Self Drive In Uganda During Covid-19: A Complete Guide

May 16, 2021

A lot seems to have changed in the world because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost the whole world was caught flatfooted by the continuous lockdowns and travel restrictions. It has become essential to have knowledge of travel restrictions on your finger tips to avoid disappointments.

Each country has put in place standard operation procedures (S.O.Ps) that are likely to differ from one country to another. The same applies to Uganda, depending on the pandemic situation around the world, there are always changes in the restrictions to counter the growing threats of the pandemic.

Uganda is one of the few destinations where travelers have been enjoying self drive adventures. Before the breakdown of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the country was attracting a reasonable number of tourists taking self guided vacations through Uganda’s national parks and game reserves, as well as unique holiday places.

The outbreak of the novel Corona Virus has changed a lot the travel industry and the car hire industry has not been spared. New Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been put in place to make sure that tourists are protected as well as the protected areas that are visited.

With the above in mind, here is a complete guide on how to do a self drive in Uganda amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Remember Uganda has reopened all its national parks and travelers have started to go on safaris in Africa.

PCR Tests

A polymerase chain reaction test (PCR test) is mandatory for anyone entering and leaving Uganda. Unless you were vaccinated, you will be required to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival at Entebbe international airport and when you are departing from Uganda.

In case the PCR test comes out positive; you will have to undergo quarantine covering your own expenses. You can also read more about PCR to learn more about it and its various applications.

The ministry of health has accredited laboratories that carry out PCR test. There is provision for express tests that allow you to get your results in less than 6 hours. The non-express tests take between 12 and 24 hours. Results can be delivered on mail; you will not need to visit the laboratory again to simply pick results.

Accommodation and Lodging

Unless you are good at bargaining, the lodge rates have almost remained the same; unfortunately the services in some places do not match the value for the money. To be on a safe side; smaller lodges that are likely easy to maintain would be recommended for the best experience.

Some lodges though already open are still struggling to keep up with the maintenance. The client turn up is still very low. Some lodges can even go for two weeks without a single client. Therefore, you are likely to find some places not really ready for visitors not because they have not prepared but because they have waited for so long.

This means that it is important to make your bookings earlier before you hit the road for the road trip. You can also pre-book all your accommodation with the assistance of a travel agency from which you rent out the car.

Fuel Prices  

Fuel prices are unpredictable at the moment. You might have to place for US$1.1 to US$1.3 per liter. In door to save on fuel, you might have to opt for a diesel car instead of gasoline engine. Also not that the global increase in fuel prices has not spared Uganda. Therefore update your budget for fuel expenses to accommodate this change.

Car Hire Rates

The car hire rates have remained almost the same. Some Uganda car rental agencies are offering up to US$10 discounts per day. However, it should be noted; after a long period of lockdown, business has not yet picked up. Companies are likely to continue revising their car rental rates.

Road Conditions

The road conditions in some places have grown to worse. Places like Queen Elizabeth national park might not be passable for small cars such as a Rav4. In case you are to drive a Rav4 in Queen Elizabeth national park; you will have to avoid the Ishasha sector lest you get stranded by the road side.

Besides some parts of Queen Elizabeth national and Kidepo valley national park, it should be noted that the road conditions have generally improved. In Murchison falls national park some roads have been paved. Unless you wish to have a ferry experience, we do not recommend the ferry. You can connect to either part of the park by road.

Standard Operation Procedure (S.O.Ps)

Upon reopening tourism, most countries adopted new Standard Operating Procedures. Some people have adopted these SOPs as the new norms. Lots of things have been changed due to the outbreak of the novel Corona Virus.

However much you might find a number of people not wearing facemasks. You are expected to wear a facemask in public. You are also advised to carry sanitizer to keep your hands clean during your travels.

Most of supermarkets, shopping places and official places have washbasins or sanitizer for anyone accessing their premises.

You are also expected to respect the social distancing at all public places which you intend to visit.

There are also updated SOPs to guide you on your travels through Uganda’s national parks, game reserves and other tourist sites. It is important to conduct your trip while observing these guidelines so that both the visitors and the wildlife can be protected;

  • UWA has made it mandatory to undergo temperature screening at all its premises. The exercise is done using non-contact infra-red thermometers and this is done all all key tourism gates of tourist areas.
  • Travelers are supposed to observe mandatory hand washing and sanitizing at all entrances of national parks and tourist areas.
  • Wearing a face mask while at the national parks and other touristic areas. For tourists hopping to do gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking, they are advised to carry at least two N95 masks or surgical masks or double layered cloth masks with filters.
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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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