Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. It is a cosmopolitan city that is home to approximately 2.5 Million people.
One of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa, Lusaka is in the southern part of the central plateau at an elevation of about 1,279 metres (4,196 ft). As of 2010, the city’s population was about 1.7 million, while as the urban population is 2.4 million.
Lusaka is the centre of both commerce and government in Zambia and connects to the country’s four main highways heading north, south, east and west. English is the official language of the city, but Nyanja and Bemba are also common.
Minibuses are ubiquitous, cheap, and fast. For a few Kwacha, you can get into or out of town easily – though travel around the edges of the city or away from main roads is difficult by bus. Bus routes are not posted, and a novice may get lost. Do not be afraid to ask a conductor where he’s headed. Minibuses do run into the evenings, but become decreasingly frequent at the evening wears on. Fares are theoretically standardised and depend on the route. The conductor will give you change, but it’s sensible not to hand over more than what you think the fare should be / what you see your fellow passengers paying. At busy times passengers are jammed in tightly, particularly in the smaller buses: larger buses are comfortable at the same price.
For the uninitiated, a taxi might be a better option, at least initially. Taxis come in two colours – sky blue, and a light grey, and are usually Toyota Corollas. There are no meters in Zambia’s taxis, so prices are somewhat negotiable but always on the high side for Africa. Be sure to set a price before getting in the cab. (Tip: Ask at a hotel lobby how much your trip should cost. If the cab driver states a higher price, mention that you’re happy to ride a mini-bus. Watch the price drop.)
Take down a taxi driver’s mobile number, most will be happy to do an all day deal, wait for you while you explore, pick you up early or late and take you to and from the airport.
Walking is an option as distances are not that large, and there are a fair number of street names to help orientate yourself. However walking at night does have its hazards – manhole covers are not Lusaka’s strong point and there are many uncovered drains that could swallow you whole, hence a torch is a good idea – and drivers seem allergic to moving over for pedestrians walking on the road – so best to stick to the dirt paths at the side of the roads (these are more common than pavements / sidewalks).
Like in most fast-growing African cities, traffic is atrocious – avoid going in and out of the city centre by any route during rush hour, if you can. Increasingly slow traffic does at least help reduce the awful death rate on Lusaka’s roads. Better enforcement of drink-driving laws would reduce it considerably more.
- Nature Reserve: a few minutes drive away, you’ll find a beautiful nature reserve where you have a chance to see unique species of fauna and flora. Bring your litter back with you and respect the nature, it will respect you back!
- Transportation Museum: discover the evolution of the means of transports, from horse carriages to electric skateboards and solar-powered cars. A must see for families with young kids – especially little boys!
Each Saturday morning, the old town hosts wonderful markets where you’ll find locals trading vegetables, antiques, patisserie among many other things. A unique opportunity to find fresh and affordable products while soaking in an authentic local atmosphere.