There’s nothing like up-to-date, relevant travel information direct from the experts – get Southern Dynasty Safaris essential Zambia travel advice before you go.
Money & Spending
Zambia’s unit of currency is the Zambian Kwacha although US Dollars are widely accepted at lodges and hotels throughout the country. If you plan on paying by credit card, be advised that high commissions are sometimes charged around Victoria Falls, and the more remote lodges may have difficulty in processing credit card payments – check with your Africa Safari Expert before you leave.
Generally speaking, safaris are fully inclusive which means that all of your game drives, guided walks, meals and drinks are included apart from premium brand alcohol and imported liquors.
Tipping in Zambia is entirely at your discretion but as a guideline we recommend US $10 per person per day for your ranger and tracker and US $25 to be divided amongst the rest of the lodge staff.
When it comes to restaurants, some establishments will add service charge for your bill; if not, 10% is standard.
For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts – they’d be happy to share their knowledge with you.
Average summer temperatures: 17°C to 31°C
Average winter temperatures: 9°C to 23°C
Rainy season: November to April
Refer to “best time to visit Zambia” for climate charts and advice on the best times for wildlife-viewing.
What to Pack
For your Zambia safari, pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton or linen that will keep you cool, as well as a fleece or jacket for the evenings and early mornings. Zambia is known for its excellent walking safaris so be sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, as well as a hat or cap to protect you from the sun. And if you are visiting during the rainy season, don’t forget to pack a rain coat – downpours in Zambia are generally short but very heavy.
On game drives, stick to light neutral clothing colours such as khaki, olive and brown but not white as it will quickly get dusty. Avoid black and dark blue as these colours attract tsetse flies.
When travelling in Zambia, bear in mind that the dress code is conservative so women should pack knee-length or longer skirts to wear in the towns.
Flights & Getting Around
Did you know you can book your flights through Go2Africa? For more information and frequently asked questions, please see our Flights section.
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport: located 14km from Lusaka, Zambia’s major gateway is served by several direct flights but many travellers arrive via Johannesburg. Transfer to charter flights for South Luangwa, Lower Zambezi and Kafue National Parks.
Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport (Livingstone): half an hour’s drive from the falls, visitors to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls arrive via Lusaka or Johannesburg.
The distances between Zambia’s parks are considerable and infrastructure is limited, especially in the rainy season, so the easiest way to get around the country is to fly. Transfers and game drives are conducted in open-sided 4X4s.
Note that if you’re taking internal flights there is often a luggage restriction of 12kg per person packed in soft bags. Zambia is stricter about this than most countries and even bags with only one hard side might not be allowed.
Visa & Passport Requirements
All visitors to Zambia need to be in possession of a passport valid for at least six months from their date of departure. Citizens of South Africa and Zimbabwe can obtain Zambian visas upon arrival for free; for all other nationalities, tourist visas are available at all major borders, airports and sea ports.
Generally, Zambia visas are priced in four different brackets, depending on the length of stay: 7-day transit visa; single-entry visa; double-entry visa or multiple-entry visa.
History & Economy
The discovery of 2-million year old stone tools suggests that Zambia has long been inhabited by humans but its indigenous Khoisan hunter-gatherers were displaced by waves of migrating African farmers and herders in the 12th century. Arab and Portuguese traders on the hunt for gold, ivory and slaves followed but it was the 19th century explorers, most notably David Livingstone, who put Zambia on the map with the discoveries of Victoria Falls and huge copper deposits. Colonised and ruled as Northern Rhodesia by the British, independence arrived in 1964.
With copper comprising 80% of its exports, the significance of Zambia’s copper mining industry cannot be overstated. It is however agriculture that occupies some 80% of the workforce, most of whom are engaged in subsistence farming though corn, sugar cane, peanuts, tobacco and cotton are important cash crops. Initiatives to diversify Zambia’s economy include nickel, tin and uranium mining as well as tourism and hydro power projects.
People & Culture
A country comprising some 70 ethnic groups and as many languages, Zambia is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most highly urbanized countries: almost half of its 13.5 million inhabitants live in Lusaka and Copper Belt towns leaving much of the country sparsely populated. It’s a deeply religious country – close to 90% of Zambians are Christians – but one that mixes traditional beliefs with formal worship.
Used in commerce and in schools, English is Zambia’s official language but Nyanja and Bemba are the most commonly spoken African languages – travellers who make the effort to say a few words in a local language are always appreciated by the locals! A country noted for its pottery, carving, weaving and music, Zambia has a long tradition of festivals and ceremonies; the Lozi tribe’s ‘Kuomboka’, when their king is transported on a river barge, is one of the most spectacular.
Landscape & Wildlife
Slightly larger than Texas, most of Zambia lies on an elevated plateau that gives way to mountains in the country’s north-east. Covered in large part by vast open woodlands and punctuated by river valleys, Zambia is in effect a huge drainage basin, supplying water for both the Zambezi and Congo Rivers. Unique ‘dambos’, flat-bottomed drainage valleys on the plateau, support a wealth of plant life while Zambia’s extensive wetlands and floodplains are home to huge numbers of large mammals and birds.
Little wonder then that on a Zambia safari you’ll find some of Africa’s best game viewing: the crossover of Southern and Central African species and the fact that Zambian parks tend to have a water element to them greatly increases the country’s biodiversity. The extraordinary South Luangwa National Park is the flagship reserve and home to huge numbers of classic African animals and predators, as is the Big 5 destination of the Lower Zambezi National Park.
Zambian wildlife highlights include bird watching in Victoria Falls‘ Mosi Oa Tunya National Park; guided walking safaris and night drives in South Luangwa; canoe and boat safaris in the Lower Zambezi; and predators and birding in wild Kafue National Park.