Uganda is generally safe for travel and tourism. It is considered a politically stable country with securely operated borders within the East African region and robust internal security bodies. However, opportunistic crimes such as petty theft, credit card fraud, and home robbery occur, just like any other country. Contemporary crime threats, terror-prone areas, and COVID-19 infections can be avoided when you observe caution and follow local laws.
Are terrorists killing people in Uganda? 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 general questions we ask before traveling to foreign lands.
It is to be expected for a visitor to be anxious about traveling to an unfamiliar place. Uganda is a popular vacation adventures destination, with thousands of travelers safely visiting every year, especially to watch the mysterious primates in its ancient rainforest jungle. According to the UK foreign travel advice, around 15,000 British nationals visit Uganda every year. Most visits are trouble-free. You’re more likely to be killed by a terrorist attack in London or New York than in Uganda. And no, there’s no war in Uganda; there hasn’t been war since the ’80s.
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 Uganda travel advisory guide.
“You’re fifty times more likely to be killed by a terrorist attack in London or New York than when in Ugandan. And no, there’s no war in Uganda; there hasn’t been war since the ’80s.”
Ugandans have enjoyed long periods of terror-free spaces for quite some time because of very active security forces and a vigilant population. The country’s security forces have been engaged in collective wars against terrorism for a long time, whether it is the homegrown terror cells like Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), or the cross-border Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Ugandan men, and women have been leading at the frontline.
Unfortunately, irrespective of the amount of vigilance, a few manage to pass the security lines and claim innocent lives in the name of their deity. In November 2021, there was a high threat of terrorism across the East Africa region responding to a trio of suicide bombs that went off in Kampala claiming the bombers’ lives and four nationals. The GoU issued a number of alerts warning of a heightened risk of terrorism after experiencing a number of bomb blasts in the same month. However, the threats have been neutralized.
Terror attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Large crowds of people and public places may also be targets.
Regional security forces collectively engage in efforts to deny terrorists any havens, eradicate sources of terrorist financing, reduce state vulnerability, and enhance emergency preparedness and response capabilities. Under the auspices of the African Union, Uganda is the biggest contributor to the AMISOM forces. In that capacity, Uganda has been at the forefront of fighting the Al-Shabaab terrorist group.
Uganda’s neighboring Governments have been cooperative in facilitating the arrest of terrorist ring leaders. Within Uganda’s borders, the public members have been mobilized to be vigilant and always be on the lookout. These efforts have been successful, leading to the capture of terrorist operatives before they could carry out their evil operations.
Uganda continues to pursue the terrorists and stop them in their tracks before they can cause mayhem and suffering to innocent people.
You should be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like hotels, transport hubs, restaurants, and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events, and when in close proximity to Government buildings or security installations such as police stations. Previous terrorist attacks and disrupted attacks in Uganda have targeted the security forces, places where football matches were being viewed, restaurants, buses, and government buildings.
The Uganda Police Force regularly issues alerts, particularly around public holidays or religious events. You should remain vigilant at all times and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Like all other countries globally, crime threats 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 occur, just like any other country. Chances of being a victim are 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), commonly known as the local police, attempts to deter crime have increasingly succeeded with regular patrols and deploying in strategic crime-prone locations. The police’s presence is noticeable everywhere, with camouflaged security deployed at the airport, borders, and 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 tourists’ 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 had battles with the Uganda military. The national army drove the rebel group out of Uganda into South Sudan and that region is back to flourishing.
In 2016, the tension between the government and the Rwenzururu Kingdom in West Uganda escalated and turned violent. Although sadly losing 100 lives in the process, the situation was calmed, and the region is now safe to travel by road.
Overall improvement in security situations has been restored. The international community, civilian police, and Uganda Government have accomplished efforts to remove any threat by these groups.
Uganda, like many other democracies across the globe, occasionally goes through short periods of political change. The most political unrest in Uganda is usually centered around Kampala city, far from its magnificent safari attractions. Political violence, strikes, demonstrations can surface sporadically without warning. Though protests are more often controlled, they can be at times aggressive 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.
The Ugandan countryside is as peaceful as the bottom of the ocean. However, metropolitan cities like Kampala, in this Coronavirus age, are a hotbed for infections. The city you jet into the Pearl of Africa is Entebbe, a quiet suburb 34 kilometers outside the capital city housing the statehouse with beefed-up security. In fact, in some instances, you’ll fly/drive out of Entebbe immediately after landing, heading to the southwestern or northern attractions.
Uganda suffered the same fate as the rest of the world in the latest COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The country has impressively stabilized the situation with all hands on board, and things are progressively returning to normal.
There was an outbreak of yellow fever in northern Uganda in 2010. In 2008, there was an Ebola outbreak in western Uganda. Outbreaks of the black plague have been experienced in the west of the 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.
Excellent 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 before traveling 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 street, livestock in the roadway, poorly maintained vehicles (lack brake/indicator lights), poor road conditions, lack of non-functional traffic lights, and poorly lit roads. Driving during the day is considered safer, but varying road conditions 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 times. 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 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 observing 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 to 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 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 undoubtedly 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 to Uganda.
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. Please send an inquiry via our contact us page or email email@example.com.
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