Traveling in Zambia as backpackers. Lusaka.

We visited Zambia in January 2015, during a complete trip,
8 months, around Southern and Eastern Africa.

The capital city of Zambia, Lusaka, has nothing to attract the tourists, it´s mainly a stop on the route, a break in the journey and there are backpackers lodges!

It´s a big town, a "city", very different level of life and development compared with the rest of Zambia. Shopping malls, mix of people from all Zambia and even a big international community: Chinese, Indians, Lebaneses, South Africans, Italians, etc.
It´s very spread out, flat area, with many residential neighborhoods (houses with gardens). 
Only main avenues are well paved, the rest is quite undevelopped. Also many poor suburbs (just have a look if arriving by train from Livingstone). 
But no tourists attractions, sorry!

Big contrasts in Lusaka!

   Public Transport in Lusaka  

There are different bus stations in Lusaka, depending where you are heading, but easy to manage.
You will find all the different bus stations of Lusaka with google maps.


- Minibuses: Not too many minibuses, so expect to walk for a while to find a minibus-van stop.
For short distances the price is 4 K (0.5€).
The central minibus station is at Millenium shopping mall (in fact it´s a commercial area), just a few minutes walk from the main post office (Cairo rd/ Church  rd). Ask around.
Millenium is a 20 minutes walk from the Intercity bus station (if coming from there, you can try to catch a minibus in front of Levy Mall, but maybe no free seats).
Limited minibuses, following only the main roads, like Great East Rd (Manda Hill, Arcades Malls). 

- Taxis: many but not that cheap. Minimum price is 15 K (2 €), around 30-40 K (5 €) from Manda Hill to the center.

INTERCITY bus station in Lusaka:

Quite big and more or less organised.

From here, you can take buses to Livingstone, Chipata, Copper Belt, etc., all Zambia (except Kariba area).

Most departures are early morning til 10:00. 

Also international departures.
Lusaka is connected with South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, even Tanzania. 
Different companies. Long trips!

Intercity bus station is just on the side of the train station, near Church street and Levy Mall (walking distance to the center). 
Different bus companies, similar prices and quality. Just check, even if some guides and lodges say there are differences, travellers don´t agree... and having a look at the station not really...
Buses in Zambia are big coaches, quite modern (mostly second hand brought from obroad). With TV and music (normal volume) and even refreshment on board! But nothing luxury!
But, long distance transport is not that cheap in Zambia!

Prices and duration:
- From Lusaka to Livingstone: 130 K, 8h, 480 km
- From Lusaka to Chipata: 150 K, 8h30, 580 km.

Warning: keep calm at the intercity station. There are lots of “cowboys” (boys looking for a comision). Just walk, go and ask at the company offices.

City Market and Kulima stations in Lusaka: 

Buses to
- Chirundu (Lower Zambezi), 3 hours, 50 K
- Siavonga (Kariba Lake), 2 hours more.

These stations are west of Cairo Rd.

Departure from the main Lusaka Post office (Cairo Rd/Church Rd). Prices are a bit cheaper than normal companies but you need to book the day before and departure time is too early (6:00) so not too convenient for travellers.
Only Northern route (Chipata, 130 Kw, 9h, Tuesday/Thursday/saturday) and Western route. No southern route (Livingstone).


Just near the Intercity bus station.
Limited trains, no crowded.
Now new trains to Kilwe and Lusaka. 
Recommended, sleeper is nice (and similar price to bus), but only once a week in each direction. Leaving Lusaka for Livingstone friday morning (around 8:00) and arriving from Livinsgtone on monday morning.
Complete information at Victoria Falls - Livingstone chapter of this blog.

Tazara Train: international train Tanzania - Zambia, Dar Es Salaam-Mbeya-Kapiri Moshi (around 2 days trip).
Kapiri Moshi is 200 km north of Lusaka, on the Kilwe line, buses connect with the capital city.
Good news: now complete information, with schedules, prices, in the website:
Express and ordinary trains (cheaper but more stops). From 1st to 3rd class. Sleeper is the best for that long trip. Prices in Tanzania shillings or Zambia Kwachas (now much cheaper to travel from Zambia cause currency is down). Around 30-50 $ trip.
Departure Express from Dar Es Salaam tuesday 15:50, arrival at Kapiri Moshi thursday 14:00.
Same in the other direction.
Ordinary trains leave Dar and Kapiri on fridays.
Note: if sleeping class, usually 4 beds in 1st class and 6 beds in 2nd class. If 2 travellers man-woman travel together it´s not possible to share with other people and you will have to book and pay all the compartiment.

   Cheap accommodation in Lusaka  

The good thing for independent travellers in Lusaka is that there are a few backpackers in the city, most of them south of Manda Hill area. 
The bad thing is that public minibuses to get there are limited, so expect to walk or take a taxi (most of them are around 2 km east of the intercity bus station). There´s no cheap accommodation near the intercity bus station, just a few luxury hotels near the mall.
Prices are similar (camping 5 $/pp, dorm 12-15 $/pp), most of them have websites, offer good accommodation, with kitche, wifi, pools, activities, safaris, etc.
Some names are: KaluluBackpackers, LusakaBackpackers (AKA Chachacha), Bird Nest, Flinstones, Paseli.

Couchsurfing in Lusaka:
There´s a small active community. 
We stayed 4 nights with Shishir, an Indian guy. Very nice! He recommended us to stay there longer as there were national elections, to prevent any problem on the roads. Thanks!

   Services, Food & drinks in Lusaka  

It´s the capital city, you find everything. Many embassies too.

There are a few super big and new shopping malls.
Levy Mall (just north of the intercity bus station) and Manda Hill Mall (Great East Rd) and further east Arcades (smaller and older).
Huge supermarkets (also take-away food), most of them South Africa brands, not so cheap.
And a lot of franchises.

There are a few restaurants and take away shops on Cairo Rd (center), also basic stalls and restaurants at the intercity bus station.