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Is Uganda Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is Uganda Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in all of Africa. Located on the north coast of Lake Victoria, Uganda is home to stunning mountain ranges, expansive national parks, and a rich cultural heritage.

It’s also known for its friendly people and thriving economy. But is Uganda safe to visit? Despite the many positives, Uganda has some safety concerns that should be considered before traveling there.

If you’re curious about visiting Uganda and experiencing everything that this gorgeous country has to offer, keep reading to learn about the various health and safety concerns facing travelers in Uganda.

It’s important to understand the unique challenges present in Uganda and know how to deal with them. Whether planning a trip to Uganda for business or pleasure, it is crucial to understand the safety risks and how to protect yourself while traveling there.

Is Uganda Safe to Visit?

View of Kisoro at sunrise showing hills and mountains for a piece on Is Uganda Safe

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Uganda is an overall safe place to visit. There are some safety concerns in Uganda related to crime, natural disasters, and dangerous animals, but the vast majority of tourists who travel to Uganda have a safe and positive experience.

Uganda is a beautiful country with a vibrant culture and natural beauty. That’s part of the reason it’s such a popular destination for tourists worldwide!

Although there is some crime in Uganda, much of it is limited to specific areas and is typically not targeted at tourists. Taking basic safety precautions is essential to protect yourself and your belongings when traveling to Uganda.

Crime in Uganda

The country has a relatively high crime rate overall, but don’t let that scare you. Theft and pickpocketing are the most common occurrences. To protect yourself from becoming a victim, be mindful of your belongings and keep any valuables locked up or out of sight.

Another common safety concern is petty theft and mugging. These crimes are often targeted at unsuspecting tourists. Avoid walking alone at night and be on alert for any suspicious activity.

To avoid being a victim of petty theft or pickpocketing, it is crucial to keep a low profile. Be mindful of your belongings at all times, and avoid drawing attention to yourself by wearing flashy or expensive clothing or jewelry.

It’s a good idea to use a money belt while you’re here. A money belt is a small pouch worn under your clothes to keep your valuables safe and out of sight.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

While overall crime is relatively low in Uganda, some neighborhoods and cities are considered more dangerous than others. To stay safe, it is wise to avoid walking alone at night and avoiding any neighborhoods or areas that seem unsafe.

Some of Uganda’s most dangerous neighborhoods and areas are Mudende and Kassandra. Additionally, try to avoid the Karamoja region due to violent intertribal clashes that the government is actively trying to resolve.

You should also avoid traveling close to the northern border with South Sudan because of civil unrest, armed groups, and ethnic conflicts. There are also reports of armed bandits in the area.

If you find yourself in a bad neighborhood, you should avoid drawing attention to yourself, as this can put you at risk. Keep your belongings out of sight and always stay aware of your surroundings.

Another valuable safety tip is to purchase travel insurance before traveling to Uganda. Travel insurance is beneficial if you run into problems while you’re there. It can help you recover lost items or get compensation if you are injured or become ill during your trip.

Terrorism in Uganda

View of round village huts on hill near Victoria Nile River for a piece on Is Uganda Safe

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Although the risk of terrorism is relatively low in Uganda, you should still be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to the local authorities.

Some of the most common terrorist groups active in Uganda include the Lord’s Resistance Army and al-Shabaab. Both groups are known to attack government and law enforcement officials and public spaces. They aren’t known for targeting tourists. 

The capital city of Kampala is a particular target for the Lord’s Resistance Army and is considered at high risk for terrorist attacks.

Overall, however, the risk of terrorism is minimal. The best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of any terrorist attack is to be aware of your surroundings and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

Health and Disease Concerns in Uganda

The most significant danger to your travel experience in Uganda is the potential health and disease risks. There are several health risks to be aware of, including ebola, malaria, typhoid, and cholera.

To protect yourself from these diseases, you should pack insect repellent and anti-malarial medication. Avoid drinking tap water is also critical. It’s often contaminated and can make you sick.

Make sure to visit a doctor before your trip to get all recommended vaccinations and to discuss any health concerns you may have for visiting Uganda. 

Note that there’s an ongoing Ebola outbreak in Uganda. Ebola is highly contagious, and you should do your best to avoid any areas affected by the outbreak. There is no known cure for Ebola, and infection will likely result in death.

Dangerous and Poisonous Animals in Uganda

One of Uganda's most dangerous animals, the hippo, bellowing in the grass for a piece on Is Uganda Safe

Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Uganda’s limited safety concerns include the dangerous and poisonous animals, including snakes, crocodiles, and other large reptiles that live here.

The most dangerous animal in Uganda is the hippopotamus. These animals are known to be highly aggressive and have a history of attacking humans. Nile crocodiles, cape buffalo, and venomous snakes also call Uganda home.

To protect yourself from these dangerous animals, following all safety guidelines and avoiding any areas where you might encounter them is crucial. It’s also a good idea to pack insect repellent and anti-venom if you plan to travel to remote areas of the country.

If you plan to travel in rural or wilderness areas, be aware of your surroundings and take all necessary precautions. The right gear, including heavy-duty hiking boots and a first aid kit, is also essential.

Overall, however, the risk of encountering dangerous animals is relatively low. If you take all necessary precautions, you should have a safe and enjoyable trip to see wildlife in Uganda.

Natural Disasters in Uganda

Uganda is prone to a variety of natural disasters. The most common natural disasters are flash floods and slow-onset floods. Keeping abreast of current news and local updates will help you protect yourself in the event of a natural disaster.

Research the forecast for your area before you go. You should also avoid spending time in low-lying areas and stay aware of evacuation routes. Minimize your risk by traveling to Uganda during the dry season with minimal chance of floods.

If a natural disaster does occur, it is crucial to stay calm and follow the instructions of local authorities. Try to find safe shelter and remain there until it is safe to return home.

Transportation and Traffic in Uganda

Congested traffic in the streets of Kampala Uganda for a piece on Is Uganda Safe

Daily street life in Kampala is chaotic with messy traffic, taken on April 20, 2017/Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

Uganda has a reliable public transportation system, which is a great way to get around and explore the country. The main types of public transportation in Uganda include buses, shared taxis, bikes, and private cars.

Traffic can be quite messy and chaotic here, depending on which part of the country you visit. It’s best to rely on taxis and busses to get around while you’re here.

To really experience it up close, riding a bike can be fun to get around town! Just make sure you’re aware of local traffic and bike-riding laws. 

Cellular Phone Service in Uganda

Uganda is home to a modern cellular phone network in most major cities and towns. Connectivity won’t be a big issue while you’re here, but service may be spotty in remote areas of Uganda. 

If you plan to travel to Uganda, purchasing a local SIM card and data plan is a good idea to stay in touch with friends and family easily. Local SIM cards are available in most shops and cell phone stores.

You need an unlocked phone to use a local SIM card. Check out our top picks for the best international SIM cards here.

If you decide to use your existing phone plan instead of a local SIM, check with your provider about their international plan. You may be able to purchase a short-term data plan for your trip so that you can stay connected.

You can also use free public Wi-Fi in most cafes and restaurants across the country. Overall, there are various ways to stay connected while traveling in Uganda.

Whether you use a local SIM card, purchase a short-term data plan, or rely on free public Wi-Fi, there’s always a way to stay in touch and safe while traveling in this incredible country.

Weather in Uganda

The climate in Uganda is quite varied, ranging from tropical savannah to desert and mountainous regions. The ideal time to visit Uganda is during the dry season, usually between June and September. You can expect hot, sunny days and cool evenings during this time.

If you visit during the wet season, typically between October and May, be prepared for heavy rain and high humidity. Additionally, it’s vital to know the potential for landslides and flash floods.

Overall, understanding the weather in Uganda is essential for planning a safe and enjoyable trip. By taking the time to research the forecast, you can better prepare and minimize the risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lake landscape showing the natural beauty of Uganda in remote areas

LarsEmil/Shutterstock

Need a few more questions answered before you decide if visiting Uganda will truly be safe? Check out the most frequently asked questions to learn more. 

Is Uganda safe for female tourists?

Yes, Uganda is a safe destination for female tourists. While there is some crime in the country, most of it is targeted at locals and not at female tourists.

As always, exercise caution while you're here and try to avoid going out alone at night. Closely attend your drinks while out and about and pay attention to your instincts.

Is Uganda worth visiting?

Yes, it's definitely worth it to visit Udanga! Uganda is a safe and beautiful country with a rich history and many unique and exciting attractions. From the wildlife to the bustling cities, you'll be so glad you came.

What is not allowed in Uganda?

Importing illegal or banned substances is not allowed in Uganda. You should avoid bringing items considered offensive, including pornography or religious materials that are blasphemous.

Additionally, it's illegal to bring any food, plants, or animals without proper documentation.

Is Kampala safe to walk around?

Kampala, the capital and largest city in Uganda, is generally safe to walk around. However, you should always be aware of your surroundings and avoid any areas that may be unsafe.

Is kissing allowed in Uganda?

Public kissing is generally not allowed in Uganda. It is considered a private and intimate activity and is typically only done in the privacy of one's home. Public displays of affection are frowned upon and can even be considered illegal in some places.

Is Uganda safe at night?

While there is some crime in Uganda, it's generally safe to travel around at night. Just be sure to always stay alert and try to avoid walking alone. Make sure you know the route home to avoid wandering at night.

So, Is Uganda Safe to Visit?

Overall, Uganda is a safe destination for tourists. Most areas are totally secure to visit and explore. However, you’ll still want to take some basic safety precautions and be mindful of your surroundings at all times. That’s especially true if you’re a solo traveler. 

As with any destination, it is a good idea to avoid traveling alone at night and to stay alert for any suspicious activity. Purchasing travel insurance before traveling to Uganda is a good idea. Travel insurance can help you recover lost items or get compensation if you become injured or ill during your trip.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, backpacker, or taking a memorable family vacation in Uganda, you will enjoy many beautiful natural landscapes and cultural experiences. It’s even better once you know that you’ll be completely safe while you’re there!