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Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda – a Bad Idea

Posted by on September 22, 2020

Why a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda will drive you insane

Top Reasons why a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda is like swimming with the Crocodiles


Self-Drive Safari in Uganda, is it a Bad Idea?  Ugandans are some of the gentlest people in the world.  They areSelf-Drive Safari in Uganda soft-spoken, courteous, very friendly, and have lots of patience, that is, until that kind, polite, and a patient person gets behind the wheel of a car. Then a transformation occurs, and now there is this impatient, pedal to the medal, in a hurry, insensitive, rude, and ruthless person who acts if the road was created just for them.

Uganda has excellent Traffic Laws. However, the standard rules of the road do not exist in Uganda– you are passed and overtaken even on a blind curve – traffic laws exist but often are not enforced, and neither are they obeyed.

Uganda has the Distinction of having one of the highest road accidents and fatality rates on the continent and in the world, and it certainly is not the country for a relaxing Wildlife Self-Drive Road Safari, and it just might drive you insane. For many, operating in Uganda is like swimming with crocodiles.

You can rent a suitable vehicle, GPS Navigation equipped 4×4, but you do not know Uganda, you do not have a plan B in your head if plan A does not work out for you. Are you renting your vehicle?  Something that is quickly done in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world.  The Road Conditions are unlike what they are in Uganda. Unless you like risk-taking, raw adventure in the Spirit of Indiana Jones, it is not something for first time Visitors Uganda, something that the Uganda Wildlife so aptly points out. “Self-drive options are best left for return visitors to the country and more seasoned travelers who are accustomed to driving in a variety of road conditions.”


Reasons why a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda might be a Bad Idea

What Others Recommend and Do regarding Self-Drive in Uganda

International SOS-leading Travel Security recommends the following for its clients:

International SOS is the world’s largest medical and travel security services firm, which counts nearly two-thirds of the Fortune Global 500 companies as clients and takes around 5 million assistance calls every year. Here is what they Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad Ideahave to say about Self-Drive in Uganda.

  • “Transportation arrangements are important in Uganda, as we advise against using all forms of public transport due to different safety standards and higher exposure to crime. Please note that we advise foreign travelers against self-driving unless they are familiar with local driving conditions. First of all, roads outside of urban centers in Uganda are very poorly maintained. Also, local driving habits increase the risk of road traffic accidents (RTA). What further complicates the situation is that there are minimal assistance options in case of a breakdown. The roads can also become impassable due to rains and related flooding and mudslides.”
  • “Where there are air travel options available, we would suggest you give preference to them. However, as there are limited domestic air travel options available in the country, we suggest you have a pre-arranged transport for all ground movements, particularly any intercity movements. The car should be driven by an experienced local driver who has traveled between your visit locations before.”

Uganda Wildlife Authority Self-Drive Recommendations:Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad Idea

Uganda Wildlife Authority Recommends: Self-drive options are best left for return visitors to the country and more seasoned travelers. They are accustomed to driving in a variety of road conditions. You may find you are more comfortable leaving the Driving to a Ugandan safari driver-guide to give you an interpretive commentary while you enjoy the scenic views.

Uganda Wildlife Authority wants Tourists to visit the national parks and wildlife reserves. UWA knows Ugandan roads, especially the access roads to the national parks that it administers.

UWA suggests that first-time visitors forego self-drive and use a vehicle with a driver such as both tour operators such as ourselves provide. Even Auto-Rentals in Uganda have a driver option.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad IdeaPresident Museveni is driven on Safaris to National Parks:

You will not see President Museveni of Uganda driving himself to one of his country’s National Parks. He is driven there. He might not say it, but he knows that the access roads to the parks can be difficult to traverse.

A domestic tourist knows how to access and see the parks using an experienced driver and sound vehicle. He is an avid outdoorsman who loves the parks but has the common sense to use a good driver and car — no self-drive for President Museveni of Uganda.

Just maybe, you should follow his lead and do the same. You do not know what he and his team of drivers know. The road conditions that await you in Uganda. That is true, especially during the rainy season.

Suppose knowledgeable drivers on Safari drive the President of Uganda. You, as a newbie to the roads of Uganda, should follow his suite.

Self-drive can lead to disaster and is a mistake for most.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad IdeaThe US Embassy recommends no nighttime Driving.

Both the US Embassy and the UK High Commission recommend no nighttime driving or travel. We concur and follow the practice. At times the unavoidable takes place, and we must be prepared for it. The same applies to those on a self-drive. At least our drivers know what to do.

The rules of the road happen to change at night in Uganda.  Quite a few drivers will drive without headlights.  Drunk Driving is frequent; Ugandans consume more alcohol in Africa, except for Nigerians.

On top of all other things, Headlights are coming at you with bright lights on and out of adjustment, maddening to most of us.

We avoid driving at night except for the route between Entebbe and Kampala, but no night driving in the countryside. There is also the other reason for the potential for roadside holdups. That has is an infrequent occurrence.

Alcohol is the main reason you should not drive during nighttime hours in Uganda.  It is best to stay safe.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad IdeaTerrible Road Conditions in Places:

The Roads of Uganda have vastly improved. Even President Museveni has stated that he enjoys most roads. However, he has not been on the ones that you will encounter on a self-drive safari.

Potholes the size of a potential Tilapia Fish-Farm, dusty, bumpy with those obnoxious speed bumps in every hamlet, called sleeping police officers.

The road conditions often lead to accidents, and that is one statistic where Uganda excels in, even though improvements have been made over the last few years.

During the Rainy Seasons of the year, self-drive in the rented vehicle becomes even more difficult for most.

Tour Company Drivers are well prepared as to how to deal with adverse road conditions.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad IdeaUnusual Obstacles on the Road:

On your self-drive Safari, you will come across all kinds of obstacles. Near National Parks, they might be even Elephants, antelopes, and other wildlife.

In the countryside, there are cows, goats, chickens, and people in villages.  Should you inadvertently hit something, do not stop, but go to the nearest police station and report the incident. If you stop, you might be attacked by villagers who could be harmful to you and those with you.

A situation that is quite different than anything you would encounter in your home country.

If you have an accident, you are advised to head for the nearest police station and report what happened.  Remaining on the scene can be hazardous, and bodily harm by angry citizens could become a reality.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad Idea Might Make it Right:

Uganda has excellent traffic laws. However, the regulations do not apply when the might; the size of a vehicle used.  Might make it right, buses barreling down what may seem like a one-lane road straight at you.

Trucks and buses are one thing. There is also the position and power caravans, several government vehicles passing you at insane speeds with some VIP passengers in the first car.

It is not supposed to take place. However, it does.  Position and Power are the ultimate, resulting in significant figures involved in road accidents, some ending in death.

Buses barrel down the road at excessive Speeds, overtake others on turns and Hills.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad Idea Police Traffic Stops – what to do:

Police are standing on the side of the road, flagging you down.  What do you do, something that might not have been covered in your self-drive orientation, it is routine here and happens every day.

You on a self-drive have no clue about a little something, talk to the police – person and continue your journey, whereas a seasoned driver-guide such as we employ does.

Such traffic stops are part of everyday life. Police do not make much money, and traffic stops become income enhancers, something foreign to most westerners.

Tour companies often have “Tourism Vehicle” on them and are less likely to face a traffic Stop by Police.


Avoid a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda - a Bad IdeaLeave the Driving to us- We Know Uganda:

We know Uganda, we know Rwanda, we how to drive here, we live here. You just landed, don’t know anything about the many quirks of Ugandan Driving, as the constant flashing of lights, blinking of left or right turn signals, and the significance of each.

Should we break down, plan B is on the way, we know what to do, and we have more than drivers, we have driver-guides that give you that extra that you do not get on a self-drive safari in Uganda.

A Safari – is a journey, and we will do our best to make it safe, sound, and enjoyable.

Self-Drive – Self Planner – a Recipe for Disaster


Self-Drive Rental companies do their best to make your time on Safari enjoyable. We go one step further. We remove the Reasons why a Self-Drive Safari in Uganda – a Bad Idea – We remove the unpleasant by taking you on a Safari that you can enjoy the Pearl of Africa, instead of worrying about where the next fuel station is.  We use real Safari Vehicles with pop-up roof for best wildlife viewing as you are driven instead of worrying about the next turn in the road.


Self-Drive Safari in Uganda – a Bad Idea? – any questions about a safari with us – please contact us.