The Top 10 Things to avoid in Uganda-Advice and Tips

Posted by on October 6, 2019

The Top Things to Avoid and not to do in Uganda 

Here are the Top 10 Things to avoid in Uganda that will keep you safe and healthy.

The List of Things to Avoid has grown to now 14 – We just keep adding

The Top 10 Things to avoid in Uganda. We added Five more, and now there 14 things to Avoid. Travel in Uganda  is not so much about the things to avoid, but the things that you can do – Go on a Safari in the Pearl of Africa – Uganda – being on a Safari is the safest place to be – the Focus will not be in what to avoid, but what to do and see.

For your well-being, safety, security, and peace of mind, we have gathered the things to avoid while in Traveling, being on a Safari in Uganda.  There is one thing one should not avoid, and that is common sense.  People who incur problems traveling in Uganda have left one thing behind back home – Common Sense.

Uganda is the Pearl of Africa, is the most bio-diverse country in Africa, is Africa condensed into one country, but Uganda is a country that can seem chaotic to a visitor.  

Never go alone, it is best to use a Tour Operator such as Kabiza Wilderness Safaris, we know Uganda, we live here, work here and go on Safari ourselves, we understand how things work, know the roads, the lodges, the ins and outs of permits, what to see and do while here.

Uganda- our Aim – a Hakuna Matata – No Worry Time on Safari in the Pearl of Africa.

The Top 10 Things to avoid in Uganda

We Added three more Things to Avoid, and now there are now 14                                            

1. Avoid Self-Drive in Uganda:

If you take the trip from the airport to Kampala you begin to get an idea why first-time visitors should not attempt to drive themselves around Uganda- even Uganda Wildlife Authority recommends to avoid self-drive for first-time visitors.

Uganda has traffic laws, great ones, but they are ignored, especially in Uganda. A few police vehicles are patrolling the road to keep things safe and sane.  Accidents by insane drivers are common, and you need a driver-guide such as we offer.

The accident rate in Africa is high due to inexperienced drivers ignoring laws, road conditions, and using an unsafe vehicle. Roads are not well-marked, and it is quite easy to get lost, spend the extra money and enjoy the journey, the safari with us.

Even President Museveni avoids Self-Drive – he is driven.

2. Avoid Crossing the Road in Uganda:

In Uganda where vehicles and drivers rule and the pedestrian is seen as a nuisance, crossing the road is one of the most dangerous activities you can engage in.  Pedestrian deaths being hit by vehicles run high.

A pedestrian also has to be on the lookout for things such as open utility hole covers since you certainly do not want to fall into one of them while on Holiday.

Getting hit by a vehicle is a more significant hazard, a greater danger than getting malaria, HIV, Ebola, bitten by a snake or any of the things that you might imagine in your mind.  The reality is that crossing the road in Africa is the most dangerous thing.

Even if you are on a one-way road – still look on both sides before crossing.

Being on Safari is the safest way to see Uganda; you will not be crossing the road in Kampala.

3. Avoid Boda – Boda – Motorcycle Taxi Transportation:

The number 1 reason for emergency-room treatment in Uganda area Boda-Boda motorcycle taxi-related accidents ranging from burned legs from the exhaust system to broken limbs being thrown off by a Boda-Boda Taxi.

Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxis are the quickest mode of transport in Kampala. However, they are also the fastest way to enter a hospital emergency room for treatment.

Should you avoid using Boda-Bodas in Kampala, it would probably be best for your well-being.  Picking the right Boda-Boda Motorcycle Taxi is the real issue at hand.  Safe and Sane is the word, choosing the right driver for you, resulting in a safe journey.

In the last few years, efforts have been made for Safe Boda Operations.  The problem is, you are still dealing with other drivers, and Boda-Boda Riding is the number one reason for Emergency Room Admissions.

4.  Avoid Night Travel in Uganda:

Daylight travel is much safer than it is to drive at night in Uganda or Rwanda. Alcohol consumption in Uganda and is quite high, and so is drunk driving.

In Kampala drunk driving stops abound at night (you can bribe your way out of it), especially on the weekend, the main reasons to avoid night travel outside of Kampala – the Entebbe road is a bit different – however for safety and security of our clients going on Safari with us, we do not bring clients to Kampala after 10 pm but put them into a hotel in the Entebbe area just ten minutes from the airport – they get a bit more rest that way, and it is merely a safer practice.

In between towns – including on main-roads there have been hold-ups on rare occasions – Most Travel Advice from the UK and US government suggest no nighttime driving traveling outside of Kampala – the exception would be to and from the airport.

On Safaris we d driving at night in between parks and other destinations.

See other Safety and Security Advice for Uganda:

5. Avoid Idi Amin’s Revenge – foods that might make you ill:

Idi Amin’s revenge can become a reality – your stomach may not be used to the menu in Africa– food preparation may not be up to hygienic standards, though significant improvements have been made like the Muzana Carts in Kampala.

For most visitors, it is best to avoid food from street vendors such as the Rolex Chapatti, meats roasted on the side of the street and more. At the same time, many visitors love the Rolex in Uganda, and the roadside snacks and fast-food one can buy along the road almost everywhere in Uganda.

Avoid raw uncooked things such as salads or fresh cabbage except at better hotels. At buffets look if they are keeping it warm with small candles, sauces, curries in such cases can cause problems.

Food is at its best when piping hot. If you are going on Safari with us using moderate or upmarket lodges, you will be fine in most cases – Safari Food usually is just right.

Rolex – Uganda’s Favorite Fast Food

Roadside Commerce in Uganda

6. Avoid drinking Tap Water in Uganda:

It is best to use bottled water, or boiled water – avoid ice-cubes and ask if they were made from purified water, same with juices –ask if either boiling purified the water used in Passion Fruit juice or using bottled water.

Bottled water is readily available in most stores and shops. The best-known brand in the local brand is Rwenzori Bottled water. Inyange Bottled water is produced in Rwanda.

Many hotels or lodges will put complimentary drinking water in your room as a convenience to you.

The tap-water quality has dramatically improved – however, it is best for visitors to stick to bottled water.

Drinking water from Rivers and Streams is also not recommended, no matter how bright the river maybe.  Stay Safe, Drink bottled water.

7. Avoid the Nightclubs – Bar Scene:

Uganda is safe and secure, and there are many places you can go to at night and enjoy a drink with others in a bar – there are some places of nighttime Kampala that are best avoided such as the Kabalagala area.

If you do go to such places avoid leaving your drinks unattended (recently received an email from a man who was robbed with his friend as they were drugged and stolen). Avoid flashing your money. Avoid using an ATM in a bar since it will make you a focal point, especially if you are withdrawing large amounts of cash.

Avoid putting your mobile cell-phone on the table -it may not be there when you return from the bathroom for example

Avoid Mosquito Girls – It is best that you avoid the ladies of the night, beautiful, seemingly friendly, but as some mosquitoes can carry malaria, so some of the mosquito girls carry a lot more than a beautiful smile, but a sting that includes STD’s and even HIV, besides they are prone to rob their so-called clients. If you want to meet a Ugandan woman, go to Church.

Kampala Nightlife – Safety – Security

8. Avoid leaving valuables or cash in your hotel room:

Stay in a hotel or lodge in a safe where you can put your passport, money for security – do not leave cash or valuables just in your suitcase, bag, etc..

If there is no safe in your room, leave valuables at the front desk and keep it there for safe-keeping. Also, leave your passport and return ticket to your country of origin there.

Practicing safe and secure travel is merely smart and will save you grief at the end of the day. Usually, the things in your room are quite safe, and this is simply an extraordinary precaution.

Do it right – stay safe and smart avoid having a lot of cash on you.  Use your ATM Card

Uganda Money Information – Tips – Advice for Travelers in Uganda

9. Avoid Swimming in most Rivers and Lakes:

We do not recommend swimming in lakes and river in Uganda and Rwanda.  In some water bodies, you can encounter crocodiles, hippos, and contract Bilharzia.

Lake Mutanda, Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda are excellent, as are a few other lakes.  If you see, hear about the presence of Hippos or crocodiles, then you need to avoid swimming in that river or lake.  The same is true for White Water Rafting on the Nile.

Some other lakes are safe and faster-moving portions of Rivers, but it is best to err on the safe side.  Stick to Swimming Pools at some of the lodges.

In spite of what people may tell you, avoid Lake Victoria except if you are on a boat safari in the middle of the lake away from the shore.

There are usually no problems with Tourists swimming, white water rafting. 

Use common sense, keep safe, and swim in pools.

10. Avoid getting sick in Uganda-take preventative Steps:

Avoid getting ill on safari in Uganda or Rwanda – You can.  Have the right immunizations, bring your Malaria regiment, follow some of the advice we give and you will work just fine.

Most Safari Goers never get ill in Uganda or Rwanda, and they enjoy the journey – follow the advice and stay well.

We have never had a client come down with Malaria, and never had a significant illness on our safaris in Uganda.

Our Clients have enjoyed the safari, and your well-being is even more secure in moderate and upmarket hotels and lodges.

Prevention is the best antidote for you.  Take a Malaria Regiment.  Use Insect Repellent, eat hot food.  Use Sani-Wipes and have them handy.  You can purchase them in Uganda at most supermarkets.  Bring any Medication that you need with a copy of a prescription.

We Added a few more Things to Avoid since the original 10

11. Avoid Getting Ebola

Ebola, during 2019 – Uganda, like Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan is a neighbor to tp the Democratic Republic of Congo Ebola has continued its rage on humanity almost unchecked during 2018-2019.  It crossed the border into Uganda with those seeking medical attention in Uganda and Uganda’s superb Ebola Medical Team responded successfully thus far.

For the latest Ebola updates concerning Travelers to Uganda read our Ebola Page which is updated as changes occur and get the advice that you as to how to avoid, and what we do for you to avoid getting Ebola.

Our Ebola Page – updated as the situation changes in Uganda

12. Avoid Cultural Mistakes:

Cultural Mistakes, avoiding them. Most Visitors do not know the Cultural norms in Uganda.

Visitors come with preconceived ideas that are not based on the present reality in Uganda.

The words of Aldous Huxley come to mind “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries”

For those on a Safari, Cultural Mistakes are easily avoided but it is good to know what might be offensive in Uganda.

Know Uganda before you go is the best advice we can give you.

Avoid embarrassing Cultural Mistakes by reading our page about Cultural Mistakes.


13. -Avoid Protests-Political Demonstrations and Rallies:

The presidential elections do not take place until February 2021 but already rallies, demonstrations, have taken place. Opposition rallies rarely are permitted and are shut down by the police and military. Uganda is a Democracy, however, it is an African Democracy. Uganda has a multi-party system, however, the ruling party is deeply entrenched at every level of society.

African is an interpretation of Democracy that often will differ from what you might be used to. Criticism of the government and its president is accepted in Uganda within reason unlike in neighboring Rwanda.

Demonstrations such as a recent student strike at the esteemed Makarere University were dealt with quite firmly by the government. There were responses by the police and military that resulted in arrests including a Military Police Captain.

We are a Tour Operator and a political commentator. The safety and well-being of our clients come first. We keep our clients out of Kampala at present. The new road system allows us to do so. We also do not use hotels in downtown Kampala but in less turbulent Entebbe and in the suburbs of Kampala.

Do Use a Tour Operator:

The above are practical guidelines that would be similar to many other countries in Africa and elsewhere and are identical to what you would find in Travel Guides to Uganda, such as the Bradt Guide.  The above things have not happened to our clients except for a few, very few getting intestinal problems.  When you are on safari with an expert driver-guide, you will enjoy your time on Safari rather than focus on logistics as you would on a self-drive Safari.

The wise Safari Traveler is informed – they know before they go.  Read the local newspapers online, ask us -Forums are useful, but often those writing their opinions have never been here or just dipped their toes into the Pearl of Africa.  Enjoy the Pearl of Africa – we do…Safe – Secure – Stable – Friendly and Welcoming.

Obtain Travel Insurance before going on Safari.

Uganda in 2019 named for the 2nd time in 6 years as one of the top countries to visit National Geographic – this time the “Cool List” National Geographic Traveller – UK.

The latest Security Updates for Uganda 

If you have any questions about Top 10 Things to avoid in Uganda – please contact us.