Getting around Zambia
Zambia’s leading domestic carrier is Proflight (www.proflight-zambia.com), which offers scheduled flights to the main tourist hubs of Mfuwe and Livingstone. Proflight and charter carriers such as ProCharter (www.avocet-charters.com) serve Chipata, Kasaba Bay, Kasama, Kitwe, Lusaka, Mongu and Ndola.
Included within the ticket price. A recently introduced Airport Development Infrastructure Fee for domestic flights is around K50 per person. ($8)
Zambia’s major cities and tourist destinations are connected by a growing network of tarred or gravel highways and roads, making it straightforward to get from city to city by car. However, minor roads are often in poor condition, with potholed tarmac, poorly-maintained gravel or unsealed surfaces. In the rainy season, many unsealed roads become impassable.
It’s easy to hire a taxi in Lusaka, Livingstone and the other major cities by booking over the phone, either direct or via your hotel. It’s also possible to hail a cab in the street. Fares are unmetered and should be agreed in advance.
There are a few places in Livingstone where you can hire a bike and some safari lodges have mountain bikes for their guests to borrow, but this is not common. Most people who are planning to tour Zambia by bike bring their own. Lusaka now has a few bike hire options (www.bestofbikes.com)
Long-distance coaches run from Lusaka’s intercity bus terminal to the major regional centres.
It is an offence to use a mobile phone whilst driving or to drive under the influence of alcohol. The government is also planning to introduce fines for anyone found smoking, eating or drinking whilst driving. It is also essentail to carry your drivers licence with you at all times and to wear a seat belt.
By road note:
It’s not advisable to drive at night, particularly in rural areas where surfaces may be uneven and wild or domestic animals may stray into the road.
Getting around towns and cities:
Local bus services in Lusaka and the other cities are provided by private minibuses and shared taxis. They’re basic, and can become very crowded. Taxis are not metered and fares should be agreed in advance. It is advisable to negotiate a fare.
Zambia has three main internal train lines, from Livingstone to Lusaka, from Lusaka to the Copperbelt, and from Kapiri Mposhi to the Northern border with Tanzania. The main train station is in Dedan Kamathi Road in central Lusaka, one road east of Cairo Road. There is a twice-weekly Kitwe-Lusaka-Livingstone service which leaves Kitwe in the morning and reaches Lusaka at night and Livingstone the following evening. It has no sleepers or first class carriages. Children under three years of age travel free, children between three and 15 years pay half price.
By rail note:
The rail network is poorly maintained and services are often badly delayed.
Local ferries operate on the main the waterways.
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. 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 16% VAT.
Government offices are open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday. Closed from 13h00 to 14h00.
Bank hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 08h30 – 15h30 Monday to Friday. and 0815 to 1130 hours on Saturdays Shops are generally open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday although some stay open until 19h00 and on Saturdays from 08h00 to 13h00 although some stay open til 17h00.
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 brush up on your vegetarian meal making skills! 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 ,Livingstone, the bigger towns in the Copperbelt 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 like anywhere in Africa, get into the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep.
Zambia has three distinct seasons. December to April: warm and wet, May to August: cool and dry. September to November: hot and dry. Average temperatures in Summer range from 25° C to 35° C and in winter from 6° C to 24° C.
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 repellent are a must.
There are a limited number of sporting and social clubs in the major towns. Visitors are usually welcomed. Some charge a temporary membership fee.
Postal services are fairly well organised in Zambia and you should have no problem sending or receiving letters. Telegrams are less certain. There are several commercial Internet Service providers in Zambia and most hotels and lodges will have wifi. Some are free, some have a small charge.
Mobile phone ownership and usage is rising all the time in Zambia and by 2012, well over 65% of the population had a mobile. Mobile coverage can be patchy in some rural areas but is generally good around Lusaka, Livingstone and the other main towns and cities. In some areas rural frequented by tourists, such as South Luangwa National Park, mobile phone masts have been installed for the benefit of local workers and guests.
For visitors who would prefer to avoid roaming charges when making and receiving calls, local SIM cards are easily available. SIM cards from the main service providers, Airtel (www.africa.airtel.com) and MTN (www.mtn.com), can be bought at mobile phone shops at the airport and in the main towns and cities.
Internet Service Providers are Zamnet, Coppernet, Zamtel, Microlink, Iconnect, Africonnect and most offer satellite, wifi, broadband or dial up connections..
There are internet cafés in Lusaka, Livingstone and the other main towns and cities. These are good value but connection speeds can be slow and power cuts sometimes occur. Many hotels and safari lodges provide Wi-Fi for their guests. This is usually free but a small charge may apply.
Airmail to Western Europe or North America takes 7 to 14 days.
Post office hours:
Mon-Fri 0800-1700, Sat 0800-1300 (closed Sunday and public holidays).
State-run radio and TV services dominate Zambia’s broadcast media. Private radio stations offer little political reporting. The state also controls the principal daily and Sunday newspapers, The Zambia Daily Mail and The Times of Zambia. Libel and security laws can be used by authorities to intimidate journalists, especially those reporting on corruption. Defaming the president is a crime.
Public telephones are available in most public buildings, ie. post offices, and most use tokens. International calls can also be made from a private home or large hotel. (Note the surcharge at hotels is quite high). Direct dialling to neighbouring countries requires 4 sets of numbers: first the international prefix 00, then the country code, the city code, then the number. Incoming calls usually cost less than outgoing calls from Zambia. To book an operator assisted international call, dial 090 or 093. Local directory assistance is 103. There are secretarial services along Cairo Rd in Lusaka that offer telephone, fax and telex and email facilities for a fee.
Travellers may, for their own consumption, import 2.5 litres of duty free beer, wine or spirits and 400 cigarettes or 500gms of tobacco.
The following items may be imported into Zambia without incurring customs duty:
400 cigarettes or 500g of tobacco; One bottle of spirits and wine and 2.5 litres of beer (opened); 1oz bottle of perfume.
Note: Souvenirs may be exported without restriction but game trophies such as tooth, bone, horn, shell, claw, skin, hair, feather or other durable items are subject to export permits.
Local current is 220v, 50 cycle AC.
There are over 73 dialects spoken in Zambia, but the official language is English. All media and business is in English and most Zambians speak it fairly well. Bemba is the next most commonly understood language, followed by Nyanja, Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Mambwe and Tumbuka.
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.
Magazines: Lusaka Lowdown: Maps of Lusaka, reviews of accommodation and restaurants, consumer affairs, articles on tourism and other Zambian issues, life in Lusaka, regular features, .
Sunday Mail, Chrysalis, , he Post, Times of Zambia, Zambezi Times Online
Radio Stations: Mulungushi (FM), Phoenix, Christian Voice, Trinity Broadcasting, Radio Icelengo, Voice of America, BBC and radio Canada can be picked up on Short-wave
TV: ZNBC Evening broadcasts only, to major metropolitan centres in English. Mnet and Satelite TV
Zambia is an extremely 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. It is not permitted to take pictures of government buildings 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 repellent.
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.
In some establishments service charge is on your bill. But if it is not, please tip 10% for good service.