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. The Government of Uganda has sent security forces to the area.  Exercise caution when traveling to this area due to ongoing law enforcement/security activity.

Actions to Take:  Avoid the  Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda until the event is resolved.

Then there came this 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 will 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 safe 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 safer 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.

 Safe & Secure Lodges – Hotels:

Lodges and Hotels have been and are Safe and secure.  Most have their own security staff or an arrangement with police. Some Tourists and Visitors may find it a bit unnerving, however, security measures are in place for your protection.  Whether you are in Entebbe or Kampala, in Murchison Falls Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest there is a layer of lodge security that is provided for you.

There have been no major incidents or security breaches at lodges in recent years.

As a Tour Operator, we use only safe and secure lodges.  10 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.

 Safe Parks

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 security 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 simply 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 safe 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 a GPS system to get them to the park and places you are going to.  Your security and safety is always his focus,

Security, 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 is requiring that all Tourist Drivers be certified.

 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 own 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, 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.

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 weapon in their home as in the USA.
    • We do not have weekly 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 like businessmen who deposit large sums of money in the bank.
    • 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 toughest security measures in Africa.
    • We have armed security outside of every larger supermarket, bank, hospitals, larger hotels, vehicles are searched when you enter into a larger shopping center, so we have no shootings in the WalMart owned Game Store.
    • Uganda is home to thousands of people who fled their country, it is the number one refugee receiving country in the world.
    • In our Wildlife and Primate Parks you have the Security of the Park Rangers and Army  Personnel, plus the Tourism Police.

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

 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

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