Driving in Uganda: Tips & Information

Are you planning a self-drive holiday in Uganda? This guide contains essential information and 12 must-read tips for travellers renting a car in Uganda without a driver. 

Do you prefer a local guide to do the driving for you? We have gathered more information about knowledgeable driver-guides on this page, feel free to check it out!

How are the road conditions for driving in Uganda?

By African standards, the road conditions in Uganda are very good. The primary roads radiating from Kampala to all four corners of the country are covered in smooth asphalt. You can expect a lot of speed bumps and the occasional pothole though. 

Although the asphalt roads are in good condition, you generally don’t reach more than 60 km/hour, due to the many speed bumps, the need to reduce your speed when passing through villages, and because you will probably want to take many pictures! Even the scenery from the highway is stunning. Avoid the common traveller's mistake of trying to cover too much ground in one trip. Forget Google Maps, but closely study our driving times and distances table at this page instead.

Curious about which car is best for driving in Uganda? The Toyota Hilux is the most comfortable vehicle in our fleet for driving on asphalt roads, which make up 80% of the driving you will do in Uganda.  

Usually, the last stretch of your daily trip requires some driving on gravel roads to get to your lodge or park entrance gate. Inside the parks, it's off-road driving on dirt roads. The conditions of these roads tend to vary from one season to the next and are most difficult during the rainy season. Off-road driving in Uganda is usually not technical or difficult, and compared to our other road trip destinations in Africa, off-road driving in Uganda is the easiest. During your car hand-over, we'll demonstrate how to engage the 4x4. On top of that, you'll find a car & driving manual inside the vehicle.

How are the road conditions for driving in Uganda?

Do I need an international driving license in Uganda?

No, you don't need an international driver's license in Uganda. Your valid license from your home country is sufficient. Make sure to always carry your driver's license with you when driving. 

At what side of the road should I drive?

Left. Driving in Uganda is done on the left side of the road. 

Tips to drive safe in Uganda

Speed limits 

  • 80 km/hour on highways. This might seem limited but take note that a Landcruiser or Hilux packed with luggage and camp gear is a heavy vehicle. The police, therefore, classify safari vehicles as trucks, because of the longer brake distance. 
  • 50 km/hour when driving through towns. Note that the main highways also pass through towns, so make sure to reduce your speed. 
  • 30-40 km/hour inside the National Parks. Depending on the various tracks.

Our cars are equipped with car trackers, and for your own safety, we receive instant notifications when our vehicles drive beyond the allowed speed. 

  • Drive defensively. Minibus drivers are notorious for overtaking on blind corners and big coaches feel like they're on top of the food chain. Make sure to therefore keep an eye on your rear-view mirror and if necessary, pull off the road to let the coach or minibus pass.
  • Drive at or below the speed limit. 80 km on the highway and 50 km in urban areas.
  • Beware of unmarked speed bumps, which are plentiful in many parts of the country, especially at town entrances.
  • Beware of potholes. They damage the car if you hit them and can cause a flat tire.
  • Always lock your car when driving through a city or bigger town. Also, make sure not to leave valuables in your car unattended.
  • Always park in a secured area. Should you be spending the night at a local town hostel, make sure they have a secure car park available on their property.
  • Avoid driving at night. Potholes are difficult to see in the dark and approaching traffic uses blinding high beams.
  • Always carry some cash, water, and a charged mobile phone to handle any situation.

As long as you adhere to the above rules and tips, you should be safe driving in Uganda.

Are you not comfortable driving yourself and would you feel more at ease with a local driver by your side? Then book a car including a knowledgable drive-guide, and enjoy a more relaxing experience while discovering the beauty of Uganda.

Tips to drive safe in Uganda

Are there restricted areas for self-drive?

There are no off-limit areas when driving in Uganda. However, hiring a Hilux or Landcruiser is required for travel to Kidepo and Karamoja. The RAV4 is not geared for the road conditions in these areas. 

Can I cross the border with my rental car in Uganda?

We allow border crossings with our rental cars, but only to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

If you want to cross the border and do a multiple-country road trip, you do need to let us know in advance as we have to arrange a COMESA card, which is an extension of the car insurance for your vehicle. This is an option you can select in our bookings form. Without our consent, you are not allowed to cross the border and you are not insured for any damage. 

Is comprehensive insurance included with my car rental in Uganda?

Our rental cars in Uganda are comprehensively insured against damage due to accident or fire, and third-party liability due to a car accident. Personal injury and possessions are not covered and fall under your medical and travel insurance. 

Your insurance includes a maximum deductible of €250. Tires, underbody coverage, and windows are not covered by the insurance. The hirer is liable for any damage to the rental car and/or third-party property in the case of:

  • driving over speed limits;
  • single vehicle incidents or rollovers (these are considered a result of reckless driving);
  • damage to the vehicle caused by lack of proper care/maintenance of the vehicle;
  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • driving on restricted roads/areas.

Our full terms & conditions are included in the car rental agreement. You can also consult them here. 

Which Telecom providor do I use in Uganda?

Uganda has several mobile network providers. Airtel and MTN have the best coverage. Both providers support the 4G network. 

Before you start your roadtrip, make sure you get a sim card and load it with sufficient data for internet and phone calls. You can easily obtain a sim card by bringing your passport to the Telecom company's service centre of your choice. Have you rented your car through us? Then our colleagues, who meet you at the airport or your lodge, can also explain to you where to buy a SIM card. 

How does it work with navigation in Uganda?

All our rental vehicles in Uganda come with the latest Bradt Travel Guide and a detailed roadmap of Uganda.

Besides Google Maps, we strongly recommend that you also install Maps.me on your smartphone before you travel to Uganda. It's a free app. Download the Uganda maps, and enjoy driving on GPS offline. 

When using navigation apps like Google Maps or Maps.me, increase the suggested travel time by roughly 30%. For more information on actual driving distances in Uganda, consult our driving times & distances table.

How does it work with navigation in Uganda?

What happens if I get a breakdown or accident while driving in Uganda?

Our team at Roadtrip Uganda checks and services every car before they go out on a trip. Still, unexpected issues may occur when driving on challenging African roads. Breakdowns usually happen due to…

  • the condition of the car
  • the challenging road conditions (washboard ribbons, potholes, speed bumps, dust and mud)
  • driving behaviour
  • a dose of plain bad luck

Although we can only affect the first of these events, we shall help you to the best of our abilities, regardless of the reason for your breakdown. Our team is very experienced in troubleshooting along the way but do not forget that providing road support requires cooperation, flexibility, and patience from your side as well.

In our ten years of experience, we learned that many breakdowns on a self-drive trip are caused by driving behaviour, often infused by jam-packed itineraries leading to long driving days and speeding or fatigue. Hence, our most important piece of advice – make sure your travel plan is not too ambitious. Prevention is better than troubleshooting.

Most mechanical issues that happen on the way are minor things and the fastest way to get you on the road again is to provide help on the spot. We have a network of up-country bush mechanics to assist you in case of any issues, and we will either direct you to the nearest workshop or send a mechanic to assist you on the spot. If a car cannot be fixed on the spot within 24 hours, a replacement car from Kampala will be provided so you can continue your journey.

Before renting a car in Uganda, be honest and ask yourself if you easily stress out or become agitated if something unexpected happens. If the answer is yes, then going on a Uganda self-drive trip is not for you. Getting stuck in the mud, dealing with a flat tire, or experiencing a mechanical issue along the way because of the bumpy and dusty roads are scenarios that can impact your travel plans for the day. 

When something happens, whether it's a mechanical issue or an accident, always contact the Uganda office first. Our phone number is available 24 h/day. 

For more information, please refer to our Terms & Conditions published on this website.

How to deal with traffic police in Uganda

There is a lot of traffic police in Uganda. You can recognize them from far away by their bright white uniform. We always wonder how they keep their uniforms so white on the dusty roads, but that's not answering your question...

So, advice that comes in handy when dealing with any kind of government official in Uganda is to be respectful, remain patient, and stay friendly. Greet them politely (preferably in Luganda: Jebale Ko Afande? = Are you doing fine, officer?) and you have a new friend.

Traffic police can pull you over to check:

  • If your car is insured;
  • If the tires are in good condition;
  • Or to check on your driver's license. Any valid driving license (even from your own country of residence) is accepted in Uganda. 

In our experience, traffic police are friendly, curious, and often just want to make chit-chat.

If you've committed an offence (speeding, dangerous overtaking, etc.), you will receive a fine that needs to be paid via a bank deposit. You can always call our team at the Roadtrip office in Uganda for assistance.

Where can I rent a car in Uganda?

Are you looking for the perfect car for your roadtrip in Uganda? At Roadtrip Africa, we are happy to assist you with renting the vehicle that suits your wishes. 

We own all our rental cars and never subcontract from third parties. Our fleet consists of Toyota Hilux Double Cab, Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota RAV4 vehicles. All reliable and widely used 4WD vehicles, and perfectly suitable for your adventurous Uganda roadtrip.

You are welcome to drive your vehicle yourself or hire a car with a local driver-guide. The driver-guide is there to facilitate and ease your travels, yet you remain in charge of your own holiday and itinerary. The costs for a driver are € 40 /day.

Ready to start driving in Uganda? Book your rental car today!