10 things I wish I knew before going to Zambia

Judith Kamau 06 August 2020 1189 views 5 min. read

If I were to liken Zambia with anything, it would be like a sleeping lion left in slumber for a long time. Zambia roars in many aspects and has the potentials to match other reigning kings in the tourism kingdom if given the attention it deserves. I have heard people ask questions like "where is Zambia" or "what is Zambia known for" and I was left shaking my head in dismay. Well, Zambia is located in the southern regions of Africa. It is well known for its excellent tourist attractions like Victoria Falls and the roaring Zambezi River, which she shares with her neighbor Zimbabwe. Are you looking for what to do in Zambia? This article will highlight the things you should know before going there hence giving you an insight into what you can do while there. So, let us go through some of the things you should know before setting foot in Zambia.

1. The Best Time to Travel to Zambia

Victoria Falls

Just like any other travel destination around the world, Zambia has its best seasons to visit. Being a tropical country with both wet and dry seasons, your decision to travel to Zambia will be affected by these weather patterns. For example, from November to March, the weather is characterized by abundant rainfall, which leaves the landscape green. This is the best time to travel to Zambia if you enjoy bird watching. Between April and May, the Victoria Falls is at its best display, and visiting in this period gives you a rare chance to have a spectacular view of the Falls. In June all through to October, the Safari activities take center stage. You can enjoy the rich wildlife heritage as you move around the country, mingling with her people and culture.

2. Visa Requirements

South Africa passport

If you are travel to Zambia, you need first to check if your country is one of the visa-exempt countries or one whose citizens are eligible for a visa upon arrival in Zambia. If you find out that your country lacks either option, you will need to get a Zambia visa prior to your traveling date from one of the Zambian diplomatic missions. You can as well opt for an electronic visa if you find the manual one hectic to get. A passport is a must-have when traveling to Zambia, and it has to be valid for at least six months.

3. What to Pack?

Zambian children

Depending on the season you plan to travel to Zambia and the activities you are going to engage in while there, your travel package will keep varying. However, the standard requirements should include basic requirements such as clothing to keep you warm, a mosquito net, just in case you settle in a hotel with none, and a big hat to protect you from the strong rays of the sun others. Your camera should also make it to the list of items you need to carry because you can’t afford to miss taking shots of the beautiful moments you will have in the country.

4. The Diseases to be Careful of

Giraffe in Zambia

Zambia is prone to Malaria infection, and you will need to take precautions before setting foot in the country. This is particularly essential if you are coming from a country that sees fewer malaria cases. You will be safer carrying a mosquito net or mosquito repellants to help you keep the vast number of mosquitoes at bay. Extensively, you can as well carry some malarial drugs to help you in the event you get infected. Upon arrival, you will be called upon to present a Yellow Fever vaccine certificate to ascertain that you have taken precautions against the disease which you may contract while in the country.

5. The Favorable Currency in Zambia

The Favorable Currency

You probably won't like it when you carry with you a currency that will make it hard for you to transact when in Zambia. For a significant time now, the South African Rand has been the most favorable currency to carry and use in Zambia. It is the only currency in Zambia that Zambian banks will not set you a minimum amount required to exchange money. If you are considering having US dollars, then there is a minimum amount you will be asked to provide before your money can be exchanged for you.

6. Things to do in Zambia

River in Zambia

A successful trip is planned well in advance. One of the ways you adequately prepare for your journey is by listing down all the events and activities you may want to take part in while out on your trip. Before setting out for Zambia, there are many fun activities you could consider including in your "things to do in Zambia" list. Taking Victoria Falls as an example, you can decide to hire a chopper for a perfect aerial view of the iconic Falls as you take magnificent Instagrammable photos while up there. You can also choose to go for a walking Safari in South Luangwa National Park, where the nature walk safaris were born. This gives you the rare chance of closely viewing the park's wildlife as you put your body into exercise. You can as well enjoy bird watching, game drives, go for water sports in a canoe, or a ship cruise in the cool hours of the day, among other activities.

7. Security in Zambia

Security

One primary concern for you as a tourist or a foreigner should be the security of the country you are visiting. Regardless of the goodies Zimbabwe offers or promises, you will want to understand the security state in the capital of Zimbabwe, Lusaka, and how that security is spread to the surrounding towns and even to the parks and attractions sites. For example, as late as February 2020, some demonstrations were reported in the capital of Zimbabwe, Lusaka, following a series of attacks on private residences, schools, and other properties. This means you should be vigilant when visiting Zambia and staying within Lusaka. You should ensure that your accommodation is secure and look out for security arrangements in the region you settle in.

8. Culture of the Zambians

Zambian child

The culture should be a significant concern to you as a traveler because you will need to mingle with the people if you need an easy time in the country. Zambia prides itself on a wide collection of cultures, customs, and language dialects you may need to borrow to blend with the rest of the population smoothly. While 70% of the population is made up of tribal groups, the remaining 30% is a conglomeration of Asians, Europeans, and others. This means for the better part of your stay within the country you will mingle so much with the locals and you will need their help in a lot of things. Learning their ways of life and blending into their local delicacies and modes of communication will set you in an advantaged position making your stay even more enjoyable. For example, in Zambian culture, it is always important to greet before starting any conversation, and you should offer the initial greeting if someone approaches you. As a man, you should wait for the woman to extend her hand before you stretch yours for a greeting. A gift is considered a sign of friendship, honor, and appreciation, which should not be refused, and when accepting one, you should use both hands. These and many more cultures are the things you should learn to blend with the locals.

9. Hotels and Accommodation in Zambia

Hotel in Zambia

After settling for your holiday destination, you can quickly narrow down the hotels around your preferred destinations. For example, if you are touring Victoria Falls, you will have to choose from the luxurious hotels around it. For instance, the New Fairmount Hotel and Casino are situated at the heart of Livingstone, just 1.4 miles from Victoria Falls. The hotel boasts exquisite services, including state-of-the-art en-suite bedrooms with conference centers and a swimming pool. You get a wonderful moment of rest after a rigorous day of adventure in the waterfalls. Choosing an ideal hotel is as important as deciding how enjoyable and fun your stay in Zambia will be. So, it would help if you didn't give away picking a great hotel when it comes to popping in your search.

10. The Food

Zambia food

Unless you carry your packed food for all the days you will spend in Zambia, and you have to find out if your favorite dishes are being served in Zambian hotels. If you are okay with the Zambians' local dishes, such as the Nshima, which is prepared with pounded white maize, you will not have a hard time there. A lot of Zambia's local cuisine is delicious and worth trying, including its stews, cooked vegetables, and different beer types. Make your time in Zambia count by being smart on the activities you pick to engage in. Victoria Falls remains a significant attraction while in Zambia, but you can visit other great places and have a fun-filled stay in this region. However, do not forget to be cautious of the negatives Zambia has in store. 

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