What You Need to Know
Take a look through our Zambia visitors guide to find out some of the most important basics before you travel. Zambia is worth discovering and while, like any developing nation, there are going to be differences from home, the country holds out the promise of unique wildlife, truly special natural experiences and a warm and welcoming people.
Money electricity health and safety language getting around weather documents
– the official currency in Zambia is the Zambian Kwacha. At the time of writing, 1USD was worth close to 10 Kwacha. US Dollars are widely accepted and are a good currency to travel with in many parts of Africa. If you need to use an ATM, both Visa and MasterCard work, providing the ATM isn’t down or hasn’t run out of money!
Daily costs can vary significantly as soon as you opt for ‘tourist focused’ options and anything imported. That said, Zambia is generally affordable for good food, hotels and wildlife experiences and offers a range of options for all budgets.
Guests staying at Southern Sun Ridgeway benefit from a bank with ATM on site and bureau de change facility at reception.
| The electricity supply is 230v but plugs and appliances designed for 220v to 240v (50HZ) will work. Plug types include the standard Euro style two pin, the South African style three round pins and the British style three rectangular pins. If you forget your adaptor, ask the Southern Sun Ridgeway team and they’ll provide one for you. |
It is always recommended to get good travel insurance before your trip. While there is not the level of crime in Zambia that you might find in some areas of South Africa for example, crime is something to be aware of. Avoid dangerous areas and don’t show off your valuables. Make use of the safe in your hotel room and be ‘street smart’ when out and about. Most visitors comment on how warm, welcoming and tourist-friendly Zambian’s are.
There are, of course, health concerns when travelling to any developing country, and Zambia is no exception. You will however find a high standard of medical care in Lusaka. Guests travelling out of the city, especially those travelling into more isolated game parks, should ensure they find out more about malaria risk, prevalent diseases and options in case of a medical emergency.
English is widely spoken, but you’re also likely to hear Bemba, Tonga, Lozi and most commonly Nyanja (similar to Chichewa).
Basic phrases in Nyanja
- Hello – Moni
- How Are You? – Muli bwanji?
- Do You Speak English? - Mumalankhula chizungu?
- Thankyou – Zikomo
- Goodbye - Ndapita
| In most cases you’ll fly into Zambia at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. You’ll find a number of different airlines can be scheduled for flights to more difficult to reach destinations, but Proflight are the best (and often only) option for regular internal flights. |
- Buses are everywhere and very affordable, but not always very pleasant to travel in. A combination of bad roads, long distances and slow buses makes travelling by bus in Zambia an experience for the brave. Of course, if you are looking for the cheapest way to see the country and for a true Zambian experience, buses might be your answer.
- Car hire is an option, but beyond the Lusaka borders roads can sometimes necessitate a 4x4. Tourists from most destinations can use their own licence during a short stay. If you do drive, be respectful to other drivers, stick to speed limits (even if others don’t) and allow enough time for unexpected eventualities.
- Taxis are not the cheapest (they are meter-less), but often the quickest and most convenient. Talk to the front desk at Southern Sun Ridgeway to arrange a taxi with a reputable driver and settle on your price before you drive.
Between November and April you’ll get the most rain, but it’s also the best time for the big migrations and the best time to see the full green colour palette of Zambia. May to October is Zambia’s dry season, which makes it the easiest and most successful time to spot game during your safari. A visit to Zambia from June to August is the coldest time of year, and depending on where you are, temperatures can drop below double digits in the morning and then get into the twenties by the afternoon.
- November to April – rainy but beautiful and the time for wildebeest and bat migrations (Average Min Temp 17°C / Average Max Temp 26 °C)
- May to October – the dry season and the best time for game drives (Average Min Temp 12°C / Average Max Temp 29 °C)
- June to August – things get a little colder and you should pack for chillier weather (Average Min Temp 10°C / Average Max Temp 24 °C)
Depending on where you are arriving from and the purpose of your visit, most visas are obtained on arrival. If you are flying in or going through a major border, then a tourist visa is issued at your arrival. Visa for single entry tourist purposes are $50 (depending on where you are arriving from). It is strongly recommended you check before you travel with your relevant countries requirements.
Business visa details can be found here:
Yellow fever vaccination certificates are not required from most destinations, but you may be asked to provide your yellow fever vaccination certificate to be allowed entry. As such, it is recommended you have an up to date vaccination certificate before you travel, wherever you are travelling from.