For many tourists opting for a self-drive in Africa it is quite important to know the regulations and etiquette of driving through Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. We have put together some driving tips and information to make your on-road experience smoother and your off-road journey free from unwelcome surprises. Driving in East Africa may be a bit hectic because of public transport but the rules are generally the same across the region.
Below are some universal tips to keep you on course:
- Excessive speed is the main cause of traffic accidents while driving on gravel roads. It is therefore advisable to keep to the prescribed speed limit of 60-70 km/h when driving off tarred roads.
- Always reduce speed when your vehicle approaches a dip, wash-away or patches of drift-sand.
- In dusty conditions it is advisable to switch on the headlights of the vehicle to be more easily observed by other drivers.
- In wet/rainy conditions it is advisable to switch on the headlights of the vehicle to be more easily observed by other drivers.
- All maps, speed limits and road signs in East Africa use kilometres to confer speed and distance.
- Check your vehicle at the start of each day, be sure that it has enough oil and water and that all indicators and lights are functional and the tyre pressure is adequate.
- Observe and obey all nature reserve rules and regulations.
- Do not feed animals from your car (feeding of baboons along the scenic drives has led to them becoming an invasive nuisance.)
- Always be aware and on the lookout for animals when driving off-road in East Africa, especially when driving on safari.
- Driving at night can be hazardous, particularly in rural areas as these roads are often poorly lit, wildlife may be on the roads and the roads can be in poor condition.
- Be mindful of drunk drivers and pedestrians, particularly at night.
- When planning remote journeys ensure you have adequate water and reserve fuel – 20 litres of each.
- Fuel (Petrol, Gas) can be scarce outside of major cities, so be prepared. Plan your route, refueling, rests and overnight stops.
- Spend some time before each journey to plan your route and prepare your vehicle. Study and review your maps. Make sure you know which routes to follow and the estimated time it will take to reach your destination.
- Check with your embassy if you require international drivers’ licenses for the countries you plan to visit and drive in.
- East Africa can experience heavy downpours so be prepared.
- Drive with your vehicle doors locked and the windows closed when possible. This also applies when you leave your vehicle unattended.
- If approached by a stranger, do not open your windows completely.
- Do not pick up strangers at all.
- Place all packages and personal items in the trunk of your vehicle, out of sight.
- If possible, avoid traveling at night.
Keep the following key points in mind at all times. By knowing and using the information presented here, you can help prevent accidents from happening. Prevention of accidents is the goal of any defensive driving program, and it all starts with you.