How to drive on the roads of East Africa
East Africa is composed of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya & Tanzania as well as Burundi. Rwanda and Burundi drive on the right hand, independent travelers take a note of that. Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya drive on the left hand of the road.
East Africa’s roads are generally in good condition especially in the main cities and these can be traveled on comfortably depending on which region you are stationed in the country.
Plan Your Route
Even though most of the major highways are tarred and in good conditions, many tourist attractions are only accessible via gravel roads. Some attractions like the Bwindi Forest NP, Kidepo Valley NP, Queen Elizabeth NP and Murchison Falls NP are open to 4WD vehicles.
You will have to plan your route according to your vehicle and your driving skills. Most maps will classify the roads into tarred major roads, gravel major roads, gravel district roads and 4×4 only. The weather plays an important role as well. The rainy season from January to April can make driving a lot more difficult. You might have to navigate along soaked gravel roads and you could be faced with a river crossing the road mostly Kidepo Valley National Park.
There are also great distances between towns and many of the roads are less than busy, so it might be a while before help arrives. The best thing is to be well prepared which obviously includes driving the right vehicle.
4×4 or 2-Wheel-Drive
Choosing a vehicle depends on your destinations, your budget, driving skills and the amount of people and equipment you’re carrying. Travelling into 4×4 country also means that you will have to be self reliant at least to a certain degree. Make sure you have enough room to stock up on food and petrol and also find out how far a full tank will take you. If you want to find remote 4×4 destinations consider the Kidepo Valley National Park.
The tarmac roads in the countries enhance easy transportation from one place to another especially when on holiday vacation adventure in Africa. There are also dirt roads that are maintained to ensure easy transfers to the destinations of your choice.
Keep in mind these following essential tips while driving in any destination of your choice in Africa.
- Rent/hire a spacious 4×4 Car
To make traveling on your African self-drive adventure as comfortable as possible, ensure to book a well-spaced 4×4. The car will allow you to rest and enjoy every point of your adventure since you will be traveling for long, longer hours. This will give you enough leg room as well to relax.
- Follow Driving Rules
Ensure to know the driving rules of the country of choice. For these will make it easier for you to transfer from one place to another. For example some countries drive on the left hand side where as others drive on the right. Follow the road signs as well so as not to get into any accidents for this will enable you transfer to the destination of your choice safely.
- Carry your valid driver’s permit
In order to enjoy traveling along the roads in Africa , ensure to carry your valid driver’s license so as to travel conveniently along the roads. You won’t be penalized by the police as long as you have the right documents to allow you to travel to any destination of your choice. These should be international to enable you transfer along the roads in any country.
- Overtaking precautions
When traveling to any destination of your choice and you wish to overtake any vehicle, ensure to indicate to the car/driver in front of you that you want to overtake them for if you don’t you might get into an unexpected accident.
- Carry the right gadgets
While transferring to the various safari destinations of your choice ensure to carry a GPS to direct you along the different routes in the country as well as travel maps.
- Fuel/Gas stations
Many countries around the continent have fuel stations where you can fill up your tank before transferring for your remarkable safari adventure experience. The fuel is affordable to all kinds of travelers transferring on holiday vacation.
- Watch for wildlife
There is a lot of wildlife crossing roads in East African Countries mostly Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya . It is obviously not the most desirable thing to collide with any living creature, but having a a wildlife crashing into the driver’s cabin might cause more than a guilty conscience.
- Pace yourself
Sharp corners, potholes and the wildlife might call for sudden changes in direction, which are even harder to manage on gravel roads. So slow down and enjoy the ride.
- Mind your weight
Clearance and manoeuvrability are major issues and both are affected by overloading. So make sure you have the right sized vehicle for whatever you need to carry.
- Lights on
Driving on dry gravel roads might get you caught in a cloud of dust. Switching on your lights might not increase your visibility but I will allow other drivers to see you.
- See the signs
Speed limits and warning signs are there for a reason. So comply with the instructions, it’s that simple.