June 22, 2024

An Adventurous Drive across East Africa: How To Do It like A Local

According to Elaine Clara Mah from BookAllSafaris.com, “when exploring a continent as vast and widespread as Africa, driving yourself around may just be the better option.” After all, you might want to visit all these countries, including the ever-popular Uganda and mesmerizing Kenya, cross over to Tanzania. Trust me wouldn’t want to miss a trip to the Serengeti while on an adventurous trip around East Africa.

So if you planning a trip to East Africa any time this year, perhaps during your summer break or holiday, why not experience a different way of traveling instead of the usual flying that we are all so very used to? Get in touch with us Tristar Africa Skimmer Safaris and rent a car online for you , your family or group, get your map out and navigate the roads of East Africa! Some neatly paved while others are still rugged.

Not only will you be able to explore the expansive plains of the savanna, you will also be able to truly experience Africa like a local. While driving in a different country and continent may sound a little daunting, it will be the adventure of a lifetime! To make your driving journey that much smoother, here are some handy tips to keep in mind as you drive your way through Africa.

Get a sturdy vehicle

The most important factor to consider when self-driving in East Africa is the type of car that you rent. While most roads in East Africa are paved and well maintained, the chances of you finding yourself on a rugged gravel or sandy road is quite high, especially if you plan to take the off-beaten paths. Many quaint towns across this part of the continent are situated in the outskirts, away from the main highways, so be sure to factor this consideration in when renting a vehicle.

If you’re driving through the Pearl of Africa (Uganda) for example, a normal sedan car won’t cut for you, because off the major high ways, the roads are generally not in good condition. So we recommend that you hire a 4×4 vehicle. However, as only a quarter of the roads besides major high ways are paved. The rest of the roads in East Africa can be a little more than soft especially during the wet season, making driving through them difficult.

Make sure your license is valid!

When driving outside of your home country, it is important to ensure that the government of the country that you are visiting recognizes your driving license. While certain countries accept country-specific driving licenses, the best way to ensure that you won’t be barred from driving is to acquire an international driving license before you leave. According to Elaine, US citizens can apply for an International Driving Permit with the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). This license is valid for use in all African countries. It’s important to note that roadblocks are quite common in East Africa so be sure to have a valid driving license to ensure that your travels in Africa are smooth and without police fines!

Watch Out for Wildlife

Needless to say, when driving on the road you should be vigilant and focused. This is especially true when driving in Africa. Not only do you have to be on the lookout for oncoming cars or people, you also have to take extra caution so as not to hit any wildlife crossing the roads especially as you approach major forests, game parks and reserves. Roads that run through rural towns may not be fenced, which means that wildlife, livestock and dogs alike may wander onto the road. Elephant crossing are very a common sight in Uganda and Kenya.The wildlife are particularly active during dusk and dawn so do be careful during those times and, where possible, don’t drive at night as animal crossings become particularly hard to spot them.

Are you used to driving on the left side of the road? If yes, it may be time to try the right side too as most African countries drive on the right side of the road! Before driving in any particular country, be sure of which side of the road that you are meant to be on. While most of the African continent drive on the right side, a small portion does drive on the left side including Tanzania and Uganda.

Additionally, do research the countries that you’re planning to visit to learn their traffic laws. Some countries have specific laws for driving and Rwanda in particular are more than strict, including having hazard triangles and reflectors. At Tristar Africa Skimmer Safaris, we will tell you the do’s and don’ts on the road, but be extra sure by researching them yourself.

Allocate Plenty of Time and Patience

The beauty of driving yourself in a foreign country is the ability to just enjoy the place without having to rush through each day. Here, in the comforts of your own vehicle, you have the luxury of time. So be sure to use it wisely. If you are planning to do a cross-country safari, allow at least two weeks. A Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya, for example, usually takes between 18 to 21 days. If you are looking to see far more beyond the national parks that the region has to offer, add in a few more days to your travel.

Even the best equipped of us all will still find ourselves confused and lost in a foreign land, so do be patient when driving through East Africa. Ensure that your car is well stocked with food and water for the long drives ahead and keep extra fuel in the back of the car for emergency purposes. 

As experts in the tour and travel business as well as a premier company for car hire in Uganda, Rwanda and in Kenya, who better to go to if you’re really planning to drive across East Africa. Just get in touch with us on +256758-540071 or by email to booking@tristarafricaskimmersafaris.com