Uganda’s highlights often involve tracking in rough terrain, and as a result do not lend themselves to people with mobility problems. On top of that, the country as a whole has a tourist industry that is relatively young by east African standards meaning access for disabled people is rarely a consideration and never a priority. However, depending on your destination and ability and aided by African resourcefulness, a rewarding trip is possible for most travelers.
Accommodations; In general, it is not easy to find disabled-friendly accommodation in Uganda. Only top of the range hotels and lodges have “accessible” rooms. Occasionally (more by accident than through design), bathrooms are wheelchair accessible, but where this is not the case, you should be prepared to be lifted, or do your ablutions in the bedroom. Budget disabled travelers will definitely need to compromise, as cheap guesthouses and lodgings are often small and campsites are basic and not ideal for wheelchairs. The best option is to research your options in advance. Tour operators will normally take time to listen to your needs, or if you prefer, can be found and contacted directly via the internet.
Transport and going around
By air Entebbe International Airport has wheelchairs but there is no guarantee that a narrow aside chair will be present. This means that unless you can walk to some degree, entering and exiting the aircraft will be a manhandling affair. Staff will be prepared to help but this service is not as slick as you may be used to.
By bus Buses and matatus are cramped, with no facilities for wheel chairs, and getting off and on is often hectic affair. You may need fellow passengers to help you to your seat, it will often be crowed and there will not be an accessible toilet. Therefore, unless you can walk at least to some degree, then taxi is going to be your only easy way of getting around. If you can cope with these difficulties, then travelling by bus is feasible is the most affordable method of transport.
By car most tour companies use 4X4s and minibuses which are higher than normal cars, making transfer more difficult. Drivers and guides are normally happy to help, but they are not trained in this skill so you must thoroughly explain your needs and stay in control of the situation during any transfers.
Distances are great and roads especially in Kampala are often bumpy, so if you are prone to skin damage you need to take extra care. If you use one, place your on pressure-relieving cushion on top of (or instead of) the original car seat and if necessary, pad around knees and elbows.
Things to do for disabled travellers Gorilla tracking is literally a stumble in the jungle, even for able-bodied people. The guides follow the gorillas from their previous nest and it can mean several hours of hacking through vegetation. You don’t need to be super-fit but check with us or your tour operator if you think your ability may exclude you. Kibale forest trails and other primate walks are generally less arduous, but are not designed with wheelchair user in mind. Its also worth remembering that Uganda has a fairly high rainfall and most of these paths are not purpose built and are rather hewn from continued use, they quickly become muddy in wet conditions. On the plus side, although you may need to be helped over obstacles and up steps, there will always be plenty of willing hands to do this. One would offer money for this kind of help but this is often refused.
Health Uganda hospitals and pharmacies are often basic, so if possible take all essential medication and equipment with you. Its advisable to pack this in your hand luggage during flights in case your main luggage gets lost. Doctors will know about “every day” illnesses, but you must understand and be able to explain you own particular medical requirements.
Security It is also worthwhile remembering that as a disabled person, you are more vulnerable. Stay aware of where your bags are and who is around you, especially during car transfer and similar. These activities often draw a crowd, and confusion creates easy picking for an opportunity thief.