Most visitors who come to Uganda travel around in a package safari tour, in small groups and with a local driver. This makes sense and offers a certain level of comfort but let us tell you: It’s definitely less of an experience! What most people don’t know:
You can either rent your own car via specialized rental companies such as Drive Uganda, or travel around using public transport. Most Ugandans can’t afford a car so public transport is very important. The local means of transport are “matatus” (mini buses that run frequently between towns and villages) and boda-bodas“ (motorbike taxis, to be found almost anywhere). There are also some bigger buses (coaches) running regularly between Kampala and larger towns
However, the matatus are often overcrowded with passengers and we often came across matatus that had broken down on the road. They tend to drive fast (quite dangerous on the washboard/dirt roads) and to pull over and stop at any moment (usually when there’s a passenger flagging it down at the side of the road or if someone wants to get off). The motor bike taxis are fun but also very bumpy and not very safe, either. (And you won’t be able to carry a lot of luggage on them).
Using public transport in Uganda is an interesting, fun experience but comparing the two, we recommend you travel around in your own rental car. Why, you may ask?
Why you should try self-driving in Uganda, too!
- Driving in Uganda is certainly more of a challenge than driving in Europe. But it is doable! Even though you’ve never done it before (like us).
- It’s definitely easier than using the public transport
- It may take more improvising on the road but it’s a great experience!
- It feels way more It will take you to more off-the-beaten-path places and you’ll meet more locals.
- It gives you way more freedom!
Go wherever you want, stop wherever you want, whenever you want.
- See things that you might have missed if you’d traveled in a group tour or by public transport.
- You can drive into the national parks by yourself and go on game drives in your own car (we loved that). Imagine seeing elephants, lions etc. up close from your own jeep! (No need to hire an expensive safari vehicle and driver or book a tour, either.)
- Driving on your own is way more fun and adventurous. If you love road trips, this will become one of your greatest adventures!
This was our first ever self-drive road trip in that part of Africa and we had no idea what it would be like. 25 days and many adventures later (luckily, no accidents or break-downs on the road, though), we are very glad we did it.
A self-driving road trip in Uganda is certainly not for everyone but we recommend you give it a try: It was such a great experience! And if we could do it, you can do it, too!