Revised: SEPT 7, 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.
At the moment, the Uganda Government has issued a blanket ban on international travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic, including border restrictions. So no entry or exit except for cargo planes and cargo vehicles. The general message is “Stay home, stay safe”.
Uganda’s international travel restrictions are likely to be lifted on October 1, 2020 (according to the Uganda Covid Task Force Team in an article written in the Monitor Newspaper of Sep 9, 2020). All the other East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda) have been allowing international entry since August 1, 2020 and it’s about time Uganda joined the EA community.
We’re seeing people begin to book and take leisure trips across the world. Locally, the travel ban was lifted with strict regulations and the locals and 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 tracking guests (foreign residents).
Locally, (at the time of writing this) Uganda has only started realizing deaths from COVID-19 with figures in tens. The MoH has done a tremendous job of keeping Coronavirus patients alive with about 98% cumulative patient recovery rate (Sept 8 2020) and 1.05% death rate. See statistics https://covid19.gou.go.ug/statistics.html
The government has eased up on local restrictions within the borders and the population is beginning to get back to the new normal. Find out more from the official Uganda Covid-19 Portal.
Basically (at the time of writing this):
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.
When will it be safe to travel to Uganda? When will the Uganda International travel restrictions be eased up? Are some of the questions we cannot and have no authority to answer. What we can say is like most places around the world, Uganda is still struggling with the pandemic but considering reopening entry on October 1, 2020. We’ll keep you updated in our newsletter.
October 1, 2020 is the proposed date for opening Uganda’s International boarders. Once open, you can 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.
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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