As East Africa emerges as popular safari destination, many car rental companies are mushrooming especially in major cities of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya offering self-drive tours and safaris. Driving in this region is challenging because of old model cars, individual insecurity, poor and narrow roads network, poor road usage among others. The safety tips below will help keep holiday driver safe through your self-drive safari through east African region.
1) Make thorough Car inspection
Check the booked car carefully before starting your road trip in East Africa. Make sure tyres are in good conditions including the spare tyre to properly ensure that they are in good shape. For longer trips, we advise that you take with you 2 spare tyres. It is also worth to check the radiator water level, lights, oil levels, wiper blades and for any leakages. Use the service tag to find out when the car was last serviced.
2) Avoid Driving at Night
It is not safe to drive at night due to the fact that there are no street lights especially in most of the country roads in the region and some areas have high-way robbers and even getting assistance is not easy. In addition most of the rental companies will not allow you drive beyond 7pm due to high accident risks caused by bad road users as most drunkards and unprofessional drivers sit behind wheels and drive at night. You can also bump into already broken car along the road.
3) Make use of GPS and a tourist map
We highly recommend that you make use a road map and GPS navigation, because you are driving in a foreign country. Credible car rental companies such as self drive 4×4 Uganda ltd provide cars with GPS and tourist maps it their clients. In case where the latter two fails to help you we advise that you the knowledge of the local people many people in the region can speak Basic English.
4) Use highway road signage
Road signage will help you follow Traffic laws to save you from dangers on the road, for instance, road signs like, speed limits especially in towns, don’t drink and drive and always wear your seat belt and get your passengers to wear theirs too as this will not only keep you safe but will also enable you to avoid charges and fines once you are stopped by a traffic police officer.
5) Make stopovers, Fuel the car and have a snack
Make stopovers to take breaks, stretch your legs and refresh. Fuel the car, don’t leave big towns without topping up your gas tank because you may probably not know the distance to the next gas station. There are no fuel stations in National game parks; as a result, you ought to go to the park with enough fuel in order for you to manage do your planned activities.
6) Take care of Weather changes
The region has a tropical kind of weather and your driving speed will be dictated by change in the weather conditions. Reduce speed when it’s raining as this is when roads are slippery. Murrum roads are the worst, very dusty with potholes, and impassable when it rains. That’s why we recommend 4×4 Vehicles for self-drive safaris.
7) Pay attention to oncoming vehicle and other road users
Most of the regional roads are narrow, some without pedestrian walks. Therefore, drivers should be attentive and extra careful to observe other road users such as cyclist, boda boda riders (Motor bikes for passengers), students and animals especially cattle crossing among others.
8) Seek National Park rules and Regulations
Make sure you observe rules and regulations for your safety while driving in the National Parks; don’t feed animals, don’t walk out of your car while in the park, stay inside your tent and don’t keep food items in the tent because, animals like monkeys, hyenas and other animals can smell it. Keep maximum speed of 40km/h otherwise you will likely pay a fine of UGX100.000 for over speeding in the park, and US$ 150 for off-track driving to seek personal interests in Uganda alone.
9) Mobile Network coverage
Some parts of the region do not have enough and clear network coverage. Therefore, we recommend use satellite phones.