Going to Africa? Include Zambia

Tourism is becoming an important economic engine for Zambia, creating employment, stimulating infrastructure and increasing foreign earnings.

Going to Africa? Include Zambia

On Your Radar?

Of the 53.3 million international tourists visiting Africa in 2014 only 1.7 percent visited Zambia. The purpose of the visit was primarily business (54 percent) with only 25 percent booking for a holiday. While most visitors were from Africa, there were tourists from Europe (9.5 percent), Asia (7.7 percent), the Americas (5.3 percent), and Australia (1.3 percent).

Zambia has a treasure-trove of ecotourism opportunities to see including 19 national parks with Kafue the largest and a major attraction is Victoria Falls. Visitors interested in seeing the Falls but reluctant to encounter political unrest on the Zimbabwe side, have opted to direct their attention to Zambia.

Tourism is becoming an important economic engine for Zambia as it creates employment, stimulates rural and infrastructural development and increases foreign exchange earnings.

In addition, it is a cash cow to the government and  promotes local crafts.

According to Acting Chief Executive Stein Liyanda of the ZNTB, the relative lack of development in Zambia means the wildlife has remained diverse and plentiful. “We not only have game in abundance but over 700 varieties of bird species. A full third of the country is preserved as national parks and game management reserves (Institutional Investor-International Edition. May,2003).

Where to Stay

  • The David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa (Member: Leading Hotels of the World; aha Hotels & Lodges Group)

The David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa is located on the Zambezi River, inside the Mosi-Oa-Tunya Park, opposite Siloka Island, upstream from Victoria Falls and near the town of Livingstone. The property includes 72 standard rooms and 5 executive suites with air conditioning. Each room has a private balcony with wonderful views of the Zambezi River. Handicap rooms are available.

The grounds surrounding the Lodge make the setting incredibly beautiful and the public spaces appear designed as part of a movie set.

The Lodge offers event space and is a conference center as well as wedding venue.

The Kala Restaurant features Afro-Arabian fusion cuisine and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The hotel features an outdoor pool and fitness space, a spa, and a golf course is available nearby. Kayaking and rafting adventures can be arranged.

On The Road

Zambia road conditions are unique to the destination. The vehicles drive on the left-side of the road and cars in traffic circles travel clockwise. It is illegal to turn left on a red light.

Many roads do not have shoulders or sidewalks forcing pedestrians and livestock to use the roadways during the day and night. It is a traffic violation to splash a pedestrian when driving through water. Third party insurance is compulsory, and it must be purchased in the country. When stopped, you must show proof of purchase.

The main roads are relatively well-maintained; however, many secondary roads need repair. Four-wheel drive vehicles are suggested during the rainy season (end of October to mid-March).

There are no emergency services for injured or stranded drivers. Car accident victims are vulnerable to theft by people pretending to be helpful. While a cell phone is recommended (actually a necessity), some parts of the country do not have cell phone service; however, using a phone without a hands-free kit while driving is illegal and if you are caught, you will be fined.

If you are stopped by police while driving and asked to pay a fine, ask for an official receipt or directions to the nearest police station where you can make a payment. Driving “under the influence?” Drivers are tested at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital and then taken to court.

Border Crossing – Heads Up

When visitors’ cross borders from one African country to another, government protocols must be followed. If you have a tour guide escort, he/she is likely to personally handle the transactions which include a review of your passport, visas and cash payment. The best way to expedite the process is to follow the instructions presented by the guide. Do not look for reasons or rationale. Just follow the directions.

It is important to have cash in the local currency as well as American dollars as some border control officers will not accept the currency of other countries and they are unlikely to accept credit or debit cards. There appears to be no fixed rules or regulations at border crossing. So, the best motto is the cliché, “Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.”

Be prepared for long lines of trucks, cars and bicycles waiting to cross the border. A border crossing for Zambia is via water ferry. A bridge is under construction but has been in development stage for many years. Because the ferry crossing barge is very old, it can be very slow, and may not look very safe. Once again, follow the directions of the tour guide, and accept their instructions: move when they tell you to move, sit where they tell you to sit. They have been doing their jobs for many years and are knowledgeable about the methods that work to expedite the process.

Kazungula Ferry

Patience and a Snack

Sometimes, if luck is on your side and you have a really good guide, traveling from one country to the other will be easy-peasy. However, it is best to prepare mentally for a long and hot passage, and then be delightfully surprised when the anguish was for naught.

  1. Have snacks and water. The process could be quick and easy, or not.
  2. Watch your things and keep your eye on your car and/or your tour guide.
  3. Have your paperwork in available (i.e., Passports, visas, currency).
  4. Be pleasant and smile. Hostility, anger, frustrations – hide all the emotions until the paperwork is stamped and you are out of passport control and driving in your destination country.

What to Do Next

Visitors can enjoy Zambia on their own or with a group; however, unless you are very familiar with Africa, having lived and worked in the region, the complexity of the culture can make travel a daunting experience if you are not working with the guidance of a professional tour operator. My suggestion is to contact Ross Kennedy at Africa Albida Tours, he and his team will help sort out your plans and develop a viable itinerary.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

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