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Car Hire in Uganda: Important Things to Know

4X4 Uganda Car Hire

Adventuring through Africa on your own is one of the most amazing experiences for visitors to the black continent. Though there is a wide range of car hire services available through out Africa, it is important to know some of the most important aspects that will help you travel worry free using car hire services. Here are the important things to do and what not to do when hiring a car.  This is an unfortunate story of a car rental made in haste.

Book A Car Online

This is my experience in hiring a rent a car and this is what not to do.  My misadventure happened in the late 2000s.  I wanted to visit some friends several hundred miles away.  At the time I lived in a small town in Eastern Uganda and i wanted to adventure through several uganda national parks on my own using a rental car.  I didn’t own a car and there was no direct convenient bus or train service to where my friends lived.  I decided to take the bus, then rent a car, at the nearest place available.

I traveled to the town where the car hire or rent a car place was located.  By the time I arrived at their business to rent the car, the sun had set and it was dark.  I went in to the business, to enquire about renting a car.  The owner had one ready to go.  It was a compact blue station wagon.  Being dark outside I couldn’t see the car too well, but it seemed ok, so we went back to the office to do the paperwork.  The car hire form had details about the car, how long I expected to rent the car for, and the insurance coverage choices, so the business owner filled out all that.  I was sure that I chose to have the car and myself covered in full by insurance.  I thought the insurance box was checked, as covered.  He took an imprint of my credit card to pay for the car hire and that was it.  He gave me the car keys, and I drove away.  I regret for this given the misadventure of using a car that was not the best for my trip! From that time i vowed to book a car in time before your travel dates.

Get Hints About the Places to Visit

I had a long way to drive in the dark.  My route took me through dark remote and rural country side of Western Uganda, a very amazing place to visit during your safari holiday.

At night when you’re driving in a any safari park, you need to be very careful. Always be on the lookout for wild animals that are known to cause accidents. Africa has many animals that roam along the road side any how including elephants, buffaloes, baboons.  You want to see their little shining eyes, so you can slow down and be ready to swerve to avoid hitting them.  Sometimes small animals such as antelopes can be alarmed by the noise and headlights of the car approaching and they want to dash across the highway in front of you.  You want to be ready to slam on the breaks, so as not to damage the hired car you’re traveling in.

Travel Maps

Another good idea, especially if you are driving at night, is to take a highway map of the area you are traveling through. Some car rental agencies in Uganda such as Car Rental Uganda, Car Hire Uganda, Uganda Self Drive, U Drive Uganda, Entebbe Car hire are known to avail such maps at the time of picking the car. Travel maps are very essential if you are traveling in the remote side of uganda including national parks given that they will help you mark off where you are and the places to turn ahead, so you don’t make a wrong turn, like I did.

I made a wrong turn some where along the way during a trip to the north Eastern Uganda.  Instead of taking the direct route to Murchison Falls National Park, I ended up taking an indirect route that rotates through Hoima.  It was dark at night,  i had burnt a lot of fuel before I realized that the road and country side, didn’t look like where I should be.  I kept driving and a sign appeared with the next town ahead and how far to go to get there.  Then I realized, it was just a slight detour or side trip for me.   I felt a lot better when arriving at the next town, and knew which direction to go.  The remainder of my trip went well and I arrived safely at my destination.

Ask About Convenient Places for Dining

One of the things that most travelers do not always ask about is the getting to know the most convenient places to dine and wine during the trip. I remember one time when i wanted to have a good weekend with my friends, catching up and going out to dinner. We drive for about 2 hours in order to find a decent place where to dine yet we discovered later that there were some places that were close where we could dine and wine.

Driving Distances

Getting to know about driving distances is very much important or else you will one day miss your flight or any other tight programme! I remember one time in Karamoja when i had a very long drive during my return trip that took me through the beautiful country side and if i had booked my flight ticket for the same day, i could have missed the flight.  Every thing went well in the beginning but the time factor made the situation a bad one. By the time I arrived in Kampala, it was very late in the night. Give yourself more than enough time when using a car you’ve hired.


It is also a good idea to put enough gasoline in the car, at that point, since at times there are long distances between different fueling points. Please note that most fueling points are within towns and it is difficult to get gasoline in most rural areas. If possible buy gasoline in a jerrycan and travel with it during your adventure.

Driving Speed

So again I’m driving over mountainous rural terrain at the edge of the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park rushing to catch the ferry.  I’m watching the scenery and the wild game, making calculations of where it is I should be, and how long left to drive to catch the ferry.  It looks like I need to go faster, so I do.  I step on it.  I’m hoping to cut my time of travel down to just arrive before the ferry leaves.

This is definitely not the thing to do when driving a rented car, especially in a rural area where there are animals and birds around.  As I am speeding down a hill a rather large dark coloured bird darts in front of the car.  This is a big bird, about the size of a chicken.  At the high speed I am traveling at I hit the bird.  There was a sickening popping sound as the car and bird collided.  The feathers and bird flew up and to the side of the car.   I keep going and get to the ferry on time.  I drive on the ferry and park.  Getting out to inspect the car grill, I get a shock.  There was a large hole in the plastic car grill.  Broken pieces of plastic and feathers showed what had happened.  So now I’m sick about the damage.

I continue on my way to return the car to the rental company.  When I arrive at the car rental place I have to tell the owner about the bird collision.  He’s not too impressed.  We look at the rental form where the insurance section is not checked as covering the damage.  The owner wants several hundred dollars and that charge goes on my credit card too.  So don’t do what I did.

Use a Known Car Rental Company

Go to a major name car rental company. For me i used Car Hire Uganda, a known agency that i have been using for the past 3 years.  Be absolutely sure of your insurance coverage details.  Check that you are covered for all damage.  Know what the insurance deductible amount is.  That is the amount that you will need to pay, before the insurance pays the balance of any damage.  Read the form over carefully a couple of times before you sign it.  Be a careful driver, and take your time.  Have a great trip in Uganda in the car you hire.

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