Zambia’s currency is the kwacha but major currencies like US dollars, euros and pounds sterling are accepted. US dollars are the most widely circulated and can be used for all purchases on your trip.
Consider bringing US dollars in small denominations for tips and purchases (vendors are often unable to give change for notes larger than USD10 so will encourage you to buy something extra or give you change in a combination of US dollars and kwacha). It is better to bring the majority of your cash in US1, USD5, USD10 and USD20 – avoid USD50 and USD100 unless you use them for tipping staff or buying visas.
If possible, always use banks or official bureaus de change to exchange currency. Local traders may not give you the best possible exchange rate. Banks and bureaux de change can be found at international airports and some major hotels in Lusaka.
Gratuities are never mandatory but are always gratefully received. The average employed person supports up to seven other people so tips that supplement their incomes are very welcome.
Guides can be tipped in cash at the end of your time with them. We suggest USD10 to USD15 per day per person as a guideline.
Lodge staff are generally tipped via a box in the reception area at the end of your time there or given to the manager in front of other staff by saying that the gratuity is for everyone. We suggest USD10 to USD15 per person per day. It is not usual to leave money for housekeeping in your room.
Porters can be tipped USD1 to USD2 per bag.
For restaurants, add 10% of the total bill as a gratuity.
Your consultant will break down all costs that are covered by your itinerary and those that aren’t. Generally, extras include souvenirs, premium wines and spirits, activities not included, meals not included and personal expenses.
Eating out in Zambia is generally affordable but please note that wines, imported beers and international spirits can be more expensive.
There are no compulsory vaccinations needed to enter Zambia. Please consult your doctor or travel clinic if you require vaccinations to re-enter your own country.
Enquire from healthcare practitioners about boosters or vaccinations around hepatitis A and B, cholera, yellow fever or typhoid.
There is a risk of malaria in Zambia. Consider prophylaxis and/or take preventative measures to avoid getting bitten such as using insect repellent, avoiding bright colours that attract mosquitoes, and wearing socks, long-sleeved shirts and trousers from sunset.
Some lodges and camps have international plug adapters but it is best to bring your own.
The voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz so be sure to check that your appliances are compliant – you may need to bring a voltage converter.
Many lodges have solar power and the staff will inform you when this is available and what appliances it can run. Charging phones and camera batteries is straightforward but running hairdryers and CPAP machines can be problematic so please chat to your consultant.
While tents have lighting, it can sometimes be dim. A headlamp is a great addition and helpful when packing luggage or checking documentation.
It is not necessary to buy specialist safari gear unless you are going on a lengthy walking safari. Your luggage limit is 15kg / 33lb in a soft bag.
Choose the colours of nature: greys, greens, browns and khakis. Avoid bright colours like red and yellow; avoid blacks and blues as they attract tsetse fly; avoid whites as they provide too much contrast against the bush.
Choose natural fibres.
Long-sleeved shirts and trousers protect you from the sun, insects and thorns.
Closed shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen and a cap or hat are highly recommended.
Early mornings and late evenings can be cold so bring fingerless gloves, a scarf, beanie and jacket.
Rural Zambians are modest: avoid revealing large expanses between your knees and shoulders as these are considered private areas. Cover up after leaving the pool and walking to your room.
As far as possible, bring eco-friendly toiletries.
Bring extras of necessities like contact lenses, medications and reading glasses.
At lodges that are solar powered, hairdryers can generally not be used.
Aim to be comfortable and dress in layers.
Avoid hard shell suitcases, strong perfumes and expensive jewellery.
Bring extra underwear as often these items are not accepted by the lodge laundry service (see note below). When you have two nights at a lodge or camp, turn in your laundry on your first day so it has the full second day to be laundered and dry.
Talk to your doctor about anti-malaria medication.
Zambians are generally incredibly hospitable, friendly and cheerful people.
It is normal to greet and enquire about the person’s wellbeing before launching into a question or complaint. Politeness and a sense of humour are prized.
Washing powder will be provided in your room: this is for cleaning your own underwear. Cultural norms mean that you will rinse out your own intimate items. Generally, all other items will be laundered, often for free.
Be mindful when passing through villages. Ask permission before photographing people, buildings or homes, and respect children or the elderly. Ask yourself whether you would like a stranger photographing your children without permission, outside your home.
It is illegal to photograph police stations, border points, airports, military buildings, government buildings or soldiers and other officials.
Please do not bring candy, sweets or balloons to give to children. Dental care is limited and plastic is harmful to the environment. Contributions via the lodge or Pack For A Purpose are always appreciated!