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Zambia Travel Information

The Basics

Time

Local time in Zambia is GMT +2.

Electricity

Electrical current in Zambia is 220 volts, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs, as well as two-and three pin round plugs are in use.

Language

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.

Travel Health

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. Yellow fever is a risk in the northwest and western provinces. 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.

Tipping

Tipping in Zambia is discouraged, but still practised on occasion and is usually about 10 percent. A 10 percent service charge is usually included in bills, but tipping in hotels is against the law.

Safety Information

Package tours in Zambia are generally considered safe. 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. Political rallies, demonstrations, and large gatherings have the potential for violence and should be avoided. 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). Travellers should be aware that overstaying a visa is a serious offence and may result in arrest and imprisonment.

Local Customs

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.

Business

According to the World Bank, doing business in Zambia is less difficult than in many other African countries, but it is a very poor country and the lack of infrastructure can be a challenge. Bribery and corruption can also be a problem. Business meetings are formal but seldom punctual; a suit and tie are appropriate attire. Office hours in Zambia are 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, with a one hour lunch break between 1pm and 2pm; however, in practice workers often arrive late or leave early making these office hours a mere guideline.

Communications

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.

Duty Free

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.

Become our Zambia Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Zambia travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Zambia or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.

Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel, one of the world's leading suppliers of small group adventures focused on getting off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and having real life experiences throughout Zambia.

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