Planning on a trip to Zambia?
Good for you!
Zambia is a country of immense beauty, diverse wildlife, and amazing people, and you certainly won’t regret or forget a trip to this southern African nation.
Still, though, to make it a trip without any problems or issues, there are a few things to know before you go to Zambia.
Here are our top Zambia travel tips to know before you go:
1. Stay Safe in Zambia
Zambia is a relatively safe country, classified as a low Level 1 by the US Department of State. Still, though, you should take general safety precautions when traveling around Zambia.
Steer clear of any large demonstrations or crowd, as these have the possibility to turn violent (and this is true in most places, not just Zambia, of course). Take the standard precautions of keeping your valuables, such as cell phones, jewelry, and cameras out of sight when walking around the cities.
Also, avoid traveling near the borders with Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not only is there a greater chance of danger from armed rebels, but there are still unknown unexploded mines and similar devices around.
If you need help, call the local police at 112 or 991, but also keep the number of your embassy saved in your cell phone, as well.
2. Check if You Need a Yellow Fever Vaccination
One of the most important Zambia travel tips to keep in mind is that, if you are traveling from a country where yellow fever is endemic or widespread, you will require a vaccination for yellow fever. While your home country may not have yellow fever, if you stop in a country which does on the way to Zambia, you could still need the yellow fever shot.
3. Know When to Go
Zambia has two main periods when it comes to travel and going on safaris. The peak travel period is the dry season, which happens from May through November, generally speaking. The off-peak travel period is the wet season, between December and April. While the wet season has its advantages on your wallet, some travel accommodations may be closed during this season, so check beforehand.
If you plan on taking a safari in Zambia, you’re going to want to catch the busier dry season, between June and October. April, May, November, and December are sometimes counted as a form of a shoulder season, as the weather won’t be as certain as the other months.
4. Don’t Traffic Benadryl
Zambia has some strict drug trafficking laws in place, where just 0.5 grams of any illegal substance could get you in serious trouble (such as jail time). There are cases of travelers being fined and/or jailed for carrying even Benadryl or other OTC meds (Benadryl contains diphenhydramine which is banned).
To be safe, leave non-prescription medications at home, if possible, and carry any prescription medications in marked containers or with an attached prescription from the doctor to prove you aren’t trafficking illegal drugs.
Related Read: What is the African Union?
5. Respect the Culture & Customs
Most Zambian people dress conservatively, for starters, but there are also several Zambian customs to keep in mind so as not to offend. If you want to try local cuisine, particularly nsima and its side relishes, don’t ask for silverware; be prepared to eat it with your hands, specifically the right hand.
While tipping isn’t required as it might be in, say, New York City, it’s customary to tip some people, such as guides and other staff who make safaris possible. At mid-range restaurants and higher, a 10% tip is pretty standard, if not already included as a gratuity.
6. Save Plenty of Passport Pages
According to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, travelers to Zambia must have 3 blank pages for entry into the country. On top of that, you need the standard 6-month validity of your passport, and US citizens will require a tourist visa (visa upon arrival, depending on your passport). Also, if you are visiting another country before Zambia, remember that you could need additional blank pages there, as well.
Well, that’s all our Zambia travel tips for now, and we hope they help you plan the perfect trip, whether to Lusaka or out there on safari! Got any questions, feedback, or other tips for traveling to Zambia to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!