Lusaka Travel Guide
Lots to Love in Lusaka
The capital city and major commercial centre of Zambia might not be on everyone’s Africa bucket list, but if you’re willing to do some exploring you’ll discover lots to love in Lusaka. Expect a warm welcome and a window into real African urban life in one of the fastest growing cities in Southern Africa.
Modern malls, quality hotels and great restaurants make Lusaka the perfect place to prepare for, or relax after, a stay in the Copperbelt. As a pre or post safari stopover, Lusaka offers a gentle introduction to wild Zambia and affords off-the-beaten-track explorers a chance to regroup and replenish.
Lusaka is developing fast and with a population of over 2 million in its greater metro area, it’s not without traffic, noise and dust, so choosing the best place to stay makes a big difference to your Lusaka experience. While the city is tourist-friendly, Lusaka attracts significantly less tourists than some other more traveler-famous African cities, which makes some of its best sites a little harder to find. Our travel guide is designed to point you in the direction of some of the best attractions in and around Lusaka.
A Brief History
Lusaka has been the capital of (what was) Northern Rhodesia since 1935, replacing Livingstone because of its more central position for railway expansion. The independence of Zambia in 1964 saw the first president, Kenneth Kaunda retaining Lusaka as the capital city of the newly independent country. Relics of colonial past are seen throughout the city including Cairo Road, so-called after its connection to the Great North Road and Rhodes’ planned Cape to Cairo connection.
Sunday Craft Market is held every Sunday in the Arcades Mall Car Park and is one of the best places to fill your suitcase with African arts, curios and souvenirs. Price ‘haggling’ is part of the process, but you’ll find sellers happy to negotiate.
East Park Mall has more than 60 shops stocking familiar big brand names from fashion to technology. This is one of the best modern shopping experiences in the city
Arcades Mall is well located in the same shopping district as East Park Mall and has everything from grocery shopping at Spar to movies at Ster Kinekor. Plenty of better known South African brands stocking a range of imported products.
Kabwata Cultural Village was originally conceived in 1974 and is part market, part cultural village. Visitors have the chance to meet village residents, watch dancing displays on some weekends, and see what village life was like under colonial rule. A number of wood carvers and artists live in the village and offer their crafts for sale, allowing you to directly support the community and craftsmen.
Lusaka National Park – this park is relatively new and relatively small, but very close to the city and can be a good opportunity to spot African wildlife in their natural habitat. A wild highlight is the resident White Rhino. This is a rare opportunity to see this threatened species up close.
Lilayi Elephant Nursery – established by a Zambian NGO aiming to promote community and game ranger conservation and cooperation. The elephant nursey rehabilitates orphan baby elephants during their youngest years before being later released back into the wild. Elephant feeding time is both educational and a very special experience.
Munda Wanga Environmental Park is home to an impressive number of species from lions to pangolins. While it might seem a little unusual to see African wildlife in a zoo-like setting in Africa, the park is involved in important conservational and educational efforts. The botanical gardens aren’t at their most impressive but live up to the Munda Wanga name, meaning ‘my garden’ in the Nyanja language.
Chaminuka Game Reserve is located in the heart of Miombo woodlands and savannah and is both a lodge and game reserve that celebrates African design, art and wildlife. Aside from the game drives, the fishing, horse riding and cheetah walks are special highlights.
Kalimba Reptile Park has a large collection of crocodiles, snakes, lizards and other reptiles. The park gives educational talks and the opportunity for up close encounters with some of their scaly residents.
Embassy Park Presidential Burial Site is a mausoleum commemorating the lives of three of Zambia’s past presidents. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, Frederick Chiluba and Michael Sata.
Namwandwe Art & Sculpture Gallery is regarded as one of the nation’s best art galleries. Privately owned by businessman and lover of the arts, John Kapotwe, the gallery is open to the public and features the single best collection of contemporary Zambian art you’re likely to see.
Henry Tayali Gallery – Named after one of Zambia’s most prominent artists - an artist world renowned and so talented his first exhibition was at the age of 15. The gallery is also a centre of visual arts with seminars and workshops arranged for local members and educational institutions. Art works are for sale and contemporary and rising stars are featured in changing exhibitions.
Lusaka National Museum gives a historical look at the people, culture and archaeology of Zambia. A gallery, heritage objects, sculptures and models give visitors a taste of Zambian life over the ages.
Zambia’s main airport, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport is just 30 minutes’ drive from Southern Sun Ridgeway (and the city centre). Talk to the hotel to arrange an affordable, air-conditioned and quick airport transfer.
Lusaka has a fairly extensive and efficient bus network and a mini-bus network that covers the city. The network is however not entirely mapped, and timetables are probably not what you are used to. However, for the cheapest way to get around, and for a true Zambian experience there’s no better way to explore.
Allow the Southern Sun Ridgeway team to make arrangements for you for a taxi transport with a registered and reputable taxi operator.
Southern Sun Ridgeway green gardens, a pool, gym, classic-comfort rooms, meeting and event spaces, free parking, free WiFi, complimentary breakfast and the relaxed Musuku restaurant, Southern Sun Ridgeway is a four-star hotel with over 65 years history of great service.
StayEasy Lusaka - Lusaka’s favourite budget-friendly hotel, StayEasy Lusaka is consistently rated as the top TripAdvisor hotel. Located just minutes from the CBD with 130 rooms, complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, pool and convenience of Levy Junction Mall as its next-door neighbour.
You’ll find chain-restaurant favourites like Debonairs Pizza, Ocean Basket fish and chips and KFC at the major malls, but for a real taste of Zambia or a taste of home, Musuku Restaurant, Terrace & Bar serves up everything from Nshima to premium steak as well as pasta, salad, pizzas and ice-cold beer at the bar or by the courtyard pond.