Saturday, June 04, 2011

Guide to Lusaka

A guest post by @digitalafrican

Getting There: The cost to travel to Zambia is extremely high, and each ticket is around $700-800. Kenya Airways pretty much has a monopoly on travel to Zambia, and the route takes you through Lilongwe, Malawi. Once there, you can get a visa right at the airport with no hassle e.g. $50 for American visitors.

Everything at the airport is pretty straightforward. There aren't any unexpected taxes once you arrive although when you leave there can be a $25 tax that is levied. (though I didn't experience this).

Getting Around: You can use matatu's, private cars and of course walking. Lusaka is pretty small and easy to get around. The cost for a typical taxi is around 100,000 Zambian Kwacha (equivalent to around $20).

Zambia is an incredibly peaceful country. Many people enjoy long walks and jogs around the city. There are some very well built pedestrian walkways and Zambians usually follow the rules of the road so it's is relatively safe.

Communications: Coming from Kenya, Safaricom doesn't seem to work here. However the two most popular services are Airtel and MTN, and it is pretty easy to get a SIM card and the rates are affordable. There are very few Wi-Fi hotspots, while decent cybercafés are rare.

Language: English is the primary language, and most locals speak it fluently.

Business & Infrastructure: - It may be hard to get accustomed to the currency, as you are dealing with thousands of Kwacha. One (US) dollar is around 5,000 Kwacha, so you can imagine trying to buy a soda.

- Hotels : Cost from $100+. Excluding, this you might spend about $40.00 per day out & about.

- Electricity: There is plenty of electricity, and no power cuts in Zambia due to plenty of water flowing through the Kariba Dam and Victoria Falls. The streets are also well lit.

- Opportunities: Zambia is also known for its natural resources such as copper and hydroelectricity so there are huge opportunities there as well. Also, I would say anything within tech and the digital space would be a great investment in the country.

Food & Bars: - One thing to get accustomed to, is the drinking culture, which is a prevalent part of the social culture, and may take some adjusting to depending on where you are from.

- Arcardes and Manda Hill are two popular spots in Zambia. The food is incredible but the service is incredibly slow. Make sure you pack a lot of patience when you come to Zambia.

- Some Local foods to try are Shima (a version of Ugali), fish and green vegetables, while the local Beer is Mosi.

- Football and politics are popular topics of conversation. I would say the biggest legend in Zambia would have to be Kenneth Kaunda (KK), the first president of Zambia. After serving as president for 27 years, KK has left an impression on the country.

Shopping & Sight-Seeing: - In Zambia, the two most popular sightseeing destinations are the Kariba Dam, one of the largest dams in the world and Victoria Falls, which is a beautiful spectacle of natural life. A trip to either is one that you can't miss. Zambia has incredible nature and wildlife areas that are unbelievable; it is not rare to see wildlife while driving through the main highways. We were able to spot many elephants and deer during my time there.

- Wooden crafts and Fabric are very popular gift items. Compared to all the countries I have traveled to in Africa, wooden crafts are Zambia's strong point.

Biggest surprise about the country: I would say that the country seems empty and spacious. There is not a large population and they have preserved a lot of their natural resources

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