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Is Uganda Safe to Travel in 2024? Avoiding Crime and Scams

Uganda is a safe country for travelers to visit. It is a relatively peaceful country. The people are friendly and welcoming. Uganda is also politically stable. The police do a good job of keeping the peace. That said, there are some risks to be aware of. Uganda does have a high crime rate. Petty theft and robberies are relatively common. There have been instances of terrorism. If you take some basic precautions to protect yourself and your belongings from theft and scams, Uganda can be a perfectly safe place to travel both independently or on a tour.

This guide outlines all of the crimes and scams that exist in Uganda and explains how to avoid them. I’ll cover all of the most common safety concerns including petty theft, pickpocketing, robbery, scams, terrorism, kidnapping, disease, road safety, and more. I’ll also outline some potentially dangerous regions to avoid. Finally, I’ll share a few tips to help you stay safe. In this guide, we’ll look at the facts and help you make an informed decision about whether or not Uganda is a safe destination for your next trip.

Uganda is one of the best African countries to visit thanks to the incredible wildlife and natural beauty. I have visited Uganda 3 times. I just spent the past 5 months there. Over the years, I have traveled the country pretty extensively and have never had any serious issues with security. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.

A road in Kampala, Uganda
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Key Takeaways: Is Uganda Safe?

Yes. Uganda is a relatively safe country to visit as long as you take some basic precautions and avoid a few dangerous regions.

According to the U.S. Department of State travel advisory, Uganda is a level 3. According to the advisory, visitors should reconsider travel due to the risk of crime and terrorism.

A few of the biggest dangers for travelers visiting Uganda include petty theft/pickpocketing, auto accidents, disease (malaria, typhoid, traveler’s diarrhea), scams, corruption, and robbery.

There are also some regions that are not safe to travel. The border zones near South Sudan and the DRC should be avoided. It’s also best to avoid the Karamoja region. Violent crimes such as robbery occur here. Generally, Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, Eastern Uganda, Southern Uganda, and the national parks are safe to visit. Violent crime against tourists are rare in these regions.

Probably the biggest risk for travelers is petty theft and robbery. To reduce the risk. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times when you’re out and about. Don’t display valuables in public. Avoid traveling at night. Stick to populated areas. Keep a low profile when out and about.

Road safety is also a major issue. People drive poorly maintained vehicles. Drivers are poorly trained. Accidents are common. If you feel that your driver is not driving in a safe manner, get out and find another taxi or boda boda.

Disease can also be an issue. Uganda is a malaria zone. To satay safe, wear insect repellent and sleep under a mosquito net. Consider taking malaria prophylaxis.

Members of the LGBT community should also take extra precautions. Uganda recently introduced an Anti-Homosexuality bill that prohibits same-sex relationships.

Table of Contents

Kids playing soccer in Kampala

Crime in Uganda

Uganda has a relatively high crime rate. Unfortunately both locals and visitors can fall victim. Crime occurs in both cities and rural areas. While traveling in Uganda, you will need to stay aware of your surroundings and take some basic precautions to reduce the risk. 

In this section, I’ll outline some common crimes in Uganda and explain how to minimize the risk of falling victim.

Petty Theft and Pickpocketing

As a visitor, the most common forms of crime you’re likely to encounter while visiting Uganda are petty theft such as bag snatching and pickpocketing. When you’re in a crowded area, such as central Kampala, a shared taxi, or a large market, it’s easy for a criminal to snatch your bag or sneak their hand into your pocket and take your belongings without your noticing. Even if you notice, the criminal could easily run off and disappear into the crowd.

A few steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to a thief or pickpocket include:

  • Keep an eye on your possessions at all times. Never leave a bag unattended.
  • Store all of your valuables in pockets that zip or button closed.
  • Keep your hands on your valuables while walking through a crowded area.
  • Don’t carry anything that you’re not prepared to lose.
  • Wear your backpack on the front of your body while walking through a crowded area.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight. After taking a photo, store your camera in your backpack.
  • Limit the amount of cash that you carry. Only carry enough cash for the day.
  • Leave all valuables, such as your passport, credit cards, jewelry, and electronic devices locked in your hotel room safe.
  • Keep a low profile. Don’t dress flashy and don’t wear jewelry.
  • Be extra cautious with your belongings while walking through crowded areas.
  • Secure all belongings while riding in taxis. My phone was pickpocketed from a taxi in Tanzania. Luckily, I got it back.
  • Use a money belt. To reduce your risk of falling victim to pickpockets, consider carrying a money belt. A money belt is a hidden pocket that you wear under your clothing. A money belt is a great place to store important documents and valuables such as your passport, cash, and credit cards. I use the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover Moneybelt. For more info, check out my review of the moneybelt here.
My moneybelt
My moneybelt

Hotel room theft is also a problem in Uganda. Particularly when staying in small budget hotels in rural areas. This is usually a crime of opportunity. Don’t leave valuables sitting out in your hotel room when you’re away. Either take them with you in a backpack or use a luggage lock to lock your valuables in your suitcase.

Violent Crime in Uganda

Unfortunately, Uganda has a relatively high rate of violent crime. Muggings, armed robbery, home invasions, terrorism, and kidnappings all occur in the country. These crimes aren’t necessarily common but it’s important to be aware that they do exist and take precautions to avoid them.

The police often don’t have the resources to respond to many violent crimes. Response times are slow. Criminals often get away. In this section, we’ll take a look at different violent crimes that exist in Uganda and explain how to minimize the risk of falling victim.

Robberies and Muggings

Robbery is probably the most likely form of violent crime for a visitor to encounter in Uganda. You should take extra precautions to stay safe, especially at night.

Robbers usually operate in groups. They may carry weapons such as machetes. Robbers usually attack in deserted areas late at night. They could hide in the darkness on the side of an empty road and wait for a victim.

Sometimes robbers will ride up on a motorcycle, hit the victim, and then steal their belongings.

Robbers can also wait outside of bars and clubs. They wait for a drunk victim, follow them to a deserted area, then rob them.

A boda boda or taxi driver could also drive you to a deserted location and rob you.

Robbers can also set up fake roadblocks and rob drivers who pass through.

To avoid getting robbed in Uganda

  • Avoid traveling at night. The vast majority of robberies occur at night. During the day, the risk of getting robbed is low.
  • Walk in groups if possible. There is safety in numbers.
  • Avoid isolated areas. You are unlikely to get robbed when you’re in a crowded area.
  • Try to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Avoid carrying valuables or large sums of cash. Keep only the amount of money you need that day. Leave valuables somewhere safe, like your hotel room. This limits your losses if you are robbed.
  • Don’t dress flashy or wear flashy jewelry. A robber is less likely to target you if you don’t appear to have anything of value. If you wear expensive clothing, you may make yourself a target.
  • Don’t hire a random boda boda driver off the street at night. They could take you somewhere deserted and rob you.
  • When traveling by night, always arrange transportation through a reliable source. Use the Safe Boda app, Uber, or call a driver that you know.

If you do get robbed, it is best to remain calm and avoid any confrontation. Give the robber what they’re demanding. Usually, they just want your wallet and phone. If you give them what they want, they will leave you alone.

If you refuse to give the robber what they want or you try to fight, all bets are off. You could be badly injured or killed. In many cases, they are not caught.

Home Invasions

Armed criminals sometimes break into homes and commit robberies. Sometimes they hide outside until someone opens the gate or front door. They then attack and rob the home.

Home invasions can turn violent if the victim is home. You can read about a recent home invasion on the Uganda Police Force website. In this case, six criminals waited outside of a woman’s house with a gun and machetes. When she came out to lock the gate, they attacked her and robbed her of her cash, electronics, and car. She and two others who were at the home ended up in the hospital.

When booking accommodation, make sure it’s secure. Most hotels and apartment complexes have 24 hour security guards, called askari. These guards are usually armed. There should be large walls around the property with barbed wire or electric fences. The windows should have bars. All of this security will help keep robbers out.

There are some additional steps you can take to improve security. When leaving your home or hotel room, be sure to securely lock all doors, windows, and gates. Close the curtains so criminals can’t see in. If they see valuables through the windows, they will be more likely to attempt a break-in. At night, consider leaving a light on so criminals think someone is home. If you have an outdoor light, leave it on so thieves can’t hide around your front door. Before leaving your home, look outside to make sure nobody is waiting for you to open the door.

Terrorism in Uganda

The risk of terrorism is currently considered medium in Uganda. Tourists are generally not targeted but can still be victims if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When entering any official building, you should expect to go through security checks including body search and luggage check. When you enter a mall or supermarket, you will have to check your luggage. There will be a counter where you can leave bags and backpacks.

Terrorism has been a threat in Uganda for many years now. Al-Shabab is the most active terrorist organization in the country. Several other terrorist groups are also active.

The last major terrorist attack took place in 2010 when suicide bombers attacked crowds during screenings of the World Cup final. This attack killed 74 people. The most recent attacks occurred in December of 2022 in Western Uganda. In 2021, there were multiple bombings in and around Kampala. Several people were killed.


Carjackings sometimes happen when travelers pass through isolated areas. Bandits have also been known to create roadblocks and stop vehicles. They then rob the drivers and passengers at gunpoint.

Bus robberies have also been known to occur. For example, you can read about this case where a group of gunmen robbed bus passengers of their cash and phones. Anyone who didn’t comply was beaten.

Avoiding travel at night greatly reduces the risk of falling victim to carjacking and robbery. If you must travel at night, always travel in a convoy.

Kidnapping in Uganda

Kidnappings occur in Uganda but they are not common. Female kidnappings are increasingly common in some regions. Tourists are generally not targeted in kidnappings.

There are exceptions. In 2019, an American woman was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park. She was held for 5 days until she was rescued by Ugandan authorities. You can read about the kidnapping here.

Transportation and Road Safety in Uganda

As a visitor, your biggest danger while visiting Uganda is probably the roads. Auto accidents and traffic deaths are extremely common.

According to this interesting article, “For a period of 45 days, 329 people died on Ugandan roads, a trend that is worrying.” According to the WHO, Uganda has one of the world’s highest traffic death rates at 29 per 100,000. To compare, the traffic death rate in the United States is around 12.4 per 100,000. Pedestrians account for about 40% of traffic deaths in Uganda. Motorcycle riders account for around 33% of road deaths.

Traffic is dangerous in Uganda for a number of reasons. First, the roads are often in poor condition. There are large potholes that drivers swerve to avoid. There are also many unpaved roads in the city. Traction can be poor in the rain. The roads are crowded as well. People walk in the road because there are often no sidewalks. Motorcycles weave through the traffic. People speed. This all contributes to the high traffic death rate.

The main modes of transportation in Uganda are shared minibuses (called taxis), motorcycle taxis (called boda bodas), and buses. There are dangers to all three transportation options.


Taxi drivers often drive recklessly when they’re in a hurry. They will drive on sidewalks and road shoulders to avoid traffic. To make some extra money, many drivers overload the taxi with passengers and cargo. The extra weight makes the vehicles difficult to maneuver. The brakes brakes and steering systems may not be properly maintained. This could cause an accident if the driver loses control. There are no safety belts.

I was once in a taxi when the driver decided to race his friend. We sped along a highway until we passed the other driver. When we stopped to let a passenger off, the other taxi sped past us. Of course, my driver had to speed up to pass his friend. This game of cat and mouse continued all the way to my destination.

In this case, I should have gotten out and waited for the next taxi. If a taxi feels unsafe, get out and find another. Changes are another taxi will pass by in 10-15 minutes.

Boda Bodas (Motorcycle Taxis)

Motorcycle taxis, or boda bodas, are the most common form of transportation in Uganda. These are the fastest transportation option in cities but they are dangerous. Many drivers are not well trained. They make risky maneuvers in traffic. For example, they may run red lights and weave through traffic. Many motorcycles are also not well maintained. The tires may be worn bald. The brakes may not be properly adjusted. Many drivers don’t have helmets for passenger. This increases their risk of head injuries during an accident. Some motorcycles also have poor lighting. This makes nighttime rides more dangerous.

I was involved in one minor accident while riding a boda. A car was coming down a hill too fast and my driver decided to make a right turn in front of him. Luckily, the driver saw us and slowed down. He still hit the front of the bike. No one was injured but it was pretty scary experience. If the driver hadn’t have slowed down, we could have been run over.

While visiting Uganda, consider buying your own helmet to wear while riding boda bodas. It could save your life. If you’re on a boda and you feel that the driver is driving recklessly, get off, pay, and find another boda with a safer driver. It’s never a problem to find another boda.

Some boda boda drivers are also criminals. It is not safe to take a random boda that you flag down on the street after dark. The driver could drive you to a deserted area and rob you. Alternatively, they could drive you to their accomplices who are waiting to rob you. Use Safe Boda or call a trusted driver if you need to move at night. During the day, it is safe to flag down a random driver.


Large trucks also make the roads more dangerous. Trucks are often overloaded. The cargo is often not properly secured. This can be dangerous if the truck tips while taking a corner too quickly or if the cargo falls onto the road. Drivers sometimes go too fast and lose control.

Civil Unrest in Uganda

Overall, Uganda is a pretty stable country these days. President Yoweri Museveni has done a good job of keeping the country relatively peaceful.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes sometimes occur in Uganda. Usually during election seasons. Police suppression can get violent.

To stay safe, you should avoid any large demonstrations or protests. Leave the area immediately if you notice the situation starting to escalate.

The risk of encountering any civil unrest is pretty low right now.

Scams in Uganda

There are a number of scams to look out for while traveling in Uganda. Scammers do target tourists. They assume that all tourists have money. Most scams aren’t too elaborate but it’s easy to fall victim if you’re not careful.

Overcharging is probably the most common scam. Boda boda drivers might charge you 15,000 shillings for a ride when the actual going rate is 5,000. A fruit vendor might charge you 3,000 per mango when the price is actually 2,000.

The only way to avoid this scam is to know your prices. If you’re unsure, ask a local how much something should cost. You will still get overcharged but at least you can negotiate if you know the correct price.

Romance scams are also common in Uganda. If you meet someone while online dating, they may tell you a sob story and then ask you to send money to help pay for hospital bills for a sick family member, school fees, or their rent. These are scams. A date could also ask you to send transport money and then not show up. Never send money to someone that you haven’t met in person.

People may also pitch you investment opportunities, like buying land or gold. In the end, the scammer just takes off with your money. These scams can get pretty elaborate, involving fake bank accounts and forged documents. Never agree to go into business with anyone or buy land or real estate unless you know what you’re doing. You will get scammed.

For more info, check out my guide to 25 common travel scams and how to avoid them.

LGBT Safety in Uganda

Uganda is not a safe country for LGBT travelers. Same-sex relationships are criminalized under Uganda’s new anti-homosexuality bill. It is important to exercise caution if you are an LGBT traveler in Uganda. Don’t share your identity. You could be harassed or even arrested and jailed. It’s best not to even talk about these issues in the country. If you are perceived to be a member of the LGBT community, it may not be safe to travel to Uganda.

Kissing and Public Displays of Affection in Uganda

Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Uganda. Particularly among the older generation. It’s best to avoid kissing or showing affection when you’re in public. It could draw unwanted attention. Couples can show some affection in public spaces. Holding hands or hugging is fine.

Police in Uganda

The Ugandan police do a good job of keeping the country relatively safe. They do have radios, vehicles, and weapons but resources are limited. They are also lacking in manpower. Response times are slow. You may not be able to rely on the police to respond quickly if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

For this reason, many businesses choose to employ private security guards. These security guards vary in quality. Some are useless and others are well trained.

In Kampala, the police have reduced response times in recent years. Police are placed strategically across the city. Mobile patrols are also used to deter crime. You’ll regularly see police vehicles driving around the city. There are also motorcycle police. This has helped to reduce crime.

The national emergency number in Uganda is 999. This number connects you to the police. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, don’t hesitate to call.

Corruption and Bribes in Uganda

Corruption is a problem in Uganda. There have been efforts to crack down on corruption but many people are still forced to pay bribes for basic services.

Police corruption in Uganda is extensive. If you get pulled over by the police while driving, the officer will likely try to solicit a bribe. While you’re out and about minding your own business, it is unlikely for the police to stop you and bother you, unless you are breaking the law.

If you need police assistance, you may need to pay a bribe as well. For example, if you need a police report, you may need to pay for it. If you’re involved in a traffic accident and you need police assistance, you’ll probably have to pay. Police management is trying to crack down on corruption but it’s still a problem.

Recently, there was also a problem with corrupt immigration agents requesting bribes before allowing people to depart Uganda through Entebbe International airport. It was all over social media. The government seemed to crack down on this pretty quickly. You can read more about this issue in this article. I didn’t have any issues when I was flying out. I believe Ugandans were targeted, not foreigners.

As a visitor, you are unlikely to experience corruption. You may be asked to pay a bribe if you’re pulled over by the police if you commit a traffic infraction. Usually, you can avoid these types of bribes if you have patience.

Drugs and Alcohol in Uganda

Alcohol use in Uganda is high. In fact, at one point, Uganda had the highest annual consumption of alcohol in the world. According to this study, almost 10% of the population has an alcohol use disorder. Ugandans like to drink.

This high rate of alcohol consumption creates a number of safety issues. Drunk driving is common in Uganda. You need to be cautious while you’re on the road. Particularly while you’re walking. Try to walk in the direction of oncoming cars (on the right side of the road in Uganda) so you can move out of the way if a driver is coming too close. If you’re driving, drive defensively.

Alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of violence. Assaults aren’t common in Uganda but they can happen when people have been drinking. If someone approaches you and they’re clearly drunk, you shouldn’t interact with them.

Some alcohol produced in Uganda is not safe to drink. Ugandan Waragi is a homemade gin that contains around 42% alcohol. The alcohol content can be much higher. Bootleg versions of the drink sometimes come laced with methanol. Recently, 12 people were killed and 18 were hospitalized after drinking Waragi. Check out this article to read more about the incident.

To stay safe, you should only drink alcohol from a major manufacturer. Only drink at legitimate bars and restaurants. Don’t drink homemade alcohol.

Organized crime also exists. Uganda lies on a narco-smuggling route. Drugs are smuggled from West Africa through Uganda into the Middle East and Asia and eventually to Europe. Traffickers also use Uganda as an entry point for shipment of illicit drugs worldwide. Drug trafficking has increased over the years. Cannabis is also grown in Uganda. Crime comes along with narco-trafficking.

Drugs are highly illegal in Uganda. Enforcement is pretty lax. Uganda’s anti-narcotic force is under equipped, poorly trained, and not well-manned. Foreigners are occasionally arrested for the possession of illegal drugs. In 2021, an American man was arrested for possessing a small amount of cannabis.

While visiting Uganda, you should never buy or use illegal drugs. You could end up with a big fine or jail time if you’re caught. You are unlikely to encounter any drug-related crime as long as you stay away from drugs.

Sipi Falls, Uganda
Sipi Falls

Staying Healthy and Avoiding Disease in Uganda

There are a number of deadly diseases that exist in the Uganda. In this section, I’ll outline some of the most common diseases that exist in Uganda and explain how to avoid them.

Traveler’s Diarrhea/Food Poisoning in Uganda

Upset stomach or traveler’s diarrhea is the most common travel sickness. Traveler’s diarrhea can be caused by eating food, drinking water that have been contaminated with harmful bacteria. In Uganda, locals refer to traveler’s diarrhea as ‘having a runny tummy’.

Food poisoning is extremely common in Uganda due to unsafe food preparation and storage practices. Many street food stands don’t have refrigeration. At butcher shops, meat sits out in the open. Power outages are also common. Food can spoil while the power is out. For these reasons, you need to be careful about what you eat.

To avoid traveler’s diarrhea in Uganda, never drink tap water. Use bottled water, filtered water, or boiled water instead. Drink hot beverages such as tea and coffee or carbonated beverages. When you buy a drink, make sure it’s sealed. Wash, dry, and peel fruits and vegetables before you eat them. Avoid eating at roadside stands and street food stands. Only eat food that is freshly cooked and served hot.

If you spend enough time in Uganda, you will get traveler’s diarrhea at some point. There is no avoiding it. Traveler’s diarrhea is usually easily treated. If your diarrhea won’t go away, visit a clinic. You can get some medication for just a couple of dollars.

Malaria in Uganda

Malaria is one of the most dangerous illnesses found in Uganda. In fact, it is one of the the leading cause of death in the country. It is endemic in 95% of Uganda. Almost everyone who travels to Uganda is at risk.

Malaria is caused by a parasite. It is spread through a bite from an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, chills, and fatigue. If left untreated, Malaria can cause death.

In Uganda, malaria is common in rural regions. It is less common in Kampala but it does exist. If you start to experience symptoms, go to a clinic right away to get tested. A test costs only a couple of dollars. It only takes 15 minutes to get tested. If the test comes back positive, the doctor will prescribe you medication on the spot. If you catch it early, you should start feeling better in a few days.

The best way to avoid malaria is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place. To reduce the likelihood of getting bitten, use an insect repellent with DEET. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and socks that cover your ankles in the evenings. Always sleep under a mosquito net.

Most visitors should also take malaria prophylactic while traveling in Uganda. Before your trip visit a doctor for a malaria consultation. They will prescribe you the best malaria pills for your trip. Alternatively, you can buy malaria pills when you arrive in Uganda.

Typhoid Fever in Uganda

This is another serious illness that exists in Uganda. Typhoid is a bacterial infection. Typhoid is usually spread by consuming contaminated food or water. Symptoms include high fever, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation, and sometimes rash.

It’s a good idea to get a typhoid vaccine before your trip to Uganda. Visit a travel vaccine clinic before your trip to get vaccinated.

Yellow Fever

A yellow fever vaccine is an entry requirement for Uganda. You can’t travel to Uganda without a yellow fever vaccine certificate. When you apply for a visa, you will need to upload a photo of your vaccine certificate. You will also be asked for the vaccine certificate at immigration when you arrive. You must be vaccinated at least 10 days before your trip.

Yellow fever is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms of Yellow Fever include fever, chills, headache, back pain, nausea, vomiting, and muscle pain. The disease is life-threatening if it’s not treated. If you’re vaccinated, you’re unlikely to catch it. The vaccine is highly effective.

Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) in Uganda

Bilharzia, also known as schistosomiasis, is a parasitic infection carried by larvae. It is transmitted through freshwater snails. The parasite can enter the body through the skin while you’re swimming in lakes, rivers, and streams that have been contaminated with the parasite. Bilharzia is found in freshwater lakes all over Africa.

The infection can cause severe health problems if not treated, including anemia, malnutrition, liver disease, and renal failure. According to this study around 25% of the population of Uganda is affected by bilharzia.

The best way to prevent a bilharzia infection is to avoid swimming in any freshwaters that may be contaminated with the parasite. Wear protective clothing such as waders or waterproof boots when wading in potentially infected water. In general, it’s best not to swim in any lakes in Uganda, including lake Victoria.

Bilharzia is pretty easily treatable. If you think that you have been infected, visit a clinic to get tested and treated.

Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi


The risk of HIV is high in Uganda. If you plan to have sex with anyone during your trip, be sure to use a condom. It’s also a good idea for you and your partner to get tested at a clinic. Tests are fast and affordable.


Ebola is a deadly virus. Outbreaks have been known to occur in Uganda from time to time. In 2022, there was an ebola outbreak in Uganda that caused 55 deaths. You can read more about this outbreak here.

Ebola has no vaccine. It is also very deadly. Signs of Ebola include sudden fever, muscle aches, vomiting, abdominal pain, rashes on the skin, bleeding both inside and outside of the body, red eyes, joint/muscle pain, etc. If you show these symptoms while visiting any part of Africa seek medical care immediately.

Ebola is taken very seriously in Uganda. While traveling in this part of the world, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news to see if there are any outbreaks. If an outbreak is ongoing, consider postponing your trip or at least avoiding that region.

I was traveling in Uganda during the 2022 Ebola outbreak. I was worried that the country would go into lockdown to prevent the spread. Luckily, they were able to get it under control quickly. The government did a very good job of controlling the situation. They shut down some roads to prevent the spread.


In some cities in Uganda, there is a risk of cholera. Cholera is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria. It is commonly found in contaminated water or food. Particularly in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene.

In Uganda, cholera outbreaks aren’t necessarily common but they do happen. Particularly during the rainy season when well water becomes contaminated with sewage.

The most effective way to avoid getting cholera is by using clean water for drinking and washing. There is a vaccine available. Visit a travel vaccine clinic before your trip to Uganda to determine whether or not you need the cholera vaccine.

Healthcare and Medical Treatment in Uganda

Uganda’s healthcare system is pretty limited. The equipment in hospitals is often outdated. Many hospitals and clinics don’t have the equipment needed to properly diagnose and treat serious illnesses or injuries. In addition, medicines and supplies are often in short supply or simply unavailable. Hospitals are overcrowded. There is also a lack of healthcare workers. Emergency medical care is limited due to the lack of skilled doctors.

Even the best hospitals in Kampala suffer from these issues. In rural areas, finding even the most basic medical care may be difficult.

It is strongly recommended that you have travel insurance for your trip to Uganda. Make sure your insurance covers all of the activities you plan to do. For example, some travel insurance doesn’t cover adventure activities.

Your travel insurance should also cover medical evacuation. If you suffer a major injury or disease, you may need to be evacuated to another country with better medical infrastructure. This can be extremely expensive.

You should also bring a sufficient supply of any medications you may need during your trip. Some medications are not available in Uganda. Some medications are hard to find. Don’t rely on local pharmacies.

It’s also a good idea to bring enough supplies to treat basic injuries and aliments. For example, pack some antibiotic ointment, painkillers, cold and flue medicine, etc. This stuff is available at pharmacies but it’s best to have it when you need it.

Dangerous Animals to Avoid While Visiting a National Park

Elephants on an African Safari

Uganda is home to a number of dangerous wild animals. There are hippos, Nile crocodile, cape buffalo, Mountain gorillas, and various species of venomous snakes such as the Black Mamba or Gaboon Viper.

You likely won’t encounter any dangerous wild animals outside of the national parks. When you view wildlife in the national parks, listen to your guide and park rangers. They will inform you of any hazards. Make sure to stay within designated viewing areas. Never wander away from your guide unaccompanied. The risk of having a dangerous animal encounter is incredibly small as long as you follow the safety guidelines.

Statistically, the most dangerous animal in Uganda is the mosquito. It is estimated that almost 20,000 people die from malaria each year in Uganda.

Weather in Uganda

The weather in Uganda is varied. There are distinct wet seasons and dry seasons. The wet seasons occur twice each year. The first wet season runs from March to May and the second runs from September to December. During the wet season, it rains most days. Showers usually last for an hour or two. Humidity levels are higher during the wet seasons.

The best time to visit is during the dry season from June to September. During this time, the days are sunny and hot. The nights are cool and comfortable. Expect temperatures in the 70s and 80s every day.

Uganda has a varied landscape. There are grasslands, jungles, deserts, plateaus, and mountainous regions. Each area has its own climate. For example, highlands are cooler than other regions due to their elevation above sea level.

Check the forecast before your trip and pack the right clothing so you’re prepared for the weather in the regions you plan to visit. If you’re traveling during the rainy season, bring a good rain jacket.

Natural Disasters in Uganda: Floods and Mudslides

Uganda is prone to a number of natural disasters. The most common are floods and mudslides. Tourist are unlikely to be affected.

Flooding happens every year in Uganda. Last year, there were 29 fatalities caused by flooding in Eastern Uganda, according to this article.

Mudslides and landslides also happen in areas where there is heavy rainfall and soil erosion due to deforestation. Mudslides also happen every year. For example, last year 16 people died in Western Uganda during a mudslide according to this article. Mudslides and flooding are particularly common in Western Uganda.

Emergency Services in Uganda

The national emergency number in Uganda is 999. Generally, reporting crimes in person at a local police station will result in a faster response.

Your embassy can also help if you fall victim to a crime in Uganda. They can help you contact family or friends back home. They may also be able to provide guidance on navigating the legal system. Your embassy can also help you in case you need emergency medical assistance or if you need to return home unexpectedly.

When traveling in Uganda, it’s important to have traveler’s insurance. Make sure that you’re familiar with what your plan does and does not cover for emergencies. Ideally, it should include medical evacuation. This can save you money if you find yourself in an emergency situation.

For non-emergency situations such as filing a police report you should visit the nearest police station. It’s a good idea to always file a police report if you fall victim to a crime, such as theft. You will need the report to make a claim with your travel insurance.

FAQ About Staying Safe in Uganda

Is Uganda Safe for Female Tourists?

Yes. Uganda is safe for female tourists. Foreigners are usually not targeted in crimes. That said, a solo female will want to take some precautions when out and about.

Avoid isolated areas. Don’t walk around alone at night. Always keep an eye on your drink while you’re at a bar. If your drink leaves your sight, get a new one. Don’t be overly trusting of strangers that you just meet. Don’t get too intoxicated. Sexual harassment can happen.

When out in public, women should also dress modestly. It is frowned upon for women to show too much skin in Uganda. It is a conservative and religious country. You can still wear shorts and t-shirts and comfortable clothing. It just shouldn’t be too revealing. Try to cover your shoulders and legs.

Is Uganda Safe for Solo Travelers?

The author hiking through a field in Uganda
Hiking through a farm

Yes. Uganda is a safe destination for solo travelers. It’s a relatively easy country to travel alone. Tourists usually aren’t targeted in crimes. That said, you do need to take a few basic safety precautions.

Research the areas you plan to visit. Make sure they are safe. Check for travel advisories. Generally, Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja, Eastern Uganda, Southern Uganda, and the national parks are safe to visit. There are some dangerous regions in the north and west that you should avoid.

Make copies of your important documents so you have backups. Also, make sure someone back home knows where you plan to travel. Stay aware of your surroundings while you’re out and about. Don’t be overly trusting of people you meet.

Most crimes against tourists are crimes of opportunity, such as petty theft and pickpocketing. As long as you keep a close eye on your belongings and avoid wandering around alone at night, you shouldn’t have any issues while traveling in Uganda alone.

Is Uganda Safe for Families?

Yes. Uganda is a safe destination for families. The country has a relatively low crime rate and the locals are friendly and welcoming.

There are also plenty of family friendly things to do. Kids, adults, and older travelers can all enjoy wildlife viewing, cruising on the Nile, viewing waterfalls, and relaxing by the lakes.

It’s important to note that young kids are not allowed to go gorilla trekking. The minimum age for this activity is 15.

Is Kampala Safe to Walk Around?

Yes. Kampala is generally safe to walk around during the day. You can wander around freely without having to worry about getting robbed.

You will need to take some basic precautions to protect your belongings. Always keep a close eye on your stuff. Watch your pockets. Never leave bags unattended. There are plenty of pickpockets, scammers, and thieves working in crowded areas, such as markets.

At night, it’s best to limit your travel. Try to stay in well-lit and populated areas. Avoid deserted streets. It’s not safe to wander around at night. Always take a taxi or boda boda to your destination after dark. Try to only accept a ride from a boda driver you know or one you hire from an app, like Safe Boda. Uber is also a safe way to get around at night.

To stay safe while out wandering around, try to dress modestly and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid displaying valuables in public.

The author standing on a road in Kampala
Walking around the neighborhood where my friend lives in Kampala

Is Uganda Safe at Night?

At night, you are more likely to encounter crime. Most robberies occur at night. There are certain precautions you need to take to stay safe. It’s not safe to wander around after dark. Having said this, is safe enough to go out in Uganda at night. Kampala has some excellent nightlife.

Stay in well-lit and populated areas at night. Don’t walk down deserted streets. Robbers can hide and attack when you walk by. Don’t walk in unfamiliar areas. Only carry the cash that you need. I wouldn’t say the risk of getting robbed is high but you do need to be cautious.

When taking taxis only get in if there are lots of other passengers. If there is just a driver and a couple of guys, don’t accept the ride. It is unlikely but they could be robbers. Don’t take random bodas that you find on the street at night. They could drive you someplace deserted and rob you. Take a Safe Boda or Uber instead.

Are Uganda’s National Parks Safe to Visit?

Yes. Uganda’s national parks are perfectly safe to visit. There is almost no crime to worry about in the national parks.

There are some potentially dangerous wild animals. To stay follow the rules. Listen to the park rangers and your guide.

Is Gorilla Trekking in Uganda Safe?

Yes. Gorilla trekking is safe. You must be accompanied by a professional guide at all times while visiting the mountain gorillas. You must remain at least 7 meters from the gorillas unless they approach you. In addition, all trekkers must wear masks to protect the animals from any possible illness that humans may carry. As long as you follow the guidelines and listen to your guides, gorilla trekking in Uganda is safe.

In Uganda, you can go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

How Should I Dress in Uganda?

You should dress modestly when traveling in Uganda. The country is fairly conservative.

Women should wear clothes that cover the knees and shoulders. Tank tops, short shorts, and tight clothing are not recommended. Men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts.

It’s a good idea to carry a light jacket or sweater. Even though Uganda is on the equator, temperatures can drop in the evenings. Particularly in higher elevation areas and during the rainy seasons. During the evenings, it’s also a good idea to cover your arms and legs to avoid mosquito bites. This reduces your chance of catching malaria.

My Experience Traveling in Uganda

The author sitting in front of a traditional house in Uganda

I’m currently traveling in Uganda as I write this. I’ve been in the country for about 5 months. This is my third trip to Uganda.

So far, I have not encountered any crime. I do take a few precautions to stay safe. When I’m out and about, I try to carry cash in at least two places. I carry some in my pocket and some in another zippered pocket. That way, I still have enough cash to get back home if I get robbed or pickpocketed.

I also travel with two phones. One primary phone and one old phone. I leave my main phone locked up in my accommodation most of the time and I carry my old phone around for navigation when I’m out and about. When I go out sightseeing, I take my better phone to take photos. If my old phone gets stolen, I can easily replace it.

An apartment in Kampala
My apartment in Kampala

I also wear clothing with zippered pockets. I store my valuables in a pocket that zips closed. Sometimes, I carry my money belt.

On one occasion, some guys were walking behind me and they told me that I dropped my wallet. I think they were trying to get me to feel for it so they would where I kept it. Then they could try to pickpocket me. This happened during the day when other people were around. I don’t think they were trying to rob me.

When traveling at night, I am cautious. I avoid taking random bodas. Instead, I only hire drivers that I trust. I don’t walk around at night unless I’m on a crowded street.

The only danger I have encountered during my time in Uganda was a minor boda accident. A driver tapped the front of the boda that I was riding. Luckily, it was a slow collision. My least favorite part of Uganda is the transportation system. Bodas are dangerous and taxis are slow and uncomfortable. I believe the most dangerous part of traveling here is the transportation.

Final Thoughts

Uganda is safe for tourists to visit. Over the past couple of decades, the security situation has greatly improved. There is law and order in Uganda. Crime is treated seriously.

Of course, there are still some risks to be aware of. Petty crime like theft and pickpocketing is relatively common. Particularly in crowded areas. Robberies happen as well. Home break ins are a worry. There are also some dangerous tropical diseases that you have to be aware of including malaria and typhoid fever. Traveler’s diarrhea is common. If you take the precautions outlined in this guide, you can greatly reduce your likelihood of encountering crime.

If you’re still unsure, check out my guide: Is Africa Safe? for more general safety info.

Have you traveled to Uganda? Is Uganda Safe? Share your experience and tips in the comments below!

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