Travel guide to Zambia

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» Zambia
The beautiful national parks in Zambia offer many scenic experiences. Go on a safari by car or canoe or take a bike ride to the giant Victoria Falls. Nature has a myriad of experiences to offer here which can never be forgotten.

Facts

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Local name
Zambia
Capital
Lusaka (1,100,000)
Size
753,000 square kilometres
Principal Languages
English
Principal Religion
Christianity - in addition there are quite a few Muslims and Hindus in the country.
Inhabitants
9,400,000
Government
Republic
Geography
Colonialism has created today's Zambia. For this reason there are many different local languages and the country's population belongs to different tribes. Many big rivers cross the country. The southern and western areas of Zambia sit on a plateau, while the north-eastern areas consist mainly of highland.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

The rainy season runs from November till April. November and December months are the best months for birdwatching. From May till August the climate is cold and dry, while it's hot and dry from September till October.

Literature

Lonely Planet Africa - the South Lonely Planet Africa on a Shoestring Spektrum Guide to Zambia

Local conditions

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Currency

Zambian kwacha (Zk)

Net cafes

There are very few Internet cafés in Zambia. Most are situated in either Lusaka or Livingstone.

Tipping

A service charge is added to the hotel bill. Otherwise it's common to give a 10 per cent tip.

Timezone

When it is 12 noon in the UK, it is 2 pm in Zambia.

Weight and Measures

Weight: kilo Distance: metre Volume: litre

Photography

Zambian authorities are very particular in relation to photography of public buildings as well as buildings of strategic value. Ask if you're in doubt.

Drinking water

You should avoid the tapwater - including when it is in ice cubes or for brushing your teeth. Drink and use only bottled water.

Electricity

220/240 volt AC, 50 Hz

Behaviour

Show common courtesy and try not to display your valuables. Especially not in Lusaka.

Business Hours

Shops are open from 9 am to 5 pm (Monday-Saturday). Opening and closing times may vary with one hour, just as some shops close for lunch between 12 pm and 2 pm. Offices are open from 9 am to 4 pm (Monday-Friday). Banks are open from 8 am to 2 or 3 pm (Monday-Friday), Thursdays the banks close at noon. Post Offices are open from 9 am to 4 pm (Monday-Friday), in Lusaka the post offices are also open 9 am to 12 pm (Saturdays).

Food and drink

The Zambian rivers supply the local kitchen with a countless number of freshwater fish. The large supply of interesting fish influences most restaurant menu's. Beer is very common. Try one of the splendid local brands.

Disabled travellers

Facilities for disabled persons are scarce in Zambia.

Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Youth Day, 11 March Labour Day, 1 May Africa Day, 25 May Heroes Day, 5 July Unity Day, 8 July Farmers Day, 5 August Independence Day, 24 October Christmas Day, 25 December Moveable Public Holidays: Easter, March or April

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are many fine camping sites in and around the many national parks. More are on the way and the rates are reasonable.

Hotels

At the moderate to top-end category hotels you should expect a 10 per cent service charge and 20 per cent tax added to your bill. You can avoid this at the more inexpensive places. Here you can save a lot of money by sharing a room.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

Guesthouses are scattered all over the country. Usually they are not situated near the greatest tourist attractions.

Hostels

Many hostels have been renovated during the last few years. This has made them more comfortable, but also more expensive.

Local transport

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Planes

Zambia is a big country and you'll save time by flying. But it's not cheap, however. There are flights to most cities and many national parks.

Bus

All bus companies in Zambia are privately owned. However, fares are standardized. Zambia's road communications are bad and it can make bus transport wearisome.

Trains

The railway network in Zambia is not particularly elaborate and departures are few. The trains are more comfortable than the buses, however.

Taxi

Taxis operate in the cities and the fares are very reasonable. The established taxis have numbers printed on the door.

Car rental

In Lusaka there are several car rental companies. Note that road communications in Zambia, with the exception of a few stretches, are bad.

Other Transport

All traffic on land in Zambia is rather cheap. Road communications are, with the exception of a few main roads, bad. Trains don't run very often and they are a little more expensive than the buses. In return the comfort is better in the trains. Flying is the fastest and most comfortable mode of transport. But it is also very expensive.If you want to hitchhike you should be aware that locals often expect you to pay for the ride. Agree on the price beforehand. Moreover, it can be unsafe to hitchhike.

Special conditions

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There's a risk of cholera, malaria, polio, typhoid fever and yellow fever. Contact your doctor concerning vaccinations before leaving. Note that there is a danger of being robbed. Especially in Lusaka.

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