Friday, September 10, 2021

How To Travel Around Zambia

AfricaZambiaHow To Travel Around Zambia

Zambia is a big country with extensive distances, so allow plenty of time to travel around.

By plane

Proflight connects Zambia’s main towns and tourism areas with domestic flights. While flying is certainly the quickest and most pleasant mode of transportation, it is also the most costly, with an hour-long trip (say, from Lusaka to Mfuwe) costing about US$150 one-way. Also keep in mind that aircraft are tiny and timetables are limited, but you may charter planes for not much extra if you can get up enough passengers.

By minibus

Minibuses, or vans with seats, are popular, although they are often erratic, hazardous, and inconvenient. A “conductor” would cram as many paying passengers — and their baggage, or katundu (ka-TOON-doo) — onto the bus as possible in order to maximize earnings; whether or not the clients are comfortable is unimportant. This technique, on the other hand, is one of the finest for meeting locals and may offer a visitor with a really “authentic” experience. Payment is done on the bus: banknotes are handed down the aisle to the conductor at the front, and change is returned along the same path.

By bus

There are even larger, more sophisticated “luxury coaches” available. These are more dependable and safer; they leave on time, have designated space for passengers and baggage, and tickets may be bought in advance. Luxury coaches are considerably more luxurious and almost always arrive on time, but to a seasoned traveler, they may seem “generic.”

By car

Zambians drive on the left side of the road, at least for the most part.

Zambia has car rental companies, although the prices may be very high. Not only are rental prices expensive ($100/day), but several of Zambia’s major highways are in bad shape. Potholes often take up the whole route, and significant portions of the road wash away during the wet season. Dirt roads appear when you go out from city centers (perhaps just a kilometer or two). Although the soil may seem to be solid, it is often loose, and the possibilities of an accident are high if you do not drive at a safe pace. Although it is unlikely that you would get lost when driving in Zambia (there are just a few highways), you are likely to misjudge the destructive potential of these roads and cause damage to a rental car or, worse, yourself! In the wet season, 4WD vehicles are advised at all times and are required on dirt roads, but certain routes may become totally inaccessible.

Remember that Zambia has no Roadside Assistance Packages and extremely few ambulances, tow trucks, or other emergency vehicles. Bush technicians can perform an excellent job of patching up your car given the conditions, but patching up people isn’t that simple!

By train

TAZARA line trains run between New Kapiri Mposhi and the Tanzanian border at Nakonde. Livingstone and Kitwe are connected by Zambia Railways through Lusaka and Kapiri Mposhi (2 km from the TAZARA station). They are generally secure and dependable, but they are sluggish. However, you may want to explore them for the vistas and feeling of adventure they provide.

By thumb

Hitchhiking is common in Zambia, but it may be very hit-or-miss due to low traffic density. It’s also worth noting that if you’re picked up by a local, you’ll have to pay for the trip. Nonetheless, hitchhiking in Zambia does not have the same negative connotation as it has in the United States; you are unlikely to be hurt, and you may establish a valuable connection.

By taxi

Private taxis or cabs are readily available in the south. Cabs have a characteristic light blue color, although not all of them have a taxi sign on top. Most drivers are willing to bargain for a better fee and are eager to travel between cities, and they often cross into Zimbabwe from Livingstone.