Tips for hiring and driving a car in Uganda

For the first couple of years, I stayed in Uganda, I didn’t have a vehicle. There’s truly no compelling reason to get a vehicle in case you’re living in a city or going to another city on holiday. In any case, once in a while, you get tempted to try a self-drive trip and the Ugandan transport system doesn’t reach the best off-the-beaten-road destinations. That is when it’s a great opportunity to hop in a car and discover Uganda from behind the wheel.

With a hired vehicle, you can reach any small villages, secluded beaches, mountains, and wildlife parks you’d never see otherwise. Most of the best excursions destinations in East Africa can only be accessed by vehicle. Getting a car is worth the effort it takes.

Be that as it may, before you go online to rent a 4×4 car in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, or Tanzania, and hit the road to start your adventure in East Africa, spare some time to read through these tips for renting and driving around Uganda and beyond. Throughout the years I’ve taken many trips around the country from Kampala by rental vehicle, and I’ve discovered some things about driving in a foreign country and keeping your self-drive car rental easy and enjoyable. Here are my best tips, most of which are relevant to hiring a vehicle through Africa.

Check your license

Always check with the car rental company beforehand to ensure you have everything you need to drive on Ugandan roads. Most rental companies in the country normally just require a valid passport and international driver’s permit.

For all the times I hired vehicles in Uganda, I have never been requested for an international driving permit, so I have never bothered to get one. In any case, it’s good to be safe than sorry and it’s advisable to get one.

Find a good deal

I have hired cars from various rental companies in Uganda and have had a scope of good and awful encounters. The main takeaway is that in the event that it looks too good (or too cheap) to be true, at that point it most likely is. Most car rental companies offer rental services at a very cheap price but they will end up hitting your wallet for gas, insurance, mileage, and additional drivers and there are high chances that the vehicle they will give you is not in good condition the thing which will put your life in danger.

I was searching online and landed on a cheap deal when they are hiring a land cruiser on self-drive at 50$ and I just rush to book with them but I ended up spending much more than I expected on their hidden charges. At last, I stopped using them and I chose to pay more in advance for good services and less hassle. Check out Rental Cars Uganda Ltd for good and affordable car rental services in Uganda.

Read and understand the contract before you sign on it

This tip could be applied to numerous parts of your trip. Ensure that they explain to you all the extra and hidden charges before you sign the agreement. In case there’s a certain type of vehicle you need, make sure to request it. Be confident and ask now.

At the company counter, they always give you a piece of paper (Contract) that incorporates illustrated the car you hired. Regularly, particularly with city rentals, you’ll need to go outside and find your rental vehicle in parking, and there may not be anybody there to help you. Demand that somebody go with you or meet you in the parking to go over any imperfections that the vehicle has on the inside and outside. Mark all these defects, even the small ones, on the contract they gave you to sign at the counter, precisely marking the dents and scratches on the outline of the vehicle. This may sound excessive, however, it will save you some money. The representative from the car rental company should approve all the flaws you identify. Even if the company representative delivered the vehicle to you at the airport or at your residence place make sure you check it through before you sign the contract.

Hide all valuables from sight
Always make sure your car doors are locked when driving in a traffic jam more especially in major cities in Uganda like Kampala, Masaka, Jinji, Mbarara, and others. you’re also strongly advised to not leave your valuables like smartphones, camera bags, purses, suitcases, and others in plain sight in the car because it can attract thieves to break into your car.

Automatic Transition Vehicles

Most car rental companies in Uganda offer manual transmission vehicles and most Ugandans know how to drive stick shift vehicles. Automatic vehicles are a special case, not the rule, and you may need to pay some more dollars to rent one.

In case you are a fan of automatic transmission vehicles, then look around for companies like Rental Cars Uganda Ltd ( or Hire Cars Rwanda Ltd ( who don’t offer extra charges for renting out automatic cars and make sure to reserve them in advance because some companies have limited supply more especially in the high season of the month.

Choose your parking spot wisely

It is difficult to park in the same big cities like Kampala and Entebbe. Parking spaces are rare, and when you do find one, you have to first find out whether it is a public parking spot or just open to those working around. I wrongly parked in a space I thought was public parking only to find the car clamped by Multiplex the company responsible for the parking spaces in the city and I had to pay about 50000/= later I learned my lesson. In some small towns, you will be able to park anywhere and won’t need to pay a penny. This is particularly valid in the countryside. If not sure, check with a neighborhood to ensure you’re not parking before somebody’s gate or entryway.

Another thing you must know here is that some free parking spaces are not safe so in case you are uncertain about where you can park and what the rules, the best wager is to put your ride in a carport and pay more. Your auto will no doubt be more secure in a carport and will be there when you return. There are parking structures wherever in urban areas and bigger towns.

Be careful on the road

As a rule, driving in Uganda is very little not the same as in the rest of east Africa. The laws and street signs are almost the same. Most roads in the country more especially highways are well marked and well maintained. Driving aggressively and bumper to bumper is common in Uganda, and for some local people, turn signals appear like even more a suggestion than a necessity. In case you feel overwhelmed or stressed at any point on the road in Uganda, simply reduce speed; the person behind you may dislike it, but rather he can pass.