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Beginner’s tips to self-driving in Uganda

SPECIAL FEATURE |  The idea of having fun on a road trip starts with you planning and organizing, some travelers wish or dream to drive across the most prominent national parks of Africa for game drive activities, boat cruises and bird watching. It’s full of joy the moment you get a Uganda car rental , selecting the travel route especially taking upcountry destinations where you have never been before.  In this case you have been watching and seeing them on TV or recorded documentaries on You Tube.

The whole thing of self-driving in Africa is that you decide where to go, what to do and when to travel. As one of the most inspiring countries to visit in Africa for a road trip experience is Uganda, the Peal of Africa. There is a lot to put in mind before proceeding with the flight bookings for a self-guided adventure in Uganda.

Prepare for your drive

Driving in Africa is a bit tricky most especially if you are used to your home driving policies. For the fact that Uganda was colonized by the British, you have to keep left.  This is such a hurdle for travelers coming from Latin America, United States of America and most of the former French colonies that are used to the right lane.  They need to pay attention on Ugandan highways.

For you to take a gracious drive in Uganda, you need to hire a comfortable and reliable car especially when self driving upcountry. There are challenging roads depending on the destination traveling to. In this case, there is need for well serviced 4×4 wheel drive cars like Toyota Rav4 for budget self-drive road trips, Prado Tx, Vx and V8 model for comfort and  safari vans, Toyota Super customs, customized safari drones plus long extended chassis Toyota land cruiser or 8 seat safari Jeeps are available for family and group travel.  The aforementioned vehicles suit rough terrain drives.

If you take this into consideration with a complete general plan, everything will be okay most especially when you seek information from the car Rental Company, friends or family about your destination. They can advise and help in organization travel program to have a successful trip.

Prepare enough supplies

After coming up with a proper constructive road trip travel program, consider to start arrangements of what to travel with. Food and water are essential necessities for long safari destinations. Most Uganda safari parks are dry in the summer season and are not close to each other so a dry food and water kitty must come in hand.

Do forget a can to carry extra fuel in case you need to refuel the car in the middle of nowhere especially in the wilderness.

Most Uganda safari expeditions are mostly about photography. Therefore, carry a camera with original adapter, extra batteries, memory cards. A Phone with a great camera can also do the job.

Observe the Road Trip Rules

Uganda is a democratic country that is governed by rules and regulations at all levels and must be observed. Offenders are always brought to book and order.

Driving in Uganda is controlled by rules where by all individuals eligible to drive are supposed to own a valid driving license and must follow traffic policies. For example; driving with a fixed seat belt is a must, keeping in your lanes especially in the traffic jam during rush hours, you can only over take unless you have to, observe the road signs and don’t drink and drive. There are traffic officers and patron ready to apprehend traffic and road offenders on the various roads across the country.

Self-driving in game parks requires a high degree of understanding animal behavior followed by respecting the speed limit.  Drivers are restricted to a maximum speed of 40Km/hr in the national parks. Always give way to animals as they are given the first priority in the park. Don’t go off track during game drive session. Once you break any of the laws, a hefty fine or imprisonment awaits.

The speed limit on major country highway goes up 80km/hr putting in mind that Uganda has different topographies so there are different speed limit road signs especially in mountainous regions with coiling roads drivers need to engage low gears, there instant speed limits of 50km/hr on highway busy trading centers or towns.

Watch out for the game

Game is referred to as wild animals in their natural habitats so respecting the animal territory is very causal for case of rambling for game drive by yourself, wildlife react differently to different atmosphere in the national parks so we are recommended to view them by distance and keeping maximum silence with motor engines off to keep peace not stress to nature.

Watch out and be careful while in game parks, predators normally camouflage especially when they are hunting in the open savanna so you are always advised to be vigilant and careful. For short calls first scan around the area zone with binoculars before you get out of the car and help yourself behind the car “checking the car tyres” for easy escape just in case of any scary scenarios with wildlife.

Everything done by yourself brings freedom and this is the same with a self-driving safari done at your pace. You can decide when to stop your game drive because there is no pressure like when you hire a tour guide where everything is done by the book. On a self drive safari, you can hire an armed game ranger to guide you through the jungles of the national park. The park rangers are informed and knowledgeable thus offering an insightful, safe and convenient game viewing expedition to you.

For self drive travellers who rent a car with a rooftop tent and wish to stay on the river banks or any other isolated park area, always inform the park management about your program. They will be advised on the proper campsite location to harbor your tent with ample security.

Visitors must always stay on the tracks demarcated by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) while on self drive. Once you go off track without authorization you will be fined not less $ 150 per person in the vehicle. There are warning signs in the middle and at all entry points of the parks, always pay attention so that you don’t destroy nature.  In other words respecting Mother Nature is very important while on self drive in Uganda.

Safety on self-drive safaris

Driving in Uganda is similar to most of the African countries especially on downtown streets which are full of  busy vendors and  buyers and also pedestrians and keep crossing from either sides and boda bodas too that don’t obey any traffic law. You are advised to be alert all the time and use the side mirrors.

Caution! Street parking is inevitable especially in the big cities of Uganda; one may want to make a stopover for cash at the money point for any shopping activities prior to the road trip. Street parking is charged thus check for unpaid receipts and not cleared before leaving the parking area to avoid premium charges for defaulting payment. When parking fees are not paid off promptly, they multiply per day.  The car can be cramped and towed or given a big fine when an operation is carried out.  This could inconvenient your travel programs.

Always mind about your safety and belongings in the vehicle especially when you park in the places you are not very certain of.  Remember to lock the car doors while driving in the cities and avoid pulling out cameras for street photography while windows are open to prevent phone snatchers. Dodge chaotic places in case of any political rallies as there may be peaceful demonstrations that in the long run may end up rebellious resulting into car damages that may be out of the insurance cover.

Follow COVID-19 rules on self driving safaris

So far we are learning how to live with Covid-19 pandemic and it has changed all the travel behaviors globally where by all travelers are required mandatory to take PCR tests 24 hours before immigration clearance into and out of the country.

If you’re found positive, you will be quarantined for the next 14 days. Therefore, you are encouraged to practice the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) like wearing a face mask, social distancing, washing hands or using sanitizer.

Once you have signs and symptoms of Covid-19, you are advised to visit any health center or major hospital for examination. Note: there are multiple variants that keep breeding and we should remain vigilant at all times.

Joy on self-drive

Going on a road trip in Uganda is clear and open to every esteemed traveler willing to come to Africa. Whether you are looking to backpacking Uganda or traveling in a luxury style, there is a lot that awaits you to see and do! Uganda is a very hospitable country that one should not miss on the bucket list. There are lots of memorable events that one shouldn’t miss out.

However much you have tipped off by this article to stop yourself from being natural and enjoying your trip in the best way possible.  Uganda is the pearl of Africa with plenty of tourist sites to experience on road trips so leave no stone unturned with all the amazing wonders of life, you’re the country’s greatest ambassador so create memories, marvel at wildlife and embrace the adventure around. Get back home and share the stories and chronicles of the Uganda road trip.

 

 

 

 

One comment

  1. Well explained tips.

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