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Zambia

The big, beautiful country of Zambia is situated in the heart of the African sub-continent, untainted by commercial tourist development, but nevertheless well-equipped to allow visitors to experience the warmth, excitement, challenges and adventures of the real Africa.

Zambia beckons with an abundance of natural attractions and extreme sports, which has earned it the reputation of being the 'adventure centre' of the continent.


The country's prime attraction is the spectacular, breathtaking Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Not only do the falls provide unmatched scenery as the water plunges into the depths of the gorge, but they are also the setting for a multitude of adrenaline pumping activities, like whitewater rafting, bungee jumping from the 364ft (111m) high bridge, canoeing, abseiling, micro-lighting over the falls, elephant-back safaris, jet-boating through the rapids and many more.


If dry land is more to your taste, Zambia offers dozens of superb game parks stocked with a profusion of birds and wildlife. Chief among the parks is South Luangwa National Park, centred on the most intact major river system in Africa, which hosts a huge concentration of game. The legendary 'Zambian walking safari' originated in this park and still offers one of the finest ways to experience the African wilderness.


Visitors to Zambia seldom linger in the towns, being bent on safaris or destined for game lodges and adventure camps, but those who choose to explore the somewhat dishevelled capital, Lusaka, will find it has an interesting charm. More than half of the inhabitants of this over-populated city are unemployed, yet the atmosphere is far from despondent as the people hustle and bustle, determined to survive. Thousands of stalls line the streets offering a fascinating array of services and goods.


Lovers of the outdoors cannot fail to find everything and more to satisfy them in the wetlands and wilderness of Zambia.

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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 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 month.

Time: Local time in Zambia is GMT +2.

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.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a valid passport and a visa to visit Zambia. Single entry visas may sometimes be purchased at the port of entry (but it is best to confirm this with the relevant authorities in your home country) at a cost of GBP70, and will be valid for the period of stay, although it is often best to organise one in advance.

Health: Full travel insurance, including cover for medical evacuation by air, is 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.

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.

Tipping: 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.

Visitors to Zambia come for an African safari and are usually headed for game lodges or safari companies. Chief among the parks is South Luangwa National Park, centred on the most intact major river system in Africa, which hosts a huge concentration of game, among the richest on the continent. Game concentrations are at their most intense during the dry season, from April to October. The legendary 'Zambian walking safari' originated in this park and still offers one of the finest ways to experience the African wilderness.
Nearly half the rapids on the Zambezi River below the Victoria Falls are classified as Grade 5 (Grade 6 is commercially unrunnable), which means that the steep gradient of the river causes long and extremely turbulent rapids with big drops and a high volume of water. Half and full-day rafting expeditions provide what is internationally acclaimed to be the wildest and best white-water rafting experience in the world. The most exciting time to do rafting is during the dry season (July to mid-February) when the water is at its lowest and the rapids at their biggest. For those that want even more adrenalin than the white water rafting can supply, river boarding allows individuals to surf their way down the mighty Zambezi armed with only a body board, fins, helmet and lifejacket. The attraction is the physical freedom and the sense of achievement felt after tackling the Zambezi on your own.

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