Before you go

Fast Facts before you go to Zambia


Best time to visit

Zambia is arguably the real home of the mighty Victoria Falls, one of the 7 wonders of the world and the largest water fall in the world. Other tourist attractions include: Kariba Dam (one of the largest man-made lakes in the world); and the Kalambo Falls (one of the deepest falls in the world). Zambia boasts 19 National Parks, with one of the largest in the world (Kafue National Park); and 34 game management areas and 23 million hectares devoted to the conservation of a spectacular variety of wild animals and bird species. It has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. Zambia has a rich cultural heritage and has a number of cultural sites that may be visited.
  • Game viewing: Game viewing is best during the dry season from May through to October. 
  • Birding: Birding has become popular in Zambia as there are over 750 species including a number of unusual species in the northern and western parts of the country. The wet season is best for bird watching. 
  • Botany: Zambia’s vegetation forms a patchwork of grassland, woodland and swamp. Within these broad categories are numerous distinct plant communities, the most dominant of which is miombo woodland. Covering nearly three quarters of Zambia, this deciduous woodland thrives on the generally poor, acid soils of the plateau.
  • Victoria Falls: Falls are at their highest flow May to June and at their lowest flow around October to December.


Passports & Visas

As with all international travel, the visitor to Zambia is required to be in possession of a valid passport.  United States of America passport holders require a visa for Zambia. Visas may be obtained in advance (contact the Zambian High Commission), although border visas are available upon arrival. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. Kindly note that travelers purchasing their visas on arrival in Zambia using US$ (airports and road border posts) must pay in US dollars using bills that have been issued after the year 2003. Older notes are not accepted and may result in travel delays or entry refusal. (Please see Currency as well) In the Airports there are terminals where you pay for your visa with Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, or American Express. 
Currently, the fee for US Citizens is approximately US $50 for a single-entry visa, US$ 80 for a multiple-entry visa, US$ 20 for a day-trip visa. An application may be filled in and mailed to the Zambian Embassy in DC prior to travel (A fee for expediting will be charged depending on the type of visa). 
Evidence of yellow fever immunization is required, and travelers have been turned away at immigration for not having sufficient proof of immunization. Travelers to Zambia and neighboring African countries should ensure that the validity of their passports is at least six months beyond the end of their intended stay. Zambian immigration authorities require a minimum of four blank (unstamped) visa pages in the passport to enter the country; some travelers have experienced difficulties when they arrive without the requisite blank pages. Travelers should make sure there are sufficient pages for visas and immigration stamps to enter into Zambia and other countries to be visited en route to Zambia or elsewhere in the region. Nationals of other countries must check the list of visa exempt countries to see if they need to apply for visas.  
As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport. 

Malaria Prophylaxis

Many local people and some travelers do not take ant-malaria prophylaxis, but it is strongly recommended that you obtain anti-malaria medication before entering Zambia. Malaria is virulent in the low lying areas of the country which includes most of the wildlife destinations. All guests must consult their own medical doctor or health authorities regarding the use of anti-malarial tablets prior to departure.
Whether you take oral prophylaxis or not, always use mosquito repellent, wear long pants, closed shoes, light long-sleeved shirts at night, and sleep under a mosquito net in endemic areas (the anopheles mosquito, which carries malaria, operates almost exclusively after dark). Mosquito repellent containing “deet” is best.  It is advisable to avoid malarial areas if you are pregnant.

Health requirements & Inoculations

As of 1 October 2011, ALL travelers from or through Zambia will be required to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination (unless in possession of a valid waiver certificate) or they will be denied entry into South Africa. South Africa requires a valid Yellow Fever certificate from all citizens and non-citizens over one year of age “traveling from a yellow fever risk country or having been in transit through a yellow fever risk country”
Definition of a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate – “vaccination should be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), and administered at a Yellow Fever-approved vaccination center at least 10 days before departure to South Africa.
Vaccinations for cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis and tetanus are recommended, but not required.

Medical Care

Adequate medical care is available in Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone, though facilities are limited elsewhere. A comprehensive medical Rescue Service is, however, available.
In the event of a medical emergency, contact your country’s embassy or consulate for extra assistance. Most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities (generally South Africa). Visitors are advised to secure medical cover on their medical insurance before arriving in the country. Make sure your health insurance covers you for medical expenses abroad. If not, supplemental insurance for overseas coverage, including possible evacuation, should be seriously considered. Major hotels & Lodges may have contracts with physicians and dentists. Visitors are, however, advised to bring along sufficient supplies of specialized medication they may require.  
As always, don’t forget to use sun screen and drink plenty of water while out in the African sun.


Travel insurance is highly recommended and can be purchased through South African Airways Vacations or your travel agent. It  can be used to cover baggage & personal item loss as well as trip cancellations.  Tour operators will not be held responsible for any loss or damage to passenger’s belongings.  Travel Guard is the (travel) insurance carrier that is offered through South African Airways Vacations. For additional information, please inquire. 


Clothing & Necessities

Here is a guideline list of important items to bring:

  • Casual, comfortable wash and wear clothing is most useful.  
  • Shorts, capris & Cotton T-shirts
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Long pants & shirts with collars for evenings
  • Fleece jacket and a warm jacket for early morning and evening game drives
  • Swimwear
  • Rain ponchos
  • Casual light-weight cotton, khaki or neutral colored clothes for safari.
  • Bright & white colored clothing will attract unwanted insects.
  • Studies have proven that most African game animals are able to see bright blue over any other color.
  • Wide brimmed hat, personal toiletries, sun screen and lip balm.
  • Anti-malaria prophylactics, insect repellent and prescribed medication
  • Binoculars, camera, batteries and accessories
  • Sunglasses
Laundry service is available at most hotels, camps and game lodges. Luggage is restricted to 20kg/44lb in SOFT SIDED BAGS. Soft sided bags ONLY are to be carried on safari and internal flights. Large suitcases are impossible to store in vehicles and on small aircraft and should NOT be used. 

Mobile phones, Land lines & Internet access

Communications in Zambia have in the past often been very unreliable. The mobile telephone services are usually available only in urban areas, although there are currently efforts to provide nationwide mobile phone coverage. Zambia’s mobile phone operators utilize the GSM system; if your phone is GSM compatible, set up international roaming with your service provider before you leave home. In Zambia mobile phones are used widely – much more than normal land lines.
Fixed line telephones are generally unreliable. Both local and long distance calls are metered on a time basis and every second counts in terms of cost.  Major hotels offer fax and internet service, but lodges that are located in remote areas do not necessarily offer these amenities.
Internet and wireless capability is available in the bigger centers like Lusaka and Livingstone.  However, the more remote the location the less accessible it becomes.  Most hotels and game lodges have some internet capability and computer access is usually in the main areas of the lodges. Internet usage is charged for and can be expensive.


Credit Cards

Visa and Master Card are honored by most restaurants, stores, hotels, car rental firms, and other points of sale and service. American Express and Diners Club not.  Proof of identity may be requested in some instances and it is therefore advisable to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times.  Credit cards are seldom accepted in the rural areas however, ATM’s are available in larger towns and the city centers (Visa being the preferred credit card for cash advances). It is prudent to only use credit cards at hotels, lodges, reputable shops and restaurants. Debit cards are not accepted.


Banks and Foreign Exchange Bureau are available at the airport and in all main towns. Banking hours are generally:
Mon – Fri 8:15am – 3:30pm 
Sat                           8:15am – 11:30am
Major hotels have foreign exchange facilities and most city shops, lodges and travel agencies take traveler’s checks. Automated teller machines (ATM’s) are available in cities and towns.


Most African countries accept US dollars for gratuities.  Travelers are advised to take an adequate supply of US money in small denominations ($1-20’s). You may take some larger bills, which can be useful for large purchases. However, remote game lodges will often not have enough US dollars to make change for $100 or even $50 bills. 

Who To Tip

How Much


Private Transfers



Meet & greet representative


per person

Transfer driver


per person one way

Separate transfer guide (if applicable)


per person one way

Private Guides



Half Day Tour


per person

Full day Tour


per person

Hotel Stay






Delivery by housekeeping (iron, hairdryer, etc)


per delivery



per bag



per assistance, depending on the extent of service




Game Lodge or Camp stay



Game Ranger/Guide


per person per day

Game Tracker (if applicable)


per person per day

Butler (tipped separately if applicable)


per person per day

General staff (includes waiters, cooks, bar attendants, evening entertainers)


per person per day

Private game ranger


per group

Private Guide who transfers & performs game drives


per person per day



Bottled water is available and the only guaranteed safe drinking water. Make sure you buy your bottled water from reputable outlets as some of the bottled water is not up to standard. Avoid drinking water straight from the faucet, although, water in the major towns is purified and generally safe to drink.  Alternatively boil the water first and cool it for drinking.  Ensure that you take bottled water with you when traveling to remote rural areas and the bush. Most lodges and camps will have bottled water supplies available either for sale or on a complimentary basis.


Zambia is a multilingual country. English, (which was inherited from colonial rule), is the official working language used in Zambia.
There are over 73 Tribal dialects of which the main languages are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Luvale, Lozi, Mambwe and Tumbuka.
Zambia’s urban population is variedly fluent in their mother tongues and the official language, English. Rural populations are less multilingual, with many in remote villages speaking only their native language.


There is a variety of wildlife that can be seen in Zambia.  
  • THE BIG FIVE - Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo 
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance!


Electricity in Zambia is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts). If you travel to Zambia with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. With a few exceptions (in deep rural areas) electricity is available almost everywhere. Most Lodges and Camps will be run on Generator power. However, you will need to purchase or bring adapters/voltage convertors for the outlets. You can purchase the adapters in many US/Canadian stores, online, or from certain shops in the major tourist cities like Lusaka.  Adapters are usually available on loan at major hotels and Lodges in Zambia. The following table shows the proper adapters for South Africa, Zambia and neighboring countries, as well as the voltage and other necessary information.  This information was retrieved from Feel free to visit the website to get further information, or to see pictures of the listed items. 




Plug and Socket Type

Plug Adapters

Power Cord

South Africa

220/230 V

50 Hz

M,  D

WA-10L,  WA-10

WE-110L,  WE-110


220 V






220 V


C, F, M

WA-9, WA-10L, WA-9C

WE-109, WE-110L, WE-109C


231 V

50 HZ

M, D, G

WA-10L, WA-10, WA-7

WE-110L, WE-110, WE-107


230 V


C, G, D

WA-9C, WA-7, WA-10

WE-109C, WE-107, WE-110




G, D

WA-7, WA-10

WE-107, WE-110

Metric Conversion

To convert Celsius into Fahrenheit = double then add 32
.62 miles = 1 kilometer
3.3 feet = 1 meter
1 acre = .405 hectare
1.05 quarts = 1 liter
2.2 pounds = 1 kilogram


Self-drive safaris in Zambia should only be undertaken by those with significant experience of African driving conditions. Roads in Zambia generally leave a great deal to be desired and many areas are remote and without any significant form of backup in terms of breakdowns and safety. It is highly recommended that guests utilize the services of a reputable tour operator when visiting Zambia.
You'll find few public restrooms while on safari -- or anywhere in Zambia, for that matter. Generally speaking, you'll want to avoid any type of public restroom unless it is in a hotel, resort, or safari lodge or camp. Upmarket restaurant facilities in larger towns and cities are generally acceptable, but never assume that you're going to encounter a decently managed restroom. Tour leaders will ensure that when rest stops occur, that these stops will take place at approved and acceptable facilities.

Souvenirs & VAT

There are many outlets in Zambia where you can find a rich array of arts, crafts and books to remind you of your vacation. Gifts and souvenirs can be readily purchased at the various village curio stores and road side stops. These curios are largely handcrafted by local artisans and revenues derived are used to support the local communities. A certain amount of “haggling” or bartering is required and it is an accepted form of commerce to do so at these local curio outlets. City and town center shops do not generally follow the bartering practice.
In Zambia the value-added tax (V.A.T.), currently 16%, is included in the price of most goods and services, including accommodations and food. To get a V.A.T. refund, foreign visitors must present receipts at the airport and carry purchased items with them or in their luggage. Make sure that your receipts are original tax invoices, containing the vendor's name and address, V.A.T. registration number, and the words tax invoice. If you have been in Zambia for less than 12 months, do not have a Zambian passport and do not come from Zambia, you qualify for a VAT Refund on certain items purchased. This facility allows tourists visiting Zambia to get a refund of VAT paid on goods purchased from retailers approved to operate this scheme, that are exported from Zambia. VAT refunds are only paid at certain exit points. Officials will go through your receipts and randomly ask to view purchases.
Airport departure tax from Zambia is included in the price of your international ticket. For domestic flights, Airport Departure taxes are 58,000 Kwacha per person (about US$13) and must be paid in Kwacha. 
Effective September 1, 2012, Zambia's National Airports Corporation (NACL) have introduced an Aviation Infrastructure and Development charge for all passengers travelling post 01September regardless of when their tickets were issued. The charge will be applied to adults, children and infants out of all NACL airports. This is in addition to the Departure (J1) and Security Tax (QJ) currently in place and will payable in the same way as J1 and QJ.   These costs will be:  Domestic ZMK15,800.00 (about US$3) and  International ZMK27,000.00 (about US$6) .  Once the IATA designator code has been applied for this charge this will be advised.

Travel Emergencies

If you have lost your passport or wallet, please contact the local police department and file a report.  Once you have done this, contact Zambia’s U.S. Embassy, located at Eastern end of Kabulonga Road, Ibex Hill, Lusaka. If you have purchased Travel Guard travel insurance, please contact the number on your policy cards. Travel Guard will help you replace any and all lost travel documents. If you have purchased travel insurance from a different provider, please contact that insurance provider. If you did not purchase travel insurance, or if you have other travel emergencies, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. All visitors seeking Consular services are requested to make contact with the Embassy before arrival as all routine U.S. citizens services are conducted by appointment only.
The American Citizen Services section provides emergency services to Americans in the event of an emergency such as a death, arrest, illness, injuries, missing persons, destitution and other circumstances.  However, the types of services provided are limited. For general information on the type of services that can be provided, please refer to the State Department’s website for travelers. 
If you are an American citizen with an after-hours emergency, please call the hotline at: +260-966-877-805
If you are an American citizen with an emergency during business hours, please call +260-966-877-805
For Non-Emergency Issues please use the following contact information:
• Telephone               + 260 (0) 211-357-260
• Email Address 
Callers in the United States can also call the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services toll free at 1-888-407-4747 
For more information on crises and emergency assistance overseas, please see the State Department website on Emergencies and Crises
Although every effort has been made to ensure the content accuracy, travelers are urged to check independently on matters of specific interest.  SAA Vacations, its associates and/or affiliates will not accept any responsibility or liability for any losses or damage resulting from the advice given.