Zambia travel advice
Get clued up on the culture and customs of Zambia, as well as the practical side of travelling to the country:
Before You Go
You’ll most likely fly into Lusaka if you’re arriving from overseas, then take a domestic flight to your first destination and leave the same way. However, if you arrive quite late or depart early, you might need to stay overnight in the city.
International flights are not included in our itineraries, however we are more than happy to arrange these for you, should you request them.
To enter Zambia, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the end of your intended stay and have at least two blank pages. A single-entry visa, valid for up to 90 days, can be obtained when entering the country.
The visa costs around US$50 and should be paid for in US dollars (at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport you can pay by debit or credit card). You are advised to carry the original copy of your passport and immigration permit at all times during your Zambia holiday.
The entry visa is mandatory for Australian, British, USA, Canadian and most EU passport holders, though nationals of Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and Romania do not require a visa (see World Travel Guide for more information). If you hold a different passport, check with the Zambian embassy or consulate in your country of origin.
Furthermore, Zambia now has an agreement with Zimbabwe, which shares custody of Victoria Falls, so you can hop across the border via a KAZA univisa (subject to availability), so you can get the best views of the falls from either side.
Note that these visa rules may be subject to change.
Vaccinations & Medication
Visit your doctor at least four to six weeks before your departure to ensure you have all necessary (or recommended) vaccinations before your trip. Malaria in present in Zambia, so malarial medication should be taken before, during and after your trip.
However, strong mosquito repellent, covered clothing and other precautions should be taken to protect against mosquito bites, as the insects can also carry dengue fever, for which there is no medical protection.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers aged nine months and over, arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission, including airport stopovers of more than 12 hours.
Make sure you have sufficient travel insurance before you travel and that this covers your safari activities as well as an adventurous activities you may like to do at Victoria Falls, such as bungee jumping, ziplining and abseiling etc.
During Your Trip
Upon arrival in Zambia, here are a few things to be aware of:
Zambia uses the Zambia Kwacha (ZMW), though US dollars are also widely accepted. You can take a look at the most up-to-date exchange values against your local currency on XE.com. Credit cards are sometimes charged high commissions, whilst more remote lodges may struggle to process your payments, so check ahead with your accommodation beforehand and carry enough cash just in case.
Bartering is common at markets, though note that haggling is the art of finding a price both parties are happy with rather than pushing for the cheapest price – profits benefit the vendors and manufacturers directly, so keep this in mind when you barter (and don’t forget to smile).
Tipping is at your discretion in Zambia, though US$10 per person per day for your ranger or safari guide, plus US$25 for lodge staff is around the standard. Service charge is sometimes added to restaurant bills, but if it isn’t then leave 10%.
- Tap water in Zambia is not drinkable and not even suitable for brushing teeth with – it’s best to use bottled water. Ice is also best avoided.
- The emergency number is 999, though medical facilities can be poor, especially in rural areas. Carry your own first aid kit, make sure you have adequate insurance and know your blood group just in case.
- Rabies has been reported in domestic and wild animals in Zambia, including dogs and bats. It’s best to avoid contact with all animals.
- Food bought from local street vendors may not meet hygiene standards, however food served in lodges is of a very high standard. If you’d like to eat somewhere local, ask your guide or hotel staff for recommendations.
In general, Zambia is a safe country to visit as a traveller, with relative political stability. However, like with many tourist destinations, there are instances of petty theft and pick-pocketing, particularly in the cities. Keep valuables out of sight, avoid walking alone at night and use taxis booked through your guide or hotel.
On safari, always listen to your driver or guide’s advice when around wildlife. Read our Safari Safety Guide for more information on safety and etiquette.
Like many African nations, male homosexuality is illegal in Zambia (a law leftover from British rule of Rhodesia) whereas female homosexuality is unrecognised. However, there have been no reports of LGBT travellers experiencing any problems during their visit to the country. This reflects the general attitude in Zambia, where local people don’t care too much about someone’s gender or sexuality, but the topics remain taboo.
Zambia is a conservative country and especially conservative in rural areas. Public displays of affection between two people (heterosexual or LGBT) or overtly sexual behaviour is disapproved of. We advise discretion to ensure that your Zambia trip is safe and uneventful.
That being said, lodges, camps and hotels are informed whether guests sharing a room would prefer single or double beds and it’s very rare to hear of those requests being denied or complaints from any staff members.
Zambia is a great destination for an African safari with kids, from animal spotting at national parks to exciting water activities at Victoria Falls. Zambia does require malarial medication, so take this into account or ask your doctor about medication for your children.
Take a look at our Zambia Safari Family Holiday itinerary for more information on our favourite family-friendly lodges and camps, as well as child-friendly safari activities. For example, Flatdogs Camp in South Luangwa offers a range of activities for children, including first aid and survival skills sessions, which are perfect to keep kids occupied if you want to try a walking safari or canoe safari (age limits apply for these, 12 to 14 years old depending on the national park).
Read our dedicated Zambia Family Travel page for more information.
Zambia is certainly not perfect when it comes to accessibility; the country’s public buildings have not been built with accessibility in mind. However, accessible and wheelchair-friendly safaris are possible in the national parks due to flexibility of guides and staff, who want to do their best to ensure you have the best possible safari experience.
Step-free accommodation (or at least as step-free as possible) can be provided upon request, with more modern and luxury lodges being the best options. Domestic aircraft and safari vehicles can accommodate wheelchairs as well.
If you have any other needs or requests, don’t hesitate to get in contact and we can create a tailor made Zambia holiday that works for you.
Zambia has some excellent conservation initiatives and community projects going on all over the country. Read our Responsible Travel Guide to Zambia for more information and discover how you can travel responsibility during your trip.
If you're interested in a Zambia holiday, call our friendly team of Luxury Travel Specialists for a chat about your ideas or fill out our enquiry form with details of your dream Zambia trip.