Hiring a Car in Uganda: Expectations vs. Reality

It’s not very long when most travelers to Uganda adopted the idea of hiring a car and they drive themselves around when they are on their trip to Uganda. The self-drive car hire idea become famous in around 2002 due to the rapid development of the tourism industry of the country and most of the clients booking cars in Uganda are tourists who would love to explore the country but have a tight budget and they don’t have enough money to hire a Tour Company to organize for them a safari.

Most tourists planning to travel to Uganda sometimes do less research about the country and they come with a lot of expectations forgetting that they are traveling to a third-world country. That is why we have compiled some of the expectations some tourists come with versus the real thing in Uganda.

Everything starts and ends at Entebbe International Airport

Most car rental agencies in Uganda offers free airport transfer and pick up, meaning the day you will be arriving in Uganda you will find an agent from the agency already waiting for you and you will not need to be transferred to the offices to sign papers and others. The agent will come with everything, you will do the paperwork while you in airport parking, inspect the car, do the payments, and then you will be free to start your trip just as simple as that. Even on returning the vehicle, you will find the agent already waiting for you to return the car back to the company workshop. So when you booking a car in Uganda make sure you ask them to bring it to you at the airport or at your hotel so that you don’t waste money and time looking for the car rental offices in Kampala.

Payments are made in Dollars

Although Uganda’s currency is shillings, all car rental companies in Uganda are charging their car rental services in dollars. It’s not that they don’t allow other currencies, they accept all currencies but when you come with let’s say Euros, the company always has its exchange rate and in most cases it’s high, so it better at least you change your money to dollars and pay in dollars to avoid being cheated. So when you coming to the airport don’t bother changing your money to Uganda shillings because you want to pay for the car rental, unless when you getting shillings to buy fuel and to you throughout your trip. Apart from cash payment, also most of the rental agencies in the country charge Visa card and master card so don’t bother carrying a lot of cash when traveling to Uganda because even most large supermarkets and fuel stations accept visa cards and master cards.

Car Models

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado TX with Rooftop Tent

As I said earlier, Uganda is a third world country and it mostly imports cars from Japan and 95% of the cars in Uganda are about 15 years old meaning when they tell you that you hiring a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado don’t expect new models like 2018 and above, you should expect models like 1996 – 98. Some clients reach the airport and look at the vehicle you have taken to them and they get surprised and worried about the age of the car. But in case you booked from a credible car rental company, like 4×4 Uganda, Rental Cars Uganda Ltd, Safari Car Rentals Uganda, Self Drive Uganda and other big companies, the model of the car should not make you worried because although their cars look old, they are well maintained and serviced so just know they will do for you a good job.


Kampala – Hoima Highway

When it comes to the road network in Uganda, some travelers still have this thinking that all roads in Uganda need 4×4 strong vehicles to pass through them which is wrong. Although there are still many roads up-country there which are only possible by 4×4 vehicles, at least the Uganda Government needs to be credited for the good job it has done the last 5 years to construct most of the roads connecting Kampala and the remote areas of the country. So unless when you planning to visit the country in the rainy season of the year and to the remote areas of the country, like Kidepo Valley National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that is when you will need a 4×4 vehicle because roads in these areas can flood during the rainy season.

Comprehensive Insurance

In most cases when a client is told that the vehicle is comprehensively insured, what comes to his/her mind is that in case of an accident the insurance company will have to cater to all the damages caused by the accident. The thing which is not right, when you told that the vehicle comprehensively insured, in most cases the insurance will come in only when the damage is above 50$ and minor damages which are less than 50$ it will be negotiated between the client and the car rental company. Still, on insurance, the insurance company will not also cover for damages caused by negligence such as driving under the influence of alcoholism, wheels/trims, cigarette burns, damage to radio covers, punctures, badges, etc., all those the client will be fully responsible.

All in all, to avoid getting disappointed when you’re on your trip to Uganda, at least do enough research about the country and the areas you going to visit.