My Favorite 14 Things to do in Zambia – Lusaka, Livingstone & Victoria Falls
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Understand
Zambia is a huge country that is sparsely populated;I'm not so sure I would call it a country. It's an area of conservative Christians with a tribal culture, but which has very little association with the country; it seems people here could just be from Zimbabwe, Botswana or another nearby country.
There's a lack of maintenance everywhere here - more than the rather high $4,300 GDP per capita suggests!While Zambia enjoys a resource boom from its copper production,the GDP is inflated as 85% of it is export. With low local productivity, the money goes into the corrupt government positions.
There is a lack of entrepreneurshipin Zambia, almost like in a Gulf country with money raining from the ceiling (albeit less money) for many in Lusaka and a complete resignation from anyone else.
You'll find that food in this country is at US prices and it's higher for transport and hotels.
Don't believe the statistics that rank Lusaka along Mumbai and Delhi which are very cheap. It's hard to find good food in Zambia, but it is possible.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Get Around
Taxis are a major hassle in Zambia, with endless rip-offs and psycho drama with drivers. Plus there's plenty of old, beat-up taxis priced at $2 per mile, which gets expensive quickly. The locals rarely use taxis during the day and they tend to avoid using them at night.Thebus services and taxis herecan both easily overwhelm you.
If you drive yourself,T-Mobile provides free roaming, so Google Maps works withoutthe need to buy a local SIM card.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Safety
Zambia is somewhat safe during the day and walking the streets is possible. However, it's not safe to do so at night, for locals and foreigners alike. You'll notice lots of people loitering and looking for marks and there's often child beggars roaming the streets (though you can also go a whole day without the latter).
Parts of Lusaka aresurprisingly modern, including hotels, and life rotates around malls that provide shade and security.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Lusaka
Lusaka is an urban center with lots of travel drama and high prices. Unless you really want to explore a new place here, you can just stay in your resort and read about it. Lusaka does not really have any sights to speak of; it's simply an agglomeration of malls and houses that serve the few well-off Zambians who don't make a living off farming.
East Park Mall
East Park Mall is a new development, but it comes with the exact same chains as all the other malls in Lusaka.The Food Lover's Marketthere has some decent quality items but at high prices.
Manda Hill Mall
Another suburban mall; there must be at least half a dozen of these in Lusaka, with the exact same stores you just saw in the mall across the street.
Chicago's is a major nightlife spot, but a sad affair during the day.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Lusaka - Eat & Drink
Not to be confused with Mint Cafe, Mint Lounge is in a rather hidden areawith a number of restaurants that all share a lovely outside patio. You would not believe that you are close to lots of dusty roads outside. Mint Lounge has lots of healthy options, including many salads that I found to be a great treat after most of the food I had beenexposed to elsewhere.
Most of the stores at the East Park Mall arechain food places, but this Lebanese take-out just behind Keg & Lion has decent non-chain food.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Lusaka - Where to Stay
Radisson Blu Hotel Lusaka
The modern Category 5 Radisson isa good hotel and likely worth the costas it has awesome rooms with comfortable beds, a big pooland a well-equipped gym and spa.
Protea Hotel Lusaka Tower
This Protea hotel is in an excellent location in Lusaka. The beds were huge and everything was functional, but the shower takes a good 15 minutes to warm up.
My Favorite 14Things to do in Zambia - Livingstone
Livingstone is a pleasant little town that seems much more developed than you'd expect for a small town in Zambia. Tourism and the border crossing provide enough revenue to make the people friendly without being overly aggressive in touting their services.
My Favorite14 Things to do in Zambia - Livingstone - Eat & Drink
The best food in town is at Cafe Zambezi. It won't look like much when you enter, but the amazing peri-peri chicken and the jollof rice are both just out-of-this-world good. A few days later, I still craved the amazing marinade that was used. It's also pretty cheap and the staff are superbly friendly. This restaurant would do well anywhere in the world.
My Favorite 14Things to do in Zambia - Livingstone - Where to Stay
Protea Hotel Livingstone
I chose to stay at theProtea Livingstone, which is a decent hotel right along the road to Victoria Falls.
My Favorite 14Things to do in Zambia - Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls is a World Heritage Site and I got to really like this natural spectacle in my one day of exploration.
Victoria Falls - The LOWDOWN
The park entrance fee is $20 on the Zambian side and $30 on the Zimbabwean side. I only went to see it from the Zambian side, which seems to have the more close-up views. The waterfall gets a lot of water past November, which is a good thing, but it also generates an enormous amount of water spray which reduces visibility, especially in the afternoon hours.
I thought it would be a good idea to get there as early as possible and indeed we had the whole site almost all to ourselves. Most tour groups arrive past 9.30AM and it gets busy.
The park rents raincoats for $1 or $2; during the wet season (December through April) you will ABSOLUTELY need them. Just a few steps into the park you will get wet, like you would in a strong shower at home.
Once you are done on the Zambian side (1-2 hours), you can make your way to Zimbabwe. The border passing is rather relaxed and for us was surprisingly empty.
We had the 'Kaza' visa in our passports, which can be bought at any point of entry into Zambia or Zimbabwe for $50. It allows unlimited visits to Zimbabwe or Zambia for one month.
The Victoria Falls Bridge is a masterpiece dating back to the early 20th Century.
If you like extra adrenaline, you will get a lot of chances for a bungee jump into the wide canyon for about $100.
My Favorite 14Things to do in Zambia - Victoria Falls - Eat & Drink
The Lookout Café
If you walk up on the Zimbabwean side, you will find the park entrance ($30 per person) and further up you'll find the Lookout Café, which has an amazing close-up view over the canyon. It's expensive and the food is just OK, so no need to eat here, but get a tea or coffee and enjoy the view.
Victoria Falls Hotel
About 300m further up the hill is the very Victorian Victoria Falls Hotel, which is astately affair. The gardens and the building itself are just meticulous. Sit down at the patio for lunch, tea or coffee. The food is just OK and very pricey, but it's just such a great view and atmosphere that it is worth it.
Royal Livingstone Hotel
If you go back to the Zambian side, stop by this hotel for an amazing sunset near the river.