GETTING AROUND ZAMIBA
Travel by Air
Proflight flies from Lusaka to Mfuwe (South Luangwa), to Livingstone and the Copperbelt and also does charters.Various air charter companies will fly to any of the many airstrips around the country and most of the areas worth visiting are accessible by air. Domestic departure tax from airports is $8 per person.
There are many taxis available. Prices are negotiable. There is a good bus service to Chipata, Livingstone, the Copperbelt and Harare, but they don’t always follow strict schedules. The main bus terminus is in Dedan Kimathi Road in Lusaka where one can inquire about timetables. Other private bus companies offer more reliable services to Livingstone, Harare and Johannesburg.
Travel by Bus
Long range buses frequently leave from Lusaka to all the main towns. The intercity bus terminal can be found one road up from Cairo Road at the station.
Minibuses and taxis, local transport – all painted blue – can be jumped on at pretty much any juncture. They’re not expensive and you can always find a minibus that won’t cost too much to buy all the seats in it to get your own private minibus to wherever you want to go but you’ll have to negotiate so be sharp about the value of money.
Travel by Road
Zambia has 38,763 kilometres of roads, about 10,000 kms of which are tarred and another 8000 kms all weather gravel road. The rest range from reasonable to bad dirt roads.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Zambia it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads, although most have improved vastly in recent years. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tyre mending services at a very reasonable fee. Road maps are available in Lusaka from the Map Centre in Nationalist Road or the Tourist Board in Lusaka Square, Cairo Road.
Be really careful, especially if travelling at night for road markings are usually non existent. There is much road rehabilitation finally being done so perhaps this won’t be as bad in the near future. Do watch out for animals in the road, vehicles without lights, pedestrians, unannounced roadworks, bad drivers and broken down trucks with no warning triangles. If you see a tree branch in the road, slow down immediately – these are improvised warning triangles and there’s bound to be a truck or car in the middle of the road up ahead. Never leave a car with anything visible in it in Lusaka, if possible make sure you have an alarm system or steering wheel locking device. Car theft happens, but avoidable if you’re careful.
The gravel roads on the minor routes are fine to drive without a four by four, but if you’re doing a long trip around the country there are wonderful remote places to go to that would require four wheel drive vehicles.
Be sure to have all your vehicle papers on hand as you’re bound to encounter a few roadblocks and if you ever need to stop, pull well off the road.
Visiting drivers must hold an International Drivers Licence. Drivers licences from other countries are not valid except SADC countries. New residents are required to pass a driving test. A person driving into the country on business can have their car admitted without having to pay duty, provided they will not use it for hire or commercial purposes. They will also have to show that the car is owned by themselves or by their company.
In Zambia, one drives on the left hand side of the road. The general speed limit on national highways is 100km/h, secondary roads 100km/h and in urban built up areas 65 km/h unless otherwise indicated.
To bring a vehicle into Zambia one must obtain a temporary import permit (TIP) or, depending on the country of origin of the vehicle, a carnet de passage. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, they must have a letter of authorisation from the owner for use of the vehicle in Zambia. Your local AA office should be consulted before leaving for Zambia to check whether any of these conditions have changed. Otherwise, write to the Controller of Customs and Excise Headquarters, Box 60500, Livingstone, Zambia.
There are many car hire companies in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe and Livingstone, offering a range of vehicles. Some offer a flat weekly rate, but most charge a daily rate plus mileage, insurance and petrol. You can also hire a chauffeur. See Car Hire Companies for Rates.
Petrol and diesel can be readily obtained in all major towns, but shortages can happen in the very remote areas so make sure you have spare fuel for emergencies. Both petrol and diesel get more expensive the further away you are from the line of rail. Unleaded petrol is available at most stations. If travelling in the more remote areas be sure to take extra supplies as availability is not always guaranteed. If it’s an emergency, try the local markets. They sometime have cans of petrol for sale.
Find everything else you need to know about self-drive through Zambia on our Navigation and Driving page.
Zambia Distance Chart
Click to Enlarge