Here are some great tips on traveling in and out of Zambia based on our own experience and courtesy of Caren Banks from her recent trip to Zambia.
Flying In & Out of Lusaka
Kenneth Kaunda International is the airport in Lusaka, Zambia's capital. You would most likely fly in and out of Lusaka if you were visiting Lower Zambezi National Park, Mana Pools National Park in southeastern Zambia or Kafue National Park in central Zambia. Kafue National Park is the oldest and largest of Zambia's national parks covering a massive 8700 square miles. It was first established as National Park in the 1950s by the legendary Norman Carr, Kafue is one of the largest national parks in the whole of Africa. Despite its size, prominent location only two hours’ drive from Livingstone and tremendous concentration of animals, it remains little known and largely unexplored.
- In the main airport area there are now two restaurants upstairs. One is older with large windows where people can see planes coming and going (mostly little safari ones), the other has no windows (and I have not yet tried their food but it looks good). The big old one with windows is a good place to sit if clients have time to kill, and the food is not bad. There is also a bar.
- Domestic flights: Downstairs, just in front of the Proflight waiting room, there is a coffee stand, a great place for that cappuccino/espresso fix for those who are going through withdrawals. They also serve fresh orange juice (squeezed while you wait). There is tot much shopping at Lusaka Airport, in fact almost none, so best to get any shopping done before flying out.
- International Flights: Here there are a couple of duty free stores with booze and chocolates, etc, a jewelry shop, bar/restaurant, and a shop with tribal stuff and curios.
Flying In & Out of Mfuwe
Mfuwe is in eastern Zambia and you would be most likely to fly into or out of Mfuwe Airport (mostly likely via Lusaka) when visiting the Luangwa area (North and South Luangwa National Parks).
- If a guest has time to kill at Mfuwe Airport there’s a lovely little restaurant just outside the airport.
- Inside the main airport building there is a book store where one can pick up great safari books, some even out of print ones. In the departures hall there is a fabulous little gift shop.
Flying in & out of Livingstone
Livingstone's Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport is the airport you fly into and out of when visiting Victoria Falls. There are direct flights to Livingston from both Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa so you do not need to fly through Lusaka to get to Victoria Falls. See our previous blogs about Livingstone and Victoria Falls here.
- The new airport is under construction but for now the old one is still in use. Drivers are asked to wait for passengers outside the main entrance to the airport, so mention to guests that they should get their bags and depart the airport to find their drivers/guides with their names on boards right outside the entrance.
- Domestic flights: There is little to no good shopping here, there is a little “restaurant”, good for a cup of coffee or tea and a muffin. Sometimes they also have samosas and sausage rolls.
- International Flights: There are 2 curio shops and a bar which also serves tea and coffee and a few snacks (chips or chocolates). There is also a small duty free shop. The business class lounge is air conditioned, has a tv and some snacks; it’s a great place to go if it’s very hot and clients are in Business Class, otherwise it’s more lively outside the lounge.
Flying In & Out of Kasane
- Transfers between Livingstone and Kasane are usually done by Bushtracks, Wild Horizons or your preferred supplier. They pick up clients at the airport in Kasane (at airport or from their lodge), take them to the Botswana border at Kazangula where guests are guided to the border office, get their passports stamped by Botswana, and then are driven a few yards to where the speedboat is that will take you over the Zambezi River. It is a quick five minute ride across the Zambezi River to the Zambian side where guests are once again met and taken a few feet to their vehicle. They will drive a few yards to the border, and show guests where to go to buy their Zambian visa ($50 single/$80 multiple) and then you are on the road to their hotel/lodge in Livingstone. Entire transfer, depending on destination, takes about one and a half to two hours.
- On the Zambian side before reaching the passport office there are many vendors selling curios will descend upon guests saying “buy this, buy this" (if you have ever crossed the border between Kenya and Tanzania at Namanga it's a similar experience). These guys are very friendly and some of them actually have some very nice stuff. They are also willing to trade, so this is a good place to trade old t-shirts, clothes, or anything really, for a lovely memento. However, it can be a bit scary or overwhelming to guests who have not been warned, but there is no cause for alarm. A simple (or many simple) “no thank yous” and they will.
- There are trucks lined up on either side of the border, sometimes for weeks, waiting to make the border crossing by Ferry. Although there are 3 ferries, it is very rare that more than two are working, and these only take one truck at a time. Trucks and their drivers wait sometimes for a week or more before being able to cross. Trucks are washed at the river, food is sold at the side of the roads to truck drivers and bathrooms are available (for a price), it’s a whole mini-village scene and interesting to observe.
Flying In & Out of Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls is the town in Zimbabwe closest to Victoria Falls. Livingstone and Victoria Falls are very close to each other and its easy to visit both sides of the Falls no matter which side you stay on. Which airport you fly into will depend on how you chose to see Victoria Falls, the rest of your itinerary and even the most convenient flight times because the two are so close to each other.
- Victoria Falls is actually quite a large airport, larger than Lusaka and an long military length airstrip.
- The airport is pleasant and there is at least one small cafe.
- Driving between Victoria Falls and Livingstone, including the border crossing takes approximately 45 minutes.
Notes on Curio Shopping In Zambia
- Shopping in Livingstone: Tongabezi has fabulous stuff in their gift shop (from Tribal Textiles, Katundu as well as Jackal and Hide leather goods - like ipad covers, bags, etc.). Kubu Crafts (next door to Shoprite in Livingstone town) also has excellent curios/gifts.
- Shopping Lusaka: If you have a day or two in Lusaka, the snazziest mall in town is Manda Hill with various restaurants and tons of shops.On the outskirts of Lusaka is Sugarbush Farm and Jackal and Hide, Gillie Lightfoot’s new project. Set in a beautiful old house, her team of craftsmen creates stunning leather goods ipad covers, handbags, document holders, as well as household decorations, all really stylish. She also has an organic garden where lunch is served using the fresh garden products. This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Lusaka.
- Shopping in Mfuwe: Tribal Textiles: If clients have time on their way to the airport before departure this is a great shopping place, if one doesn’t have time, most lodges in Zambia stock fabulous Tribal Textiles’ wares.
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