What to do in Lusaka

L
usaka, the capital and largest city in Zambia, is home to over 3 million people.  It is one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Africa. Its  downtown streets are lined with  street sellers and the skyline has only a few highrise buildings. While it is on an economic uplift there is a still a huge unemployment rate in the city. The business area of Lusaka is very modern-looking while its outskirts are lined with scrambling shanties and lively markets.

While many tourists to Zambia don’t spend a great deal of time in the Capital, you may find yourself exploring the city for a few days. Here are some highlights and what to do during your visit.

Markets

The city prides itself in its market culture and every day, there are literally thousands of stalls that sell   a myriad things. There are fresh fruit stalls, hairdressers, fishmongers, restaurants, spare parts, second hand clothing and gifts to name a few.

Lusaka City Market – Zambians go to this fascinating market to get their bargains. The market is host to over 400 stalls and despite its chaotic nature, tourists don’t often get hassled.

Soweto Market this market is more functional than the City Market but is still worth a visit.

Sunday Craft Market every Sunday the Arcades Shopping Centre car park is turned into a craft market. A great place for gifts and crafts

Northmead Market – known as a great place to stock up on souvenirs and to enjoy the small supermarkets, restaurants and fresh food stalls in the area.

Culture

In and around the city there is plenty to see and do for the visitor. The Lusaka National Museum, art galleries focusing on local artists, the Lusaka Playhouse theatre, the Kabwata Cultural Village and the Moore Pottery Factory are great places to visit in the city. The city boasts a rich culture of local artists and many of their pieces are available for sale.

For Children

Adventure City offers a variety of activities including water slides, paint-balling, and swimming pools.

About 11 kilometres from the city centre is the Nembo Scenic Park which is designed, to scale, over a 47 000 square metre area showing a model of the map of Zambia. The Park features lakes and waterfalls and is a perfect place to go for a stroll with the family.

The Kalimba Reptile Park has an interesting collection of snakes, tortoises, chameleons, crocodiles and other reptiles, found in the surrounding areas, as well as from the rest of Africa. It is a great place to explore for the entire family and features a playground for the little ones. Set in a lush garden, its facilities include a cool veranda where refreshments are served and a putt-putt course.

Monkey Pools is on the Mukamunya Estate and offers  a beautiful outing for wimming and playing in the  crystal clear turquoise waters, the source of the Mukamunya river. The grounds are extremely beautiful and with jungle like forests and make an excellent picnic spot for a day out. You’ll find them out on the Leopards Hill Rd where the tar ends. Take the road to the left and look out for the signs.

Wildlife

Munda Wanga is 16km from Lusaka City Centre. It is an Environmental Park that is comprised of an Environmental Education Centre, a Wildlife Park and Sanctuary and a beautiful Botanical Garden. Open daily from 8am- 16:00

Lilayi Elephant Nursery.  15 minutes south of Lusaka on the Kafue Rd, you’ll find a turnoff to Lilayi Game Reserve and here you will find the Elephant Ophanage Project that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants before releasing them back into the wild. Open daily for viewing the baby elephants between 11.30am and 13:00.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Restaurants in the capital are plentiful. There are a number of Chinese and Indian restaurants to choose from as well as some very good steakhouses. If you are looking for western cuisine dining, the hotels and some shopping malls offer some great nights out. If you are looking for a more traditional indigenous eating experience, keep a look out for small cafes and restaurants which are likely to offer traditional cuisine.

If a night out on the town is your type of thing, there are a few pubs and clubs to get into the swing:

Pubs and Clubs

  • Jonny’s
  • Chez- Ntemba
  • Brown Frog
  • Times Café
  • Rhapsody
  • O’Hagans
  • Alpha Bar
  • Room 101 Night Club
  • Breakpoint Night Club
  • Easy Point Discotheque
  • Club pa Zed

If you find yourself in Lusaka, make sure to explore the city as there is plenty to do and experience. The locals are friendly and are more often than not, willing to lend a helping hand.