Cross Border Car Rental Experience in East Africa

Many travellers both outbound and inbound wish to rent cars over the borders of Uganda but don’t know the countries within the bounds of the rental operation and also the procedures of cross border rental. Uganda having very many business and tourism treaties with most of its neighbouring countries, it is very much possible for the travellers to do a cross border rental and the documentation to make it happen is hassle free. Different car rental companies in Uganda offer cross border rental services though there are specific countries of jurisdiction to operate and these are mostly East African countries as listed below.

Kenya

Kenya is one of the best allies of Uganda. It is located on the eastern borders of Uganda.  The distance from Kampala the capital of Uganda to Nairobi the capital of Kenya is about 658Km. However, the journey from Kampala to Busia border the entry point of Uganda into Kenya is about 195km. This is a very drivable distance and travellers are advised to start their journey very early in the morning to reach Kenya when the sun is still out. Within Kenya, there are lots of attractions to encounter for example the wildlife species and the different natural physical features. Some of the places to visit in Kenya are;Lake Nakuru National Park, Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, Nairobi National Park, Nairobi city, Mombasa beaches, Samburu National Park and so many other places. The list of attractions in Kenya is endless, it is upon the travellers to select the best places of his/her own to visit.

Tanzania

This is the biggest country in the East African region. It is located in the south of Uganda. The main border of Uganda to enter Tanzania is Mutukula area in Masaka region which is about 224kms away from Kampala. However, from Kampala to Dar es Salaam is about 1,679kms (about 27hours) on the road. This is quite some distance and it is advisable for the travellers to drive for 2 days on this journey. On the first day, the traveller can drive and cross over to Tanzania and drive up to Kahama or any other town and then the following day proceed up to Dar es salaam. Tanzania is one of the best places in Africa to travel to and once there, a visitor never runs out of choices of places to visit. It has numerous national parks like Serengeti, Arusha, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro crater and so forth. There are also other interesting places to visit like Mountain Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam city, Zanzibar Islands, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi and so on.  There is also access to Tanzania through Kenya hence, you would have to drive from Kampala to Kenya via Busia, go through Nairobi and enter Tanzania via Namanga border which is close to Arusha.

Rwanda

This is a land of a thousand hills. It is a country so much related to people around the south western part of Uganda. The people of Rwanda almost speak the same dialect as the people of the south-western part of Uganda – particularly the natives of Kisoro. They have so much in common most especially the culture. In addition to that, Banyrwanda is one tribe of Uganda. This connection makes it so much easy for the two countries to have a good relationship and hence a cross border rental being so much viable.  The distance from Kampala the capital of Uganda to Katuna-Gatuna borders the entry point of Uganda and Rwanda is about 445kms and from Katuna to Kigali about 80kms. Places that travellers go to while in Rwanda are Volcanoes National Park where the mountain gorillas are found, Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park and Kigali city. Some people even come specifically to visit the genocide memorial sites around the country while there is also the National Museum in Butare which is sought after.

The above three listed countries are the most popular countries permitted for cross border rental with Uganda. However, there are also other countries where the car rental operators might allow the traveller for a cross border travel and these include Democratic republic of Congo in the west of Uganda, South Sudan, North Sudan, Zambia and South Africa.

Earlier mentioned in the introduction, there are procedures one has to undertake for a cross border rental in Uganda and let us have a quick look at them;

Acquisition of the East Africa Tourist visa. This helps the hirer or traveller to move swiftly cross the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya and for the case of Tanzania one has to obtain a separate visa since it is not part of the East Africa Tourist Visa treaty. Note that this East Africa Tourist Visa is operational while you are still in these 3 countries and once you go to Tanzania, it would mean the Visa is no longer valid hence, you would be required to obtain another Visa.

Payment of COMESA (Common Market for East and Southern Africa) fee must be done at the border of the country; a traveller is to travel to with the rental car. Note that in case you rent a car with a driver, you would not have to worry about this, meaning the car rental company would have to meet the costs of COMESA. You are most likely liable to pay for it in case you are on a Self Drive Rental plan.

A permission letter from the car rental operator to cross over the vehicle to a specific country has to be issued and this must be presented at the border point.

It should also be noted that the cross border rental comes with different prices as opposed to those charged while traveling around the country. A 10 or 20-dollar increment might be applied. Also the comprehensive insurance of the rental car is only operational in Uganda, across the border the traveller is subjected to be meeting the costs of the damages caused on the car in case of any hiccup on the road, although this is dependent on your car rental agency. For the case of Rwanda, you have a choice of purchasing the car insurance which in most cases is a comprehensive insurance cover for your stay in Rwanda. The cost of this insurance is dependent on the number of days you would be staying in Rwanda.