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Flag Source: CIA World Factbook
Getting In and Around
: Most visitors to Zambia, including British, Australian, and Canadian citizens, will need to get a visa at an embassy beforehand or at the port of entry upon their arrival. Visa fees can vary from $40 to $100. Visitors departing by air will also need to cover a $25 departure tax.
The usual visa advice applies: make sure you have enough space in your passport (typically two blank consecutive pages), and try to do all the visa work before you leave home to forestall travel-time hassles.
: Most visitors to Zambia who arrive by air will start at Lusaka International Airport. If you are already in Africa (or can connect through Johannesburg or Nairobi), consider avoiding the dusty capital city with a flight to Livingston or Ndola. Jet-setters with a wild side may be interested in the planned international service at Mfuwe; those flights will land at the doorstep of the famed South Lua
ngwa National Park.
For air service inside Zambia, you can contact Proflight or Avocet and, if you are flying in the north, Skytrails. A few other companies will offer charter flights to whatever airstrip your adventure requires.
Zambia is a landlocked nation and has the land connections to show for it. For those visiting Zambia by land, car, bus, and train options abound.
If you have your own car or have hired one with a driver, you may try out the Kariba and Chirudnu border crossings that connect to Harare in Zimbabwe or cruise over the Victoria Falls Bridge, near Livingstone. Or, just outside that city, board the ferry at Kazungula bound for Botswana. On the eastern border, Chipata and Lundazi mark border crossings to Malawi. Travelers coming from Mozambique or headed there may find themselves at the Zambia–Malawi border, too: a detour through Lilongwe will provide public transit options and help you bypass a desolate region of Mozambique. Access is also available to Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though we strongly suggest checking out any safety warnings for Congo or Angola before entering those countries.
A note to those taking the road trip of their lives: pack a carnet de passage
, and be prepared for a border agent’s asking you to take out a temporary import permit (TIP) if you have rented a car from outside of Zambia.
Bus access may be a far more sensible option for all but the most reckless drivers. Options abound. The routes from Lusaka include Lilongwe, Harare, Masvingo, Dar es Salaam, and Pretoria in their destinations. Some of the long-distance hauls will terminate at Johannesburg; check out Intercape
and Translux for luxury bus connections between Zimbabwe and Joburg. Bus routes will also start in Livingstone. When border cities are close, consider walking across to catch a more frequent or reliable bus service.
If you prefer trains, try to skip the ill-maintained Zimbia Railways service. The less maligned Tanzania-Zambia Railway offers a service to Dar es Salaam starting from New Kapiri Mposhi.
The Steam Africa Express can provide an interesting experience of the African rails: the short international service runs between Victoria Falls and Livingstone when enough passengers are present. You won’t get very far, but the trip involves a lounge car and photo opportunities on the famed Victoria Falls Bridge.
Safety and Security
Rural Zambia is remarkably safe, and some backpackers who do venture to this landlocked country have even hitchhiked their way around. Use common sense, and don’t carry unnecessary valuables that may attract muggers or pickpockets. Always be aware of your surroundings, and recognize the threats posed in urban areas.
You should take all the health precautions you may typically take in an underdeveloped country. Tap water may be safe to drink in urban areas but should be boiled outside of population centers. Talk with your doctor about necessary vaccinations. You may want to buy traveler’s insurance with a policy for medical evacuation.
As always consult the U.S. Department of State
’s consular website for safety bulletins and information. Do your research.