12 Days in Zambia
DO NOT MISS
Victorial Falls! Sunday/Saturday craft markets in Lusaka.
Day 1: Arrive in Livingstone. Hop on a sunset booze Cruise.
The booze cruise probably won’t worth the value if you don’t drink. However the food was fantastic and you get to see some hippos. We went with Taonga Safaris. All the boats run the same routes on the river.
Day 2: Visit Victoria Falls.
Wear rain gear or just go in a bathing suit. Umbrellas won’t do as water will spray from all different directions when you get close. They also have heavy duty ponchos for hire on site. If you are visiting when the water level is low, you can take a dip in Devil’s Pool. It’s located on/in the fall. Do take the short hike down to the Boiling Pot with view of the bridge and rapids,
If you don’t have your own vehicle, Jolly Boys has a free shuttle service to Victoria Falls each morning. It’s reserved for their guests but they might look the other way (or just sneak your name on the list). On the way back there are plenty of taxis awaiting and you can negotiate with them on the price.
Day 3: Visit the craft market, head to Lusaka (about 6-8 hour ride)
Day 4-8: Most people do not spend that many days in Lusaka as there isn’t much to do.
If you have been traveling in Africa for awhile Lusaka has many shopping malls that can give you a break from the heat and dust. Every last Saturday of the month there is a Dutch Reform Craft Market in Kabulonga. You have to pay to get in but that also means that the only people on premise are to sell or to buy, not to bother. There is also a craft market every sun at Arcades. Both places yielded the best deals in craft items in all countries in south/east Africa. Since there are a lot of similar craft items (e.g. soap stone dishes, bags from African fabric, paintings, animal wood carvings) throughout east Africa, this is a good place to get them if you are traveling multiple countries.
The Lusaka National Museum is a pass. The exhibits are few and have the quality of junior high science projects. They are renovating, maybe go back in a few years. The city itself is not bad for walking around. You may find giant white mushrooms freshly picked from the field in the market. Remember to bargain for them.
Day 9: Take early morning bus ride to Kapiri Mposhi to catch the Tazara Train to Dar es Saalem. The ever unpredictable Tazara – you either hate it or love it. Here are some Dos and Don’ts:
- Keep and open and adventurous mind
- Buy the first class sleeper cabin. Buy out the whole cabin if you can afford it. It’s a tight quarter and maybe awkward spending with strangers.
- bring lots of water for drinking and maybe hand washing when water is not available. At least 5 liters per person.
- Stock plenty of snacks and food.
- Do NOT go on this train if you are on a tight schedule. The train is supposed to take 2 days but it can take up to 4 or more.
- Call in advance or book in Lusaka. First class do sell out. Second class is ok but you do not want to spend 2 days without a place to lay down.
Day 10-12: 3 day joyride on the train plus one impromptu bus safari ride through sugar cane fields and a national Park. Arrive in Dar es Saalem.
Jolly Boys in Livingston is by far the best run backpackers in Zambia and neighboring countries. There is a gorgeous open air lounge full of pillows to chill on rainy days, They provide daily free shuttles to Victoria Falls. The meals might be a bit expensive but they have a fully stocked self-service kitchen. There is also a fantastic tourism desk that can help you book safaris and boat rides.
Lusaka has two backpackers that are literally back to back to each other Lusaka Backpackers (aka Cha cha cha) and Kalulu Backpackers. Kalulu has a nicer pool and the facilities seem to be newer. Their food is also cheaper but Cha Cha Cha seem to be more established.
The public transportation is pretty organized in Zambia. There are luxury buses with air conditioning, assigned seating and entertainment. Buses also leave fairly on time. Mazhandu Family Bus Service is a pretty reliable company.
TRAVELING WITH LESS TIME…
- Focus on Livingstone and Victoria Falls.
- Plan better to minimize your layover in Lusaka
TRAVELING WITH MORE TIME…
- Check out the Copperbelt Museum in Ndola
- Visit Kitwe and see the Mindolo Dam and Makwera Falls
- Cross over to Zimbabwe side of the falls.