Tips for self-Drive Car rent in Uganda
A client posing for a photo during her self-drive car rent tour in Uganda 2022


When you think of self-drive safaris, Uganda should be one of the names on your radar. It’s a popular destination for such safaris. Uganda is mostly known for gorilla tracking and several other things like culture, hiking safaris and a lot of other wild life. You can take trips around Uganda on your own without necessarily hiring a guide. This is an experience of its own. The country is blessed with diverse nature, Landscapes and beautiful scenery that can facilitate a lot of activities like Hiking etc.

There are several tips for self-drive safari car rent in Uganda you might need to consider before you choose a self-drive safari in Uganda. Here are some of the things you have to consider:

Choose the right car for your trip: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

You do not have to choose the car to rent for your trip looking at the rates of the cars. The roads in Uganda are not as good as those in Europe, therefore you need to choose the care putting in mind the kind of road to your destination. Destinations like Kidepo Valley National Park will need stronger cars compared to trips to Lake Mburo National Park. Therefore, it’s not advisable to take a car like a RAV4 to Kidepo but rather stronger cars like Landcruiser and cars in that category as the road to Kidepo is a bit rough and the drive is long. Check out some of the things to do when you rent a car in Uganda

It is therefore useless for you to consider budget as the first criteria for choosing your self-drive Safari car as it will break down and there you incur a bigger cost and the inconvenience that come with car break down.

Consider the Fuel Type: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Its common knowledge that different cars consume different amounts of fuel per kilometers. Make sure you get clarity about the fuel consumption of the car you are choosing to take on your self-Drive safari. Budget wise, you will find  prices of petrol are a bit are higher than diesel in East Africa. An engine with 4000cc of petrol will not be the best when it comes to saving on fuel costs but will come with all power that you need to navigate through the worst terraine of Karamoja’s Kidepo or Bwindi on a rainy day.

Therefore, considering that the diesel cars are usually strong and the fuel is cheaper, it’s advisable that you choose these for upcountry safaris. But if you are look at self-drive around Kampala, its always good that you opt for the petrol cars since they are cheaper to hire and the city has better road and there fore its not common that they will breakdown.

Confirm your reservation with a Cash deposit: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Most companies not just in Uganda or Africa always take confirmation with a deposit or payment serious. Therefore, its always good that you confirm your booking by making a commitment fee to avoid issues that may rise as a result from unconfirmed reservations.

Use a GPS instead of Google maps: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Try and find out if the car you are renting has GPS. Try, if possible, to get a car with GPS as GPS synchronizes quicker than the phones using google maps. That makes its easy for real time location of places. Its okay to use google maps as the alternative to this rather than the traditional maps.

The disadvantage of using traditional maps is that there are a lot of roads that are not gazzatted and usually the maps may not be up to date. Google also helps to identify several possible routes and therefore helping you choose the easiest and fastest. The traditional map will not have all these details.

Ask for Air-conditioned Cars: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

The roads in Uganda are a bit dusty even those that are tarmacked. It is there fore advised that you book a car with a working air condition. Most of the road especially those in the rural areas will require one to drive with windows up. Areas like the northern part of Uganda is extremely hot and therefore it may require you to have a working Air condition.

The other instance where you will definitely require a working Air condition is during the rainy season especially in the south Western Part of the country, it gets extremely cold and you may need to keep your windows up.

Opt for a Fridge not a Cooler Box: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Its important to stay dehydrated. Try to book a car with a fridge and not just cooler box. It is common knowledge that the fridge is more efficient than the cooler box. The cooler box is only good for people that prefer having their drinks at room temperature. You should note that a car having a fridge will attract an extra cost, its just an incentive just like any other incentives.

The advantage is that if you want drinks with room temperature especially on cold days, you can choose to keep the fridge off and then on hot days, you can switch on the fridge and have the drinks cold and I believe they are even much tastier. A fridge cost from 7$ to 10 $ per day

Opt for a Month-Long Hire: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Most companies that sell or hire anything will give discounts looking at numbers. It is therefore advised that you look at hiring on a longer timing. A person hiring the car for more than 21 days will have a better rate compared to that one hiring the car for shorter days, let’s say three. Hiring for longer days will also give you more time to explore a destination yet saving a lot on car hire.

Be Specific on the Specifications: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

You might not get the car with all the specifications you need but when you identify all the specifications you need, the car hire company can opt to make developments to suite your need. This comes handy with doing your inquiry at least 6 months prior to your expected date of hire.

Hire a car from Legit Companies in Uganda: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Try as much as possible to avoid middle men websites like safari bookings etc . There are lots of online tour companies that do car hire but when in actual sense they do not have these cars and usually based in Europe with no complete touch with East Africa. What happens is that these companies will contact the companies that have the cars in Uganda and then sub rent from them and then rent them out to you. This will definitely make the cost bigger than the actual.

Therefore, do your research and make sure the company belongs to the local organization that regulates the industry. Make sure the company is well registered and legitimate. Chances are high that when the cars are owned by the company and not sub rented by Online travel agencies then the cost will be lower as there will not be commissions for the middle men European sites.

There are a lot of platforms that you can refer to while choosing a company to hire from. You can for example use TripAdvisor and look at the reviews that a company has and make sure they are genuine reviews. Use some common sense to see fake reviews as some crooks sometimes manipulate TripAdvisor and award themselves reviews. To see fake reviews is simple and here is how you can see them.

They all come in the same period of time. Suddenly a company has 30 new reviews within a week. That’s a red flag.

The reviewers are all having one contribution on TripAdvisor. Chances are if all reviews on a listing come from all persons that have made a review or TripAdvisor contribution for the first time, you might have to be careful.

Make Sure You Have Insurance: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

As with any travel, you’ll want to make sure you have insurance on yourself drive safari. All our cars have insurance. Avoid getting caught out by making sure you buy your insurance from a reputable insurance company. 

Pack snacks and water: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Chances are high you know how to prepare you own meal or can actually keep buying on the way but as in head deeper into the remote areas, you will find it hard to find a place to buy food. There are many hours between meals and therefore it is wise to carry your snacks. These can help you while you navigate through the long drives. Most areas in the upcountry region may not have the kind of snack or even food that may be favorable for you especially if you are looking at staying at camping sites. So, while you definitely could be experimental with food, it might set you back a day or so if you get sick.

Know the road rules: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Other than the information you will get from your car rental company, you need to do your own research about the road rules of Uganda. Different roads have different speed limits and therefore you will need to have all this information prior to all this. The average speed that you have to maintain is 50km/hr in towns and for your own safety we recommend not to drive more that 80km/h. This is because Uganda is highly populated and its close to impossible not to see pedestrians on the roads, motor bike taxis and indiscipline drivers. Driving at 80km/ h will give you a chance to respond to animal crossings, indiscipline drivers, potholes in the roads and keeping safe while on your holiday.


It is important to have knowledge on animal behavior. This keeps you safe and the wildlife as well. You need to know when the animals have charged or when they feel disturbed. Some animals are really dangerous and you will need to know how protect yourself. Driving in the National parks and game reserves is at a maximum speed of 40 km/h which is strictly enforced these days especially in Murchison falls National Park. Should you be caught speeding in the park, the fine is 100,000 shs (29$ ) paid directly to the Uganda wildlife authority, Driving off track fines are 150$, accidents involving killing animals cost 500$ per kill.

Get to know the warning signs – and how to react – before you enter the parks.

CAN I DRIVE WITH MY FOREIGN DRIVING LICENSE IN UGANDA?: Tips for self-drive car rent in Uganda

Yes, you can use your European driving license in Uganda for a period of up to 3 months. However, we recommend that you also come with an international driving license to avoid police disturbing you, especially if your license is not in English. This could avoid you some unnecessary fine…

You have to know that Uganda and Kenya police are very corrupted – with 61 % and 70% Ugandan and Kenyans respectively admitted that they have bribed police.  With that being said, make sure you don’t leave any room for them to try to get any money from you: respect the laws, have your car completely functioning, fasten seat belt, do not over speed, etc. We do not advise you to fuel corruption. However, if you see it as a last resort and want to follow the Luganda saying “ Wogenda E bulyambwa, Olyambwa” (meaning when you travel where they eat dogs, you have to adopt and eat dogs), you might keep some change with you in the car, like 5000 UGX notes (1.42$), that you could give to the police in case they openly ask you to give them money.  


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John Doe

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