Travel Tips

Driving in Uganda

Uganda has excellent large vehicle hire fleets run by local Ugandan car rental agency, great weather and plenty of stunning scenery – which combines to make self-driving a viable and enjoyable option. If you’re thinking of taking the long way round, here are a few tips to enhance your trip.

Car hire

Most car rental is represented at Uganda’s main airports and in most city centres. Vehicles may generally be picked up at one centre and dropped off at a branch in another centre, subject to a fee.

It is advisable to take out the insured car offered by the Uganda self drive, unless you have specific cover in place. All visa credit cards are accepted.

Driver’s Licenses

Any valid international driver’s licence is accepted in Uganda, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed or authenticated in English.

However, Uganda self drive vehicle hire may also require an international driver’s licence. It is worth confirming requirements with your travel agent or the vehicle hire company when making your booking.

This holds for additional drivers as well, who must be identified when you hire your vehicle. Remember to carry all your documentation with you when you travel as traffic officers will expect to see it if they stop you for any reason.

Keep left, belt up, think kilometres

Keep left, pass right. Uganda self drive on the left-hand side of the road, and our cars – rental cars included – are therefore right-hand drive vehicles, the gear shift being operated with the left hand). All distances, speed limits (and speedometers) are marked in kilometres.

Wearing of seat belts is compulsory. Using hand-held phones while driving is against the law – use a vehicle phone attachment or hands-free kit if you want to speak on your mobile phone.

Drinking and driving is prohibited, with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. That’s roughly about one glass of wine for the average woman and perhaps one-and-a-half or two for the average or bigger man.

Speed limit

The general speed limit on Uganda’s national highways, urban freeways and other major routes is 120km/h (75mph). On secondary (rural) roads it is 100km/h (60mph). In built-up areas it is usually 60km/h (35mph), unless otherwise indicated. View the road signs. If you’re in a hire car and get a speeding fine, the Uganda self drive company will not pay the fine.

Filling up

Various types of petrol (gas) are available in Uganda. Hire cars are more likely to require unleaded petrol, but check before you set off. Fuel is sold per liter.

Uganda petrol stations are not self-help: an attendant will fill the car, ask if you’d like your oil and water and tire pressure checked, and offer to clean your windscreen – a service for which they are generally tipped around $$ 5 dollars as appreciation.

Fuel stations – or garages, as Uganda call them – are found on both the main and country roads, most of them open 24 hours a day, although some keep shorter hours. However, distances between towns (and therefore between petrol stations) are considerable in some parts of the country, so remember to check the fuel gauge before passing up the opportunity to fill up.

When it comes to paying for fuel, you can pay cash. Historically, filling stations used to be cash-only operations so petrol stations do not accept cards. Check with the attendant what payment method they accept before filling up. Petrol stations do not have on-site ATM machines.

Driving around the country

Our road infrastructure is excellent, so driving between cities and towns is a viable option – and, given the stunning scenery in many parts of the country, a highly enjoyable one.

However, Uganda is a huge country not easily traversed in a day, so plan your journeys carefully. If you’re not used to driving long distances, rather break the journey, as fatigue is a major contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents. While most national roads are tarred and in good condition, the more rural the road, the more likely it is to be pot-holed and poorly surfaced.

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