Read anything about the many wonders of Uganda, including gorilla trekking tours and epic safaris, and you’ll be adding the country to the top of your bucket list. Safety is a concern for many first-time visitors to the region, although it really shouldn’t be. Here we answer the major concerns people have when asking is it safe to travel to Uganda, so that you can book your trip with nothing but confidence!
A little background is a great way of realizing just how safe it is to travel to Uganda.
Uganda is one of Africa’s most peaceful and stable nations and has been for an entire generation. Thousands of international tourists visit the country each year without incident in order to experience the thrill of gorilla trekking alongside traditional vehicular safaris.
Like all countries, crime does occur. However, foreigners and international visitors are rarely deliberately targeted. You’re far more likely to be welcomed to the country by beaming locals than face any sort of petty crime.
Is it Safe to Travel to Uganda’s National Parks?
Uganda’s 10 national parks are arguably the safest destinations in the country. Because of the well-trained staff and rangers, you would have to be very unlucky to be attacked by any of the wild animals that they protect. At the same time, their isolated nature, away from large towns and cities, means there’s little risk of being mugged or seeing personal items stolen.
As long as visitors follow standard safety tips, such as not leaving personal items unattended in rooms or camps, there’s a minimal risk of being the victim of a crime while in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo Valley or any of Uganda’s other seven national parks.
Are Ugandan Cities such as Kampala Safe?
Big cities including the capital of Kampala are also generally safe for travelers to visit. Although there are areas that should be avoided, they are far from tourist attractions such as the Uganda Museum or Kasubi Tombs. It’s therefore relatively easy to stay safe in big cities, especially when you’re traveling using a reputable tour and travel company such as Home To Africa.
It’s generally advised to avoid demonstrating signs of potential wealth, such as wearing jewelry or making use of smartphones or other electronic devices in public places. You should also be careful to avoid showing large amounts of cash when paying for things.
When heading out after dark, such as to a restaurant for an evening meal, it is always best to use a private vehicle or taxi rather than walk. Most major hotels will have a list of trustworthy taxi drivers, and will also be able to tell you the approximate price of any journey. You may find taxis waiting in hotel car parks, although you should avoid hailing vehicles from the side of the road.
In addition, you should avoid getting involved with political rallies and demonstrations, which on rare occasions can turn violent.
Is it Safe to Travel to Uganda’s Countryside?
Visiting the Ugandan countryside is one of the best ways of experiencing the country at its most authentic. But is it safe to travel to Uganda’s countryside?
For the most part, yes, it is. Even outside of Uganda’s safari destinations and national parks, the small villages which dot the countryside are usually incredibly safe, with residents caring deeply about the safety and security of those from outside of their communities.
Road conditions can be an issue, with roads deep in the countryside lacking maintenance and improvement. Often use of these roads can be exchanged for short internal flights to the likes of Kidepo Valley National Park from Kampala. When they must be used, it’s important to have an experienced driver who won’t be tempted to drive at dangerous speeds.
Staying Healthy in Uganda
As a tropical, equatorial destination, malaria is a known health risk in Uganda. You should always speak to a home medical professional in good time before your departure on vacation. They will probably recommend several vaccinations as well as taking a prophylactic preventative regimen of pills to help protect against the risk of malaria, which is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitos.
Even so, it remains important to minimize mosquito bites. Most active at dawn and dusk, wearing long sleeved items of clothing form a physical barrier against bites, as does sleeping beneath a mosquito net during the night.
To avoid catching stomach bugs, you should ensure cooked foods are pipping hot. Only drink bottled mineral water or branded soft drinks, and avoid accepting ice in drinks unless you know this has been made with mineral water too.
Other foodstuffs to avoid are any fruits and vegetables which cannot be peeled. Stay away from fruits such as grapes, but feel free to tuck into others such as bananas, mangoes and oranges. Likewise, salads should be avoided, and replaced with cooked vegetables.
The Risk of Terrorism in Uganda
Finally, we ask whether it is safe to travel to Uganda while terrorism remains a factor around the world. Since the end of the Ugandan civil war in 1994, a full generation ago, Uganda has avoided suffering from any major terrorist attacks. Statistically, you are at greater risk in London or Paris than in Kampala or Queen Elizabeth National Park. And although multiple newspaper columns are devoted to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, designated a terrorist group by the United States government, visitors to Uganda have little to fear from the group given it is thought to be made up of just 100 members.
How to Stay Safe in Uganda
It can be difficult to find trustworthy advice and information on whether it is safe to travel to Uganda. That’s why it’s so important to use companies and organizations which not only operate in Uganda, but also call the country their home. That way you can be confident in planning your next trip to Uganda and forget any concerns you might have had about safety and security in the country!