Revised: OCT 2, 2020
Is it safe to travel to Uganda? Generally, Uganda is safe for travel—however, the below is meant for travelers exploring a post-pandemic world. Otherwise this guide to Uganda safety, which covers everything from the coronavirus to what solo travelers should keep in mind, is a great resource to help you make that decision to visit Uganda next.
Dreaming of a Uganda getaway but unsure how to start planning because of the coronavirus? We can help! Jumpstart your Africa safari to uganda by working with a local to build a bucket list. You’ll get personalized recommendations for when travel is safe again. Plus, locals will include ideas for how you can enjoy Uganda culture at home. Start a conversation with an expert.
Uganda’s international travel restrictions were lifted on October 1, 2020. Inbound and outbound traffic at Entebbe International Airport and all boarders across the country is back to normal with restrictions to watch for Coronavirus infections. All the other East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda) have been allowing international travel since August 1, 2020. However, the first phase of opening Entebbe International Airport will be watched closely with airport authorities allowing only a single flight per carrier except for the national carrier (Uganda Airlines) that can fly three times a day.
We’re seeing people begin to book and take leisure trips across the world. Domestically, the travel ban was lifted in August with strict regulations and the locals are back to enjoying their country’s beauty. Domestic tourism has gotten a face-lift with good numbers visiting the wildlife reserves including the primate parks. Yes, gorillas can now be tracked; we recently had our first gorilla trekking guests (foreign residents).
Uganda has been recognized as one of the top countries around the world to have suppressed the Coronavirus pandemic successfully. Uganda has a Covid death rate of bellow 1%, that’s pretty impressive according to international observers. The MoH has done a tremendous job of keeping Coronavirus patients alive with about 98% cumulative patient recovery rate. See statistics https://covid19.gou.go.ug/statistics.html
Basically (at the time of writing this):
There will be health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry including wearing of facemask, sanitisation, temperature screening and physical distancing. If found with Coronavirus symptoms, you’ll be isolated and taken to designated hospital for treatment. The MoH Emergency Operations Center is managing the COVID-19 response and can be reached through their hotline: (+256) 0800 203 033, 0800-100-066, or 0800-303-033.
On arrival, tourists and business visitors will need to provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test dated no more than 72 hours before their arrival into Uganda. Outbound travellers will also be required to take a certified PCR COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure. If you don’t have one, take one at a recommended hospital in Entebbe or Kampala before your flight at your cost ($26).
A number of hospitals offer the PCR COVID-19 test in Uganda and these include: Makerere University Hospital, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Lancet Laboratories (041-4341621), MBN Laboratories (0700-533-954), Nakasero Hospital (0312 531400), Kampala Hospital (0312 563400), City Medicals at City Ambulance Acacia (0392 177174), Ruby Medical Centre (0800 833 111), Case Clinic (0312 250 700), Mengo Hospital (041 4270222), Mbarara Doctors’ plaza (0703206832)
Your driver or tour operator will have ensure that you proceed directly to your place of stay and do not mix with Ugandans. There will be no requirement to self-isolate. Physical distancing, sanitization and facemask are compulsory for keeping you healthy while travelling in Uganda. There’ll be no self isolation for 14 Days.
Ugandan nationals who arrive with a negative COVID-19 test will be allowed to proceed straight to their homes. It is not yet clear whether they will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days or not.
National wide curfew is in effect but travelers to the airport will not be affected if they carry documents for proof of travel. Security operatives have been informed to let travelers through within curfew hours.
These travel restrictions are bound to be revised anytime, keep your ear to the ground if travelling.
All Wildlife National Parks & Reserves have been reopened to tourism including the primates parks: Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga and Kibale National parks are open to tourism with strict UWA SOPs to protect the wild primates from catching the Coronavirus.
Primates are easily susceptible to human diseases, so it’s paramount that when you chose to visit these precious mountain giants, you should jealously protect them by adhering to the Uganda Wildlife Authority SOPs so that we can keep our precious jewels free from this pandemic.
“All tourism activities within the protected areas shall be undertaken in a manner that ensures all guidelines by the Ministry of Health and the directives by His Excellency the President are adhered to” a statement by UWA said.
In the statement, UWA also points out that:
The new guidelines by UWA have also seen large groups of people exceeding 25 people banned from entering the parks at the same time for the same activities whereas events such as destination weddings are currently not allowed in the country’s parks.
UWA Standard Operating Procedures for Safaris in Uganda.
Uganda’s International borders and airports were opened on October 1, 2020. You can now do your part to help support Uganda’s recovery by indulging in the top things to do in Uganda. Even as you enjoy your morning Ugandan snack, you’ll be helping the country recover.
Uganda is a fabulous place to visit with most of the National parks and attractions isolated far away from Coronavirus incubation centers. All hotels and safaris lodges have been well prepared to welcome visitors after more than six months of shutting down business. Everyone is watching out for the traveler’s safety to be able to work again. So start planning your safari trip to Uganda and travel with confidence.
And in fact, you can get started preparing for your Africa Safari vacation today. Work with a local safari expert to build a customized bucket list. They’ll provide activities you can do at home and advise on things to see in Uganda once things are safe—all based on how you like to travel. Matter-of-fact you can start the conversation with an expert now or use that WhatsApp button in the bottom right corner to ask any question.
Away from the travel disruption caused by Covid-19 scourge on Africa safari vacations in Uganda and elsewhere in the world, let’s delve deeper into the “Is Uganda safe to travel in 2020?” questions and answer some of the general Uganda travel security concerns.
Will my camera be snatched in the streets of Kampala? Am I safe in a car or should I be worried about carjackers? Are the food and water safe for consumption? These are all very common questions we ask before traveling to foreign lands.
It is to be expected for a visitor to be anxious about travelling to an unfamiliar place. Uganda is a popular tourist destination with thousands of travelers visiting every year – safely!
‘Around 15,000 British nationals visit Uganda every year. Most visits are trouble-free’ – Gov.uk.
However, the fear of the unknown can only be put to rest when you have all the facts together. So this text should serve as your guide.
At the time of writing (28/11/2019), travel advisories who observe and advise visitors on the safety of destinations such as Uganda, have not issued any major travel alerts except for the collective universal Covid-19 message “Stay home, stay safe”.
The main safety areas of concern for an unfamiliar visitor would be:
The largest international threat in Uganda is Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaida. These terror cells have in the past attacked Uganda in 2010. The attacks were linked to Uganda’s presence in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM). The increased capacity to deal with them including security checks and continued victories on the battlefield in Somalia and around the world have diminished the capabilities of these groups to conduct attacks.
Threats from regional terror organizations that pose risk at Uganda borders are rebel groups like ADF who operate in eastern DRC and Southern Sudan rebel groups. The Government of Uganda remains vigilant for threats of these groups. Offensive military action and increased border patrol have minimized attacks and flow of illicit trade and immigration.
Uganda, however, is considered a safe, secure and politically stable country though you should remain vigilant to minimize the risk of attacks.
Crime threats, like all other countries in the world, are present but can be avoided when you observe caution. Uganda is a very safe country, but opportunistic crimes such as petty theft, credit card fraud and home robbery do occur – just like any other country. Chances of being a victim is rare and incidences would most probably be in cities like Kampala. When in public places, please be vigilant and cautious by avoiding drawing too much attention to yourself and being less susceptible to pick-pockets.
The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) attempt to deter crime has been increasingly successful with regular patrols and placement of their forces in strategic locations. The police presence is noticeable everywhere with security at the airport and borders, and police in public places. Across Uganda’s National Parks and tourist destinations, the tourism police, park rangers, military army and hotel/lodge security personnel are all present to ensure your safety.
In the past years, travel advisories warned against travel to the Karamojong region in northeastern Uganda. The Lord Resistant Army (LRA) an insurgent group that caused unrest in northern Uganda in 2005 have had battles with Uganda military who drove them out of Uganda into South Sudan. In 2016, the tension between the government and the Rwenzururu Kingdom in West Uganda that escalated and turned violent was calmed and the region is now safe to travel by road. Overall improvement in security situations has been restored. Efforts by the international community, civilian police and Uganda Government have accomplished to remove any threat by these groups.
Political violence, strikes, demonstrations can surface sporadically without warning. Though demonstrations are more often controlled, they can be at times confrontational and violent. It is advisable to avoid crowds and demonstrations. Following local media updates helps you remain vigilant during these situations and you can easily avoid any situation that can put you at risk.
Away from the coronavirus we talk about in the opening paragraphs, there was an outbreak of yellow fever in northern Uganda in 2010. In 2008, there was an Ebola outbreak in western Uganda. Outbreaks of black plague have been experienced in the west of Nile River. We all are aware of the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, Uganda is no exception. Malaria is high risk in most areas and during the rainy season apart from high altitude mountains over 2,000m. Management of these outbreaks by the government has been impressive over the years.
Great health services may be limited in the areas you’re visiting (esp in remote countrysides) and travelers are advised to travel with their own supplies of prescription and preventive medicine or doctor’s note describing the medication. Medevac services available locally can be very expensive. Please consult with your medical insurance company prior to travelling abroad whether the policy applies to emergency evacuation expenses.
You must obtain relevant vaccinations before you travel to Uganda.
There are reported traffic fatalities but these can be avoided when you observe and follow traffic rules. However, when driving on Ugandan roads, you will encounter careless drivers, pedestrians walking in the road, livestock in the roadway, poorly maintained vehicles (lack brake/indicator lights), poor road conditions, lack or non-functional traffic lights and poorly lit roads. Driving during the day is considered safer but the varying conditions on the road condition and careless drivers can still be fatal.
If you are driving in Uganda, please exercise all defensive driving skills to ensure your safety and the safety of other road users at all time. The police enforcement of traffic laws is minimal but there has been an improvement.
At Nkuringo Safaris, our drivers are highly skilled and very experienced in driving on Uganda’s roads. They know these roads better than most and will do their best to make sure you have a very safe and comfortable journey.
Disasters or environmental hazards reported range from heavy rains causing flash floods or landslides, infectious disease outbreaks and short-term food security. Disasters primarily from food insecurity due to drought and other factors contributing to the root cause. Most communities in the northern region, that was under the insurgent group (LRA), have little or no cash to purchase food and can only cultivate in small plots of land with livestock.
From the observation of the safety concern, we can conclude that these facts make Uganda safe to travel.
You must be cautious of your surrounding and remain vigilant by equipping yourself with crime and safety tips. Obtaining comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel will cover you against any unforeseen emergencies. Consume foods or drinks from sources that are hygienic to avoid cases of food poisoning or cholera.
Many visitors have reviewed and shared their experience of their visit in Uganda in forums citing a secure, safe and welcoming environment without any feeling of intimidation.
Is it safe to travel in Uganda? In our opinion, and in our experience – yes! Uganda is a safe safari destination. Through an organized safari by Nkuringo Safaris, you can enjoy a safe, stable and secure holiday with all your family. Don’t just take our word for it, view our reviews on Trip Advisor.
You will certainly have a sense of comfort and security when you are met at the airport on arrival and being in the care of Nkuringo Safaris guide or driver throughout your visit.
Dreaming of an Uganda getaway but unsure how to start planning because of the coronavirus? We can help! Jumpstart your Africa safari to uganda by working with a local to build a bucket list. You’ll get personalized recommendations for when travel is safe again. Plus, locals will include ideas for how you can enjoy Uganda culture at home. Send an enquiry via our contact us page or email [email protected]
You can postpone any time (upto 12 months) as a private safari in case of any emergency. Cancellation allowed for upto 90 days
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