Things to know when planning a self drive trip in Uganda

There are several things to put in mind when planning to drive in Uganda and knowing them will make your self-drive safari a little bit easier.

Police Checks

Encountering a road at a police checkpoint is very common when driving in Uganda, you will be able to notice them in advance by seeing spikes across the road and men and women in white and khaki shirts some holding rifles waiting to greet you. Don’t be scared of the gun, such situations are customary in Africa.

During these checks, the officers usually check for the insurance disc on your windshield to verify its validity and also ask for your driver’s license. Sometimes, they may also scrutinize your vehicle for any problems. In case you have any issue with the car or missing papers, you will be asked to pay the fine immediately, possibly insinuating a bribe.

If asked to pay a fine, make sure you ask for a receipt and request to see the police officer’s ID because bribery is illegal in Uganda.

Fuel Stations

Total Petrol Station

Gas stations in Uganda are everywhere on Uganda roads, featuring major brands like Shell, Total, and others, strategically located along nearly the road to ensure convenience. Most gas stations have supermarkets from where you can buy things like water, soft drinks, snacks, oil, and even phone credit. Additionally, they provide supplementary services such as tire air and puncture repairs, typically for a nominal fee of $5 or less.

Carry a spare tire

It’s advisable to carry a spare tire, jack, and wheel spanner as flat tires are quite common in Uganda. While fixing a spare tire is easy at the fuel station it’s better to be prepared with these tools to ensure smooth travel around the country.


Parking options in Uganda vary, from simple roadside stops by a local shop to more structured parking facilities in city malls. It’s important to choose a safe parking place. Additionally, it’s common practice for parking attendants to request a small fee, starting from 1000/= to 5000/= depending on the time your car has spent there, when parking on the street, as part of the law in most cities around the country.

Driving At Night

Driving at night in Uganda

Driving at night in Uganda is safe but there are some unsafe places you have to avoid, a practice common in many countries. However, one challenge is dealing with overly bright headlights from other vehicles, which can cause discomfort and even headaches. Some drivers reach the extent of wearing sunglasses to mitigate this issue.

Another common issue is mistaking a single headlight for a motorcycle; it’s often a truck or car with a malfunctioning headlight. Therefore, it’s essential not to assume it’s safe to overtake or maneuver past, as it might not always be a small motorcycle coming.

Speed bumps/humps are hidden

Many speed bumps on Uganda roads cannot be seen, lacking proper markings or signs. Though they may have been painted or signposted in the past, they have not maintained well causing them to blend in with the road surface. This poses a risk of inadvertently hitting a bump at 80 kph, the thing which can damage your vehicle suspensions. So it’s better to be careful when driving so that you can be able to spot these fading speed bumps.

Road Conditions

Most of the major roads in Uganda are paved, yet many of them have potholes at several points. It’s important to include spotting and dodging the potholes on the list of the problems you find when driving in Uganda.

When you leave the main roads, there are chances that you will drive on dirty roads. Though these routes are somehow peaceful due to less traffic, they can be somewhat rough and dusty so a car with good air conditioner will be necessary.