Holiday Mode Problem

Article from the series: Staying Safe and Healthy in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo

33mm, f5.0, 1/400s, ISO125

I once showed up for a Gorilla Highlands Press Trip a bit bruised and bloodied, having been knocked down by drunk football fans in a half-hearted robbery attempt in Kampala the evening before. Seemingly completely random and opportunistic, this remains the only such experience I have had in over ten years of travel to over 20 African countries, including half a dozen visits to each of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.

Common sense really goes a long way, and I sometimes think that when “holiday mode” is switched on, much of that common sense disappears. It isn’t really that security concerns are — in general — hugely different from many other places. I don’t walk around Kabale at night with a camera around my neck, but I wouldn’t do that in London, Stockholm or Los Angeles, either. I am not reserved or suspicious when a local man I don’t know wants me to follow him so he can show me the way to somewhere or other because he is Ugandan, but because he is a stranger who might very well have motives of his own for helping me. Again, I would be equally reluctant in London, Stockholm or Los Angeles.

That isn’t to say that Uganda is like Sweden. It obviously isn’t. But take the same precautions you would visiting most locations you don’t know — avoid walking alone or travelling at night, always tell someone where you are going, don’t flout cameras or other expensive gear (especially in cities), follow instructions from guides with regard to behaviour around wild animals, and so on — and you’re unlikely to run into too much trouble.

This image is from Virunga National Park in Congo, a remnant from restless times. It is true that you are likely to see plenty of guns in the Gorilla Highlands, but they will virtually always be in the hands of authority figures: police, military or park rangers.

Don’t miss our extensive interview with Marcus and head to his website for even more.


  1. Totally agree, common sense applies everywhere, not just to a certain region. I travelled a lot in so called “dangerous” countries by myself (eg. East Africa and India) and not a single major event happened!

    A few months later I walked in Barcelona on a busy street on an early evening with 2 friends and out of nowhere 3 guys knocked me down to rob my bag. Bad things can happen everywhere and anytime, but probably won’t happen in Africa when you “expect” it ?

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