Revised: June 15, 2021
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 government lifted international travel restrictions on October 1, 2020, and the government has made a few travel adjustments since then (see Covid travel restrictions below). Inbound and outbound traffic at Entebbe International Airport and all borders across the country are open with some restrictions, as pointed out below. All the other East African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda) are also open with restrictive procedures. However, authorities at inbound and outbound points meticulously watch traffic and make adjustments as the situation requires.
We’re seeing people begin to book and take leisure trips across the world. Domestically, the government lifted the travel ban in August 2020 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, you can go gorilla trekking in both the gorilla reserves. UWA has always kept a watchful eye on the mountain gorillas and kept strict regulations to keep them safe from human diseases even before Coronavirus.
Uganda has previously been successful in suppressing the pandemic but the recent upsurge in infections and different COVID-19 strains have threatened the movement of human traffic especially around the capital city. The president addresses the nation on June 6, 2021, with new adjustments in covid restriction. Fortunately, tourism will continue. See statistics https://covid19.gou.go.ug/statistics.html
Basically (at the time of writing this):
With the exception of Rwanda-Uganda Border, all International borders and airports are still open to inbound and outbound traffic. All licensed tourist vehicles are allowed to travel within the country.
There are health screening procedures at airports and other entry ports, including compulsory wearing facemasks, hand-sanitization, temperature screening, and physical distancing. If found with Coronavirus symptoms, you’ll be isolated and taken to a designated hospital for treatment. The MoH Emergency Operations Center manages the COVID-19 response and can be reached through their hotline: (+256) 0800 203 033, 0800-100-066, or 0800-303-033.
As of May 1, the Government of Uganda recommends that all travelers from the USA and all Category 2 countries (see bellow) postpone any non-essential travel to Uganda.
All arriving passengers from category 1 & 2 countries will be subjected to a PCR COVID-19 test (at traveler’s expense) at all entry points, including Entebbe International Airport. Category 1—includes India. Category 2—includes the USA, UK, UAE, Turkey, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania. These travelers will have to wait for their results before proceeding to their final destination in Uganda. (Results can take 4-6 hours)
Travelers of countries in category 3—includes all not in categories 1 & 2— will not be subject to PCR tests but shall present an authentic and valid PCR COVID-19 diagnostic test certificate issued 72 hours before arriving in Uganda.
Individuals who have received full COVID-19 vaccinations and have no signs of any infection will be exempted from PCR tests at all entry points and allowed into Uganda. Such travelers will need to show valid evidence to that effect.
Outbound travelers must also 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 facility in Entebbe or Kampala before your flight at your cost ($30-$100). Check the MoH list of accredited laboratories to find one you can use.
Your driver or tour operator will have to ensure that you proceed directly to your place of stay and do not mix with crowds. There will be no requirement to self-isolate. Physical distancing, sanitization, and facemask are compulsory for keeping you healthy while traveling in Uganda. There’ll be no self-isolation for 14 Days.
National wide curfew is still in effect (2100 – 0500), but travelers to/from the airport will not be affected if they carry documents for travel proof. 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 are open for tourism, including the primates parks: Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, and Kibale National park. UWA SOPs are in effect to protect the wild primates from catching the Coronavirus.
Primates are easily susceptible to human diseases. So, it’s paramount that you should jealously protect them by adhering to the Uganda Wildlife Authority SOPs to keep our precious jewels free from the pandemic when you chose to visit the adorable mountain giants.
“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 simultaneously for the same activities. In contrast, 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 have been open since October 2020 and have not been closed since. 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 the 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 Uganda 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 the Covid-19 scourge on Africa safari vacations in Uganda and elsewhere globally, let’s delve deeper into the “Is Uganda safe to travel in 2021?” question 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 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 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.
The main safety areas of concern for an unfamiliar visitor would be:
The most significant international threat in Uganda is Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaida. These terror cells had 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 worldwide, has diminished these groups’ capabilities to conduct attacks.
Threats from regional terror organizations that pose a 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.
However, Uganda is considered a safe, secure, and politically stable country though you should remain vigilant to minimize the risk of attacks.
Like all other countries in the world, 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 do 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) attempt to deter crime has been increasingly successful with regular patrols and their forces’ placement 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, has had battles with the 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. The international community, civilian police, and Uganda Government have accomplished efforts 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.
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.
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.
And cities like Kampala, in this Coronavirus age, are a hot-bed 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. The Ugandan countryside is as peaceful as the bottom of the ocean.
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 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 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 street, 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 road conditions varying 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 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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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