Driving on bad or poorly maintained roads can be very dangerous, and it often takes a higher level of awareness and caution in order to stay safe. Many parts of Uganda generally have poor roads. According to statistics as of 2017 from Uganda ministry of works and transport, only 4% of the roads in the country are paved and that is 5300km of 130000km of roads. This means that whenever you plan to travel to different parts of Uganda away from urban centers, get ready to face with roads networks ranging up to extremely poor marum full of gullies & potholes. Some parts of Uganda have roads that are extremely poor and can get slippery easily. In such roads, vehicles can easily lose traction that may cause slipping off the road.
For-instance among the Top Tourist destinations in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is renowned of possessing poor roads leading to the park and it is always a high chance to get stuck if you don’t have a better 4wd vehicle such as a Toyota Land Cruiser. Roads linking to Bwindi Forest National park too are poor and combined with always wet nature of the areas around, getting stuck on the road can sometimes be inevitable.
In Uganda, roads that can give a challenge to maneuver can be classified into two; the dangerous curved and the unpaved.
Dangerous Curved Roads
Areas such as Kisoro and Kabale have dangerously curved roads rotating up the hills due to their hilly nature and therefore it would require an extra level of patience and determination to navigate them with ease. A curvy nature of the road comes with a blind turn and the best way to safely navigate such a type is to take it slow without forgetting to obey the speed limit allowances indicated.
The best way to drive these roads is to approach the blind curve with caution as you stick to to the left edge of the road as closely as possible – remember that in Uganda we drive on the left. Don’t forget to always be on alert for vehicles coming the other way since you never know who won’t be paying attention or coming over the line.
As earlier mentioned, more than 90% of the roads in Uganda are unpaved. For visitors to the country, driving on these roads can pose a unique challenge for them for instance while climbing up humps or entering potholes among others. Unpaved roads combined with the always wet nature of some areas mostly preferred by tourists such as those around Bwindi Forest can lead to vehicles slipping thus getting stuck in the mud.
Else, they can cause skidding during high speeds which ultimately leads to drivers losing control of the vehicle and this some times subjects to nasty single accidents such as rollovers which may cost you a fortune in terms of damage compensation given you are in a rented car. Such incidents are common in areas with sharp slanting roads such as in Murchison falls National park and some roads to Kidepo National park.
Tips for driving on bad roads
Therefore, even if you stay in countries with super smooth roads, once you are to travel to Africa, it is very important that you know how to drive on bad roads since driving on both is quite different. It is a good reason to learn how best to drive on such unavoidable bad roads and today, let’s guide you through how you could maneuver to next destination easily despite the extreme poor nature of the road mid your way.
Use a 4WD Vehicle
No matter how much experience you have with driving on smooth proper roads, you need a good AWD or 4WD vehicle to take you through some poor roads. This helps in that even though you are stuck on flooded or muddy terrains, you just have to push it hard with confidence that it pumps power to all the wheels.
Even though you are a visitor, it is very easy to get your self for you a good 4wd vehicle for your trip. The best option is to rent one. You can Rent a Car in Uganda for self drive from any of the Several companies you can find online. Just google and get one to trust.
Keep the speed low
Always remember to make sure to reduce your speed when driving on unpaved to prevent occasions of the vehicle slipping or skidding. Don’t get frustrated when driving on extremely poor road to speed more to get it off quickly. Speeding on a bad road does more harm than good. It not only puts too much strain on the tires and shocks of most cars but also make the passengers uncomfortable as well as faster wear and tear of vehicle parts that can ruin you adventure in the country.
Additionally, driving on unpaved surfaces with gravel often kicks up rocks and debris which can cause damage to the body (even under body) of the car or the windshield. Therefore, a maximum speed of 40km/hr is highly recommended while driving on unpaved roads in Uganda. Use the breaks gently and slowly work your way through the gears.
Move with Emergency Tools
Always expect emergency before driving on bad roads since they come up more often than while driving on smooth roads. After understanding this, make sure to keep the right emergency tools with you in the car since your car may get stuck in mud or other hard terrain at any time. Besides that, car tires can easily get punctured from sharp objects or stones on a bad road. Don’t forget to carry a jack, spanner, one or two extra wheels, first aid kit for you among others.
Follow tracks of other car tires
This can be more helpful while offloading. Though sounds amateur, it can be highly effective and can take a long way in saving you a lot of future stress.
Tracks left behind by other car tires before you can sometimes help you identify the best parts of a bad road and make you enjoy a much smoother journey.