A Self Drive Experience to Kidepo Valley National Park

Some time back, we had first written about 4×4 Uganda Ltd, a car rental services which was launched by Gorilla Expeditions Ltd which offers self drive car hire services to national and foreign clients. Despite of the fact that there are many other car rental companies around the world such as Self Drive Uganda Ltd, Avis and Hertz, none existed in the Uganda organized car hire business before 4×4 Uganda Ltd. They used to charge over USD3000 INR towards security deposit, but this company brought it down to fair USD1000 INR on the client’s credit card.

Last month, we choose to take a self drive road trip to the north eastern part of the country to the remote Kidepo Valley National Park, it is such a long travel experience of approximately 420km away from Kampala. Since, I hadn’t gotten behind the wheel for some time, I choose a small car from 4×4 Uganda Ltd.

The Booking Experience

4×4 Uganda Ltd had 2 sorts of pricing available for the vehicle, which relies on upon the days you hire the vehicle. Most weekends and festival days are called premium days, however I couldn’t find a list on their website. Here was the pricing offered for renting a Toyota rav4 where a day referred to a 24 hours cycle and not calendar day.

Regular Day Rate: USD40 per day
Premium Day Rate: USD53 per day

We were 4 people so a Toyota Rav4 was a perfect option for us. We booked the vehicle online for 3 days since our plan was just to hit the road one morning and drive to the northern part of the country to Kidepo Valley National Park. You need to remember that the rates on the website are negotiable, so feel free to ask for a discount.

You have to keep in mind that, to rent a vehicle in Uganda, you should be at least 20 years of age and a valid driving permit holder in your names, aside passport, national ID or Voters ID, a credit card in your own names is also required. While 4×4 Uganda Ltd had a lot of pick-up points around the country. The vehicle i needed was only available at their garage in Entebbe, so we decided to go pick it from there. We did all the payments online and we immediately received a confirmation email for our booking.

The Pick-Up Experience

While the vehicle was supposed to be brought to us at the Entebbe International Airport at our arrival, at 6:00 in the morning we received a text message from the company requesting us to go the their garage in Entebbe just 2km from the airport, since they had a lot of bookings that day. At first it was like tough luck but lastly it turned to be interesting because as friends we choose to not use taxi and we just walk to that place and this gave us a chance to explore Entebbe town on foot and we was being directed by some from the company who was so patient with use because we called him several times when we have lost. It was quite a hunt to find this place at 6:30 in the morning.

We scanned and sent to them the copies of our passports and driving permits and payment mode used on their system. Here they blocked an amount of INR $1000 on the card, which would be used to clear unforeseen expenses if any they, needed to charge us. After signing the all the paperwork, we were escorted to our vehicle.

Car Condition, Inclusions

We got almost a new Toyota Rav4 that had run 5460 kilometres so far. An essential thing to note is that most car given out by 4×4 Uganda Ltd are diesel fueled but for our case we got a petrol car. The vehicle had some scratches on the left door, which were jointly examined by the 4×4 Uganda Ltd agent and us, and afterward reported on a handover sheet which we both co-signed.

We were given the vehicle with a full fuel tank. We could either return it back with a full tank or the company would charge us for the amount of fuel we used, alongside a 15% extra charge. The vehicle came with all commercial registration and they we were given a file with a copy all the documents for example registration certificate, permit and insurance.

One of their conditions instructed us to not exceed a maximum speed of 110 km/hour, beyond which we would be charged for over speeding in a graded way. There was no limit on the number of kilometres one can drive per day and we had the flexibility to choose on the start and ending time. But they also told warned us on not driving at night on the main highways.

The Drive Kampala – Kidepo Valley National Park – Kampala

Kampala to Kidepo Valley National Park was somehow easy drive and we got some short breaks in en-route like our first stop was in Luwero for breakfast and then we continued to Gulu Town for lunch we covered the 418km comfortably. The road conditions were awesome, the thrust of the vehicle incredible, smooth and the vehicle moved soundless at a constant speed of 110km/hr.

At around 7:30pm we reached in the park and we checked in at Apoka Safari lodge for dinner and overnight. The next morning we toured around the area, enjoyed a game drive in the park and return at the lodge for lunch and in the evening we enjoyed cultural tour to the local community and then after we returned to the lodge for dinner and overnight.

The next morning, we wake up for breakfast at the lodge and then we hit the road to drive back to Kampala. We drove the car for about 418km and we reached at Entebbe International Airport when the representative of 4×4 Uganda Ltd is already there waiting for us to inspect the car and even taking it back.

Unlike, the pickup experience, our drop off experience was breeze, it took us only 15minites to drop the vehicle for the company’s agent to complete the inspection for us to go and check in at the airport for our flight back home.