Zambia has over 73 different tribes, with a population of just about
10 million people, most of whom live in and around the urban centres.
The population growth however, at 3.7 % p/a is among the highest in
In the cities, especially Lusaka, where there is massive unemployment
and poverty, the informal sector has been allowed to multiply. There
is a growing number of thieves, pickpockets and beggars, but if you
don’t walk around with anything obviously stealable, it’s
quite safe and most will be more than willing to chat or give directions.
For the most part Zambians are very friendly people.
There is no predominant ethnic culture and Zambians are fast becoming
westernised. There is however, an attempt to maintain traditional
customs with the revival of tribal ceremonies amongst the various
tribes in different parts of the country. If any of these are taking
place during your visit, they’re well worth attending. (See
The People of Zambia)
As far as personal safety is concerned, one could easily hitchhike
alone throughout the country without a problem. Theft however is rife
in the bigger towns and cities. Don’t walk around with things
you can’t do without, like your passport or airline tickets.
Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt
and if possible, don’t leave your car unattended. This is less
of a problem in the rural areas.
Zambia has mild winters and the summer days can get quite hot. Lightweight
casual clothes can be worn all year round, with a jacket or jersey
for early winter mornings and evenings. On safari keep clothes to
a minimum and mostly of neutral colouring - khakis, browns and greens.
A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant are a must.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a laundry service. For low budget
travellers there are no coin operated laundromats at all so consider
drip dry clothing and be prepared for hand washing. In most places
one could hire someone to do your washing.
A yellow fever certificate is mandatory if you are travelling from
an infected area. Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever
are advised. Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of the country
which include most of the good wildlife destinations. Take prophylactics
two weeks before arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. Your
chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available
as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink.
In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re
staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is boiled already.
Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns. www.medicineplanet.com
Zambia has very comprehensive Medical Rescue Services.
See Speciality Emergency Services.
WHEN TO GO
Zambia’s three distinctive seasons provide visitors with different
perspectives depending on the time of year.
The Luangwa Valley for example is best for game viewing during the
dry season from June to October, but the rainy season, with its spectacular
profusion of greens and reds changes the landscape dramatically and
the bird populations increase with the arrival of migrants from the
The Victoria Falls are at their most spectacular between April and
May after the rainy season but often the spray is so thick it is difficult
to see the full width of the falls. To appreciate the magnificent
rock formations and gorges, it is just as interesting to come when
the water is low at the end of the dry season from October to December.
Kafue National Park is best from May to October as is the Lower Zambezi.
Ideal road travelling months are April to September as the heat is
at it’s most bearable.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Zambia it is a good
idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two
spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition
of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor,
winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages
along the main routes offer tyre mending services at a very reasonable
fee. Road maps are available in Lusaka from the Map Centre in Nationalist
Road or the Tourist Board in Lusaka Square, Cairo Rd.
Zambia is an extrememly photogenic country. From panoramic scenery,
wildlife and birds to people and vibrant ceremonies. Rich colour and
good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered rude to take
pictures of people without asking them first. Always bring plenty
of film as it is difficult to get in Zambia. Only print film and processing
is available in Lusaka, not slide. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant,
padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto
lens will prove very useful on safari.
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to
the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance.
It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract
their attention, or deviate from designated roads for that closer
photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points.
Close all windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and
spray it with insect repellant.
The best way to get the most out of your safari is to take an active
interest in everything going on around you, not just the number of
species you can see in the shortest possible time. Ask all the questions
you can think of and take reference books on not only wildlife but
birds, insects and trees and read up about everything you see.
Zambia is a fascinating country to travel around by vehicle. Even
though camping facilities are marginal, if you’re well prepared
you can find some of the best, unexplored and remote places in the
country and very often have them all to yourselves. Be fully equipped
for spending the night with no facilities at all except perhaps a
nearby river. Have a bucket for washing pots and clothes, all cooking
gear and all the food you need for the whole journey apart from fresh
vegetables. Meat is not always available in the remoter areas so bring
substitutes. Most villages will sell onions, tomatoes, potatoes, bread,
sugar, salt and oil. You can buy just about anything you need for
your journey in Lusaka, but tinned food is pricey. Always have at
least twenty litres of drinking water in the vehicle at all times
as well as spare jerry cans of petrol. It is best to boil all water
before drinking it.
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave your vehicle
open and unattended. People with little are easily tempted. You should
have no problem sleeping outdoors in designated camping areas or remote
places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away
before you go to sleep.
Zambia has a wide range of standards when it comes to places to
stay - from five star hotels and first class luxury lodges, to rustic
bush camps, guesthouses and campsites. Foreigners must pay in hard
currency except for the smaller guesthouses. Not all of the small
town hotels are equipped to take travellers cheques or credit cards.
Be aware of the ‘extra’s’ added onto your bill -
10% service charge and 20% VAT (1995) See Listings for Hotels or Game
Lodges or see the "Where to stay" options at each destination.
It's best to come into the country with either travellers cheques
or dollars or pounds which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureaux
de Change in the main Towns. If you are offered an exchange on the
black market at the borders, excercise extreme caution as they are
notorious for cheating you without you even realising it.
Travellers cheques attract a commission when changing to other currencies.
The Zambian currency is the Kwacha and it fluctuates quite regularly.
In November 2014 - 1 US$ buys you 4.35 Kwacha
Most used coins (Ngwee) are 5, 10, 50 and 1 Kwacha.
Most used denominations are K 2, K 5, K 10, K 20, K 50 and K 100 notes.
USEFUL WORDS & VERNACULAR PHRASES
How are you
I am fine
The flag of Zambia was hoisted
for the first time at midnight on the 23rd October, 1964, symbolising
patriotism and the nation’s natural resources. An eagle
in flight over three stripes of red black and orange on a green
background. Red represents the struggle for freedom, black,
the people of Zambia, orange the country’s mineral wealth
and green the wildlife and environment. The eagle in flight
symbolises the freedom in Zambia and the ability to rise above
The Fish Eagle
Stand and sing of Zambia proud and free, Land of works
and joy in unity, Victors in the struggle for the right, We
have won freedom's fight. All one, strong and free.
Africa is our own motherland, fashioned with and blessed
by God's good hand. Let us all her people join as one, Brothers
under the sun, All one, strong and free.
One land and one nation is our cry, Dignity and peace
'neath the Zambian sky. Like our noble eagle in it's flight,
Zambia, praise to thee. All one, strong and free.
Praise to God, Bless our great nation, Free men we stand,
Under the flag of our land, Zambia praise to thee, All one
strong and free.
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