When I first stepped off the plane in Lusaka, I was greeted with a cool gust of wind, free of the oppressive and constant heat and humidity in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where I have been living the past six months. I immediately knew I was going to enjoy this country.
Driving around Lusaka, I noticed the air smelled cleaner, the clattering racket of traffic was actually contained, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by massive crowds. While all these facts are great assets, I quickly realized one small issue: there wasn’t much to do in Lusaka.
Luckily I had only reserved one day of being in Zambia’s official capital city before heading down to Zambia’s adventure capital, Livingstone. It’s home to Victoria Falls, a Natural Wonder of the world, and has a plethora of outdoor activities to choose from. I feel slightly guilty bashing on Lusaka, but my advice is head south to Livingstone as soon as you can, and here’s how.
Proflight is the main airline used for flights within Zambia. You can find flights for 634 Kwacha, or $97, for one way. A great perk is that you’re allowed to check two bags totaling under 23 kilos, or 50 pounds, for free! However, the general consensus is that unless you book way in advance it can be way too pricey, and the planes are on the small side. The upside is it takes an hour and ten minutes to fly there, as opposed to 6+ hours, and the planes are normally more reliable.
The Zambezi Express leaves Lusaka on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 7:30 pm and arrives in Livingstone around 10.5 hours later. It costs about $10. Even though it takes a lot longer than a bus, you get a bed and you’ll most likely have a car to yourself since everyone else takes the bus. If you have time to spare, the train is a good option that allows you to see the countryside.
There are three reliable bus services that you can use: Mazhandu, Shalom, and Mahogany. Roads are paved and in great condition, making this option attractive. You can’t reserve tickets ahead of time, so you must go to the bus station in Lusaka. It’s possible to buy tickets the day of your intended departure, but the safest bet is to buy them at least a day ahead of time. One way tickets are 112 kwacha, or $17. The first bus leaves at 6 am, and then around every hour after that until 2 pm. There are also two night buses leaving at 8 and 10:30 pm (subject to slight change, but they should be dependable.) The journey should take around 6 hours, but can sometimes be delayed due to breakdowns and accidents.
Conditions are a bit cramped, but relatively clean and comfortable. You can check large bags underneath the bus and keep smaller ones in an overhead shelf. There aren’t any bathrooms, but the driver makes frequent stops so it isn’t much of an issue. The biggest issue was the blaring African and Christian music the driver played at all times, but the other Zambians didn’t seem to mind.
Be mindful of people bombarding you at the bus station and offering to help you buy tickets. They will most likely rip you off. Go directly to the bus stand of your choice and buy tickets there. Mostly everyone speaks excellent English in Zambia.
When choosing a destination for your African adventure, be sure to consider the lush and clean Zambia, and especially adventuresome Livingstone!
Have you been and which way did you choose to arrive to Livingstone?