How to Drive on East African Roads
East Africa is composed of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya & Tanzania plus 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 and it will require you to have all the information with you in the head.
East Africa”s roads are generally in good condition. The tar roads allow for a smooth ride and the dirt roads are usually in good condition. However, you are still driving in Africa don’t forget .
How to 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, Kidepo 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 National Park
Essential Driving Tips
- 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.
- Tire Pressure – If you go into 4WD terrain it is advisable to slightly reduce tire pressure. Just make sure to bring a pump and restore the status quo when you get back onto tarred roads.
- 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.