Exploring Uganda on your own by driving has become the new normal. Travelers are gaining the confidence to drive and discover the country’s various tourist sites, commonly known as self-drive safaris. Self-driving in Uganda is a safe option due to the tight security provided by the country’s security forces. You can drive from south to north in Uganda without encountering many safety-threatening incidents.
The main danger that can compromise the safety of travelers on a self-guided expedition is road accidents, which are mainly caused by road users. Therefore, it is crucial for travelers to be vigilant and careful to avoid them.
Since most clients who rent cars for self-drive in Uganda are international travelers unfamiliar with the roads and driving practices in the country, they need to be extremely cautious to ensure a safe and secure experience.
Road accidents can result in significant trouble and losses, including injuries or even fatalities. Additionally, if a client is found guilty of causing an accident, they are responsible for the expenses incurred to repair the damages to the car. In the worst-case scenario, the client may even face imprisonment. All these issues can hinder a client’s self-drive experience in Uganda.
To avoid the aforementioned problems, here are some tips for a safe and secure self-driving experience in Uganda:
Follow the speed limits
Adhering to the speed limits is crucial for safe driving in Uganda. According to the 2022 road accident report, over-speeding contributed to 60% of motor accidents in the country. The roads in Uganda have potholes and are narrow, making it easy to roll over or collide with another vehicle when driving recklessly.
The recommended speed on highways and in towns and settlements is 80 km/hr, while within national parks, the speed limit is 40 km/hr. The speed limit can vary depending on the road conditions or traffic situations, and it’s important to observe the speed indicated on road signs.
Avoid drinking and driving
It is essential not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances impair judgment and make it difficult to determine the appropriate speed and respond to other road users. Drunk driving is a major cause of road accidents worldwide and is also considered a crime in Uganda.
Avoid using a mobile phone while driving
It is important to refrain from using your cell phone while driving. Using a phone distracts your attention and compromises the concentration required for driving safely in Uganda.
Avoid driving on the edges of the road
Ugandan roads are narrow and lack clear demarcations for pedestrian and bicycle paths. Therefore, driving on the margins of the road can easily lead to accidents involving pedestrians, animals, or motorcyclists. Additionally, driving on the shoulders of the road is prohibited as it increases the risk of accidents when changing direction.
Observe road signs
Follow the instructions provided by road signs and radars placed along the roads. These signs offer essential guidance on how to navigate specific roads. The good news is that road signs in Uganda are universal and well-printed in English, similar to those in your home country. Observing road signs significantly reduces the chances of encountering any trouble on Ugandan roads.
Maintain a safe distance between vehicles
Avoid driving too closely to the vehicle in front of you to prevent bumper-to-bumper situations. Motorists often brake suddenly to avoid potholes or make turns without signaling. Therefore, it is advised to keep a 5-meter distance between cars to have enough room to react to the actions of the front motorist. Bumper-to-bumper driving is a major cause of collisions, especially in congested areas like Kampala and other cities with heavy traffic.
Adhere to authorized driving periods
Most Uganda car rentals recommend starting driving at 6 am and stopping at 7 pm, as this is considered the safest period for traveling around the country. During daylight hours, drivers have better visibility of the road and can anticipate potential hazards.
Ugandan roads, with their narrowness, potholes, presence of animals and pedestrians, and some vehicles without headlights, make nighttime driving extremely challenging. It is also advised not to stop or park in unfamiliar places at night due to potential dangers such as wild animals or robberies.
Despite some unforeseen problems on the roads, which are not common, Uganda is one of the safest countries in Africa to enjoy a self-drive tour. The road network is not complicated, and the road signs are universal and easy to understand, leading to various tourism destinations.
Self-drive tours in Uganda offer adventurous, interesting, and exciting opportunities to encounter wildlife in their natural habitats. Remember to ask for assistance whenever you are unsure.
To enhance your experience during a self-drive visit to Uganda’s tourist sites, consider hiring a ranger guide who is familiar with the parks and can provide valuable insights. The cost of hiring a ranger guide is typically $20, but if they have done an exceptional job, it is customary to tip them as a token of appreciation.
Lastly, when planning a trip to Uganda, it is important to consider and prepare for potential health risks associated with tropical environments. Uganda, being a tropical country with forests, savanna plains, and woodlands, is home to mosquitoes that can transmit diseases such as malaria. Take all necessary precautions and carry the required supplies to protect yourself from various diseases while exploring Uganda.