Zambia is shaped like a crumpled figure eight; however its borders do not correspond to any tribal or linguistic areas. Land-locked Zambia is one of Africa's most eccentric legacies of colonialism. For many years it was overlooked by tourists due to disastrous politics and the poverty which ensued. However the situation has improved greatly since 1990 and attractions include truly wild national parks teeming with animal and birdlife, walking safaris, the spectacular Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River as well as the lively Zambian people with their traditional customs. In Zambia you will come pretty close to discovering the 'real' Africa of your dreams.
Zambia has 3 main seasons:
May to August (cool and dry)
Winters are pleasantly temperate and similar to Mediterranean springs: warm and sunny days with clear and cool nights. Minimal rain is received over winter months, which are the best for wildlife viewing. Daily temperatures average 23 C or 72 F with night time averages dropping to 6 C or 42 F.
September to November (hot and dry)
The build up to the rainy season.
December to April (warm and wet)
Marked by electrical storms usually in the afternoons, preceded by humid build-ups in the mornings. Thunderstorms are a true spectacle to watch. Viewing wildlife can be more difficult as the bush is thick and the animals scattered. Temperatures generally range from 25 to 35 C (76 - 94 F) except in the Luangwa and Zambezi Valley areas, which can be hotter and more humid.
Visitors should pack both warm and cold weather clothing, as well as hat, sunglasses and sun block for any visit to Zambia no matter what time of year you are visiting.
Distances & Driving
Zambia can be entered by road from Botswana, Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
All road borders are open 24 hours a day except for Chembe, Kazungula, Kariba and Chirundu, which are open from 6am to 6pm. Victoria Falls Bridge is open until 8pm. Zambia has a total road length of 38,763kms tarred roads, 8,592kms gravel roads and 21,999kms dirt roads. There are many potholes and few road signs, so all roads require great care and caution while driving. Avoid driving at night if possible as there are no road markings and potholes and animals appear when least expected. A 4x4 is strongly recommended if you're going anywhere off the main routes.
Cars, minibuses and 4x4 vehicles can be hired at all major towns.
Seatbelts must be worn at all times and talking on handheld mobile phones is prohibited. All relevant documents are to be kept with you at all times as regular road blocks occur.
While local transfers will normally be conducted in 4x4 vehicles longer distances are often covered by light aircraft.
The local currency is the Zambian Kwacha and notes are issued in K10 000, K5 000, K1 000, K500 and K100. (See currency converter on left menu for current exchange rates)
Many hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards.
Most lodges, hotels and tourism related services charge in US$
There are a number of established banks in Zambia. Larger banks will advance local currency against credit cards. Bank hours are normally 9.00am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 9.00am to 11.30am.
All goods and services offered include VAT. VAT for goods purchased may be reclaimed at the main border posts and at Lusaka International airport.
Health risks in Zambia include: cholera, malaria, typhoid and yellow fever. Travellers are advised to seek medical advice before travelling and take the necessary medication/prophylaxis as well as carry a mosquito repellent or spray, available at a local shop or pharmacist. Tick bite fever can be a problem when walking in grass and travellers should be aware that the incidence of AIDS is high throughout Southern Africa.
Medical services in Zambia are of a reasonable standard. However the availability of services is restricted to the main towns and emergency evacuation from remote areas may attract high costs. An insurance service for tourists is available from rescue companies providing coverage for emergency transport.
Tap water is usually safe to drink in major towns and cities. However visitors should take care in rural areas and ensure that they have enough water when travelling by road. Bottled water is available, when buying bottled water, always ensure that the lid is still serrated and that it has not been tampered with.
230/240 volts 50HZ. Outlets are of the round 3-pin, 15-amp type.
Most visitors need visas, which are good for three months, plus an International Health Certificate showing proof of a yellow fever vaccination within the past 10 years.
GMT + 2 hours
Though Zambia offers a widespread and reasonably reliable service for landlines, some lodges may be beyond the range of the network. Cell phone coverage is available but limited to major towns and cities only. The international dialling code is +260 followed by the regional code and the desired number.
Email is sporadically available and there are Internet cafs in all major towns.
The official language is English and all documents, notices and signs are in this language.