Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

Posted by on December 18, 2020

The Question many have “Is Uganda Safe for American Visitors?”

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions: Is Uganda safe for Americans and anyone else?

Is Uganda safe for AmericansIs Uganda safe for Americans?

A fundamental question that Americans ask when they think about visiting Uganda.

“Is Uganda safe for Americans? It is “the search term” that brings many to this page each day. Oddly, few ask, Is the country safe for Germans, Danes, Belgians, Canadians, Australians, Russians, Chinese, or Indians? 

Is Uganda safe for Americans? In Short, without going into Details, Uganda is Safe for Americans and anyone else. 

Regarding safety and security, 99% plus the Visitors, mostly Tourists on a Safari, never have any safety and security issues in friendly and welcoming Uganda.

Why, despite the above, many Americans and others think that Uganda is dangerous. Uganda is a country to be avoided by Americans. Is the country a no-go zone for Americans? How do Americans and others get these wrongful perceptions about Uganda? Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

Africa and Uganda get a bad rap in the press. The press in the US is not favorably inclined toward Uganda. Few US Press Agencies have on-site reporters in Kampala. The news about the country is often written outside of the country. In the minds of many, Uganda is still under the lingering shadows of Idi Amin.

 Uganda’s image and reputation were not 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.
The English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley was right when he wrote, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” 

Americans who come here are surprised as to how wrong they were about the country. How safe and secure they felt during their time in the Pearl of Africa. How welcoming, friendly, and hospital Ugandans were.

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?Uganda is one of the 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 Ugandan culture.

Here is the feedback we get from clients after their Safari.”I felt safe.” Refreshingly different from the ominous self-appointed Uganda doom and gloom experts whose blogs or posts on Travel Forums you might have read.” I was wrong about Uganda,” is what many of our Clients tell us or write to us after they visit the Pearl of Africa. 

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

As an American who first arrived in the Pearl of Africa in 1992, I should know about Safety and Security in this country, which I have grown to love. The reality is that I feel safer in Uganda than I would in parts of the USA.

 Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else in 2021?Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

The answer is a resounding yes. The US State Department has a level 2 state of security caution for Uganda. That caution is standard for most countries in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Uganda would have had a new “Number of Visitors Record” if the harsh winds of the COVID-19 pandemic had not canceled the travel plans of millions around the world.

COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, both Ugandans and International ones, have kept visitors to a minimum. 

Aside from the international dangers of COVID-19, Uganda is one of the safest countries in all of Africa.

Like in all nations, the country’s crime rates have been drastically reduced during the lengthy COVID-19 lockdown.

Yes, Americans and all others are Safe and Secure in Uganda in 2021.

What Safety & Security Advice can you give Americans and anyone else? 

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?What should I bring to Uganda that will keep me safe?

No, not a weapon. They will not let you into the country with that but good old-fashioned Common Sense. Common Sense will keep you safe and secure on a safari.

Common Sense: What you would not do at home, don’t do while in Uganda. Many Travelers throw cautions to the wind in Africa and do things that they would not at home—resulting in impaired judgment and problems for tourists.

Things like never leave your room unlocked. Do not leave your kindle or laptop unattended in a restaurant. Flash no cash. Never leave a drink alone in a bar.

Ignore that smiling, attractive young woman in a bar. You will soon find out that she is a mosquito girl, and her sting can be worse than malaria.

Never walk away from a Lodge without your driver-guide and ranger. Do not stand at the edge of a waterfall such as Murchison Falls. Put your cash, valuables, passport, travel documents, and flight information into the Hotel or Lodge safe in a sealed envelope.

I strongly believe in a low-footprint presence when it comes to traveling. Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. That is plain old-fashioned common sense.

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?What should I do to prepare for my trip to Uganda?

Safety and Security while Traveling is dependent on Travelers knowing before going. You have invested a lot of money in a safari in Uganda.

Get the most out of your investment. Get to know Uganda before going.

Go to our Book page and read some of the Ugandan books or books about Uganda,

Our site is filled with information about the country, including Safety and Security information ranging from Safe Gorilla Trekking to safe ATM visits.

We even have what to avoid in Uganda Page, and many of those things are safe and security orientated. Avoid using a Credit Card is one of the things to avoid in Uganda. Credit Card related thefts are higher in Uganda than in the USA.  Flashing cash – only carry enough money to buy what you want.

How do I stay safe? What are your suggestions?Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

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, and Owino Market. It is where Ugandans have their earrings ripped off, their backpacks, purses ripped off. 

Avoid public demonstrations, especially opposition rallies in Uganda. The Presidential Election is coming up in 2021 and now underway. 

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 a strength.

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

Why Do Americans feel that Uganda is not safe?Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

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 Maslow’s hierarchy of need applies as much to Ugandans as it does to Americans. However, Ugandans can thrive in sometimes chaotic conditions. Though in recent times, Americans are catching up.  

Ugandans rarely receive weapon permits. There are no mass shootings here. Riots are not allowed, and the rare ones are quickly shut down.  Uganda has had no terrorist attacks since 2010. There are no guerrillas, only Gorillas. 

Security, police, the Army can be seen anywhere as you travel in the country. Security has dramatically increased since the kidnapping of the American woman and her driver in 2017.

Park Rangers were trained in 2019 by the American Military, giving them new skills in keeping parks safe 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.

African Hospitality in Uganda – Your Security Blanket: `Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

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 the 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. 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 InformationIs Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?

U.S. Embassy Kampala-Plot 1577 Ggaba Road, Kampala

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

Email: [email protected]  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.

Below are two security alerts issued by the American Embassy and are in effect at present.

Security Alert – Election Season in Uganda posted on Embassy Website

Location:  Countrywide throughout the country.

Event:  Ugandan presidential campaigning and election activity continue to bring large gatherings, sporadic violence, and significant traffic disruptions that impact U.S. Citizens’ security.  General elections are slated for January 14, 2021.  Clashes at large gatherings and outbreaks of violence have occurred before, during, and after past general elections in Uganda.  Police routinely use force, including tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, to disperse protests.  Demonstrations throughout Uganda are likely to Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?remain familiar and may often escalate to violence.

Actions to Take: This is the advice given by the US Embassy

  •         Avoid the areas where protests and demonstrations are occurring.
  •         Monitor local media for updates.
  •         Avoid crowds.
  •         Avoid demonstrations.
  •         Keep a low profile.
  •         Notify Friends and family of your safety.
  •         Be aware of your surroundings.
  •         Make contingency plans to leave.
  •         Review your security plans.
  •         Have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.

Our suggestion is to use a Ugandan Tour Operator such as ourselves. We know what to do to keep you safe and secure.

Security Alert: Wearing of Military Attire

Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?The U.S. Embassy advises all U.S. citizens in Uganda to exercise increased caution and attention to wearing clothing that could be perceived as “military” by Ugandan police and military authorities. Section 160 of The Uganda People’s Defence Forces Act of 2005 requires that public members refrain from wearing any items that authorities may perceive as military in nature.

The Act stipulates that only items “likely to deceive the public” are prohibited. However, the U.S. Embassy is aware of incidents in which Ugandan authorities have stopped and questioned persons wearing or possessing military-style clothing. These items, which may seem innocuous to American sensibilities, may include:

· Civilian clothing items with camouflage patterns of all colors to include fluorescent and neon (hats, shirts, pants, shorts, jackets, etc.);· Dress items of khaki, green, blue, and red clothing with accouterments that may resemble military attire.

The Embassy has issued a caution to Americans about the upcoming Election and not to wear military-type clothing.

Our Take on Visitor Safety and Security in Uganda

Our focus has been and is providing Safe, Secure Hakuna Matata- Worry-Free Safaris. We Is Uganda safe for Americans -and anyone else?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 one that is based on Customer Service.

The Safe Outcome of a Safari is more important to us 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 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:

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

Jon Blanc