Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Visiting a foreign country can be intimidating, especially somewhere really different or with a reputation of being potentially dangerous. Zambia is an African country that’s not well-known as a travel destination, but I had an incredible time there!
When I decided to go to Zambia, I was lucky because I went with an organization that was very proactive about telling us ahead of time about what to expect. My cousin also lives there, so I have a ton of insider tips on visiting Zambia and Zambia travel tips. Hopefully, you find these travel tips useful before your trip, too, because it’s an amazing place and I can’t recommend going enough!
I will also say, Livingstone is much more touristy than other parts of Zambia. These tips are for people traveling in Livingstone. Still, they are important for those traveling outside of Livingstone because the city and area around Victoria Falls are different than other parts of the country (as with any country!).
Zambian women do not wear anything that shows their knees or above. They also do not wear tight-fitting clothes. Save your leggings for the plane and your shorts for Livingstone (where the dress code is more relaxed), but remember that other places around Zambia are more conservative. Respecting this goes a long way!
2. Keep car doors locked at all times, hide valuables.
I know first hand that people will try and come up to your car and open the doors. It is an easy way to steal. People will also try to take out vigilante justice if you get into an accident. Be safe!
3. If the police ask you to pay a ticket, ask for the receipt (a physical copy) first.
Many times they are trying to bribe you and will let you go when you say, “I will pay the ticket, just give me the receipt please.” The best advice I have after that is to do what they say.
People know you are there for a reason when you are with someone who is local. It helps you stick out less, understand the norms of a place, and haggle in markets! I’m lucky because my cousin lives here in Zambia, which put me at ease a ton!
I usually advise this no matter where you are traveling! However, I was advised to even wear a cheap watch so I wouldn’t need to get my phone out when walking around, even to quickly check the time.
6. Always barter in the markets.
They will way overprice you at the start! I’m talking about $40 or $50 more than the actual accepted price! Come in low, especially in Livingstone where they know that tourists don’t barter as much—you will overpay if you do not do this!
7. If someone says they want to trade something you have for something in their shop, they probably will ask for money, too.
This happened to me. A man asked for my hair tie and said I could have something in his shop. Then when I gave him the hair tie, he asked for money. Lesson learned!
8. If you are taking a taxi, make sure you negotiate the price before getting in.
Taxis are able to negotiate their prices in Zambia so you can end up paying more than expected if you do not negotiate the price beforehand. I also recommend booking a taxi through your hotel or travel agency as this is a very reliable way to ensure pick up and drop off without a hitch.
In June and July it gets cold in Zambia in the late evenings and early mornings, bring a jacket. The temperature rarely gets below 55 degrees Fahrenheit even at night. In the summer, it rains often and is very muddy there, be prepared! It’s still really warm during the day. The picture above was taken in July—the dead of winter. The pool was cold, but the warm sun was there!
10. Malaria meds, bug spray, and sunscreen are a must no matter what time of year you visit.
Enough said! Be smart.
11. Pay attention to the location of attractions along Victoria Falls.
Both Zambia and Zimbabwe have activities located around the Falls. Both sides meet at Victoria Falls but you need visas to get across borders and so this can be tricky if you do not double-check the location. Don’t want to get stuck buying something in a different country!
12. You will need a visa.
There are double-entry visas for $80 and single-entry vias for $50, and day-passes for $20. Bring cash, new $50 bills are best.
This is something I wish we had known because we ended up very uncomfortable at the end of our flight…
There are guides who do not go along with safety regulations, and safety is key when around wild animals, nature, and dangerous terrain, especially when doing activities around Victoria Falls. Research and trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, don’t do it!
15. You will be charged more money to exchange $20 bills than you will to exchange $50 and $100.
Bring new $50s and $100 to avoid these fees!
16. Be aware of going places alone, especially after dark.
I was advised not to do so at all and was not alone while in Zambia at any point besides in our resort!
This one was surprising when I heard about it! Drink plenty of water, bring lotion, and be prepared.
I had to take allergy meds daily and drank lots of water to keep myself feeling healthy. It was not horrible, but being prepared saved me from being uncomfortable while there, which is so important when traveling. Enjoy the fun stuff while not sneezing the whole time!
19. Things are just expensive.
You think Oh yay! Africa has a cheap cost of living so being a tourist there must be cheap! While it’s true that the cost of living is cheap, being a tourist is not. Every activity costs over $50, the safari was almost $200, and breakfast on the Falls was $100. So plan ahead and keep a larger budget here than other destinations!
These are my (and my cousin’s) tips for travel in Zambia. You will LOVE it there, and hopefully, this post helps you plan ahead for your travels. Have any other tips for travel in Zambia? I would love to hear what you think about travel here too.