Is it Safe to Travel to Uganda? All Your Questions Answered!
Is it safe to travel to Uganda? It’s a question many first-time travelers thinking about exploring this landlocked east African nation ask themselves – and us. Although foreign governments issue travel warnings from time to time, Uganda is actually very safe for tourists. Politically stable and with an ever-improving infrastructure, the chances of becoming a victim of a crime as a visitor to the country are low, especially when joining guided tours in Uganda.
How Safe is Uganda?
Let’s start to answer the question is it safe to travel to Uganda by learning a little more about Uganda and its safety record. It can be difficult to compare statistics from different parts of the world when it comes to safety for many reasons. A destination like Uganda should never be compared like for like with countries in North America or Europe as a result.
However, whichever way you look at it, it is safe to travel to Uganda. And here’s why. Since the mid-1980s Uganda has been stable politically. Known as the ‘pearl of Africa’ since before independence, the country welcomes tens of thousands of international travelers, gap year visitors and expatriate workers to its facet of attractions each year. The vast majority return home with nothing but praise for the country and its security situation.
As we’ll see, attractions frequented by international travelers are especially safe. But we’ll first detail what to expect from Uganda’s cities.
Is it Safe to Travel to Uganda’s Cities?
The primary reason for traveling to Uganda’s cities is to get into and out of the country. Entebbe, for example, is the location of the country’s main international airport. The area around the capital, Kampala, has its fair share of attractions though, including the Uganda National Museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site Kasubi Royal Tombs.
The largest city in the country, Kampala has similar problems to any city in the world. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in New York or London, it’s unlikely you’ll face any trouble.
To be extra safe, we recommend you avoid wearing or carrying flashy or expensive items such as watches, jewelry made from precious metals, or electronic devices such as iPads. When handling cash in public places, only display small amounts – leave the rest in a hotel safe with your passport.
It’s usually perfectly safe to walk around the city center by day. During the hours of darkness, from approximately 6 pm to 6 am, you should use a taxi. If you’re unsure, opt for a guided tour of the sights for added security and peace of mind.
Safety in Uganda’s National Parks
Uganda’s national parks are perhaps the safest destinations in the entire country and it’s extremely rare for travelers to Uganda to suffer any dangers while gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or heading out on safari inside Queen Elizabeth or Kidepo national parks.
Despite what you may think, animal attacks against humans in Uganda’s national parks are all but unheard of. When traveling by 4×4, animals see the vehicle as one single entity, whilst in camps humans and animals have lived side by side for years without problem. As long as you follow any guidelines given to you by camp staff or rangers, such as maintaining a sensible distance between you and the animals at all times, you won’t ever have to question whether it is safe to travel to Uganda.
Petty crimes such as thefts from rooms are also thankfully rare. Given the location of most national parks far from large towns and cities, there is little scope for criminals to infiltrate sites. Staff will not want to risk their livelihoods or face severe police action by getting involved in crime either.
Is it Safe to Travel to Uganda By Road?
Since Uganda is a relatively small country by African standards, at 93,000 square miles (the size of the US state of Michigan or the UK) most travel within the country takes place by road rather than by air.
The upside to this mode of transport is that travelers get to see and experience much more of the country than they would from several thousand feet up. But is it safe to travel to Uganda overland? Are there any downsides?
If you’re not used to driving abroad, it’s probably best not to sit behind the wheel in Uganda. Most tours will include a driver-guide, whilst independent travelers can hire a car with driver. Main roads between cities are in relatively good order, although speeding can be an issue. The national speed limit is 60 mph.
Roads to more rural areas can be little more than dirt tracks. So if you’re planning to explore the countryside, you should take the drive slowly and allow plenty of time. A vehicle capable of four-wheel drive is a must. Few roads have lighting when it gets dark, making it best to arrive before sunset. Travel can also be seriously curtailed during the rainy seasons on these roads.
Climate and Traveling Safely to Uganda
Crossed by the equator, Uganda has a tropical climate with year-round temperatures of around 26°C (78°F) on a daily basis and peaks of 29°C (84°F). Humidity levels can make it feel significantly hotter, with levels rising to a height of 67% humidity in September.
The least humid month of the year is February, just before the first rainy season, with levels of around 50%. For most of the country, rain is the dominant weather condition from March to May and again from September to December. The far north of the country has just one rainy season, lasting from March to October.
Staying Safe When Traveling in Uganda
Although African nations such as Uganda can have a bad reputation when it comes to safety, the reality on the ground is often very different. Travel to Uganda on an organized tour, and you’ll soon forget any safety concerns you had. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the country’s national parks, urban sights and fascinating culture.