1. When is the best time to go to Zambia?
Travelers can visit Zambia any time of the year, however they will be greeted with heavy downpour between December and February, and rains as early as November and up through April or May. Most lodges in the main national parks shut down operations for the wet season. The dry season tends to be the most popular time to visit with May through November being possible. The hottest months in most areas are June and July and are best avoided.
2. What are the accommodations like?
Accommodation options in the parks are typically more traditional safari tent camps typically with private en-suite facilities but usually off the grid or solar powered or some other mechanism. They are comfortable, but even the most “luxury” ones would not truly qualify as luxury by modern standards. Hotels in cities typically have private baths, hot water, and clean comfortable rooms. Larger hotels are typically used in metropolitan areas as a good location and proximity to the airport and other attractions is our priority. We strive to use safari camps and properties that are not only environmentally, but also socially responsible companies. Where possible, they are locally owned or employ local villagers and give back to the communities in their respective regions.
3. Do I need a converter/adapter for the electricity?
Zambia uses 220-240 Volts, 50Hz electricity. They use type C, D and G power sockets, similar to those used in Europe, India, and Britain. It is recommended to bring a converter or to purchase one upon arrival.
4. Are meals included?
We have tried to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meal options. For this reason, we include meals on any of our tour days when you are traveling off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. Most of the safari camps are all-inclusive and will include snacks on longer transfers as well. In cities, where there are a wide variety of restaurants, we generally do not include meals, to allow our travelers the flexibility of choosing their own food preferences. Your hotel will typically provide a light continental breakfast on these days.
5. What are the tour guides like?
Our tour leaders are exceptional! They are fluent in English and typically another native language as well. Formal guide training in Zambia is still in its first decade of existence and has yet to fully be developed. Our in-country partners work diligently to bring in world class experts to provide intense training to the guides we use in biology, hospitality, and other subjects so that our guides are some of the best in the industry inside of Zambia's borders. All of our tour leaders treat our travelers like friends, showing visitors both the major highlights and the local treasures.
6. What type of transportation is used?
In Zambia a variety of transport is used from open top safari vehicles to your own two feet! Internal flights may be used to cut down on travel time, particularly between Lusaka, Livingstone, and Mfuwe. Each tour itinerary page has a description of the transportation included on that tour. If you have additional questions, just ask!
7. What type of food is typical of Zambia?
The Zambian diet is heavy on starches, particularly maize, or sorghum. Nshima is a stiff porridge made from maize and is a common food. Other staples include samp, or a crushed maize and bean dish or ifisashi which is a vegetable and peanut sauce dish. Tree nuts, and therefore sauces such as peanut sauce, are a common option. Fish as well as crocodile meat are both common choices in restaurants. Insects, such as grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, cicadas are also delicacies. They are often dried, sauteed or fried. Mealie bread (or cornbread) is also common and typically served very moist with whole corn kernels inside.
8. Are these trips suitable for kids?
It depends. If your children enjoy wildlife, learning about other cultures, and meeting new people, Zambia may be a great choice. Keep in mind that US food, video games, television, etc. may not be readily available so prepare your kids ahead of time so that they will have reasonable expectations. We realize that you know your kids best so we will be happy to answer all of your questions and try to give you the most accurate impression of what to expect. However, please remember that these are adventure tours and flexibility is essential! Many lodges do have a minimum age requirement, with the youngest allowed typically being 7 years old, but kids even ages 11 and younger will not be allowed to participate in walking safaris per park regulations. To make family tours easier, we often recommend having a private group and guide, though families with well-behaved children are welcome on our group departures as well. We have special private tour rates for families- please ask your trip coordinator if you are interested.
9. What is the typical age range on the Zambia tours?
Typically, ages range from 25 to 65, however we have seen children as young as 6 and the "young at heart" as old as 90 on our trips!
10. Are these trips a good choice for solo travelers?
Absolutely! Our Zambia tours tend to attract a great mix of solo travelers, families, friends, etc. We can often match you up with another group traveling on one of the set tours, or one with a more customized twist so long as it lines up with your dates and budget. Solo travelers should also take a look at our exclusive Solo Traveler Departures.
11. Do tour rates include international flights?
Tour rates do not include international flights. We find that it is usually less expensive for travelers to book these separately and this also allows you the flexibility to choose the schedule and routing that is most convenient for you. You can purchase international flights on your own, or we can certainly help you arrange these flights with an airfare consolidator who specializes in international flights.
12. How do I get to the hotel from the airport when I arrive?
This depends on your first destination. If you are staying at an all-inclusive lodge or safari camp, typically their shuttle will plan to pick you up when your flight arrives for the transfer directly to the lodge. If you are staying in your arrival city for an overnight first, then we can either arrange a pickup for you at an additional cost, or you can take a local taxi. Be sure to use official taxis, typically marked out by the airports and have the hotel name and address on paper to show the driver.
13. Are there any discounts available?
Absolutely! We offer select trip discounts periodically throughout the year. Check out our Travel Discounts
page for the latest offers and on-going discounts.
14. How much should I budget for tips?
Tips are not required on any of our tours. However, it is customary to offer a small tip for exceptional service. Tipping amounts vary widely, but we recommend $7-$10 per day for your guide and $4-$6 per day for a driver for a full day tour. Other travelers opt to bring small gifts from their home to give to service providers along the way.
15. How far in advance should I book?
You can book your Zambia tour at any time and generally the earlier you book, the better. Booking early (3 months or more recommended) is especially important for travelers visiting during the high season to ensure that first choice camps are still available. Further, we usually recommend that you wait to book your international flights until after your tour is confirmed. The sooner that we arrange your tour, the sooner that you can take advantage of flight deals as they become available. We are often able to accommodate last minute travelers as well (some even departing in less than one week!!), so give us a call and we will do our best! For last minute bookings, it helps to be flexible and organized. Your first choice hotel may not be available for your selected dates, but your trip planner can recommend some similar options that would be equally interesting!
16. Are tour dates flexible?
YES. Please contact us if you are not able to travel on the set departure dates listed online. Most tours can be arranged on alternative departure dates for a minimum of two travelers as long as hotels and a guide are available.
17. Can I extend or change my stay?
Absolutely! Give us a call for suggestions in the region. We can easily arrange for extensions to other Africa destinations such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, or Zimbabwe. Let us know how you would like to customize your trip and we will do our best to accommodate you.
18. What should I pack?
You will receive a detailed packing list after you book your tour. Since the climate varies depending upon locations and season, it is difficult to offer many generalizations. Comfort is the rule and fancy clothes are not necessary for any of our Zambia tours.
19. How concerned should I be about the altitude?
Zambia is a relatively low lying nation, with its highest peak topping out at around 7600 ft in Mafinga Hills. Altitude sickness is generally not a concern, however you should consult your doctor if you have concerns.
20. How safe is Zambia?
Zambia is a relatively safe country for visitors in the game reserves, national parks, and larger cities. As always, travelers need to be aware of their surroundings and use common sense when venturing out at night. Should any local political riots break out, westerners would be wise to stay away and contact the local embassy for any specific instructions. All this being said, Zambia is a relatively safe country with crime levels at about the same as any European nation. Be wise and keep your possessions hidden under your top layer of clothing to prevent anything from being stolen.
21. Is the water safe to drink?
The tap water is generally NOT safe to drink anywhere in Zambia. Some safari camps may pump water from deep boreholes that IS safe to drink, but you should receive instructions from each camp before you drink from the tap. Bottled water or filtered water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, safari camps & restaurants, and hot water (boiled to make it safe) or hot tea is generally offered with a meal at a restaurant.
22. What should I pack on safari?
You must be careful what to pack, as international flights restrict luggage weight to 20 kg (about 44lbs) and domestic flights restrict the total of your hand baggage and luggage to only 15 kgs, so you need to pack light.
Relaxed clothing is best, as is cotton. It is best to bring 3-4 outfits and use the readily available laundry services at most safari camps to keep re-wearing the same clothes. Due to local traditions, underwear may not be washed in typical laundry service and therefore enough should be packed for the entire trip. Clothing that covers most of your body is also best, to help protect from the sun as well as mosquitoes. Comfortable walking shoes are also must. A more complete packing list will be sent to you after confirming your exact itinerary.
23. Can I use US dollars or do I need local currency? What is the local currency, exchange rate, etc.?
The official currency in Zambia is the kwacha, but both the US dollar and the kwacha are typically accepted throughout the country. USD bills need to be from the 1996 series or later, as the “small head” bills are not accepted. Some larger towns along with airports will provide ATM/currency exchange services should you desire to convert any money. Some cash should be brought when traveling to safari camps for incidentals and gratuities, etc.
24. Should I bring cash or Traveler's checks? Are ATMs available? Can I use credit cards?
Credit cards (mainly VISA only, not even MasterCard) are accepted in major hotels only and are not readily used or accepted outside of larger tourist areas. Zambia is predominantly a cash-based society and ATMs are available but may not be reliable. While USD is accepted in most areas, it is advisable to exchange a fair amount of cash into kwacha. Most banks in Zambia are not allowed to exchange currency, so this needs to be done at designated exchange office. Plan to bring enough cash with you for the majority of your trip, preferably in small bills as change for larger bills is not generally available. Traveler’s checks are not typically used.
25. Can I use my cell phone?
Depending on your provider, some mobile phones will receive a signal in some towns and safari camps near larger towns when using the largest local provider, MTN. You should contact your phone carrier to find out if your phone will work properly. Another option is to buy a local prepaid SIM card once you are in Zimbabwe if you do have an unlocked phone. It is advised to also double check your international calling rates with your provider. Services for making international phone calls are widely available in tourist areas. Many safari camps do offer a communal wifi signal, however keep in mind the internet connection is much slower than what you are used to at home and video-chat may be frustrating. Safari camps oftentimes do impose a restriction against using cell phones while on game drives and in certain parts of the camp. It is best that you plan to be ‘unplugged’ while in the country.
26. Do I need a visa/passport?
To travel to Zambia, all travelers will all need a passport valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Currently, citizens from the US do not need a visa, and will receive a Visa on Arrival. At least two blank passport pages must be available in the passport. A tourist visa will be provided for a 30 day stay at no cost upon arrival. Another option is a single- entry visa will be issued at the point of entry for $50 and it is valid for 90 days. A day-trip visa is available at the border near Victoria Falls for a less expensive rate for those crossing over into Zambia from Zimbabwe for the day. The Kaza Univisa, which allowed for one visa applicable to both Zimbabwe and Zambia, has currently been suspended at this time, but may be offered again in the future. Travelers from other nationalities should check with the local consulate for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency. It is each traveler's responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
27. What immunizations are recommended/required?
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Zambia. Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and malaria medications are highly recommended. Hepatitis B, Rabies and yellow fever preventatives are also loosely recommended depending on where you plan to travel in Zimbabwe. A yellow fever and/or cholera vaccination is required if you are arriving from another country with risk of yellow fever/cholera. The yellow fever vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, must be administered at least 10 days before your arrival in the destination with yellow fever risk. Travelers must bring along their International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) as proof of vaccination. For the most current information, please consult your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control web-site
28. What time zone is Zambia?
Zambia is in the Central Africa Time Zone, or UTC+02:00.
29. Is travel insurance recommended?
Absolutely!!! In fact many camps require it. We work with a company called TravelGuard that provides reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellation, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. They have two different types of insurance available, depending upon whether or not you will need the cancellation coverage. Check out our Once You're Booked
page for more information.