Zambia is an undiscovered gem in Southern Africa that is rich in both wildlife and natural beauty. It is the place to go for a traditional and authentic African safari with a personal and rustic touch. The national parks are not yet extensively visited by tourism and therefore offer fascinating and exclusive safaris surrounded by stunning wilderness. Explore mighty rivers with magnificent banks in Lower Zambezi, untouched wetlands in Kafue National Park and the impressive Victoria Falls. Look forward to comfortable safari camps, lodges in absolutely prime locations and a spectacular wilderness experience. You will experience unique wildlife sightings and you can travel in open 4x4 vehicles, on foot or by boat. An authentic and unforgettable Africa experience awaits you!
IMPORTANT - As some of our Zambia tours might also include other countries, please ensure you also check the requirements for each country, as they might differ to those for Zambia.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay. You will require 3 blank pages in your passport in order to enter Zambia. If you are entering via South Africa it is advised to ensure you have at least 6 blank pages in your passport! This is because South Africa requires 2 clean, consecutive pages for each transit – you will need two pages to transit South Africa in each direction, and two pages to enter Zambia. South African officials take this requirement very seriously and will not permit entry in the case of insufficient pages. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
For travels to Zambia a visa is required, which should be obtained in advance from the respective Zambian High Commission. It is also possible to apply for an E-Visa. Alternatively, the tourist visa can be issued upon arrival at the airport. Single and double entry visit visas are available on arrival at all ports of entry, but multi-entry visas are not. If you plan to get a visa on arrival, make sure you have the correct amount of cash (US dollars) as change may not be available. If you enter through Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, you can make payment for single and double entry visas via credit or debit card at the Zambian Immigration desks.
US, Canadian, British citizens may enter Zambia for up to 90 days for tourist purposes. The current rate is USD $50 for US/Canadian passengers and 35 USD $35 for British passengers. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You will need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
The KAZA visa is valid for travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe and day trips into Botswana. It’s available at the international airports in Lusaka and Livingstone and at the land borders at Livingstone (Zimbabwe border) and Kazungula (Botswana border). It costs US$50 and it is valid for 30 days.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
There are a number of major international embassies located in Lusaka, including those for the US, Canada and UK. However, embassies for other countries including Australia are located in Harare or other African cities. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
Health, insurance and special requirements
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking. The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Safari Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs. Unlike in South Africa, the provision of health care in Zambia is unreliable. There is a shortage of drugs and trained medical staff in hospitals, making it difficult for hospitals to treat certain illnesses including accidents and trauma cases. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour. We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints, but please note, whilst in the Reserves, doctors and medical supplies are few and far between.
Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour. If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. As above, medication if often in short supply in Zambia, so please ensure you take sufficient supplies with you. Important:
Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations however please take note of the malaria and yellow fever information below:
- Malaria: Zambia is located in a malaria risk area and therefore appropriate prophylactic precautions must be taken. It is essential that you consult a specialist as to which measures are suitable for you.The malaria risk depends on the region and the season, so that no universal recommendation can or may be given. Please inform yourself in detail and in advance. The old adage ‘prevention is the best cure’ also holds true. Use repellent and cover up at dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active by wearing long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks, if possible. If you develop a bad headache, have aching joints, and recurring fevers and chills after your trip, advise your doctor that you have been in a malarial area. Malaria symptoms can sometimes be confused with flu symptoms. All accommodations, which are located in malaria risk areas, are equipped with mosquito nets.
- Yellow Fever Certificate: Depending on the area you are visiting, or areas you have previously travelled to, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid and Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B; Meningococcal Meningitis; Rabies and Cholera may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Safari Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
- Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Safari Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
What to Pack and Wear
The weather in Zambia will be variable. You will need clothes for hot weather as well as a warm, waterproof jacket and some layers, as it may be cooler in the evening. For the safaris it’s wise to pack khaki-coloured clothing as it blends better into the bush. Pack light and remember the basic essentials. We would also recommend a good pair of lightweight binoculars. Insect repellent and sunscreen are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Many tours in Zambia may also include internal scheduled flights, which have special requirements with regard to the weight and dimensions of baggage. You are usually permitted one piece of hold luggage per person, at a maximum weight of 23kg (50lb) per piece and dimensions of 158cm (62inches) per piece. You are also permitted to carry one piece of hand luggage per person up to 8kg (18lb), with a maximum dimension of 56cm(L) 36cm (W) 23cm (H), so that it fits under the seat in front of you or in the overhead lockers. Additionally, one small personal item (e.g. a small purse, small laptop case) is also allowed. Larger laptop bags and standard/bulkier briefcases will NOT be considered a personal item and will count as the normal piece of hand baggage.
On fly-in safaris, movement between camps is generally conducted in light aircraft due to remote areas visited and distances travelled. Light aircraft used for inter-camp transfers vary in size from 3,5,7 & 12 seater aircraft. For safety reasons light aircraft transfers have a restriction of 15kg TOTAL luggage per person, packed in SOFT bags.
Luggage handling is not included in our Zambia tours. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services may be available in some hotels on the tour.
Zambia’s official language is English, but there are more than 70 different languages and dialects spoken throughout the country, from which Bemba and Nyanja are the two most widely spoken local languages.
The time zone in Zambia is GMT+2, 2 hours ahead of London GMT. There is no daylight saving and no time-zone changes.
Zambia is in the southern hemisphere, so it is summer there when it’s winter in Europe and North America. The best time to visit Zambia is the cool and dry winter period, which stretches from May to September with temperatures between 15 and 27°C. During the coldest months of June and July, morning temperatures can drop to 10°C and night temperatures to 4.5°C, so warm clothing is always necessary despite the mild daytime temperatures.
In Zambia, the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz. Two types of plug are used - Type G (UK style three square pins) and Type D (three round pins, used in India and some African countries) and you will need a plug adaptor and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you. Please note, blackouts are common in Zambia.
Mobiles & Internet Communication
Zambia has a number of cellphone/mobile phone providers that offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as you head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate. Internet and Wi-Fi are accessible in most urban areas and most hotels. Pay-as-you-go airtime is recommended for tourists and sim cards can be purchased in shops, supermarkets and many hotels. The main operators are MTN, airtel und Zamtel. Please also check data roaming charges for Zambia with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The local currency is the Zambian Kwacha ZMK and one Kwacha is equivalent to 100 Ngwee. However, US-dollar is the most popular currency, especially in the tourism sector it is often only possible to pay in USD. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. Due to transmission errors, credit card payments often fail because of the technology or lack of reception in remote areas. Therefore it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well.
If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip. Many businesses, including some medical providers, may not accept payment by credit or debit card. Please check on the up to date financial situation closer to travel.
Due to the often-good exchange rates for foreigners when travelling in South Africa, prices can seem better than in other comparable countries. As each traveller’s spending habits are different, you should bring an amount with which you are comfortable.
Banks in Zambia are usually open 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday, and on the first and last Saturday of a month from 08-11am.
Tipping is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended if you have been satisfied with the service. Normally you can give the tip directly to the host or the lodge manager, who will then distribute it to the staff. Many lodges also have a tip box that is shared among all employees. Guides and trackers should receive their tips separately, you can tip them personally.
Here are a few guidelines:
- Guides: US$10.00 per guest/day
- Tracker: US$ 5.00 per guest/day
- Other lodge staff: US$ 5.00 per guest/day for all staff
- Transfer trips: US$ 3.00 per guest
The national dish of Zambia is nshima, a kind of polenta made from white corn or millet. The porridge is formed into balls, pressed a little flattened and then picked up and eaten with the respective side dish.Any kind of vegetable, meat or fish is used as a side dish and is prepared with onions and tomatoes. Cooking is often done outside on charcoal grills. You will find more international cuisines served in the big cities, alongside local dishes and some game meats too! Some meals are usually included in your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
In general, the tap water in Zambia is not safe to drink. Do not drink from streams, rivers and lakes and it is best to avoid drinking from pumps and wells – as animal presence can still contaminate supplies. Bottled water can be bought at hotels, supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Zambia offers lots for visitors to buy. You’ll find many an option for quality, well priced sculpture and handmade crafts from local artisans. Pick up original art pieces, handicrafts, souvenirs and jewellery.
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 8am – noon, then from 2pm-5pm Monday–Friday. Some shops open Saturday mornings and most shops are closed on Sundays, with the exception of certain grocery shops and souvenir shops.
Safety & Security
Zambia is in general a safe country to visit. Minor crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occur particularly in cities, tourist centres and in public transport and railway stations. Armed robberies are mainly concentrated in Lusaka, the cities of the so-called "copper belt", but can also occur in other tourist centres or on overland routes. Zambia‘s politico-economic situation is volatile, and has slightly improved in the last few years, though we monitor the situation constantly as your safety is of paramount importance to us. The political-economic situation in Zambia, however, rarely affects tourists. Ensure you carry identification, so that you can produce it if required to do so by the security force. As with many developing countries, theft and muggings are relatively common although most incidents are in cities, particularly in airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. In particular whilst in Lusaka you should be vigilant and take sensible precautions. We would advise against walking about alone and driving at night. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities. Most visits to game reserves are trouble-free. However, as you can imagine, with wildlife, there is always an inherent risk associated. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke.
Zambia is predominantly Christian (85%), They are divided into about 27% Protestants, 26% Catholics and 25% New Apostolics. There are also minorities of Hindus and Muslims in the country (5%). Up to 50% of the inhabitants still practice traditional religions, which have increasingly mixed with Christian traditions and practices.
Zambia offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card! Please note, taking photographs of members of police and armed forces personnel and of demonstrations and protests is not permitted.
Arrival in Zambia
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
Other countries on tour itinerary
If you are visiting additional countries, please also check the notes for the other destinations. Different entry requirements apply, and you may need a visa! For other countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
Flying & Travel Hints
- Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
- It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
- Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
- Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
- Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Safari Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Safari Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated August 2020