Is Uganda Safe For Tourists in 2024?

Uganda is a safe destination for travelers with low crime rates and secure wildlife encounters. While road safety and petty theft require vigilance, exercising caution and following health advisories ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in this beautiful country. Read on for everything you need to know before you travel.

Is Uganda Safe? A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

Uganda, a land of captivating beauty and diverse wildlife, has long been shrouded in misconceptions about safety. However, the reality is far more reassuring than you might expect. While no destination is entirely risk-free, Uganda has made significant strides in ensuring the safety and security of its visitors. From vibrant cities to pristine national parks, the country welcomes travelers with open arms and a commitment to providing a safe and enjoyable experience. 

So, is Uganda safe for tourists to visit? Yes, it is safe for tourists to visit Uganda, thanks to a combination of factors, including increased security measures, a strong focus on tourism development, and the warm hospitality of the Ugandan people. 

This comprehensive guide will dispel the myths and give you the knowledge and confidence to embark on your Ugandan adventure, knowing that your safety is a top priority.

Let’s delve into the various aspects of travel safety in Uganda, from personal security and health considerations to local laws and cultural norms. This will empower you to make informed decisions and experience the magic of Uganda without any worries.

Personal Safety

Crime Rates

Contrary to common misconceptions, Uganda boasts a surprisingly low crime rate, especially when it comes to violent crimes against tourists. This can be attributed to several factors, including a strong cultural emphasis on hospitality, a visible police presence in tourist areas, and ongoing efforts by the government to promote safety and security.

Statistically, as reported by Numbeo, Uganda’s crime index is classified as “moderate and safe for tourists,” aligning with many other popular travel destinations worldwide. While petty theft remains a concern, primarily in crowded urban centers, instances of violent crimes against tourists are extremely rare.

Many seasoned travelers, like Paul Theroux (Dark Star Safari), have noted the warmth and friendliness of the Ugandan people and have shared positive experiences regarding safety in the country.

To put your mind at ease, consider this: the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory for Uganda indicates that petty theft, such as pickpocketing or bag snatching, is the most common crime affecting tourists. These incidents are typically opportunistic and can be easily avoided by remaining vigilant and taking sensible precautions.

It’s worth noting that the countryside and rural areas of Uganda are generally considered even safer than urban centers, with a lower incidence of crime and a stronger sense of community. Travelers venturing beyond the cities often find themselves welcomed with open arms and experience a truly authentic and secure Uganda Safari.

Safety for Solo Travelers

Uganda is a welcoming and hospitable destination for solo travelers, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals. While it’s always recommended to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, solo travelers generally report feeling safe and secure while exploring the country.

The warm and friendly nature of Ugandan people contributes to a welcoming atmosphere, and locals are often eager to assist and interact with solo travelers and backpackers. The tourism industry in Uganda is well-developed, with numerous tour operators and accommodations catering to solo travelers, offering guided tours, group activities, and safe transportation options.

Women traveling alone may encounter some cultural differences, but by dressing modestly and respecting local customs, they can easily navigate any potential challenges. LGBTQ+ travelers should be aware that Uganda has conservative social norms regarding same-sex relationships, and discretion is advised to avoid any unwanted attention or misunderstandings.

Recommended for you: Traveling Solo in Uganda: How to explore Uganda alone.

Scams

While scams can occur anywhere, Uganda has relatively few scams specifically targeting tourists. However, it’s wise to be cautious and aware of potential pitfalls. Some common scams include:

  • Overpriced taxis or boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis): Always agree on a fare beforehand or use metered taxis.
  • Fake guides or tour operators: Research and book tours with reputable companies to avoid being overcharged or misled.
  • Gem scams: Be wary of offers to buy gemstones or other precious items at suspiciously low prices, as these are often fake or overpriced.

By being aware of these potential scams and using common sense, you can easily avoid falling victim to them. Trust your instincts, and don’t hesitate to walk away from any situation that feels suspicious or uncomfortable.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Understanding and respecting local customs and etiquette is crucial for a smooth and enjoyable experience in Uganda. Ugandans are known for their warmth and hospitality, but certain cultural norms should be observed to avoid offending locals or inadvertently putting yourself at risk.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress modestly: Uganda is a conservative country, and dressing modestly is a sign of respect. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, especially in rural areas or religious sites.
  • Greetings: Greet people with a handshake and a smile. It’s considered polite to inquire about their well-being before discussing other matters.
  • Public displays of affection: Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon. Avoid excessive physical contact in public, especially between male & female couples.
  • Photography: Always ask permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas. Some locals may expect a small fee for being photographed.
  • Religious customs: Be respectful of religious customs and practices.  Avoid entering mosques or churches wearing revealing clothing or shoes.
  • Bargaining: Bargaining is common in markets and shops, but do so respectfully and with a smile.
  • Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory, but it’s customary to tip guides, drivers, and porters for good service.

By familiarizing yourself with these cultural norms and demonstrating respect for local traditions, you will not only enhance your travel experience but also foster positive interactions with the Ugandan people.

Political Stability

“You’re fifty times more likely to be killed by a terrorist attack in London or New York than when in Uganda. And, there’s no civil war in Uganda; there hasn’t been civil war since the ’80s.”

Uganda has enjoyed relative political stability in recent years, with no major conflicts or unrest that would directly impact tourists. The government has prioritized tourism as a key sector for economic growth and has implemented measures to ensure the safety and security of visitors.

However, it’s important to be aware of the political landscape and any potential developments that could affect travel. It’s advisable to stay informed about current events through reliable news sources and government travel advisories.

While protests and demonstrations can occur from time to time, they are usually localized and rarely pose a threat to tourists.  By avoiding large gatherings and staying informed about potential disruptions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Transportation Safety

Uganda offers various transportation options for getting around, each with its own considerations for safety:

Domestic Flights: Domestic flights are the safest and most efficient way to travel long distances within Uganda. Reputable airlines operate regular flights between major cities and tourist destinations.

Buses: Buses are a popular and affordable option for intercity travel. Opt for established bus companies with well-maintained vehicles and experienced drivers. Avoid overnight buses, as they may be more prone to accidents.

Matatus (Minibuses): Matatus are shared minibuses that operate on fixed routes within cities and towns. While convenient and inexpensive, they can be overcrowded and may not adhere to strict safety standards. Use caution and choose matatus that appear well-maintained and driven responsibly.

Taxis: Taxis are readily available in major cities and tourist areas. Always negotiate a fare beforehand or use metered taxis to avoid overcharging. For added safety, choose reputable taxi companies or apps.

Boda-bodas (Motorcycle Taxis): Boda-bodas are a common mode of transportation in Uganda, especially for short distances. While convenient, they can be risky due to reckless driving and lack of safety gear. If using a boda-boda, insist on wearing a helmet and choose drivers who appear experienced and cautious.

Car Rentals: Renting a car is an option for independent travelers, but be aware of challenging road conditions, especially in rural areas. Driving at night is not recommended due to poor visibility and potential hazards.  If renting a car, choose a reputable company with well-maintained vehicles and comprehensive insurance coverage.

By considering these factors and choosing transportation options wisely, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey throughout Uganda.

Health and Medical Safety in Uganda

Before embarking on your Uganda tour adventure, it’s crucial to prioritize your health and well-being by ensuring you have the necessary vaccinations and medications. Consulting with your doctor or a travel health clinic well in advance of your trip is highly recommended to discuss your individual health needs and determine the most appropriate vaccinations for you.

Required Vaccinations

The only mandatory vaccination for entry into Uganda is Yellow Fever, which is required for all travelers over the age of one. Proof of vaccination must be presented upon arrival in the form of a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate.  It’s recommended to get vaccinated at least 10 days before your trip to ensure full protection.

Recommended Vaccinations

In addition to Yellow Fever, several other vaccinations are strongly recommended for travelers to Uganda to protect against various diseases prevalent in the region:

  • Routine Vaccinations: Ensure your routine vaccinations, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP), polio, and influenza, are up-to-date.
  • Hepatitis A: This vaccine protects against a liver infection transmitted through contaminated food and water.
  • Typhoid: Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection also spread through contaminated food and water.
  • Hepatitis B: This vaccine protects against another type of liver infection, transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. It’s especially recommended for those planning extended stays or engaging in activities with potential exposure to blood.
  • Rabies: Rabies is a viral infection transmitted through animal bites. It’s recommended for travelers who may come into contact with animals or plan to engage in outdoor activities.

Malaria Prophylaxis

Malaria is a risk in Uganda, so taking anti-malarial medication is crucial.  Consult with your doctor to determine the most suitable medication for you based on your individual health history and itinerary.  It’s important to start taking the medication before, during, and after your trip as directed by your doctor.

By following these vaccination and medication guidelines, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting preventable diseases and ensure a healthy and enjoyable trip to Uganda.  Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health while traveling.

Food and Water Safety

Uganda offers a vibrant culinary scene, from flavorful street food to upscale dining experiences. While indulging in the local cuisine is part of the adventure, ensuring food and water safety is paramount to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Water

Generally, it’s advisable to stick to bottled water while in Uganda. Bottled water is readily available throughout the country, even in remote areas, and is relatively inexpensive.  Major brands like Rwenzori and Aquafina are considered safe and reliable.

Tap water in Uganda is often treated but may not always meet international standards for drinking water.  While some locals drink tap water without any issues, travelers are encouraged to err on the side of caution and opt for bottled water to minimize the risk of stomach upset or waterborne illnesses.

If bottled water is not available, boiling water for at least one minute or using a water purification system with a filter capable of removing bacteria and viruses can make tap water safe to drink.

Food

Ugandan cuisine is diverse and delicious, with influences from various cultures. While most restaurants and food establishments adhere to hygiene standards, it’s wise to exercise caution when eating out, especially at street food stalls or informal eateries.

Choose restaurants and vendors that appear clean and well-maintained. Opt for cooked foods that are served hot, and avoid raw or undercooked meats and seafood. Salads and fruits should be washed with bottled or purified water before consumption.

If you’re unsure about the safety of a particular food or establishment, it’s best to err on the side of caution and choose something else.  Don’t hesitate to ask your guide or accommodation staff for recommendations on safe and reputable places to eat.

Medical Facilities

While traveling to Uganda, rest assured that you’ll find adequate medical facilities and healthcare options available to address any health concerns that may arise.

Urban Areas

Major cities like Kampala boast a range of well-equipped hospitals and clinics with qualified doctors and specialists. These facilities offer a wide array of medical services, including emergency care, diagnostics, surgeries, and specialized treatments. Many of these hospitals have international accreditation and adhere to international standards of care.

International Hospitals in Kampala:

  • International Hospital Kampala (IHK): A leading healthcare provider offering comprehensive medical services, including 24/7 emergency care, specialized clinics, and advanced diagnostic facilities.
  • Nakasero Hospital: A renowned private hospital with a reputation for excellence in medical care.  It provides a wide range of services, from general consultations to specialized treatments.
  • The Aga Khan University Hospital: This modern facility offers tertiary care services and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a team of experienced specialists.

Rural Areas:

While medical facilities in rural areas may be more basic, they still provide essential healthcare services. Government-run health centers and private clinics are available in most towns and villages, offering primary care, vaccinations, and basic treatments. In case of serious emergencies, referral to larger hospitals in urban areas is possible.

Additional Resources:

  • Flying Doctors: This air ambulance service provides emergency medical evacuations and transfers to specialized facilities within Uganda and neighboring countries.
  • AMREF Flying Doctors: Another reputable air ambulance service offering medical evacuations and critical care services.
  • International SOS: A global medical and security assistance company with a presence in Uganda, providing 24/7 medical advice, assistance with finding medical facilities, and emergency evacuations.

Travel Insurance

It’s highly recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuations. This will ensure that you have access to quality healthcare and financial protection in case of unexpected medical situations.

By being aware of the available medical facilities and resources, you can travel with confidence, knowing that you’ll have access to appropriate healthcare if needed. Remember, it’s always better to be prepared and have a plan in place to ensure your health and safety while exploring the wonders of Uganda.

Current Health Advisories and Outbreaks in Uganda

While Uganda is a vibrant and welcoming destination, it’s important to stay informed about current health advisories and potential outbreaks to ensure a safe and healthy trip.  Before embarking on your journey, consult with your doctor or a travel health clinic to get personalized advice based on your health history and itinerary.

COVID-19

As of May 2024, Uganda has relaxed most of its COVID-19 travel restrictions.  However, it’s still recommended to check the latest travel advisories from your home country and the Ugandan Ministry of Health for any updates on entry requirements, testing, or quarantine measures.

Other Health Concerns

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide regular updates on health advisories for Uganda. Currently, travelers should be aware of the following:

  • Polio: Uganda has experienced outbreaks of polio in recent years. Ensure you are up-to-date on your polio vaccination before traveling.
  • Ebola: While there are no active Ebola outbreaks in Uganda at the moment, the country has experienced outbreaks in the past. Stay informed about any potential resurgence of the virus and follow recommended precautions.
  • Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF): This tick-borne disease is present in Uganda, and cases have been reported in humans. Take precautions against tick bites by wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.
  • Other diseases: Be aware of other diseases that are present in Uganda, such as malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya, and Rift Valley fever. Take preventive measures like using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and sleeping under mosquito nets to minimize your risk.

Staying Informed

It’s crucial to stay updated on the latest health advisories and outbreaks in Uganda before and during your trip. Check official sources like the CDC, WHO, and the Ugandan Ministry of Health websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, you can protect yourself from potential health risks and ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Uganda. Remember, your health is a top priority, so don’t hesitate to seek medical advice or assistance if you experience any health concerns during your travels.

Natural Disaster and Environmental Safety in Uganda

Uganda, with its diverse landscapes and varying climates, faces certain natural disaster and environmental risks that travelers should be aware of.  However, by understanding these potential hazards and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Earthquakes

Uganda is located in a seismically active region, and earthquakes can occur, although they are relatively infrequent and typically minor. Most tremors are so slight that they are only noticeable on seismographs, and locals often joke that they are just the “earth adjusting itself.” While larger earthquakes have been recorded in the past, the most recent significant one occurred in 2008 and caused minimal damage. As a traveler, you can rest assured that earthquakes are not a major safety concern in Uganda.

Flooding

During the rainy seasons (March-May and September-November), certain areas of Uganda, particularly low-lying regions and those near rivers, are prone to flooding. It’s advisable to check weather forecasts and avoid traveling to flood-prone areas during these periods.

Landslides

While landslides can occur in the mountainous regions of Uganda, particularly during heavy rainfall, the most devastating landslides have historically been concentrated in the Bududa district, which is not a typical tourist destination. Travelers visiting other popular areas like the Rwenzori Mountains can rest assured that landslides are not a significant safety concern, provided they follow safety guidelines and heed any warnings issued by local authorities.

Droughts

Uganda occasionally experiences droughts, mainly affecting the arid northern region of Karamoja. Although Kidepo Valley National Park is located here, the region is not a major tourist hub, and the impact of droughts on travelers is minimal. However, it’s important to be mindful of water conservation efforts and avoid activities that could contribute to environmental stress.

Environmental Hazards

Air pollution can be a concern in urban areas, particularly Kampala, due to vehicle emissions and industrial activity. If you are sensitive to air pollution, consider wearing a mask in crowded areas and limiting outdoor activities during peak traffic times.

By staying informed about weather conditions, following safety guidelines, and respecting the environment, you can minimize any potential risks associated with natural disasters and environmental hazards in Uganda.

Other Safety Concerns

Road Safety

While Uganda’s road network has seen significant improvements in recent years, road safety remains a concern for both locals and visitors. According to the World Health Organization, Uganda has one of the highest rates of road traffic fatalities in Africa. However, by understanding the challenges and taking necessary precautions, you can navigate Uganda’s roads safely and confidently.

Challenges:

  • Road Conditions: While major highways are generally well-maintained, many rural roads are unpaved and can become treacherous during the rainy season. Potholes, narrow roads, and lack of road markings can pose challenges for drivers.
  • Driving Habits: Aggressive driving, speeding, and overtaking on blind corners are common practices among some Ugandan drivers, contributing to the high accident rate.
  • Pedestrian Safety: Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable, as sidewalks are often lacking, and drivers may not yield to pedestrians at crossings.
  • Livestock and Wildlife: In rural areas, livestock and wildlife often roam freely on roads, posing a risk of collisions, especially at night.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Some vehicles, particularly older ones and public transport vehicles like matatus, may not be well-maintained, increasing the risk of breakdowns and accidents.

Precautions:

If possible, opt for reputable tour operators or private transportation services with experienced drivers and well-maintained vehicles.  If you choose to drive yourself, be extra vigilant and anticipate the actions of other drivers. Maintain a safe following distance, avoid speeding, and be cautious when overtaking.

Wildlife Safety

Uganda’s rich biodiversity and diverse wildlife are a major draw for tourists from around the world. From trekking with mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to spotting elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda offers safe and guided opportunities for close encounters with some of the planet’s most magnificent creatures. Rest assured, with responsible tourism practices and knowledgeable guides, your wildlife encounters in Uganda can be both thrilling and secure.

Uganda’s commitment to conservation and eco-tourism has led to well-established safety protocols for wildlife viewing. National parks and reserves are meticulously managed, with trained rangers and guides who prioritize both visitor safety and animal welfare. Stringent rules are in place to ensure minimal human impact on wildlife habitats and to maintain a safe distance between visitors and animals.

Reputable tour operators play a crucial role in maintaining safety standards. They employ experienced guides who are well-versed in animal behavior, ensuring that encounters are conducted responsibly and respectfully. These guides are equipped with knowledge and expertise to handle any unexpected situations, prioritizing the safety of both visitors and wildlife.

The animals themselves have also been habituated to human presence through careful and gradual exposure. This means that they are less likely to feel threatened or agitated by visitors, reducing the risk of any aggressive behavior.

It’s important to note that Uganda has a remarkable safety record when it comes to wildlife encounters. There have been no reported incidents of serious injuries or fatalities resulting from wildlife interactions in recent years. This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the safety measures in place and the commitment of tour operators to responsible tourism practices.

While wildlife encounters inherently carry a degree of risk, you can confidently explore Uganda’s natural wonders, knowing that your safety is paramount. By choosing reputable tour operators, following park rules, and listening to your guide’s instructions, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Uganda’s wildlife without any worries.

Safety for Specific Activities

Uganda’s diverse landscapes and thrilling activities offer a playground for adventurers of all kinds. Whether you’re dreaming of trekking through mist-shrouded mountains or rafting down exhilarating rivers, rest assured that safety is a top priority for Uganda’s tourism industry.

Mountain Climbing/Trekking

Conquering Uganda’s peaks, whether it’s scaling majestic mountains or trekking through dense forests to encounter gorillas, is a rewarding experience. And rest assured, safety measures are in place to ensure your journey is both challenging and secure.

Gorilla Trekking

Uganda is one of the few places on Earth where you can trek through lush rainforests to observe endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. This extraordinary experience is carefully managed to protect both the gorillas and the trekkers. Permits are limited, and groups are kept small to minimize disturbance to the gorillas.

Experienced guides lead each gorilla trek, providing detailed briefings on gorilla behavior and safety protocols. They are equipped with communication devices to stay in touch with park rangers and ensure assistance is readily available if needed. The trails are well-maintained, and trackers are often sent ahead to locate the gorilla families, minimizing the trekking time and ensuring a smooth experience.

Here’s detailed information on how safe gorilla trekking is in Uganda.

Mountain Climbing

For those seeking to summit Uganda’s majestic peaks like Mount Rwenzori or Mount Elgon, it’s crucial to choose reputable tour operators who prioritize safety and employ experienced guides. These guides will not only lead you through challenging terrains but also ensure you have the necessary equipment and acclimatization procedures in place to prevent altitude sickness. The trails themselves are well-maintained, with clear signage and designated campsites. Rescue teams are on standby in case of emergencies, and communication systems are in place to ensure prompt assistance if needed.

By prioritizing safety and choosing reputable operators, you can confidently embark on your Ugandan adventure, knowing that you are in capable hands. Rest assured that the country’s tourism industry is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, allowing you to focus on creating unforgettable memories in this stunning East African gem.

Water Activities

Uganda’s waterways offer a refreshing escape for kayaking, rafting, and boat enthusiasts. Safety is paramount for these activities, with licensed operators adhering to strict safety protocols. Life jackets are mandatory, and guides undergo rigorous training in water rescue techniques. Regular inspections of equipment and adherence to weather advisories ensure that water activities are conducted with minimal risk.

Adventure Sports

For adrenaline junkies, Uganda offers a range of adventure sports, from quad biking to bungee jumping. Operators in this sector prioritize safety by using certified equipment, conducting regular inspections, and employing trained staff who adhere to international safety standards. Safety briefings are mandatory before each activity, and participants are equipped with appropriate safety gear.

By prioritizing safety and choosing reputable operators, you can confidently embark on your Uganda safari adventure, knowing that you are in capable hands.  Rest assured that the country’s tourism industry is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors, allowing you to focus on creating unforgettable memories in this stunning East African gem.

Safety Tips and Advice for Travelers in Uganda

To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Uganda, here are some practical tips and advice:

  1. Be Prepared: Research your destination thoroughly, including local customs, potential risks, and safety precautions. Inform friends or family of your itinerary and keep them updated on your whereabouts.
  2. Stay Informed: Check travel advisories from your government and reputable sources for any updates on safety or security concerns in Uganda.
  3. Secure Your Belongings: Keep valuables in a secure location, such as a hotel safe, and avoid displaying expensive items like jewelry or electronics. Be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas and use a money belt or hidden pouch to carry cash and important documents.
  4. Choose Accommodations Wisely: Opt for reputable hotels, lodges, or guesthouses with good security measures, such as locked gates, 24-hour security personnel, and well-lit surroundings.
  5. Use Reliable Transportation: Utilize licensed taxis, reputable tour operators, or well-maintained buses for transportation. Avoid traveling alone at night, especially in rural areas, and consider using ride-sharing apps for added safety in urban areas.
  6. Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, remove yourself from it. Trust your gut feeling, and don’t hesitate to seek help from local authorities or your accommodation provider.
  7. Learn Basic Phrases: Knowing a few basic phrases in the local language can be helpful in communicating with locals and seeking assistance if needed.
  8. Respect Local Customs: Dress modestly, especially in rural areas and religious sites. Greet people with a handshake and inquire about their well-being. Avoid public displays of affection and be mindful of cultural sensitivities.
  9. Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Stick to bottled water and avoid consuming raw or undercooked foods to prevent foodborne illnesses.
  10. Purchase Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance is essential for covering unexpected events like medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage.

By following these tips and using common sense, you can significantly enhance your safety and ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Uganda.  Remember, Uganda is a welcoming and hospitable country, and by respecting local customs and taking sensible precautions, you can experience what one of the most beautiful destinations in Africa has to offer without any worries.

Emergency Contacts

In the unlikely event of an emergency during your travels in Uganda, it’s crucial to know who to contact and how to get help quickly.  Here are the essential emergency contacts to keep handy:

Police:

  • National Emergency Number: 999 or 112
  • Tourist Police: The Uganda Police Force has a dedicated Tourist Police unit that can assist visitors with safety concerns and reporting incidents. Call +256 717 777070 or visit the nearest police station or online police resource.

Medical Emergencies:

  • Ambulance Services: While Uganda’s ambulance services are still developing, several private companies offer ambulance services in major cities. Inquire with your accommodation or tour operator for reliable contacts.
    • AAR +256 725-225-225 or +25620-2717374/5/6
    • City Ambulance 0800 111 222
    • C-Care +256 772 200400
    • Rapid Rescue +256 776 866879 / 741 566364
    • KCCA 0800299000
  • Hospitals and Clinics: Major cities like Kampala have modern hospitals and clinics with qualified doctors and specialists.  In rural areas, medical facilities may be limited, but basic healthcare is usually available.
    • Case Medical Centre: +256 414 255 200
    • Nakasero Hospital: +256 414 343 500
    • International Hospital Kampala (IHK): +256 312 260 000
  • Travel Insurance: It’s highly recommended to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuation.  Consider these reputable international providers that cover Uganda:
    • World Nomads: Offers flexible travel insurance plans with coverage for various activities and destinations.
    • Allianz Travel Insurance: Provides comprehensive travel insurance with options for single trips or annual coverage.

Other Essential Contacts

  • Your Embassy or Consulate: In case of a serious emergency or crisis, contact your embassy or consulate in Uganda for assistance. In case of a serious emergency or crisis, contact your embassy or consulate in Uganda for assistance. They can provide support and guidance in various situations. Some important contacts include:
    • United States Embassy in Kampala: +256 414 306 001
    • British High Commission in Kampala: +256 312 257 000
    • Canadian High Commission in Kampala: +256 312 262 500
    • French Embassy in Kampala: +256 312 210 300
    • German Embassy in Kampala: +256 312 211 300
    • Netherlands Embassy in Kampala: +256 200 346 000
  • Accommodation Provider: Inform your hotel or lodge staff of any emergency and seek their assistance. They can often provide local contacts and resources.
  • Tour Operator: If you are traveling with a tour operator, like Nkuringo Safaris +256 702 805580, contact them immediately for assistance in any emergency situation.

By having these emergency contacts readily available, you can ensure that help is just a phone call away in case of any unforeseen events during your travels in Uganda. Remember, it’s always better to be prepared and have these numbers on hand, even if you don’t end up needing them.

Local Laws and Regulations

While Uganda is a welcoming and hospitable destination, it’s important to be aware of the local laws and regulations to ensure a smooth and trouble-free trip. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:

Visa Requirements

Most visitors to Uganda require a visa, which can be obtained online before arrival. You cannot get a visa upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport. Ensure your passport has at least six months of validity remaining and enough blank pages for entry and exit stamps.

Currency Exchange and Regulations

Uganda’s official currency is the Ugandan Shilling (UGX). It’s advisable to exchange currency at authorized banks or foreign exchange bureaus. Be aware that exchanging money on the street or with unlicensed vendors is illegal and could result in scams or counterfeit notes.

Read this and more basic facts about Uganda.

Photography and Filming

Always seek permission before photographing individuals, especially in rural areas or cultural settings. A smile and a polite request can go a long way in establishing rapport and avoiding misunderstandings. Some locals may expect a small fee for being photographed, so be prepared to negotiate and offer compensation if requested.

Be mindful of cultural sensitivities and avoid photographing people in vulnerable situations or without their consent. Additionally, refrain from capturing images of military installations, government buildings, or other sensitive locations.

Uganda has strict regulations regarding drone usage. Before flying a drone, you must obtain a permit from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA). The permit application process can take time, so plan accordingly. There are also specific no-fly zones, including airports, military installations, and national parks. Always fly your drone responsibly, respecting the privacy and safety of others.

Drug Laws

Uganda has strict drug laws, and possession or use of illegal drugs can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment. Avoid any involvement with drugs, and be aware that even prescription medications from your home country may be illegal in Uganda.

LGBTQ+ Rights

For LGBTQ travelers? Ugandans don’t police homosexuality; they are the most hospitable people (according to Expat Insider). Away from bigoted laws, politicians, and hyped media, Ugandans are private people in matters of sexuality. They don’t discuss or attack anyone who respects their rooted cultures. Besides, Africa is the cradle of humanity and culture; we are yet to understand and adopt the Western world’s new ways. Come and enjoy Uganda’s wildlife, peoples, and cultures, but don’t preach or promote your sexual rights (so the new law says).

Uganda has conservative social norms regarding same-sex relationships, and homosexuality is illegal. While discreet same-sex couples are unlikely to face issues, public displays of affection are not advisable. Exercise caution and be aware of local attitudes to avoid any unwanted attention or misunderstandings.

Wildlife and Environmental Protection

Uganda has strict laws protecting its wildlife and natural resources.  It’s illegal to purchase or possess wildlife products, such as ivory or animal skins.  Avoid participating in activities that exploit or harm animals, such as hunting or captive animal interactions.

Other Regulations

Be aware of other local regulations, such as restrictions on drone usage, import and export restrictions, and rules regarding public behavior. It’s advisable to research specific regulations that may apply to your activities and interests.

By being aware of and respecting local laws and regulations, you can avoid any legal issues and ensure a positive and respectful experience during your visit to Uganda. If you have any questions or concerns, consult your embassy, consulate, tour operator, or local authorities for guidance.

Infographic about how to stay safe while visiting Uganda

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Is Uganda Safe For Tourists in 2024?
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