Zambia – Travel Guide
Before you go: Visas for a number of nationalities are available upon arrival at the border, though it is recommended to obtain your visa in advance if arriving by land. If you are visiting Victoria Falls and wish to view the Falls from the Zimbabwe side – it is better and cheaper to purchase a double-entry visa instead. These can only be obtained in advance and cannot be purchased on arrival in Zambia.
Accommodation: Accommodation through Zambia is of a generally good standard, and it provides excellent value for money. Luxurious accommodation can be found in Lusaka, in any of the major National Parks and Livingstone. Cheaper options are also available with guest houses (can be equated with bed and breakfast establishments) providing a solid alternative.
In South Luangwa National Park, one has the option of staying in accommodation on the opposite side of the Luangwa River. This area is known for the large number of wild animals that wander through the lodges. Thus one can see wildlife daily without having to pay a daily entrance fee to the national park. http://marulalodgezambia.com/ Marula Lodge comes with my highest recommendation – it excels in both service and location and staying in one of the furnished tents is an exceptional value. I spent two weeks there and didn’t want to leave, and I missed the elephants, hippos and bushbucks walking within a short distance to my tent.
Livingstone is home to some very expensive options, but an affordable choice is Chanters Lodge http://www.chanters-livingstone.com/. It is a small and quiet alternative with good wifi and a lovely garden – perfect for a travel blogger and anyone else who needs a salubrious place to work.
Food: Food is international in flavour with a mix of Zambian fare. There is no shortage of options. Try to local cuisine – try one or more of meals consisting of nshima, bemba beans, or a variety of meats cooked the local way, though finding good quality meat is difficult in some places.
Transport: An adventurous way to enter the country is the Tazara train that makes a supposed two-day journey between Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. However, only do this option if you have time – there are two trains per week and my supposed 48-hour journey took 67 hours, and the train earlier in the week had its departure delayed by a day.
Once in the country, the most cost-effective way of seeing the country is by bus. Many bus companies squeeze in five seats in a row, but for departures around 0900-0930, some luxury buses have only four seats per row – much more comfortable. For travel to and from Chipata (en route to South Luangwa National Park) try Johabie Express, whereas for journeys to Livingstone consider Shalom and Mazhandu Family Bus. If heading into Lusaka by bus, best not to time your arrival for late at night due to reported safety concerns in the area around the station.
If time is short, then one should consider flying internally with ProFlight Zambia – they have regular flights that connect the major sights of the country.
Money: ATMs are commonly found throughout Zambia. The most reliable for foreign credit or debit cards is Barclays. Standard Chartered is also available, and they usually work for me in other countries, but not so in Zambia.
Safety: Of all the countries listed on this website, Zambia has a strong claim to be the safest. However, just because it is safe still means you must use common sense, so the usual prohibitions at home – such as walking in dark areas alone at night – still apply.
Most border areas of Zambia are safe including borders with Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. However, there have been reports of problems in the furthest reaches of the northern copper belt that borders DR Congo.
If choosing bus companies, ensure that the company you travel with has reliable and safe vehicles with a good safety reputation. It is not worth saving money with buses for the journey will not only be more uncomfortable but also more unreliable.
The biggest threat you will face in Zambia is from wild animals. A common misconception is that the greatest danger is posed from the big cats such as lions and leopards. However, this is incorrect – the two animals that claim far more lives in Africa are the elephant (especially) and the hippo. Hippos are only active on land at night, but elephants are active at any time.
If in an area inhabited by wild animals enquire with the locals as to the best strategy to firstly avoid wild animals and secondly, what to do if you suddenly find yourself in close proximity to one. The general strategy, if you find yourself in this situation, is to either remain still or to move away slowly while always facing the animal. Running is a bad strategy (unless you are being chased) for it is highly unlikely you will outrun an elephant or hippo. According to reports I’ve heard from other travellers, neither animal is enamoured of bright lights at night, so shining bright lights may discourage them from coming too near.
If you wish to visit Zambia, it is important to read the following information: