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Money

The official currency of Zambia is the Zambian Kwacha (ZMK). One kwacha is divided into 100 ngwee. By law all payments within Zambia can only be made in kwachas but many shops, hotels, lodges and restaurants that cater to travellers or foreigners will accept US dollars and pounds sterling 

Kwacha note denominations are K100, K50, K20, K10, K5 and K2.

Coins are in denominations of K1 and 50, 10 and 5 ngwee.

Banks’ operating hours are generally Monday to Friday from 08:15 to 15:30 and Saturdays from 08:15 to 11:30, excluding public holidays.

ATMs or cash points are available in Lusaka, Livingstone and other major towns. Visa and MasterCard cards are more readily accepted for cash withdrawals than American Express. There are very few if any ATMs outside major centres so ensure you withdraw or bring sufficient cash.

Most upscale hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and the bigger shops in major centres will take credit cards, and major banks will usually advance local currency against a credit card. Take note that American Express may attract extra charges or not be accepted at all.

Laws

  1. You face severe penalties for using or carrying illegal drugs, including cannabis. Penalties include long prison sentences in local jails.
  2. Proof of identity
    You must always carry your passport or a copy of your passport and visa or immigration permit with you.
  3. Other laws. In Zambia, it’s illegal to:
  • perform same-sex sexual acts
  • have pornographic material
  • take photos of military areas, buildings or personnel
  • buy or trade in endangered wildlife products, such as tortoise shells, ivory and rhino horn, or any products made of these materials without a licence

Travel

There is a good network of internal flights all over Zambia, which are not cheap but are useful for time-poor travellers. Proflight is the main carrier to Mfuwe (the Luangwa Valley) and Livingstone (for Victoria Falls and the Lower Zambezi National Park).

Zambia is a pretty safe country to drive in, certainly by African standards. It is possible to hire a car in the main centres. Intercity buses are fast, clean and good value. The main roads are usually in good condition but secondary routes will deteriorate in the rainy season between November and April and will probably only be driveable with a 4X4 at that time. You should avoid driving at night as there are likely to be various hazards such as wandering animals and unlit vehicles.

Zambia also has three main internal train lines, from Livingstone to Lusaka, from Lusaka to the Copperbelt, and from Kapiri Mposhi to the northern border with Tanzania. The Zambezi Express leaves Livingstone on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, arriving in Lusaka the next morning.

Tipping
Tipping is not compulsory but is always enthusiastically received if you are happy with the service and would like to tip. We recommend that you tip your specialist guides for approximately U$5 per guest per day. This is normally given direct to your guide at the end of your stay. It is also a nice gesture to tip the general camp / lodge staff. Here we recommend about U$3 per guest per day. This should be placed in the communal tipping box. To tip Porters, we recommend about U$1.

Charging electronic devices
You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most accommodations. If you bring more than a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an extension with extra outlets since the amount of outlets is often limited. We advise bringing extra batteries for your camera since many lodges generate power with solar or generators and power cuts might occur. Solar-generated lodges will often only have power available in the rooms at certain hours of the day, but you can always use the charging ports in the main lodge area.

Internet
To get access to the internet on your phone, you can buy internet bundles via a local SIM card by using pre-paid airtime. The procedure of getting the SIM card is as described above (“Phone Network Providers”), and your guide can assist you. Using the internet on your phone is relatively cheap and fast, with speed depending on your location.

In a lot of lodges, WIFI is provided, however, the speed will not be what you are used to at home and the lodges are often remote and do not get a reliable signal. If you don’t want to use this opportunity to complete disconnect, we advise that you get a local SIM with a data bundle or wireless internet stick as mentioned above.

Packing List

  • Take your own toilet paper as many public toilets don’t have any.
  • Good quality sunglasses; if you wear contact lenses,
  • Sun hat
  • Small torch /headlamp
  • Good binoculars
  • Camera with a zoom lens
  • Waterproof/dustproof bags to cover your cameras
  • Swimsuit as some of the lodges have swimming pools
  • A small daypack to keep with you in the car during the day
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen, moisturiser and lip balm
  • Basic first aid kit.
  • Clothing should be lightweight, loose-fitting and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton
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