Information & Facts
Zambia is warm all year round, but has three distinct seasons.
Between December and April the weather is hot and wet; from May to
August it is cooler and dry; between September and November
conditions are hot and dry. Average summer temperatures range
between 77°F to 95°F (25°C to 35°C), while in winter the variation
increases ranging from 43°F to 75°F (6°C to 24°C).
The international dialling code for Zambia is +260. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for
South Africa). City/area codes are in use, e.g. 1 for Lusaka.
Operator assisted calls can be booked by dialling 090 or 093.
Public telephones are widely available, most requiring tokens, but
card phones are now available from where international calls can be
made. Connections tend to be bad, particularly outside of Lusaka.
There are GSM 900 cell phone networks in operation, but coverage is
limited mainly to urban areas. There are several Internet cafes in
Livingstone and Lusaka, and secretarial services in Lusaka offer
full telephone, fax, telex and email facilities. Postal services
are fairly reliable.
Zambia's culture is largely patriarchal, however white visitors
tend to be given more respect regardless of gender. Zambians are
curious, and visitors should not be offended by stares and
questions. Women should refrain from wearing short skirts and
low-cut tops, and beachwear should be worn only on the beach,
however casual dress is acceptable. The Western practise of
'getting to the point' is not practised in Zambian culture, and it
is polite to say hello and exchange pleasantries before asking a
question or requesting assistance. Shaking hands is a common
greeting, and many Zambians will continue to hold hands throughout
the conversation. It is traditional to eat with the right hand, and
utensils are not used in many areas.
Travellers to Zambia over 18 years do not have to pay duty on
the following items: 400 cigarettes or 500g tobacco, 1 bottle of
alcohol and 2.5 litres of beer, and 1 ounce of perfume. Visitors
may export the same items for free.
Electrical current in Zambia is 220 volts, 50Hz.
Square three-pin plugs, as well as two-and three pin round plugs
are in use.
Typhoid, polio, rabies and Hepatitis A vaccinations are
recommended for travel to Zambia. Malaria is endemic in Zambia
(prophylaxis is essential), and outbreaks of cholera and dysentery
are common especially during the rainy season. Visitors to game
parks are at risk of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness),
which is carried by tsetse flies; insect repellent is ineffective
against tsetse flies. The country also has one of the highest rates
of HIV/Aids infection worldwide. Avoid swimming or wading in bodies
of fresh water, such as lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers due to the
presence of bilharzia. Medical facilities in the country are
under-developed and limited to the point that basic drugs and even
clean needles are often not available. The small clinics in Lusaka
are regarded as superior to the general hospitals, but clinics in
rural areas are rarely stocked with anything more than aspirin or
plasters. Full travel insurance, including cover for medical
evacuation by air, is therefore essential and it is vital to bring
a good first aid kit. Avoid food bought from local street vendors
and ensure drinking water is filtered and boiled, or bought in
sealed, branded bottles.
There are over 73 dialects spoken in Zambia, but the
official language is English. All business is in English and most
Zambians speak it fairly well.
The Zambian currency is the Kwacha (ZMK), divided into 100
ngwee, but the coins are now worthless and seldom used. It is best
to bring travellers cheques, US Dollars or Pounds Sterling which
can be exchanged at the many bureaux de change found in the main
towns. While most of the tourist hotels, restaurants, travel agents
and larger shops, especially in Lusaka and Livingstone, accept
credit cards many outlets in the rural areas do not and deal only
in local currency. ATMs are available in Lusaka and some of the
major towns. Banking hours vary but are usually 8.30am to 2.30pm on
weekdays and mornings of the first and last Saturday of the
A return ticket or proof of onward travel, all documents for
next destination and proof of sufficient funds is required for all
travellers. Visas issued on arrival vary in fee according to amount
of entries and nationality. There is a special provision for day
visitors coming across the border from Zimbabwe into Livingstone.
For those nationalities requiring a visa for Zambia, a fee of US$10
is paid on arrival for a 'Day Tripper Visa' and is valid for a
maximum stay of 24 hours. It is highly recommended that passports
have at least six months validity remaining after your intended
date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration
officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel
agents and official sources.
Most visits to Zambia are trouble free, but visitors should be
aware that car hijackings and armed robberies are increasing, and
mugging, bag-snatching and theft from parked cars is common in
downtown areas. Luxury 4x4 vehicles in particular are being
targeted for vehicle hijacking. Visitors should avoid the Cairo
Road in Lusaka, which is dangerous due to violent robberies. Be
vigilant and do not display tempting valuables. Avoid the border
areas where Zambia meets Angola and the DRC; cross-border raids are
frequent and landmines are a potential danger. Many roads can
become impassable in the rainy season (November to April).
Local time in Zambia is GMT +2.
Tipping in Zambia is discouraged, but still practised on
occasion and is usually about 10%. A 10% service charge is included
in bills, but tipping in hotels is against the law.