it is the first time we make a summary about a country we visited. We had that idea before, but it never happened. Zambia is now the lucky country to get its summary!
we entered Zambia from Namibia at Katima Mulilo and left north of Mbala to Tanzania. Katima Mulilo was a bit chaotic, Mbala a very relaxed border.
On our second visit, we came from Malawi at Mchinji border, which is a new one-stop border with no fixer and everything straight forward. We left Zambia not at Chirundu, but used the border via the Kariba dam, which was a fast and easy border with the added bonus of crossing over at the dam, where you can stop to take photos.
we got a 1 month visa for 25 US$ pp, which we could extend for free for another month. In total 3 month would have been possible. (The visa fee might have been dropped completely by now.)
On our second visit in June 2023, we didn’t need a Visa anymore.
Toll and Insurance:
we got a document for all the routes through Zambia (we thought) As tonnage of the camper 2,5t was stated on that document – we don’t know why. (We are registered for 5,5t). We had to pay 20 US$ road tax and 240,- Kwacha carbon tax. For insurance we payed 650,- Kwacha. (1 Kwacha were about 0,06 Euros at that time) We got a sticker for our windscreen, which they checked sometimes.
During our journey through Zambia we came to many toll stations where we had to pay again, always 20,- Kwacha – the price for a sedan. Some wanted to know how heavy we are, and we always showed them the 2,5t stated on the toll document – they never questioned that.
When we reached the north-west (Mansa), we were told that our toll document doesn’t include this region and we had to pay a fine of 450,- Kwacha.
On our second visit, we didn’t pay the toll fee at the border, but at the first toll station, which they didn’t like. This time, we paid 90,- USD for our route from Malawi to Lusaka and Chirundu, because we are a “big car”. At every toll station, in total 4, we paid 50,- Kwacha each time, like a big bus or truck.
we could change money at the border (black market), but were not very successful at the banks. We could get money from the ATMs, pay in Euros, US$ or with credit card.
there are enough filling stations in all parts of the country. All the filling stations where we went had LSD (Low Sulfur Diesel), at least we were assured so. We had no problem with the quality of the Diesel. AdBlue was nowhere on offer, nobody needs that here (we neither). Sometimes we had to pay cash, when there was no connectivity or the machine didn’t work.
the water from the boreholes normally is drinking quality. We had no problems filling up our tank, water is available nearly everywhere. For drinking we bought 5l bottles at the supermarkets.
yes, they are bad, but usually drivable especially as it was dry season. We had some roads, which we wouldn’t take after heavy rains, but these were few. Potholes are always and everywhere and you have to watch out all the time. That reduces your average speed and it just takes much longer to get to your destination.
we didn’t look for a possibility to fill up our gas tank (LPG), as we used so little since filling up in Windhoek.
we use an Alpine Navigation in the car, for which we could buy maps of Southern Africa, which ended at the border to Zambia. From all the navigations we have on the phone, MapFactor Navigator works with Android Car, which means we have the navigation on the Alpine screen by connecting the phone to the car. To check, we mostly used the Tracks4Africa App.
National Park fees are high (30 times as high for international visitors as for locals), which made us avoid them or spend only little time in a park, which is a shame. Also the fees for the waterfalls are steep – 15,- US$ per person just to visit a waterfall?
At the supermarket all the imported things are also quite expensive, but at the local markets and along the road you don’t pay much for your bananas, mangos, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and so on.
we liked to buy fritters along the road. If they were still warm, they were delicious.
In the north we got the first mangos of the season. You can also buy sugar cane, watermelon, roasted peanuts and of course delicacies like mopane worms and dried fish. But we also found soya chunks (only vegetarians might understand that we were happy to get them) and also bought some green leaves, which had a strange taste so we didn’t buy them a second time.
we got an Airtel Sim card directly at the border, which we could easily recharge everywhere. We noticed that in the north Airtel was not that good, but otherwise we were content with the connectivity.
there are sometimes gates or other kinds of police control. Either they waved us through or they asked for a document: passport, driving license, toll fee, insurance sticker, every time something else. Its always good to know where you are coming from and where you are going 😉
we found that the only good campsites were the ones run by white owners, like farms or lodges under white management. Our favourites were Ndole Bay Lodge at Lake Taganyika, Shigu Farm near Mkushi and Breezes Lodge at the Zambezi near Chirundu.
We left Zambia north of Mbala at a very small border post – quick and easy. To get into Tansania we needed prove of covid and yellow fever vaccination. For 90 day visa we payed 50 US$pp and for the car 25 US$, but only for one month. That has to be renewed in time.
If you have any question to overlanding through Zambia, put it in the comments and we will try to answer it.