This landlocked African country has one of the most well known tourist destinations on the continent. Victoria Falls is the world’s largest waterfall, and is a stunning sight sitting along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Thousands of Italians flock to Zambia each year to take in the sight and often participate in a number of daring adventure activities that take them over, under, and close to the edge of the falls.
Despite not being as well known as Kenya and Tanzania, Zambia is home to some of the largest animal populations in Africa. There are 20 national parks across the country, with the biggest being Kafue National Park. The second largest park in Africa, Kafue boasts more than 55 species of animals. The Luangwa Valley is also well known, and South Luangwa National Park is famous worldwide for its giraffe, elephant, and buffalo populations.
Most trips start in Lusaka, one of the fastest growing cities in southern Africa. Here highways and trains depart for trips across the country. Lusaka itself is more of a commercial capital, though there is a National Museum travellers may wish to add to their to-do list.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHA) recommends seeing a travel medicine specialist at least six weeks prior to travelling to Zambia. At that time, it is suggested travellers discuss the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is spread to humans through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person.
- Hepatitis B: This routine vaccination is recommended for travellers to Zambia. Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease spread through unprotected sex or contact with contaminated needles and piercing tools.
- Rabies: Zambia last experienced a rabies breakout in 2015 in the capital city of Lusaka. This deadly illness can be spread to humans through the bite, scratch, or lick of an infected animal. You may wish to consider the rabies vaccination depending on your itinerary. Never feed the baboons at Victoria Falls, as they may be carriers of rabies and can become aggressive.
- Yellow Fever: There is a low risk of contracting this mosquito borne disease while in Zambia. Proof of vaccination is required if you’re coming from or transiting through a country where the disease occurs.
- Measles: Zambia launched a country-wide vaccination program to protect children from measles after a 2010 outbreak of the respiratory infection. This routine vaccination is recommended for travellers to Zambia.
- Typhoid Fever: The Typhoid vaccination is recommended for travellers to Zambia, especially those who may be visiting more rural areas. The illness is caused by consuming food or drink that has come into contact with fecal matter.
Mosquitos carrying strains of malaria are found across Zambia and are a threat throughout the year. There is a moderate risk for travellers to the country and you may wish to consider purchasing anti-malarial medication. Travellers should also take measures to prevent bug bites in order to protect from other insect borne diseases, including African Sleeping Sickness and Dengue Fever.
For more details on any of the above vaccinations, visit our detailed vaccination pages or make an appointment with your International Health Passport travel specialist. Call us at +39 392 0056499 or book your appointment online today.
Here is the climate in a few key Zambian destinations:
- Lusaka: The elevation of Zambia’s capital city means it’s a tad cooler. The hottest month is October, where 31º Celsius is the average temperature. May to August are the colder months, and temperatures reach the late teens during the day and dip colder at night.
- Livingstone: Livingstone is humid and hot throughout the year. The average temperature ranges from 25º Celsius to 35º Celsius, though conditions can feel much warmer as a result of the humidity. Temperatures get as low as 6º Celsius at night during May through August.
- Luangwa Valley: The Luangwa Valley regularly floods during the rainy season of December to March. October and November are very hot, with temperatures regularly sitting in the 40º Celsius range, ideal for game viewing.
Rainy season is between November and April, and barely any precipitation falls throughout the remainder of the year.
Being in the city carries an increased security risk for travellers. Muggings, purse snatching, and pickpocketing does occur. Watch your belongings at all times. The use of date rape drugs has been reported in bars in Lusaka, and women especially should keep a close eye on their drink and never accept drinks from strangers.
National elections are being held in Zambia in August 2016. Public demonstrations may increase in the time leading up to and after the election, and it is recommended travellers avoid these gatherings.
Road travel in Zambia is marred by potholes and a lack of reliable signage. There are strict penalties for using a cell phone behind the wheel and for drunk driving. Travellers should avoid driving after dark. If you must drive at night, ensure your windows are closed and doors locked.
The Government of Italy has issued regional warnings for Zambia. This includes areas bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, and Mozambique. It is recommended that Italians avoid travelling to these regions. These regions carry increased risks of border conflicts, carjackings, and landmines.
Victoria Falls is home to a number of popular adventure activities, including bungee jumping, rafting, and swimming at the very edge of the waterfall. Ensure you’re booking activities with a reliable tour company, and check references on a reliable site such as TripAdvisor. Don’t book a company just because it’s cheaper – do your research first.
Water-related activities should be avoided between February and June when levels in the Zambezi River are dangerously high.
Travel insurance doesn’t always cover adventure activities. Check your health plan before booking anything to make sure you’re insured should something happen.
Here are a few items you should include when packing for Zambia:
- Appropriate medication and documentation: Several over-the-counter medications have been deemed illegal in Zambia. Any necessary prescription drugs should be carried in their original bottle accompanied by the prescription and a letter from a doctor. There are stern punishments for travellers found to be bringing illegal medication into Zambia.
- DEET bug repellant: There are a number of mosquito and insect borne diseases in Zambia. Purchasing bug spray or lotion with a minimum DEET content of 30% is recommended.
- Modest clothing: Zambian culture and clothing are more conservative. Men should wear longer pants, but shorts that reach the knee are also socially acceptable. It is recommended women not wear revealing clothing.
- Rain jacket: Zambia experiences a rainy season from November to April. During this time there is generally between 700 and 1,200 millimetres of rain. The highest rainfall is in the north of the country.
- Waterproof bag or case for your electronics: This is especially important if you plan to visit Victoria Falls. Many activities are in or close to water, so you want to protect your technology when it’s not in use.
All Canadians visiting Zambia should register with the Embassy before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
Italian Embassy in Lusaka
Plot 5211 Embassy Park, Diplomatic Triangle
Lusaka P.O. Box 50497
tel.: +260 (0)21 1 250781/55
Visit the Italian Embassy website prior to your departure to confirm correct contact details for The Office of the High Commission of Canada in Zambia.
To enter Zambia, Canadians need a tourist visa and a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure.
Visas can be applied for in advance online or bought on arrival at any port of entry, including overland and at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. Travellers can only get single and double entry visas on arrival, and multiple entry documents should be applied for in advance. The visas are valid for 90 days. The price is $50 USD for single entry visas and $80 USD for double and multiple entry visas. This amount must be paid in cash.
If you have any questions about travelling to Zambia or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport travel clinic. Call us at +39 392 0056499 or book your appointment online today.