Kampala Safety and Security Uganda

How safe Am I in Uganda? Kampala safety

I had a pal residing in Kampala who was hosting some people from  U.S. that where visiting him this past year. These specific visitors had mothers who were extremely fearful. While on phone with one of the previously mentioned mothers this friend of mine friend attempted to assuage her worries by saying “to be truthful mum, you son has approximately a 50/50 possibility of returning from here alive.”

Although the statement above  was totally in jest, a number of people I have met (including my parents) have an idea that Uganda and Africa as a whole is a “dark continent” filled with lurking dangers such as genocidaires, child soldiers, poachers, a wra-lord as well as evil dictators. Although these are a depressing reality portraying the disheartening past of Uganda and Africa as a whole, presently this is not the norm of the current situation in Kampala. I usually experience safe within Kampala just as I do in all the big cities within the U.S. On the other hand similar to other large cities all over the world bad things do occur here, and it is a great idea to be mindful of the possible risks.

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What is the safety ,how safe are Kampala Hotels?

How safe is my property in any Hotel within Kampala?

The U.S. Embassy within Kampala claims that “crimes like purse snatching pick pocketing, as well as thefts in hotels and also parked vehicles or even vehicles delayed in traffic jams are all very common.” One guideline that my girlfriend and I use as we drive around this city is to keep all doors locked plus windows rolled up no less than 3/4 up. There was this once that her phone stolen straight out of her hands while she was talking on it near the traffic light. Similarly I’ve had 3 friends who, while slowly driving through the potholes, had their car-door opened and their purse grabbed from the passenger seat. I also know some  two people whose backpacks where cut open while they were moving downtown in Owino Market without their conscious cut, so just as nerdy as it may sound, I recommend that when walking through very crowded areas you move with your backpack right on your chest.


I’m sorry about those unpleasant stories, however I another to tell only if you can bear with me. Armed robberies of pedestrians may as well occur, occasionally during daytime and within public spaces. One of the most traumatic stories I know is of one U.S. volunteer working with a worldwide NGO. He wasn’t an ordinary volunteer, the 32 year old, approximately 6’6” tall and about 270 pounds of solid muscle.  Sadly this man was moving by himself with a lot of money, a backpack having a laptop computer as well as a digital camera, plus an iPhone.  As he was pausing on one of the isolated street corners during the day he was knocked unconscious from behind by 2 men and robbed of all his possessions. Therefore the meaning of the story is… although you are a big giant it is still recommended that you don’t move alone but in groups, adhere to well-lighted as well as populated areas, move with just a few valuables on hand, and always stay alert for any possible risks.

Home Security

In case you are an expat residing in Kampala , it’s likely that you will be residing in a house or even apartment with a high concrete perimeter wall fence surrounding it as well as a guard to help keep things safe. In case you are an expat residing in Kampala it’s likely that you have as well heard a couple of stories about the saddening break-ins. I have heard my own share of this; and for a number of reasons they usually happen around the best season of the year – Christmas. In most of the stories I have heard the top suspects happen to be the live-in security officer or even the housekeeper. This could appear to mean that it’s a very great idea to take time when signing up a security guard, and also select your house staff in accordance with recommendations from other people that you truly trust and know. Your guard as well as the other house-staff you have ought to have keys to your home so you will want them to be vouched for. In case you don’t know anybody in Kampala then I recommend that you join the facebook page for Expats living in Uganda (https://www.facebook.com/groups/expatsinuganda/) and there you can ask for suggestions.

The recommended way to prevent break-ins is to buy a good quality safe to hold your money plus important documents. In addition, I prefer to hide valuables plus money in different places within my room like below my dresser and over my window frame (please do not tell my security guard this).  However maybe most crucial of all is to create real trusting friendships with your in-house staff, even visit them at their personal home for dinner some evening, likewise invite them for dinner at your home, and simply develop good ol’ fashioned friendship.

Slipped Mickeys

As weird and movie-esque as sliding somebody a “mickey” sounds it really happens in Uganda. Patrons of nightclubs, bars, various entertainment centers and casinos, must not leave their food or even drink   unwatched. In accordance with the U.S. Embassy within Kampala they say that when visiting such places, it is preferable to remain in a band of friends, since single people are more prone to be targeted. Among the Victims are female patrons that reported being drugged, then moved to another place and sexually abused!”  Watch out!

There have as well been situations where expats were zeroed in on while using public transportation. Particular stories I heard of include an expat who took the long-distance bus from the capital Kampala to Kenya’s capital Nairobi and then another was traveling to the renowned Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest. In the two instances they allowed snacks or even a beverage from a stranger who was as well traveling and when they turned out to be incapacitated, they were robbed.

Boda Bodas

Using a “boda boda” motorcycle taxi in and around Kampala is, in my view, the most unsafe thing to do here. The majority of organizations (which includes mine) clearly discourages and forbid their employees plus volunteers from using them due to their absurdly high injury as well as mortality rates. I have regrettably known a number of expats plus Ugandans who have died as they were riding these, and actually have personally seen a terrible accident.

Boda boda motorists, although many could be the most legitimate and nice people you could ever wish to meet, have a bad reputation for participating in most of the syndicate crimes in Kampala. Some things to pay attention to are: never jump on a boda boda which already has another passenger on the back, as instances have occurred where the first “passenger” is an associate of the motorist and when they reach an isolated area, the two will overpower and even harm or rob their victim. In case you totally need to take a boda boda during the night, at all times use extreme care as most motorists drink and turn out to be intoxicated. In addition, there have been cases of intoxicated passengers driven to a remote place then attacked or robbed.

On the contrary, I’ve had great experiences with the boda boda motorists. Among the most joyful and amusing guys I know is actually a boda boda cyclist, and he in fact shares a house with a number of my expat friends.

However Don’t Let me Scare You…

Alright, enough with the tragedy and murk!  There are a large number of international visitors who traverse Uganda every month with no sign of trouble.  In case you are smart and mindful of your surroundings then Uganda may be an extremely safe nation.  Foreigners are usually accepted and treated with the maximum respect plus care and are in a position to totally enjoy the various wonderful things which this “pearl of Africa” is offering.

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