24 days,  August 09




Kind of travel: me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel

When: 08th Aug- 02nd Sept09

Do I need a visa?: yes, and you get at the Livingstone airport for 50$ (single entry 15days, 80$ for double entry) or at the land borders (not in all)

How I moved: bus and minibuses connects all the main centres, but once off of the beaten track, means of transport get scarce and trucks become the option; in Mufwe we waited more than 8 hours for a lift

Freezing or baking?: perfect temperature ranging from 18C to 26C, but in the very early morning or in the night consider to wear a medium thick sweater. Forget rains and the clouds

Where I slept: plenty of guesthouses charging 15- 25€ for a double room with few dorms (Livingstone, Lusaka) for 4- 8€/ bed. On the other hand lodge prices fly high: at the Luangwa N. Park in the Flatdogs Lodge ( a double tent cost 80$/night, but the hippo rolling outside is included

What I liked: the jaw-dropping view of Victoria Falls from the chopper, and the unforgettable staying at the Flatdogs Lodge in the Luangwa National Park in a tent among the freely-wandering elephants and hippos; and as for the towns, Chipata is a great African-style place to pass by

What I disliked: the anonimous and suspicious Lusaka, the crazy bus driver who smashed the front glass of our bus against a truck without then even stopping, and being unbearably crammed like animals in the back of the truck with other 20people on the way to Senga bay.

How much daily: Zambia can be medium costy or outrageously expensive: for a low budget by minibuses in couple it's around 33€/each per day (food+ accommod. + transp.). On top of in Victoria Falls or in any park everything is overcharged (ie safari walk 70$! 15min in helicopter: 130$!....). To explore the Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbawbe visa can be a cost (80$+50$)!

Dangers/ hassles: malaria is a risk, Lusaka dodgey but car crashes are still the main danger

What you do need: if you travel cheap carry your mosquito net and the stuff to put up with travelling in the back of the trucks as a wind-jacket, a cap or a bandana to cover the hair from the dust. Flash lamp is a must


It has been a 40 hours Odyssey the travel from Milan (Italy) to Livingstone (Zambia), stopping-over in London, Paris and Johannesburg. At the Livingstone airport we were given our one entry visa for 50$ and we settled down in downtown at the Livingstone backpacker. We got charged 5$ each for a bed in the 8-bed dorms and we booked our 15 minutes chopper flight for the next day, being relieved of 130$ each.
In the evening we enjoyed (and we really did!) our first Zambian dinner eating by hands the national dish called Inshasha, a kind of cornmeal porridge with fish and vegetables.
The following day we were taken at the heliport near the falls where together with other 4 whites we took off for what have been one of the highlight of the whole trip (more info ab helicopter flight).
After giving up with the idea reaching Lusaka by train (here more info), early the next morning we jumped on the bus for a 7h trip to the capital, whose we didn't particularly fell in love since looking quite tasteless. That's way the following morning at 4.30am we were already pulling out the bus station on the way to Chipata. It took 9h or so, interrupted by a crash the bus had against a truck, luckily without injuries
Unlike Lusaka, we enjoyed Chipata with its real African atmosphere and rightly sized between a city (usually dangerous and chaotic) and a village (usually just a street with nothing to do).
We spend the night in the Government hotel (20$ for a double), a basic place a snap from the bus station, so we could easily collect the info for our next leg to Mufwe, founding out there were two minibuses per day leaving around 10.30am and 14.00, taking 5h or so. So we did the next day on the first one all the way well packed like canned tuna, shot at such speed on the red-dirty road, as the driver had to break some record.
Our final destination was the Flatdog camp (, where we had reserved a tent in advance. The camp is place on the Luangwa river bank 2km from Mufwe, and since walking from the village is out of discussion due to the animals, we agreed with the driver an extra to get there.
The location and the camp itself is jaw-dropping and the elephants wandering around the tents make it a special place, on top of it our tent was in front of a puddle where, at no more than 20mt distance without any kind of fence, a hippos was spending most of the day having naps and rolling in the mud: so definitely the 40$ each for the tent were worth. Then the same day in the South Luangwa National Park we had an interesting 3 hours night safari (45$ each) where we spotted zebras, hippos, crocs, giraffes, cheetah, lionesses…
The tough part of the whole travel came on our way back to Chipata; since we didn't know about the right schedule of the minibuses we decided to take our chance from Mufwe waiting for a minibus or at worst hitch hiking. When at 10.00 in the morning a guy of the camp took us at the village we immediately found out the first minibus was at 1.00am in the night. So we hitch-hiked the whole day managing a take a lift from a truck (a beer-delivery truck) only after more than 8h. While it has been a looong waiting, on the other hand this forced stop let us see the real pace of the life in the village.
Hence at midnight we pulled into Chipata settling down again in the Government hotel but this time when we woke up in the morning there was no water to wash us up, obviously I don't mean running water, but not even the one in the buckets!
We had our last walk in the town before having a 30min run by shared taxi up to the border, where, after an energy-consuming money change on the street without calculator, we enter Malawi.




Zambia is definitely the country I appreciated most of the five we visited in this travel, since it's the one where I felt a real African atmosphere. Surely its highlights as Victoria Fall, and South Luangwa National Park contribute a lot to its charming, but Zambia it's not only that.
I had the perception in Zambia traditions are still eradicated as eating the traditional Inshasha and fish at the restaurant without fork and knife after having rigorously rinsed the hand in the dedicated cup.
The other side of the coin is that Zambia is not cheap, in particular if considered the quality of the services as accommodation and transports. For instance, 8h stuffed from Lusaka to Chipata on the bus like an hamburger in the sandwich cost 23€, with a crash against a truck included!
However travelling in Zambia it's still far worth the cost






Zambia travel tip

    • How to fly to the Victoria Falls
    • Helicopter flight info
    • The inconvenient train Livingstone- Lusaka
    • Reaching South Luangwa Nat. Park by public means of transport



EU citizens need a visa and they can get it at most of the entry points as airports or crossing borders (but not in all). A single entry visa 15 days valid is 50$ and it's just a stamp.




The currency is the Zambian Kwacha (1€= 6.800 ZWK). You can change almost everywhere against € or $




I took Lariam against Malaria, mainly due to the part of the travel in Mozambique; having a mosquito net, wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts and abounding with insect repellent, you can avoid the famigerated Lariam profilassys.
Take into consideration to buy Malarone instead of Lariam, although it's a daily dose (Lariam weekly) and more expensive, it doesn't give Lariam side effects.
If you r gonna staying for a long period in the country, obviously you have to do your counts on risks, money and side-effects!

Morevoer I had the usual vaccinations: Ephatite A, B, Typhus, Tetanus, Meningitis.
I hadn't any problem with the food or the drinks, never drinking tap water, obviously.



I used Lonely Planet 'Southern Africa 2007'; I found it particularly shallow in the details of the frequency of the public means of transports (especially to reach the villages) and also giving the distances, but it's still a helpfull travelmate





- How to fly to the Victoria Falls

One of the cheapest (and fastest) way to reach the Victoria Falls from Europe is to land in Johannesburg and from there take a 1.5h flight to Livingstone (140€ one way) in Zambia or to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (170€). Flights are almost daily and the carrier are British Airway and South African Airlines respectively


- Helicopter flight info

Flying over the falls is by far the best way to see the 1.7km water front both the Zimbabwe and the Zambia side. There'r several agencies and while you can easily check different internet websites, you don't need to book in advance. Once you'll get an accommodation in Livingstone, they will book for you for the following (or the same) day. Prices are quite leveled so I don't think it's worth benchmarking too much: at the time of writing (aug09) it was 130$- 15min flight and 260$- 30min. The accommodation didn't ask any extra charge for booking, and on the opposite there was a discount on the overnight (5$ each instead of 10$ for a dorm bed). In the price it's included the transport to/from your accommodation. The chopper had a clockwise and counterclockwise turn so I doesn't make a different which side you sit. Avoid wearing white clothes otherwise the reflection will spoil your pics. If your aim is just to see the Falls the 15min flight will be enough


- The inconvenient train Livingstone- Lusaka

Since the beginning I did want to reach Lusaka from Livingstone by train, but after having been at the station we gave up, being so inconvenient in respect of the bus.
Bus take 7h with hourly (and even more frequent in the morning) departures, while trains leaves twice per week and it takes 14h, traveling from 20.00 to 10.30am, in addition the night travel it's said to be unsafe.


- Reaching South Luangwa Nat. Park by public means of transport

From Chipata it's relatively easy to reach Mufwe by one of the two daily minibuses at 10.00am or 14.30. They leave once they are full, so it can take 30min or two hours, but for sure sooner or later they'll pull out of the town. Then with a small extra charge you can ask the driver to take you to one of the camps all generally placed quite near the village, and to avoid waste of time do some calls in advance. On the other hand the way back it's quite more complicated: the minibus is the heart of the night (at 1.00am) to let the locals reach Lusaka the same day and there are not other public means of transport the whole day (I can promise you!), so you have to hitch hike. To have the best chances it's convenient you start asking for a lift at the guests of the camp where you are staying. If you aren't lucky with them ask somebody to take you at the village in the early morning when most of the guests of the other camps come back to Chipata.
If you don't like to hitch hike and you want to save money of an overnight, you can stay the whole day at your camp and in the evening (at the Flatdog the last lift was at 21.00) ask for a lift to the village, where waiting for few hours you can get the night minibuses that'll pull into Chipata at 5.00am in the morning.

Good luck