Since Uganda is such a tiny country, exploring it by car is a remarkable alternative to enjoying its amazing and breathtaking tourist attractions in a brief period of time.
When you consider the distance of Uganda from one endpoint to another, it is less than 1,000 kilometers. A trip around Uganda by car is practical and many have taken part in it and have regarded it as the simplest and most exciting adventurous experience in the world.
Tips for Exploring Uganda by car
If you are an adventurous and “a kind of to-do-it-yourself traveler”, then a self drive in Uganda by car is a great option to explore and experience the country. Because exploring Uganda by car is trendy, you will have to make sure that you reserve your rental car early before you leave your home country. Then when you arrive in Uganda, you will pick up the pre-booked automobile from the car hire agency to begin your self drive expedition right away.
When touring Uganda by car, you will have to note that driving is done on the left side of the road. It takes some time to get accustomed to it, especially when making a turn. However, you will find that Uganda’s road intersection rules are similar to the international ones. More so Uganda drivers are lenient enough to give you time and correct your mistakes when driving.
Renting a car in Uganda provides the liberty of being able to travel at your own convenience. The national parks are open throughout the year and the lodges to stay are quite many and widely spread offering that bit of flexibility in the tour itinerary.
Having a smartphone with the internet is a great means of communication to inform the lodges and other tourism amenities to prepare for your arrival and hosting. On your smartphone, you can install a navigation app such as google maps to assist you with finding the location of the various tourist destinations in Uganda.
Uganda roads are in great condition particularly the highways from Kampala to other districts but in some parts they get narrow and you need to consider your speed. The roads off the cities and other town centers are entirely gravel but well ploughed. However, they get messy and hard to pass on a wet day because of mud and waterlogs.
The traffic in the cities especially in Kampala is very heavy expect some delays. On the contrary, in other parts of Uganda, the traffic is light, and you will easily scale through your journey.
The speed limit in Uganda is 100 kilometers per hour on open roads and 40 kilometers per hour on urban ones. Therefore, when exploring Uganda by car, it is critical to regulate the speed limit to avoid any issues. Knocking someone or paying a premium fine of up to 100$ unplanned could ruin your self-drive holiday.
Uganda’s weather is one of the most favorable for self-drive expeditions and so there is no need of changing tires to cope with different atmospheric conditions. The same car tires are used regardless of the weather condition. However, you will have to ensure that the tires have enough treads to steadily maneuver the wet and slippery surfaces. 4×4 car hire Uganda is the ideal vehicle to drive across the country since it is made for all terrains. You will also need an air conditioner in the car to regulate the temperatures, particularly on a hot day.
When exploring Uganda by car, get a car rental package with an unlimited mileage option. The deal with no kilometer restrictions allows you to travel to any place you wish to as long as you are within the driving time stipulated in the contract.
Do not hesitate to visit your favorite destination because it is located far away, Uganda has one of the cheapest fuel rates in the world. A liter of fuel in Uganda costs around 1.8$. This implies a 12-day self drive safari in Uganda does not exceed $2,000 excluding accommodation.
Recommended cars to drive while exploring Uganda
Car hire companies in Uganda provide a wide range of vehicles. Due to high competition, there is a high possibility of finding an affordable car rental package. The best channel to get a great deal is the internet which permits you to inquire from a variety of rental operators at ago, compare their rates, and then choose the best option for you.
Most vehicles provided by car hire agencies are 4×4 rental cars and this is because of the rugged and bumpy roads found in the remote areas where the popular tourist destinations are situated.
The recommended cars to drive while exploring Uganda include the following
This is a mini SUV or a crossover vehicle with a 4×4 drivetrain commonly hired to a couple. It is a perfect vehicle for a budget self-drive expedition due to its low rate of fuel consumption and hiring value.
Land cruiser Prado TX/TZ
The land cruiser Prado TX is the most popular land cruiser jeep among Ugandans. It is a standard 4×4 SUV vehicle and most hired cars for both self-drive safaris and driver-guided tours in Uganda.
The land cruiser Prado TX is usually modified by setting up a popup roof for easy animal viewing on a game drive. A rooftop tent can also be lodged on its roof for secure and safe camping in the wilderness.
Land Cruiser Prado V8
This is an elegant sport utility vehicle perfect for luxury travel. It is very nice looking and immensely comfortable for traveling. The land cruiser Prado V8 is provided for luxury safari trips and business transfers.
4×4 Hiace minibus
It is popularly known as the safari van in the tours and travel industry. This minibus is designed for group tours carrying a maximum of nine passengers. It can be hired for both self-drive and car rental with a driver in Uganda.
Toyota Land cruiser LX (hardtop)
This is the most popular vehicle for safari trips in Africa. When tourists are looking for ground transportation means for a classic safari in the wilderness of Africa, the first vehicle to come to their minds is the safari land cruiser hardtop.
This grand vehicle is built to challenge the rugged, bumpy, and steep terrains found in the remote areas and national parks of Africa. In Uganda, the safari land cruiser is hired with a driver due to the technicality involved to drive it.
Popular Places to Explore in Uganda by Car
Uganda has a plethora of places to explore and enjoy yourself. Most of these places are natured based for example national parks, mountains, lakes rivers, and eco forests.
Historical and cultural sites are normally complimentary attractions that are toured briefly as stopover points to relax and refresh and then commence with the long road trip.
Since the pearl of Africa has uncountable places to visit which cannot all be explored due to the limited tourists normally have on a safari, below are the must-places to explore in Uganda by car.
Murchison Falls National Park
Apparently, Murchison Falls Conservation Area is the most sought-after game park in Uganda. It is located in the northwest of the country and the most mesmerizing features in this biodiversity are the River Nile which bisects the area into two parts and the peculiar wildlife species.
With a breathtaking water body and innumerable animals, Murchison falls national park offers the best boat cruise and game drive expeditions in Uganda. The park is easy to access by tourists, it is only about 320 kilometers (6 hours’ drive) away from Kampala and Entebbe, the two starting points for most safari trips in the country.
Never mind where to stay while in Murchison falls national park, it has a chain of safari lodges categorized in luxury, mid-range, and budget options. Some of the popular lodges to stay in the park include Paraa safari lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Fort Murchison Lodge, Pakuba Safari Lodge, Sambiya River Lodge, Red Chilli Rest Camp, Twiga Safari Lodge, and so forth.
For tourists who love adventure, most lodges in Murchison Falls National park have campsites where you can pitch your ground tent or park your vehicle and rise your rooftop tent for a night’s stay.
Queen Elizabeth National park
This lost its bragging rights to Murchison falls national park as the most visited wildlife destination in Uganda but it is still a top-notch site to explore by car.
The park is located in the district of Kasese, southwest of Kampala about 360 kilometers (6 hours’ drive), making it very accessible for self-drive travelers.
Queen Elizabeth is home to common mammals such as lions, buffalos, hyenas, kobs, and elephants which are viewed on a game drive within its savannah plains.
It also has an effervescent water channel, Kazinga which offers life to lots of birds and aquatic mammals. A boat ride on the Kazinga channel is a memorable and a lifetime experience.
When the day gets dark, Queen Elizabeth has lots of places to rest ranging from high-end to economy. Popular accommodation facilities in the park include Mweya safari lodge, Elephant plains lod] ge, Bush Lodge, Kasenyi Safari Camp, Engiri Game lodge and Campsite, Buffalo safari lodge, and many more.
Kibale national park
You are never going to explore this forest park by car but on foot. Kibale national park is home to several small primates and the most notable ones are the chimpanzees.
These small apes are such dramatic and intelligent animals and their encounter never seize to amuse. Tourists go bananas when they watch and observe the chimpanzees doing things that are almost similar to humans for example the ability to use tools and the manifestation of affection and compassion for one another. Many travelers drive to the west of Uganda to visit and enjoy the chimpanzees in the Kibale forest.
After a daunting day of trekking the chimpanzees, Kibale national park has a wide range of lodges to stay for a night such as Primate Safari Lodge, Ndali lodge, Chimpundu Lodge, Isunga Lodge, Kibale forest Lodge, Kibale Forest Camp, Kluge Guest House and so on.
Kidepo Valley National park
This savannah plain is far detached from Kampala and it takes a long drive to access its premises. But once you reach it, you will never regret it. All the fatigue will be washed away by the breathtaking views of its enchanting landscapes and animals.
Kidepo exhibits the true African wilderness and you will enjoy every bit of your game driving through its plains while looking at different animals such as lions, buffaloes, elephants, ostriches, cheetahs, kobs, antelopes, zebras, and a mammoth of birds.
Kidepo valley national park has an array of eco safari lodges that would make you enjoy the nature atmosphere, among the popular ones are Apoka Safari Lodge, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge, and Nga Moru Wilderness Camp
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The journey from Kampala to Bwindi is so long, it takes about 9 hours. However, the road trip involves encountering some captivating sceneries along the way which makes the long journey exciting and interesting.
When you reach Bwindi, you will have to get out of your car and embark on a long trek through the steep and forested terrain in search of the gentle beasts, the mountain gorillas.
The gorillas are one of the most sought-after living species in the eco-tourism world. This is because of their rareness, endangerment, and interesting behavior and appearance.
Like chimpanzees, gorillas are our close relatives, and when encounter them expect human-like traits. Their watching is more personal and intimate than the chimpanzees because they’re terrestrial and slow animals. This is why many regard gorilla tracking as a lifetime experience.
After a challenging and tiresome gorilla trekking experience in Bwindi, you have got to rest and recharge your batteries for the following day. Some of the lodging establishments to stay around the park include Rushaga Gorilla Lodge, Volcanoes Bwindi Lodge, Buhoma Safari Lodge, Paradise Eco- hub, Karungi Camp, Buhoma Community Bandas, Ruhija Community rest camp etcetera
The source of the Nile
The Lake Victoria part where the Nile (arguably the longest river in the world) starts its long journey as far as North Africa is found in Jinja Uganda. This is such an iconic and historical feature world over.
Every year thousands of people come to Uganda to visit the source of the Nile. It is some place you cannot miss on your Uganda exploration by car. It is an easy place to access due to its proximity to Kampala, the capital. It only takes two hours to drive from Kampala to Jinja to enjoy the source of the Nile.
To see the actual water feature, you have to take a boat to the small rocky island where you have a close look at it.
Additionally, while in Jinja, you can participate in whitewater rafting, bungee jumping and quad biking, cycling, Kayaking, and Nile tubing.
You are spoilt with choices of where to stay in Jinja after engaging in an assortment of adventurous activities along the Nile. The recommended hotels to stay in are Nile Front Cottages, Source of the Nile Suites, Tusubira Village, Source of the Nile Hotel, Jinja Nile Resort Uganda, and many more.
Pack list for Exploring Uganda by car
Exploring Uganda by car takes some good days and also involves numerous tour activities that need special items and attires. Here is the list of things to pack for the expedition;
• Trekking boots and Jungle clothes
• Hand gloves and Hut/cap
• Sunglasses and sunscreen
• Insect repellents, facemask, and hand Sanitizer
• Adequate drinking bottled water and snacks
• First aid kit
• Smartphone with a local sim card
• Spare tire and a toolbox
Exploring Uganda by car is a no-brainer both experienced and novice travelers can easily participate in the adventure. The above guide can only help you explore Uganda with so much ease since you will know what to expect and what to do.