Quick Guide to Zambia: Visa-free travel for South Africans

2018-06-18 16:56 - Kavitha Pillay
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View of Victoria Falls Bridge and Zambia. (Photo: Kavitha Pillay)

Zambia is home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is commonly known as Africa’s “Adventure Capital”.

While sharing the mighty Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe along its border, visitors who see the Falls from this country get a completely different experience.

Not only is Zambia home to an abundant natural and cultural heritage, it is also known for offering some extreme adventure activities like white-water rafting down the Zambezi River, bungee-jumping from Victoria Falls bridge, and swimming in Devil's Pool which is on the cliff of the Victoria Falls.

WATCH: White-water rafting in Africa’s 'adventure capital', would you do it?

If these adventure activities tickle your fancy, then start planning a trip to this southern African country. Here's what you need to know:

Visa requirements: No. Visa-free for South Africans with a valid passport for stays of up to 30 days. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months and have at least 2 blank pages. 

Medical requirements: Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

National Carrier: Zambia is set to open national carrier soon, with Ethiopian Airlines announcing in January 2018 that it has finalised an agreement with Zambia to re-launch its national carrier.

ALSO SEE: #AfriTravel: Ethiopian Airlines to re-launch Zambia's national carrier

Airport Hub: Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the country's Capital, Lusaka.

Flight Route: Fly direct from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Lusaka or Ndoloa, or direct from Durban to Lusaka, with a number of airlines. You can also fly from Cape Town or Durban via Johannesburg. 

Currency: Zambian Kwacha - 1 Kwacha = R1.25*.

Travel adapter: Type C, D and G.

Time Zone: Same as South Africa (GMT+2).

Public Transport: Transport can be arranged through your hotel, or you can use local taxis, trains and buses. Zambia has three main internal train lines - Livingstone to Lusaka,  Lusaka to Copperbelt and Kapiri Mposhi to the Northern border with Tanzania. There are also car hire companies in major cities and long range buses frequently leave from Lusaka to all the main towns. Click here for all the details.

SEE: Zambia to Malawi: An #AfriTravel camping adventure

Climate: Humid subtropical or tropical wet and dry, with small patches of semi-arid steppe climate in the south-west.

Best time to visit: Dry season runs from May to October and is the best time to visit Zambia for game-viewing. it will also have milder temperatures and minimal rainfall during this period.

Languages: English, Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, Lunda, Kaonde, and Luvale.

Useful Phrases: English is the official language, however, Zambia is home to many different groups, speaking more than 72 local languages or dialects, with Bemba being the most widely-spoken. Here are some key phrases in Bemba:

  • Hello - Shani     
  • Goodbye - Shalapo        
  • How are you? - Uli Shani?
  • I am fine - Ndi Bwino
  • Yes - Ee
  • No - Awe
  • I don't know - Nshishibe
  • I don't understand – Nshumfwile
  • Excuse me - Njeleleniko
  • How much is this? - Lunga?
  • Sorry - Njeleleniko
  • Please - Mukwai
  • Thank you - Natolela sana

Food to try: Traditional foods to try in Zambia include Nshima - a staple made from mealie meal, fried mopani worms and de-winged flying ants, Chikanda - like a meatloaf without meat made from wild orchid tubers, peanuts, chilli and baking soda, Michopo - roasted beef pr goat and Vitumbuwa or ‘fritters that are fried dough balls of flour, sugar, yeast and water. 

Travel tips

What to pack:

  • Your passport, arrival and return tickets, adequate money.
  • A camera, notebook/ tablet or smartphone, power-bank to stay charged on the go.
  • Comfortable, lightweight, and casual clothes.
  • Comfortable sandals, sneakers and strong shoes if you decide to go on hikes.
  • A hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.
  • An umbrella/ rain coat during the rainy season.
  • Hand sanitiser, tissues, wet wipes, insect repellent, prescription medication.
  • Binoculars for safaris/ sightseeing, waterproof bag to store personal belongings when on boat cruises/ water activities.

Tips while exploring:

  • Learn the common phrases in the local language and about local culture, and respect cultural norms.
  • Keep your phone and valuables away when walking in public.
  • Barter at the markets.
  • Negotiate taxi price before getting in.
  • Avoid going to places alone after dark.

Must-visit places

- Victoria Falls

ALSO SEE: Victoria Falls, from the Zambian side

- Kafue National Park

- Lake Tanganyika

- South Luangwa National Park

- Cruise the Zambezi River