Zambia Travel Tips


GMT : +2 hours


Population: 9.8 million
Area: 752 614 sq. kms.
GDP per capita: US$ 851
Languages: English, Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi

Currency And Credit Cards

The unit of currency in Zambia is the Zambian Kwacha, which is divided into 100 Ngwee. Inflation has rendered the Ngwee obsolete. Bank notes currently available are in denominations of K10 000, K5 000, K1 000, K500, K100, K50 and K20. A K10 coin is also in circulation. Some hotels, shops, restaurants and other retail outlets in major towns accept valid international credit cards. MasterCard and Visa are accepted for payment. It must be noted that many shops and retail outlets especially in the rural areas do not accept credit cards and it is essential to have a reserve of local currency in these areas. Most international hotels and tour operators in Zambia only accept payment for accommodation and tours in hard currency such as US dollars, British pounds, Botswana Pula and South African Rand, with the US Dollar the most widely accepted foreign currency.

visas and entry requirements

Valid passports are required by all foreign nationals to enter Zambia. British citizens require visas and these can be obtained on any port of entry into Zambia, valid for a stay of up to 14 days, or prior to travel – see British citizens will have to pay £35 (USD 50) per person for a single entry visa & £ 55 (USD 80) per person for a double entry visa, payable in either Sterling or the US Dollar equivalent. It is important to carry the exact amount with you, as change may not be available. Multiple Entry visas cannot be obtained on arrival & must be obtained prior to departure.

All air arrivals must be in possession of a valid return/onward ticket and visitors must be able to prove that they have sufficient funds to cover their stay in the country. Citizens of other countries must check prior to travelling regarding their visa requirements. There is an international departure tax of US$ 25 per person and domestic tax of US$ 8 per person, usually included in the cost of your airline ticket.

business hours

Most businesses and shops are open between 08h30 and 17h00 on weekdays and between 08h30 and 13h00 on Saturdays. Supermarkets are often open on Sunday morning. Curios can be purchased in curio shops in shopping centres or from wayside curio sellers in a more informal shopping environment.


Tipping for service is illegal, although appreciated in Zambia. Most hotels and restaurants add a 10% service fee onto the account. During your trip it is likely that you will come into contact with tour guides, game rangers and trackers who depend largely on their tips for their income. Tipping in this instance ranges from between US$5 and US$10 per person per day. Tipping is only recommended if you are satisfied with the service you have received and is entirely at your own discretion.

health requirements / medical care

Visitors are responsible for their own medical needs and it is advisable to carry comprehensive medical insurance including casualty evacuation insurance. There are Public Hospitals in most towns and cities with services that can be best described as average. Private Hospitals in Lusaka provide good quality medical services with limited facilities. Chemists/Pharmacies, private doctors and other medical practitioners are available in Lusaka, Livingstone and the Copperbelt. Do not rely on medical services outside of these areas.

Malaria is endemic to most areas in Zambia. Suitable precautions and the use of Prophylactics are recommended for visitors to these areas. There are a number of excellent mosquito repellents available in supermarkets, which are manufactured in South Africa, that are applied directly to the skin or clothes in the evening. Many hotels and other accommodation establishments have mosquito nets over the beds in their rooms.

HIV/Aids is widespread in Zambia and it is recommended that visitors do not engage in any high-risk sexual or drug-related activities that may cause exposure to the disease. Condoms are available in the country from pharmacies and some supermarkets, although it is wise to check their effectiveness thoroughly before use.

Important - Zambia will deny entry to any travellers who have been in Ebola affected countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria) in the 30 days prior to arrival.

postal services

Post Offices are open from 08h00 to 16h30 on weekdays and from 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays


The climate is generally temperate on the interior plateau at elevations above 1000 metres and on the Nyika Plateau. The low- elevation areas in the Zambezi, Kafue and Luangwa valleys are generally hot during the day and mild at night. During summer temperatures in these areas can become uncomfortably hot. Winter is generally dry throughout the country with summer rains originating from tropical weather-systems from the north; together with localised thunderstorms.

The rainy season corresponds with the summer months and is uniform for the entire country, although the levels of rainfall vary considerably. In the northern provinces rainfall averages 1250mm per annum decreasing to 750mm in the Lusaka area and as low as 500mm in the south and south-western areas of the country. During the remainder of the year very little precipitation occurs and the days are bright and sunny.

Average temperatures in centigrade are as follows:

Summer (maximum) Winter (minimum)

Lusaka 31 10
Copperbelt 32 06
Livingstone 34 07
Luangwa Valley 33 12
Kasama 32 10


The Zambian power grid uses 220/240 volts AC 50 Hertz. Wall sockets (square 3 pin) are rated to carry a maximum of 15 amps. Most hotels have electric shaver plugs and/or adapters available.

banks and foreign exchange

Banking hours in most centres are 08h15 to 14h30 Mondays to Fridays and 08h00 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Some banks stay open until 15h00 on weekdays.

Foreign bank notes and travellers cheques may be converted into local currency at most banks and Bureaux de Changes. Changing currency at a hotel will usually involve the charging of a higher commission than at a bank. When converting foreign currency at a bank you will usually be required to show your passport.

Foreign exchange restrictions have been lifted in Zambia and there are no restrictions on the conversion of foreign exchange into Kwacha or visa-versa. Do not change too much foreign exchange into Kwacha as there may not be an availability of foreign exchange when you re-convert your Kwacha back into foreign exchange.

There is a flourishing foreign exchange black market in Zambia, which has been legalised by the Government. Money can be exchanged on the street and from petrol attendants at garages. Care must always be taken when changing currency on the street to ensure that you are not short-changed or mugged. Most tourist centres have an area where currency can be exchanged without a problem. Never go off on your own with a dealer to change money.


A relatively efficient telephone service is available in most parts of the country. Direct national and international dialling is possible in urban and some rural areas. Pay phones are available but seldom work due to poor maintenance. Telephone directories are available but poorly distributed. Make use of the telephone at your hotel should you wish to make a call.

A cellular telephone operation provides limited coverage in urban areas. Facsimile services are available at most luxury hotels in major centres.


Zambia has a relatively low level of crime with most offences involving petty thieving. The depressed economy in the country has resulted in an escalation of more serious crime especially in Lusaka and the copper-belt and it is important that the visitor is aware of the following:

  • Certain inner city areas are unsafe and should be avoided; especially after dark. This applies in particular to Lusaka, Ndola and Kitwe. · Avoid lonely and deserted areas in the city, especially after dark.
  • Do not hand your car keys over to anyone other than the car rental staff.
  • The Zambian Police are available at any time to assist in the event of any difficulties.
  • Passports and money should be safely locked away in your hotel.
  • Carry your wallet and other documents you may require in a body belt, preferably under loose clothing. · Be aware of what others around you are doing, both when walking and driving.
  • Do not leave valuables in your motor vehicle, which are visible from the outside.
  • Avoid picking up hitchhikers and ensure your car doors are locked, especially at traffic lights.

Africa Collection: Office Hours: 09h00 – 17h30 - Tel: +44 (0) 1403 256655, Fax: +44 (0) 1403 253325

Africa Collection after hours/emergencies: +44 (0) 7785 344648 OR +44 (0) 7904 324368

Last updated – 18 September 2014