FAQ

Your guide to everything you need to know about planning your African adventure — from when to travel, to visa requirements, and what to pack in your suitcase.

When to visit

Zambia has a fairly temperate climate and runs with a dry season and a wet season with a short snap of cold weather in between that is felt more depending on the altitude that you are travelling at. The middle of the dry season between mid-September to early November can get very hot, with temperatures in the lower altitudes can reach 45 °C (113 °F). With this in mind, and the type of experience that you would like, please read some more tips of the best times to come.

What to pack

Be prepared for dusty roads, dramatic changes in temperatures in a single day and little luggage allowance when flying on bush planes. Leave your evening wear at home, dress casually in neutral colours for optimum camouflage. Don't forget those binoculars, hats, cameras and chargers. Have a look at our ultimate safari packing list to stay comfortable and safe on your African safari.

Transport

There are plenty of ways to traverse Zambia. Whether by air, pre-organized transfer or private vehicle, here’s our guide to navigating the various transport systems available in this Southern African nation.

Visa

The correct travel documents are always essential for travelling. Zambia's immigration rules and regulations for tourists are straightforward and only require a minimum amount of preparation. Please read through the additional immigration information thoroughly and make sure to read up on the additional websites mentioned as immigration rules are always subject to sudden changes.

Currency

The Zambian currency is known as the Zambian Kwacha (ZMW) which fluctuates quite regularly and is not generally available for purchase outside Zambia. The most useful currency to bring is US dollars. For more tips, when it comes to currency, on what to bring with on your visit to Zambia, you can find out more by clicking the link below.

Health

Many of the health problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other measures need to be taken. These include food and water safety, accident prevention, care with sun exposure, avoiding insect bites and animal bites, and practicing good respiratory hygiene. Keep healthy during your time in Zambia with the information provided.

Insurance

Travel Insurance covers medical expenses, financial default of travel suppliers, and other losses incurred while traveling internationally. Temporary travel insurance can usually be arranged at the time of the booking of a trip to cover exactly the duration of that trip. For peace of mind when traveling to Zambia please read more.

Connectivity

Access to WiFi and the coverage of cell phone network are ever increasing on the African continent. Lodges more often than not will have WiFi and/or cellphone signal. Bushcamps are less likely to have either or. Why not unplug and enjoy a technology detox while out on safari.

Cuisine

A safari is not only a chance to explore the flora and fauna of Africa, it is also a culinary experience of flavoursome dishes, both local and international. Made by skilled hands and served with Africa's warm hospitality. Chefs will go to the ends of the world to serve you refreshing beverages and great food.

More tips when to visit Zambia

For most of the year you may experience temperatures of between 18 Celsius (64F) to 31 Celsius (87F). For the months of June and July they may drop to as close as 6 Celsius (42F), for much of Zambia is at an altitude of 1000+ meters (3000 feet) above sea level.

The dry season:

If you are looking for higher concentration of wildlife and less vegetation then the drier hotter months are more ideal. This is due to the water bodies inland drying up and wildlife is forced to move closer to the rivers that hold water all year. There is more chance of seeing other vehicles as this is the peak season for Zambia. Sunsets are often very spectacular due to the dust in the air.

The rainy season or emerald season

This time of year is very different and brings more variety with birdlife due to migrants arriving and birds in competition with breeding plumage and nesting. Many mammals breed at this time so young animals can be seen plentiful and there will be less presence of other people as many camps close during this time of the year due to flooding.

The light is spectacular and with the colour contrasts of the vibrant surrounding green bush and the cryptic colours of many of the plains game or predators it can be a photographers dream.

There is an influx in insect life but this is often more intense just after the first rains and then lessens for the duration of the rains.

For more information on what may be the right time for your visit, depending on what you are looking for, then please refer to our expertise page or get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to help.

Safari Checklist

Clothing

  1. Avoid bright, black and white colours
  2. Do not wear camouflage clothing as this is often associated with the military.
  3. Avoid dark blues and black, they tend to attract insects.
  4. Choose breathable, lightweight, quick-drying and earth-toned clothing
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve blouses and shirts to protect you from the sun and insects
  • Shorts
  • (Zip-off) pants
  • Casual dress and/or skirt (for women)
  • Fleece and/or warm jacket (depending on time of year and area of the country)
  • Pyjamas
  • Raincoat (November to April)
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Swimming suit
  • (Wide-brimmed) hat
  • Undergarment and socks
  • Sports bra (for women)
  • Closed walking shoes for walking safaris otherwise light well ventilated shoes
  • Flip flops and/or sandals
  • Sunglasses

 

Health & Safety

  • Vaccination card
  • Passport
  • Visa(s)
  • Cash

Pharmaceuticals & Toiletries

  • Standard toiletries
  • Prescription meds
  • Malaria tablets (if recommended)
  • Small first aid kit
    • Meds for: diarrhea, nausea, headaches, indigestion, heartburn, sore throat, stomach flu, allergies)
    • Nasal spray
    • Eye drops
    • Anitseptic lotion
    • Bandages
    • Band-aids
    • Sunburn treatment
    • Thermometer
  • Ziplock bags
  • Earplugs
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet wipes
  • Sunscreen SPF30 or higher

 

Gadgets

  • Binoculars
  • Camera and lens(es) + battery (s) + charger + memory card(s)
  • Headlamp or small torch
  • Portable power bank
  • Smartphone
  • Kindle/Ipad
  • Headphones
  • Adapters

Immigration Requirements Zambia

To enter Zambia you will need a passport that remains valid for at least 6 months from your date of departure from Zambia, not your departure from home, and at least three blank passport pages are required.

There are 3 categories for a Zambian VISA, those that are exempt of a visa (South Africa for example), those that can obtain a VISA on arrival (North American and most European countries) and those that have to obtain their VISA before arriving in Zambia. For a full list of visa-exempt countries please have a look on the following website: zambiatourism.com/travel-info/visa-information

There are different types of VISA’s depending on how you may be planning your trip. For a single entry permit you will be required to pay $50 for the VISA which is valid as a holiday permit for 90 days (you will need to report to immigration every 30 days to extend the permit). There is a multiple entry VISA for $80 which is also valid for 90 days and allows you two entries within that period, in and out of Zambia. The final one, and possibly the best for people travelling to the Victoria Falls and/or those wanting to move between Zimbabwe and Zambia or take day trips to Botswana, is a KAZA Univisa, The KAZA Univisa can be purchased at Lusaka Airport, Livingstone and Kazungula border posts as well as Livingstone Airport. It will cost $50 but is only valid for 30 days. Keep in mind that you will specifically need to ask for this particular visa otherwise you will be given a regular tourist visa. Finally, card machines often aren't working at the immigration desks so make sure to carry sufficient cash to pay for your visa on arrival.

Please visit these websites for further information - www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm.

If there is a need to apply in advance of travel, you can apply online  - www.evisa.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm

Transport in Zambia

By air:

There are three international airports in Zambia being Lusaka (LUN), Mfuwe (MFU) and Livingstone (LVI) as well as many smaller airports around the country and bush airstrips connecting you to all the major safari destinations. International airlines flying daily into Zambia are currently South African Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airways. Domestic flights can be booked through Mahogany Air or Proflight, or through many private air charters. The latter being the most expensive way to get around but definitely the fastest and most comfortable. There are camps that are very remote and therefore chartering a private plane may be the only way to get in to enjoy the solitude and low impact on the ecosystem. When booking your holiday keep in mind that many camps are restricted in season by the summer rains so they are either closed or you can only fly into these camps certain times of year.

By road:

A cheaper option is to travel by road and there are various ways of doing this. Many camps will be able to offer a road transfer from Lusaka. This is usually done in a 4x4 vehicle or a company mini bus. It does allow you to see much of the countryside but will take longer and the roads of Zambia are ever changing due to the two extreme seasons which can make this mode of transport a little less comfortable at times.

Self-drive is always an option for a more slow paced enjoyment of the journey. There are great places to visit off the beaten track but knowledge of the best times of year to head into some remote areas is essential. During the rainy season many of these roads are completely impassable even for a seasoned 4x4 driver. There are often changing road conditions without warning so adhering to the 100km/h on the open roads is essential and dropping down if the road looks to be getting worse. Near towns the limit may drop from 50-40km/h, please watch for signs as often traffic police may be waiting to catch unsuspecting victims just behind the signs. There are always (unannounced) speed bumps on the roads near the cities and through small towns and these should be respected as many are fierce competitors to your vehicle and should not be trifled with. Please refer to our self-drive section for more information.

When arriving in Zambia by air you shall be met and helped all through to your final destination by staff. Transfers to the camps will also be managed by the camp that you will be staying with.

Currencies in Zambia

Zambia’s official currency is the Zambian Kwacha (ZMW) but US Dollars are accepted in most lodges and other tourism facilities around the country.

With cash US Dollars, make sure you bring new notes – the ones with the “big heads”. Zambian banks don’t accept the old notes with small heads or notes that are damaged, torn or written on and so you’ll find that you can’t spend them anywhere. Your trips are normally all inclusive and the cash money to take with may be to use at shops, restaurants or given as a tip to staff on safari.

When exchanging your US Dollars for Zambian Kwacha preferably use only the services of a designated Bureaux de Change and keep up-to-date with the most recent exchange rate. Both at the airport as well as at most shopping centres in Lusaka there are official places where you can change your money.

At most southern African border posts, you can exchange USD at the border for local currency – but you won’t get a favourable exchange rate, and are bound to come across informal money changers. Be very aware of scam artists, fake bills, and paper fillers!

Paying with credit cards, and some debit cards, can be very difficult away from the larger airports and cities, extra credit card charges may also be incurred. VISA and Mastercard are most commonly accepted, American Express and Traveller's Cheques are almost unheard of.

ATMs are available within Lusaka, Livingstone and other major towns in Zambia. Most banks have ATM’s which accept Visa cards for cash.

Tips – These are often greatly appreciated by the staff in the camps and a general guideline to help is usually around $5-$20 per person per day for the general staff and $10-$25 for your guide per person per day. Obviously this is entirely at your own discretion and not obligatory and with how well you feel your experience has been.

If you would like to tip at a restaurant check if a service charge has already been added if this has not happened then a maximum of 10% is fine.

Health service(s) in Zambia

All camps and (private) guides have a First Aid Kit available at all times but if you do require any other personal medication try and take more than enough for the trip as getting hold if it may be difficult in many remote areas of Zambia.

Before travelling it is a very good idea to contact your local physician for advice for travelling to Africa or visit the CDC website at least 6 weeks prior to departure. Countries may change their vaccination requirements without notice according to recent epidemics or outbreaks, so check up before you head out.

Zambia is a malaria area so prophylactics are advised. Usually travelling in the drier season the risk is far lower than in the wetter months.

Medical services are underdeveloped and only in Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone can you find anything resembling western standards. There are a number of small private clinics in Lusaka which are better than the general hospitals, but the clinics in the rural areas usually only have the basics.

Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is boiled already, or extensively filtered and very much safe for drinking. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns, however we ask our travellers to carry a reusable water bottle to minimize the use of plastic during their trip.

Insurance for many camps that you visit is a prerequisite. Travel and health insurance is an important part of planning your trip. Your compulsory cover includes Remote emergency evacuation expenses, Medical expenses and Repatriation expenses.

The following are recommended:

  • In any event of a cancellation due to any personal situation prior to going on holiday then cancellation insurance should be looked at just after booking your holiday.
  • For loss/theft or damage to personal property such as luggage, personal belongings or money.

Some policies specifically exclude dangerous activities such as scuba diving, motorcycling, skiing and even trekking: read the fine print.

Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation.

Africa is fast becoming part of the digital age and connectivity is popping up in some the strangest places but many camps may or may not offer connectivity with WiFi as well as phone signal. If this is an important need as part of the trip then please let us know and we can either tailor accordingly or let you know if it will be possible on a certain route or not.

You'll be pleasantly surprised, being out in the middle of Africa, by what can be produced in a small bush kitchen. The food is exceptional and often with a mixture of local and international flair. There is no need to bring that extra bag of snacks as you will be well and truly taken care of.

The wine at most of the camps is usually South African. They will mostly have reds and white and some will also have Rosé.

The beer in Zambia is a lovely refreshing lager called Mosi beer. They also have international beers from the US and Europe as well as South Africa and Namibia.

For any questions or concerns regarding dietary requirements whether for medical or health reasons, please don't hesitate to contact us. Annekim is on a plant-based diet and has Coeliac Disease, during her time managing several camps she has been able to train the chefs to prepare food for several different dietary requirements. On our Specialized Safari page you will find more information on Dietary Safaris.

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