Africa is not a country. It is a continent. It is very common for people who have visited one or two African countries to claim that they have experience driving in Africa. Sad of all, their experience is either from Namibia or South Africa which are actually some of the most developed African countries.
“I have experience driving in Africa”; is a common line that is often followed by asking for sand pads in the tropics. It is not as though you cannot use sand pads in the tropics but there is a total disconnect whenever someone assumes that they have a proper image of Africa after visiting South Africa!
Many travelers visit Uganda assuming that they will have a similar experience or close to what they had in South Africa or Namibia. To their dismay, they find out that both guided and self-drive Uganda safaris are relatively more expensive than South African safaris.
Uganda offers a better image of what African countries look like than South Africa or Namibia. Therefore before traveling to Uganda, it is always wise to bin your past experience in other African countries to explore the pearl on its own terms.
One of the best ways to explore Uganda is through a self-drive safari that demands you to hire a 4×4 car from a car rental agency. Uganda experiences both the rainy seasons and dry seasons. Therefore to better explore the country in the dry season, the following 4×4 essentials are key.
- Snorkel (Elevated Air intake)
The main purpose of the snorkel is to help the car take in cleaner air. But on top of taking in cleaner air; a snorkel is a handy tool whenever crossing streams during your self-drive safari.
Car rental agencies might recommend you always stay away from water but on a rainy day, many places flood, and the only available option is to find your way out. In such moments, the snorkel becomes an essential tool. The popular 4×4 cars with snorkels include the Land Cruiser GX, Land Cruiser V8, Nissan Patrol, Land Cruiser Hardtop, and sometimes the Prado Tx. To ensure that the rental car has a snorkel, we advise you to always ask the car hire agency to send you some pictures of the 4×4 you are intending to book before you make the final reservation.
- Tow Rope/Winch
An off-track self-drive safari always makes it inevitable for you to get stranded. Regardless of how strong your 4×4 might be, sometimes you will need the help of another car to pull you out of whichever place you were stranded in.
However, it is very important to note that most car rental rentals do not permit you to use their car for towing without their permission. Therefore unless someone is towing you, always seek permission from your car rental agency before towing anyone. In case you tow another vehicle without consent from the car rental agency and something bad happens, you are fully responsible. Another option is to rent a 4×4 with a winch. It is so much more helpful than a tow rope. The only challenge is that there are very few 4×4 in Uganda with Winches, they are hard to find, and when you find them, they are too expensive.
- Jumper Cables
Unlike manual cars that can be jump-started even when the battery runs flat, automatic cars always require the help of either another battery or external power to get going. It is in such a situation that jumper cables come in handy.
Whether your battery is flat because of poor car wiring or a faulty battery; the jumper cables always come in handy to help you jump-start your car.
- High-Lift Jack
Car rental agencies in Uganda always provide cars with jacks but it is not common to get a car with a high lift Jack. On a rainy day, there is nothing as comfortable as changing to a spare wheel with a high lift jack unlike having a small heavy-duty jack that will always get you dirty.
It should be noted that some car rental agencies often ask for an extra fee to offer you a car with a high-lift Jack. However, the price always fits the comfort of using a high-lift jack. However note, the car rental agency should give you some briefing about using the High-Lift Jack because it is not common to everyone, and is hard to use if you are not briefed about its usage.
- Fix A Flat
It is exciting to receive a car with either new or nearly new tires. But this does not guarantee that you will not have a flat tire. It is very common to get nail piercing along the way leaving you with punctures.
Whether it is a nail piercing or a pin piercing, “fix a flat” comes in handy to stop your tires from experiencing any piercing-based punctures. However, some car rental agencies do not allow you to use “fix a flat” in their tires. Therefore, always inquire with the car rental agency whether “fix a flat” is allowed before confirming your booking with them.
- Eyes On The Road, Not Oncoming Cars
Heavy rains cause poor visibility on the road, this is not pleasant and can be dangerous if you lose your vision. To avoid this, look to the left-hand side of the road and follow the white marks/lines to keep you on track. If the glare gets too bad you can not see clearly, slow down but, don’t stop abruptly because you might cause an accident with the car behind.
- Drive Before Dark
Because you are driving in a foreign country, it is a good idea to plan your itinerary very well to avoid driving after dark. Things get worse if you drive at night under heavy rain in a foreign country because, if you get a problem or get stuck on the road, it is very hard to get assistance, secondly, heavy rain causes poor visibility, and this can lead to accidents.
In conclusion therefore with the above tips, you can easily and safely take and enjoy a self-drive Uganda safari in the rainy season. The wet season in Uganda is between the Months of March to May and September to December. This info is very essential when planning your next visit to Uganda.