Self Drive Safaris – East Africa Trips
Looking for self-drive around East Africa? Explore lake Victoria along other national parks known for wildlife on a self-drive adventure in Kenya, Uganda & Tanzania.
Eastern Africa, part of sub-Saharan Africa comprising of traditionally recognized regions. East Africa, made up of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. The recently added countries include Rwanda, the democratic republic of Congo, Burundi and south Sudan.
Eastern Africa consists largely of plateaus and has most of the highest elevations in the continent. Twin parallel rift valleys that are part of the East African Rift System run through the region. The Eastern, or Great, Rift Valley extends from the Red Sea’s junction with the Gulf of Aden southward across the highlands of Ethiopia and Kenya and continues on into Tanzania. The Western Rift Valley curves along the western borders of Uganda and Tanzania. Between the two rift valleys lies a plateau that comprises most of Uganda and western Tanzania and includes Lake Victoria. The volcanic massif of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, reaches 19,340 feet (5,895 metres) in northeastern Tanzania.
Driving your own adventure through our unique and sensational national parks in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania in our 4×4 cars without cross border fees from 4×4 car rental Tanzania beats all levels of adventure in Africa.
Just imagine the thrills of waking up in your own private camp, encountering nature’s habitat on your own, and discovering secluded locations in the heart of the African Bush courtesy of self-drive car hire with the best car rental services.
The best self-drive 4×4 car hire options for self-drive tours in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania are the Toyota Land Cruiser , 4×4 Toyota Rav4, Toyota TX. These cars have a great track record and are the most capable and enduring for a 4×4 self-drive in the wild.
East Africa represents Africa’s beauty with a wide number of untamed wildlife reserves that attracts many tourists all over the world. In Uganda, Rwanda and the democratic republic of Congo, we find the ONLY world’s last remaining population of the critically endangered mountain gorillas, inhabited in Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda), Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and Mgahinga National park in Uganda. Among other areas of interest in Uganda include Murchison Falls National Park, Kibale National park, and Queen Elizabeth, Semliki Park, Lake Mburo, Mount Rwenzori, Mt. Elgon, and Kidepo valley among others.
Kenya and Tanzania are famous for the wildebeest migration that attracts thousands of Visitors into Masai Mara National Park in Kenya and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Book a very reliable car with car rental Tanzania and explore all the hidden treasures of East Africa in a self-guided self-drive adventure.
The essential guide to self-drive in East Africa
Navigating over Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania’s potholes and un-signposted roads is a challenging, but rewarding adventure. Make sure you are prepared for the road in advance for a safe trip.
Do’s and Don’ts while on the Road
- Rush your trip – flat tires and muddy roads are part of the adventure!
- Get angry with the traffic police, a friendly, patient attitude will serve you far better.
- Travel at night as bad potholes are hard to see (nightfall is after 6 pm).
- Forget to carry all license, permits, hire paperwork, passports at all times.
- Install Maps.me before you leave for safe navigation.
- Carry cash, water, and an extra power bank for your mobile phone.
- Drive below the speed limit (80 km/hr on the highway, 50 km/h in an urban area) and keep below 40km/h off-road for safety.
- Download music, audiobook or media before going on the road as the internet can be intermittent in more remote areas.
- Learn to say happy ‘hello’ in Swahili —“Jambo”— if you want to be popular with both the locals and the traffic police.
Customs on the road
As you’ll quickly find out, cars in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Congo drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Most roads are reasonably maintained, but we strongly recommend you don’t travel in the dark. Hidden potholes, livestock and even people crossing the road can be the cause of accidents, flat tires and in some cases damaged vehicles.
Kenya and Tanzania are both considered safe for self-driving adventures and camping, but you should always lock the car and take your valuables with you when it is unattended.
Be prepared for the unexpected and do not make assumptions that all drivers will adhere to the rules of the road. This is particularly true for people movers, local taxis, buses and many heavy goods vehicles where size of vehicle may be used to dominate a situation.
Driving permits / acceptable licenses
For driving on public roads,
Uganda and Kenya accepts a valid driving license from your country of residence and does not require additional documents if you have held your license for a minimum of 2 years. That said, it’s always best to get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) if you want to drive in East Africa to avoid problems.
Tanzania requires that you have an IDP with you at all times. If you decide to forgo the IDP and use only your license, you will need to have it endorsed for an extra fee.
National Parks: all National Parks require vehicle drivers and their passengers to have purchased entry tickets at the gate using your credit card and mobile money for the Ugandan national parks.
Make sure you always have at 2 methods of national identification such as your driver’s license and your passport. At all times you should carry your license, permits, hire paperwork (including insurance papers) and passports on your person.
Correct Vehicle selection
It is vital that you select the right vehicle for what you will using it for, and where you will be travelling.
Because of the adverse road conditions, often worsened by heavy rains, we suggest a suitable 4×4 for all self-driving tours outside of the cities. The size of 4×4 to choose depends on the number in your party. For 2 people with luggage, a smaller 3 or 5 door is adequate; for any more than 2 pax, a larger 4×4 such as a Land Cruiser, Toyota Prado .
If you plan on sticking to the city areas and main highways, there are a number of cars from which to choose. However, be mindful of some of the poor road conditions within the city limits.
Hire a driver or no driver?
This is totally up to you, your navigation and driving skills and self-sufficiency. The benefits of hiring a driver speak for themselves – local knowledge, freeing you up for relaxation and watching the countryside. As a suggestion: when picking up your vehicle, ask the hirer about conditions where you are expecting to travel.
What to do when stopped by police
Road police in Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya often stop vehicles to perform checks. It’s usually easy to spot them from far away, and they generally set up at major intersections. The traffic police officers will check your car’s insurance, the tires, and if you have a fire extinguisher, traffic triangles and a stocked first aid kit. There’s no need to worry if you are driving a rental car as all requirements are checked out and confirmed by the rental company before you head out.
The general rule of thumb is to be patient and friendly with the police. Have your driver’s license ready to show, and you’ll be on your way shortly. If you did commit a traffic offence, you’ll have to pay a fine either immediately or at the nearest police station (another reason to always keep cash on hand). We find the traffic officers to be friendly and always up for a bit of interesting chit chat.
If a traffic officer asks for a bribe or suggests you buy them a soda before they let you go on your way, it’s best to use common sense or politely decline. Police bribes are never condoned, and if you’re unsure of what to do, give your rental company a call. They’ll be on hand to chat with the police officer and will help you safely navigate the situation.
In the event of an accident
Don’t panic, we offer insurance and roadside assistance. You’ll be provided will all relevant contact details and number before you drive. Emergency services are limited in East Africa, so it is recommended that you have full medical insurance for the duration of your trip, including allowance for medical evacuation.
Useful numbers / contacts
Keep your hire company’s contact details close at hand, or even put them into your phone.
112 is the official emergency number in Tanzania and connects you to the police department.
999 is the official number for emergency services in Kenya and Uganda (ambulance and fire).