Tips for self Driving Safari holiday in Uganda

A self-driving holiday is one of the most economical and satisfying ways to see the sights and meet the people of Uganda. Self-Drive Uganda is a highly flexible way of discovering and exploring the country’s awesome wildlife and scenery, giving you the freedom to make your own plans and itineraries and change and adjust them at short notice and at will. Considering what is all involved, a first time visitor might feel overwhelmed and have second thoughts, thinking that a Self-drive Uganda might be lot of effort and stress.

But if you’ve ever contemplated such a trip you’ve probably had a hundred questions and concerns. What are the roads like? What type of vehicle do I need? Is it safe? When is the best time to go?

In this article Self-drive Uganda answers those questions, and shares her tips on how to make self-driving in Uganda as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.

The basics

Most roads in Uganda are tarmacked and well-marked, Road signs are in English, but be aware of ‘adventurous roads’ these roads are mostly gravel and deteriorated and conditions can be hazardous at times in and around the Queen national park  more especially the ishasha sector and Bwindi impenetrable forests for famous mountain gorillas. Often these roads will take you to the most breathtaking destinations and is often worth the extra effort.

Road rules

Uganda drive on the left side of the road. When driving on a double-lane highway, slower vehicles should stay in the left lane unless overtaking a slower vehicle, which the right lane is used for. Always use your indicators when changing lanes.

Do not drink and drive, rather use a taxi service.Drive defensively: local minibus taxis often they do not adhere to traffic rules, so you must be careful and patient around them. Be aware of pedestrians, cyclists and animals use the roads in Uganda. In many public parking spaces, self-appointed “car guards” will try to help you park or offer to safeguard your car. You do not have to pay them, but it doesn’t hurt.


Choose the largest vehicle you can afford. Budget-class vehicles often do not have airbags or power steering, while a larger vehicle is a better option for long distances. Air conditioning and high road clearance will make driving more comfortable, especially on gravel roads. vehicles are both manual and automatic transmission, depending on which one you prefer to use. the best choices for an extended road trips are 4×4 WD with option of rooftop tents on Toyota Land cruiser, Nissan patrol or SUV Toyota Rav4 offer better shock absorption, better game viewing because of high seats, and more space for luggage and people.

Fuel and service stations

Petrol stations are located nearly everywhere and Most of them are open until late at night or even 24 hrs a day along the national highways and main roads ,  the most common brand names of fuel sold in Uganda include Shell, Engen, Caltex, Total, Kobil, which have shops, restaurants and bathrooms. In Uganda petrol stations are “full service,” meaning an attendant pumps your gas, and you are expected to offer a small tip Have them check the tires and pressure after driving on gravel roads, and periodically top up the oil and water levels. In Uganda fuel may only be purchased for cash, credit cards and cheques are not accepted. Most of the larger fuel stations however, have ATM’s on their site, from which you can draw the cash needed. But, to be on the safe side, ensure that you have sufficient cash for petrol when you are on the road.


The key to a safe and enjoyable holiday is good preparation and confidence in learned safety skills. Every country has its own particular hazards and before you go you need to be aware of what potential hazards there are on this type of trip.Please feel free to discuss with us all aspects of risk and safety at any time before you encounter Ugandan roads, call a member of our team. We can offer some driving tips to improve your driving and help you to get the most out of your trip

Keeping your lights on will increase your visibility to other road users, especially on dusty roads. Lock your doors when driving, and always after parking the car. Try not to drive at night, especially in rural areas where animals and pedestrians might not be clearly visible. To prevent smash-and-grab incidents:  when driving in urban areas and approaching a junction, be sure not to leave handbags or mobile phones in plain sight. Stow under your seat or put it away. Do not stop at an accident scene unless you are involved, and do not pick up hitchhikers. Your rental car should have an emergency number on the key holder.

Distance and speed

Don’t underestimate the distances in Uganda. It is a huge country  Kampala and Bwindi impenetrable forests and Mgahinga national parks for mountain gorillas are over 500km apart, and it takes at least 8 hours to drive in between them. The speed limit on highways is 120km/h and 60km/h in towns. On the major highways, you can cover over 700km if you drive for six hours per day. Obviously you will go slower if the road surface is poor. The most spectacular views should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace,  Traveling on rural roads, you will have to allow extra time for driving on gravel and be on the watch for stray animal

A few rough estimates of driving times in Uganda

Kampala to Bwindi impenetrable forests is 473.0 km and takes 8 hours.

Kampala to Queen Elizabeth national park is  372 km and takes 6 hours.

Kampala to Kibale national park is 293 km  and takes about 5 hours.

Kampala to kidepo national park is 422.45 km and takes 7 hours.

Travel Health

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Global travel on this scale exposes many people to a range of health risks. International travellers should always be extra concerned about their health and safety, as every region and country around the world has its own risks, customs and level of health care. However, whatever your age or destination, properly preparing before you leave, and staying in good health while traveling, can help you have a happy and enjoyable trip.

At self drive Uganda we do our best to provide our clients with the most accurate and up-to-date travel health information for the region you will be visiting.  Some essential information on travel health risks and preventive measures are provided in the website links below. Finally it is important that you get advice from your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic before traveling. Keep you and your loved ones healthy during your travels.


A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document, and it proves that you have a right to return to your country. You are strongly advised to always carry a valid passport when travelling to any foreign destination. Crossing international borders can be complicated and sometimes requires many different kinds of documents. Being prepared is the key to easing your way through this process, so make sure you know what documents you need, where to get them, and which ones will make your crossing quick and easy.