IS UGANDA SAFE? | IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO UGANDA?

Is Uganda safe safari 2020-2021? Many travelers the world over ask themselves:- Is Uganda safe to visit?/Is Uganda safe to travel to?  Well, Uganda is a very safe and secure African safari destination and has enjoyed peace for the last 20 years from border to border. However as we all are aware of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, Uganda is no exception.

On 1st /October/2020, Uganda re-opened its international airport and all visitors are now permitted to enter the country.

Uganda has survived Coronavirus better than several countries around the world.  However, as you prepare to travel to Uganda, please be aware that COVID-19 has changed several things in our lives, including how you go on a safari.

If you are wondering, is Uganda safe to safari during the COVID-19 pandemic period? well, like elsewhere in the world, the are several coronavirus preventative standards, directives, and measures, that you should know before visiting Uganda. There are new requirements/Uganda COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (Uganda COVID-19 SOPs) for anyone planning to visit Uganda for your safe to travel to Uganda? These SOP’s include:-

  • All visitors are now permitted to enter the country with an authentic and valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test certificate dated not more than 72 hours before their date of arrival.
  • Visitors are required to wear quality N95 masks, surgical masks, or cloth masks with filters at all times while at the airport or any other point of entry to Uganda.
  • The social distancing of at least 2 meters/6 feet should be observed at the airport and other points of entry to Uganda.
  • All visitors will be subjected to temperature screening at all entry points using a non-contact infrared thermometer.
  • Visitors with a body temperature above 37.5℃ (99.5°F) or any symptoms of coronavirus will be referred to further management which may include testing.
  • If you test positive, you will be quarantined at your expense.
  • Visitors with a negative PCR test, body temperature below 37.5℃ (99.5°F), and who do not present any symptoms of COVID-19 will not be quarantined.
  • Tour operators and local partners will need to ensure that passengers from the Airport directly proceed to their place of stay and do not mix with Ugandans.
  • All visitors must wear a face mask at all times
  • Keeping a distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet) from other persons
  • Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.

Is Uganda safe for tourists? Well, besides the international dangers of COVID-19, It is generally safe to travel to Uganda especially if you are on a well-organized tour or safari. Uganda has the friendliest people in Africa who are ready and happy to welcome visitors to their country.

Many governments give advice to their citizens against traveling to some Uganda remote areas. Also, Uganda tour operators will not take you to those areas that are considered unsafe.

Please note that there are some minor crimes in the cities and towns as with many other countries. However, most of these issues can easily be avoided through basic safety precautions. Many travelers undertake tours to Uganda every year, and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free.

The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) attempt to deter crime has been increasingly successful with regular patrols and placement of their forces in strategic locations.

Police presence is evident everywhere with security at the airport, borders, and public areas.

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.

Is Uganda safe for travel?: Here are some tips that will help you stay safe during your safari in Uganda;

  1. Staying Safe in Cities and Towns of Uganda

As with the case all over the world, there is some risk of minor crimes like petty theft, and pick-pocketing in large cities and urban areas including Kampala, the capital city of Uganda which is considered one of the safest cities in Africa.

If, however, you are on guided activities within these towns you will be shielded from these issues. In case you’re unguided, normal safety precautions and common sense should keep you safe.

In case you want to walk around cities and towns in Uganda, you can easily avoid issues by observing a few simple safety precautions below;

  • Ask at your hotel if it is safe to walk around Kampala, it is always good to seek local advice on safety issues
  • While moving around towns, you are advised to weather a quality face mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • Avoid crowded places observe a social distance of at least 6 feet from other people
  • Leave any jewelry of financial or sentimental value at your hotel and only take the money you need with you.
  • Walking at night around large towns is reputedly safe, though it would be tempting fate to wander alone along unlit streets.
  • Avoid getting engaged with people approaching you in the street.
  • Be careful when drawing money from an ATM; go elsewhere if you suspect people hanging around.
  • Always lock your car doors and close windows when driving. If possible also avoid self-drive.
  • Avoid leaving you car unattended with valuables or luggage visible
  1. Staying safe during Game viewing in Uganda on your Uganda safari

Uganda is generally safe for game viewing. During your the game viewing activities in Uganda you will be accompanied by a professional guide who will ensure your safety on a guided Uganda safari tour.

Also, self-drive safaris in Uganda are safe as long as you follow the Uganda safari Park rules and regulations. Here are some of the general safety tips and guidelines to follow during game viewing;

  • Always follow your guide’s instructions and guidelines
  • Face masks shall be worn at all times and disposed of appropriately in accordance with the guidelines on the use of masks.
  • Always keep your voice down when close to animals
  • Always stay in the vehicle during game drives except at designated points where you are allowed to get out
  • Don’t stand up in the car, hang out of the window or sit on the roof
  • Don’t drive too close to animals if you are on a self-drive safari and back off if the animals seem disturbed
  • Don’t drive between elephants in a herd, especially females and they’re young
  • Stay together as a group close to your guide on a walking safari and always walk in single file
  • Never run or jog in a wildlife area as it entices predators to attack
  • Never walk between water and a hippo. It may panic and charge because its safety route to the water is blocked
  • Never leave food in your tent; it will attract wildlife
  • Cover your arms and legs in the evening and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes
  • Wear a hat, use sunscreen and drink plenty of water
  • Don’t wear bright and colorful clothes or too much perfume – especially on walking safaris
  • In tsetse-fly areas, it is recommended not to wear dark-colored clothing – such as black or dark blue – since it attracts these stinging flies
  • Bring warm clothes for morning game drives in open vehicles
  1. Safety precautions during gorilla trekking in Uganda

Gorilla trekking is one of the safest Uganda safari activities. There have been no dangerous incidents for the past many years. Visitors trek the gorillas with an experienced and armed ranger guide.

Gorillas in Uganda also see people every day and they have learned that people are no threat to them. They are very peaceful giants. Below are some tips for staying safe on a gorilla trekking tour.

  • Always keep the recommended distance of at least 10m.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the gorillas
  • Don’t make any sudden movements when you with gorillas
  • Always keep your voice low when you are with gorillas
  • Never block the path of gorillas when they are walking.
  • Don’t use a flash when taking pictures of the gorillas
  • Never take food or drink close to gorillas.
  • Ensure that your arms and legs are well covered to avoid nettle stings and use insect repellent to protect against mosquitoes (those containing DEET are most effective).
  • Wear a hat, use sunscreen, and drink plenty of water and others.
  • Wear sturdy hiking boots/shoes, waterproof clothing, and bring a waterproof backpack for your camera, binoculars, and other belongings. and so much more

 

      4. Healthy safety in Uganda: if you are wondering, is Uganda safe to travel health wise? here are the necessary health updates and tips/advice for you.

Coronavirus Situation in Uganda.

For the most recent statistics please visit the Uganda Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO)  webpage.

Malaria risk in Uganda.

  • Malaria is high risk in most areas of Uganda more especially during the rainy season apart from high altitude mountains over 2,000m. The Ugandan government has impressively managed these outbreaks over the years.
  • Great health services can be limited in the areas you are traveling to (especially in remote countryside’s) and you’re advised to travel with your own supplies of prescription and preventive medicine or doctor’s note describing the medication.
  • Most Uganda large towns have private hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies with doctors who generally speak good English.
  • Consultation fees and laboratory tests are inexpensive. Commonly required medicines such as broad-spectrum antibiotics, painkillers, asthma inhalers, and various antimalarial treatments are widely available over the country.

How to avoid insect bites in Uganda?

  • As the sun is going down, wear long clothes, and apply insect repellent.
  • Pack a DEET-based insect repellent – ideally around 50% (roll-ons or sticks are the least messy preparations for traveling) for use on all exposed skin and even some unexposed areas such as under your socks.
  • You should apply insect repellent after sunscreen, ideally after a 20-minute interval.
  • You also need either a permethrin-impregnated bed net or a permethrin spray so that you can ‘treat’ bed nets in hotels.
  • Permethrin treatment makes even very tatty nets protective and prevents mosquitoes from biting through the impregnated net when you roll against it; it also deters other biters.
  • For those who are allergic to DEET, then 20% Icariin (Picaridin) is a good substitute.
  • Natural repellents containing PMD, eg: Incognito, can be used but are equivalent to about 15% DEET and therefore need to be reapplied every 1–2 hours.
  • Mosquitoes and many other insects are attracted to light. If you are camping, never put a lamp near the opening of your tent, or you will have a swarm of biters waiting to join you when you retire.
  • In hotel rooms, be aware that the longer your light is on, the greater the number of insects will be sharing your accommodation.

Is it safe to drink water in Uganda?

  • Is Uganda water safe to drink during my safari? You can get sick from drinking contaminated water, so consider drinking from safe sources (eg: bottled water) where possible.
  • Never drink tap water or even use it to brush your teeth and avoid swallowing it while taking a shower.
  • Bottled water is readily available, and major brands are considered safe. We provide bottled water to our clients on Safari.

Sunburn prevention in Uganda.

  • Sunburns are easily acquired in the equatorial sun of Uganda, so get out the lotion and put it on thick and repeat.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat – you can purchase even a locally made one.
  • If you’re on a boat cruise on the Nile River or Lake Victoria, the lotion is the key to avoid getting burned.
  • It is not much fun having a portion of your body burning up with a sunburn, prevent it, and with skin cancer on the increase, it is merely a wise move to do so.
  • Best to purchase Lotions in your country of origin rather than in Uganda, the price will be lower and also available.
  • Note: If you are taking doxycycline as your as anti-malaria regiment, be aware that your skin will become sun-sensitive, and you need extra protection.

Don’t forget a personal first-aid kit during as you come for your Uganda safari

  • Alcohol-based hand rub and soap (either a bar in a plastic box or as a liquid).
  • Sunscreen
  • A good drying antiseptic, eg: iodine or potassium permanganate (don’t take antiseptic cream).
  • A few small dressings (Band-Aids).
  • Insect repellent; anti-malarial tablets; impregnated bed-net or permethrin spray.
  • A painkiller/anti-inflammatory (Do not use aspirin or ibuprofen if you think you have dengue fever)
  • Antifungal cream (eg: Canesten)
  • Tinidazole for giardia or amoebic dysentery (see below for regime)
  • Antibiotics for severe diarrhea/bacillary dysentery
  • Antibiotic eye drops, for sore, ‘gritty’, stuck-together eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • A pair of fine-pointed tweezers (to remove hairy caterpillar hairs, thorns, splinters, coral, etc)
  • A digital thermometer (for those going to remote areas) and malaria treatment for longer or more remote travel

Is Uganda safe to travel to? | General Travel Safety Precautions in Uganda.

  • You are advised to buy good travel and health insurance
  • Check the travel requirements including passport and visa for your destination
  • Ensure that you get all the necessary vaccinations, antimalarial medication, and insect repellent (those containing DEET are most effective)
  • You should lock your travel bags and keep all valuables in your hand luggage
  • Make photocopies of important travel documents or keep copies online
  • Bring suitable clothing to protect against the sun, mosquitos and to stay warm on open vehicle game drives
  • Check luggage restrictions on all your flights (including domestic flights)
  • You are advised not to drive during night time
  • Keep your valuables in the safety deposit box of the hotel
  • Always respect and be polite to police officers and military personnel.