Safety and security
- Get advice locally about areas of risk and security concerns
- Take common-sense precautions about safety and security
- Know who to contact in case of an emergency
You are advised that political demonstrations in Uganda can take a violent turn without warning. You should avoid all political gatherings including demonstrations and rallies, remain vigilant at all times, and follow local media for updates.
Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational and stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may be prohibited.
Opportunistic crime like burglaries, muggings, drive-by bag snatches and thefts from vehicles do occur in Kampala and other areas of Uganda. The Embassy advice is to remain vigilant at all times regarding personal security, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events.
You should report suspicious activity to local authorities. When travelling by road keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic snatching if you’re stopped at traffic.
You are advised to take the following precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together – leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid walking after dark and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
- Bag snatches by thieves on motorbikes are becoming more common; always remain aware of your surroundings, day and night.
Reporting a crime
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Uganda, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Uganda, you should be extremely careful. Road safety standards are low, particularly outside towns and cities. Accidents are frequent and are often caused by poor driving, badly maintained vehicles, a lack of traffic signs, wandering animals, pedestrians and inadequate lighting.
- Remember that traffic drives on the left.
- Avoid travel by road outside major towns at night and avoid, if possible, travelling between Kampala and the airport at Entebbe between midnight and dawn.
- Inside major towns and cities, other common forms of public transport are common. Matatus (minibuses) and boda-bodas (motorbike taxis) though cheap are generally in poor condition, badly driven and often without proper insurance cover; accidents are common sometimes resulting in fatalities or very serious injuries requiring medical evacuation, especially where helmets are not worn. In addition, there have been recent incidents of foreign nationals being mugged whilst using matatus and boda-bodas.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and keep your bags and phones out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped in traffic.
Hiring a vehicle
- If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
- Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
There is a threat of terrorism across the East Africa region from the Somali based Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The Ugandan authorities have issued a number of alerts warning of a heightened risk of terrorism. Terror attacks can be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Large crowds of people and public places may also be targets.
Travel can be difficult and dangerous so don’t go outside the main towns unless you are well prepared. We recommend that you don’t travel outside of towns after dark.
We no longer advise against all but essential travel to Karamoja in north eastern Uganda. However, if you are travelling to this region, you should be aware that inter-communal violence and occasional attacks on security forces do happen; foreigners are not usually the target of violence but you should exercise caution.
If you’re thinking of travelling to northern and western Uganda, we advise you to research the security situation very well and take appropriate precautions, particularly near the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. In the past there have been violent incidents involving Ugandan forces and Allied Democratic Forces rebels in and around the Rwenzori mountains. Seek local advice before you set off to these areas.
Avoid the DRC border area around Lake Albert unless all the arrangements have been made in advance with the Ugandan and DRC authorities. If you’re travelling with a gorilla-trekking operator, please ensure they don’t cross into eastern DRC.
Before travelling to the border area of Kisoro and Kanugu Districts please contact Ugandan Wildlife Authority and your lodge/hotel for the latest advice.
Please contact the Ugandan Wildlife Authority for up to date security information before travelling to any of the National Parks.
For Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, it is normal for security personnel to accompany tourists when gorilla tracking.
Get local travel advice before travelling to Bundibugyo District, Semiliki National Park and Wildlife Reserve in western Uganda.
Travel to the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park should only be undertaken in the company of an armed game warden who has functional communications equipment.
Foreign nationals are potential targets for kidnapping so you should take particular care when travelling in Uganda:
- Get advice from your local contacts about staying safe
- Avoid travelling at night, particularly inter-city
- Avoid travelling alone
- When driving, ensure all car doors are locked
- Vary your routes and departure times – avoid patterns which could be tracked
- Pay careful attention to local media for reports of kidnapping activities
Thu, 09 Nov 2017 12:28:19 GMT