Is it safe to travel to Uganda? In short, yes! But let’s delve a little deeper… At the end of the post, you will find an infographic full of tips to help you stay safe 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 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…
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.
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.
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. 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.
Health services are limited 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.