Top events in Zambia

May
01

It’s difficult to reach the banks of Lake Bangweulu in the rainy season, as the area surrounding the lake becomes a giant wetland. But when the...

July
01

This cultural festival honours Chief Kazembe, a venerated 19th century ancestor of the Luunda people of northwest Zambia. It’s a two-day event of...

July
05

Held by the Tonga people of south Zambia, this festival is a traditional plea for the rains to come. Sacrifices are made, followed by singing,...

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Zambia

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Zambia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

752,614 sq km (290,586 sq miles).

Population

14.2 million (2013).

Population density

18.9 per sq km.

Capital

Lusaka.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1964.

Head of state

President Edgar Lungu since 2015.

Head of government

President Edgar Lungu since 2015.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin, round three-pin and square three-pin plugs are used.

Vast lakes, rich wetlands, breathtaking African sunsets and a tradition of superb guiding contribute to Zambia’s immense appeal as a safari destination.

Its most famous landmark, Victoria Falls, which it shares with Zimbabwe, attracts nature lovers and thrillseekers alike. Visit in March or April, when the falls are in full spate, and you’ll be bowled over by the rainbows, the roar of the fast-falling water and the dense, drenching clouds of spray. The Zambezi River, which is glassy-smooth above the falls and wild below, is perfect for canoe safaris and adrenaline rush activities such as white-water rafting and river surfing. There are beautiful riverside lodges dotted along its upper banks.

Zambia is not as high-profile a safari destination as Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, but it’s a favourite with those in the know. Packed with inspiring landscapes and fascinating wildlife, it’s a very good choice for those who want to immerse themselves in a pristine wilderness.

Its safari lodges and camps, which range from simple fly-camps to luxurious lodges, make excellent use of natural materials and have an authentic atmosphere which puts you fully in touch with your surroundings. Book a stay here, and you’ll fall asleep to the hooting of owls, the distant roar of lions and perhaps the loud munching sound of hippos grazing nearby. Some are seasonal bushcamps; situated beside rivers which flood in the rainy season, these are rebuilt afresh each year. Others are comfortable, permanent camps with safari tents that come fully equipped with their own private bathrooms.

The Zambian government has long recognised the economic importance of its wildernesses and is acutely aware of environmental concerns: almost one-third of the country is given over to national parks and game reserves. Explore these in the company of the nation’s expert but down-to-earth safari guides and you can spend your days relaxing beside a broad river while elephants drink their fill in the distance, watching eagles, storks and herons beside a shimmering lakeshore or heading out in a 4x4 to look for leopards after dark.

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is one of the very best places in Africa to see nature in the raw. This is the home of the legendary African walking safari. By leaving the vehicle in camp and setting off on foot with an armed scout and an expert guide, your connection with the bush is intimate and exciting. This is a superb way to appreciate the sounds, smells and details that are all too easy to miss on a game drive. If you’re lucky, you may also have heart-racing ground-level views of big game such as giraffes and big cats.

This is a good place to track down some of Africa’s rarer wildlife spectacles, such as carmine bee-eaters nesting or migratory fruit bats flooding in from their feeding grounds. Zambia also offers many opportunities to witness a traditional cultural festival. The calendar is punctuated by many ancient, colourful celebrations of music, drumming and dance, marking rites of passage and the changing seasons.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 30 March 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Armed robberies and vehicle hijackings happen across the country from time to time. Be vigilant at all times. Take particular care when approaching locked gateways at night. Don’t stop to give lifts to people at the roadside. Watch out for objects that have been placed to block the road.

There have been recent reports of vehicles being struck by rocks while travelling along Leopard’s Hill Road in Lusaka. The motive appears to be attempted carjacking. Be vigilant, keep all vehicle doors locked and windows closed when driving, and remain aware of your surroundings, especially after dark.

Bag snatching, pick pocketing and theft from parked cars are common at some restaurants and internet cafes in downtown areas, particularly near bus and railway stations and in some shopping areas. Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and phones out of sight. Don’t change large sums of money in busy public areas. Thieves have followed people after they have withdrawn money from banks and later robbed them at gunpoint.

Walking after dark, particularly in tourist or down town areas, can be dangerous. Violent robberies have occurred in the Cairo Road area of Lusaka, including Chachacha, Freedom Way and Lumumba Roads.

Keep valuables and originals of important documents in a safe place and carry a copy of your passport and immigration permit.

Use reputable banks, bureaux de change or ATMs to exchange money.

Political situation

The presidential election was held on 20 January. The campaign has so far been generally calm. Little trouble has been reported, but disturbances can break out on the streets at short notice. You should avoid any political rallies, demonstrations, or large gatherings as there can be violence between rival groups of activists.

There are also occasional student demonstrations, which can be violent, at the University of Zambia on the Great East Road (the main route to and from Lusaka International Airport), and in the Central Business District along Cairo Road. Monitor local and international media and keep up to date with this travel advice by subscribing to email alerts.

Local travel

Take care when travelling in rural parts of North Western, Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark.  Using legitimate border crossings in these areas is generally safe, although Congolese officials may ask for payment to cross the border. Avoid travelling in the bush along this border for hunting or prospecting.

 

There is a risk of explosive remnants of war in remote areas near the borders with Angola, Mozambique and DRC. Take care if you venture off road in these areas.

 

Wild animals in the bush, including poisonous snakes, are unpredictable and do kill. Whether you are travelling on land or water, you are at risk of potentially fatal animal attacks. Always observe local regulations and follow your tour or safari guide’s instructions.

 

Adventure sports, including in the Victoria Falls area, carry risks. Serious accidents and deaths sometimes occur. The quality of medical care varies greatly. Follow safety instructions closely and make sure your insurance policy covers you.

Road travel

You can drive using a UK driving licence for up to 90 days. If you intend to stay longer you will need to get an International Driving Permit or a Zambian driving licence.

 

Take care when driving. Vehicles are often poorly lit, inadequately maintained and badly driven. Drink driving and driving while talking on a mobile telephone is illegal.

 

Road travel at night in rural areas can be hazardous. Abandoned vehicles, pedestrians and stray animals are a danger. Many roads are severely pot-holed or otherwise unsafe, especially during the rainy season (November-April) when bridges and roads risk being washed away by sudden floods. There are frequent fatal crashes. Don’t drive at night outside the main towns.

 

Travel by long-distance public transport can be dangerous due to poor standards of driving, lack of rest periods for drivers, the poor quality of vehicles and poor road conditions. Minibuses used in urban areas are usually severely overcrowded, poorly maintained and badly driven.

The Road Traffic and Safety Agency has recently started to more vigorously enforce an existing law to prosecute traffic offenders: drink driving; speeding; careless driving, etc through a fast track court system. Penalties include fines and/or imprisonment.

Air travel

In 2009, all Zambian airlines were refused permission to operate services to the EU because of the inability of the Zambian civil aviation authorities to ensure the safe operation of airlines. You should avoid flying with any airline from Zambia if an acceptable alternative exists. Our staff have been advised to use alternative airlines where possible, but are authorised to travel on one internal airline, Proflight, on a case by case basis.

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