One of the fastest growing cities in Central Africa, the bustling and cosmopolitan capital of Lusaka draws visitors from far and near. Lively and energetic, the city embodies the spirit of the 'Real Africa', a colorful blend of old and new where tree-lined streets from the country's colonial past are juxtaposed against high-rise buildings and informal settlements.
This sprawling city has grown tremendously since its humble beginnings as a small agricultural village. A railway siding was built here in 1905, and Lusaka began a slow yet steady expansion which gained pace after it became the new capital of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia in 1935. With the copper boom of the post-independence era Lusaka's population almost trebled, and today it is a city of some 2.5 million inhabitants. Following years of neglect, the infrastructure of this vibrant commercial, administrative and financial centre is undergoing a makeover. Roads are being repaired, high density areas cleared and parks transformed, while throughout the city new buildings are going up as old ones are renovated and repaired.
The city centre and main shopping area encompasses the wide double carriageway of Cairo Road and several blocks to the west. Along the airport road, Lusaka's first shopping mall, Manda Hill, has a fine range of boutiques and specialty stores, while Arcades, boasts a supermarket, air-conditioned cinemas and entertainment venues. Other malls include the Downtown Shopping Mall on the Kafue Road and Crossroads on Leopard's Hill Road. Many Lusaka traders have stalls that stock everything from fruit and vegetables to second-hand clothing and engine spares. For an authentically Zambian shopping experience, visit Kamwala market or Soweto market located a few roads west of Cairo Road.
The Munda Wanga Environmental Park off Kafue Road features Zambia's first purpose-built wildlife sanctuary, housing various animals alongside the botanical gardens which have been restored to their former glory. The water theme park and recreation centre of Adventure City situated a few kilometers out of town off the Leopard's Hill Road has waterslides, rock pools and a large jungle gym. Outdoor family fun can also be enjoyed at Downtown Shopping Centre's Lunar Park, Manda Hill Fun Park, and Dream Valley in Ibex Hill.
Indigenous snakes, crocodiles, tortoises and chameleons are to be found in the lush surroundings of Kalimba Reptile Park and Family Centre. Other top day trips include boating and panicking at the Kafue River Cliff, or a game drive, hike or horseback trail through a nearby game farm such as Lilayi Game Ranch or the excellent Chaminuka Private Game Reserve.
Accommodation - There is no shortage of accommodation in Lusaka - be it budget or luxury - from five-star hotels and international hotel chains to guest houses and B&Bs. Country lodges and private game reserves in the surrounding areas offer everything from polo and golf to game drives, while many of the top hotels and game lodges also have full conference, banqueting and spa facilities. For travelers on a budget, there is a pleasant backpackers' lodge in the middle of Lusaka as well as a couple of good campsites to choose from, one of which is located on a game farm south of the city. There are also a number of reasonably priced houses and apartments.
Restaurants & Night Life - Lusaka boasts of a variety of different types of cuisine. There are Indian, Chinese, Continental and Mediterranean eateries, steakhouses and fast food chains and restaurants serving local delicacies or even the latest fusion cuisine. Visitors should sample one of Zambia's national specialties freshwater fish such as Nile perch and lake salmon or bream from the Kafue, Luapula and Zambezi rivers, it is delicious. For entertainment, visitors might take in some local theatre, go to see a movie, or listen to a live band. The influence of both western and local African music is evident in Lusaka's nightclubs, where the sounds of kwela and rumba are heard in equal measure to rock 'n roll and techno. Pubs and bars are also popular meeting spots and range from local hangouts to more upmarket venues in the better hotels.
Arts, Crafts & Heritage - Zambia's craftsmen have combined artistic license with tradition to produce a fine range of crafts. Intricate basket weaving from Barotseland, fine ebony sculptures from the Southern province, ceremonial masks, drums, copper, brass and malachite objects d'art as well as traditional musical instruments like thumb pianos and xylophones etc Exhibitions of local art and handicrafts take place at the Henry Tayali Arts Gallery, Mpala Gallery and the Zintu Community Museum. Original artworks and souvenirs may also be found at Arcades Mall Pakati Market, Kabwata Cultural Village, the Dutch Reformed Church Market held in Kabulonga on the last Saturday of every month and Hope House in Luanshya Road. The attractive Lusaka National Museum on the Independence Avenue explores Zambia's cultural history, with the spotlight on contemporary art, ethnography and witchcraft. Also worth a visit is the gracefully-proportioned Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Travel & Tours - Situated at the junction of the main highways to the north, south, east and west, as well as being easily reached by air, rail and bus, Lusaka acts as a gateway to the rest of Zambia. Lusaka International Airport one of the four major international airports connects Zambia to the rest of the world, with direct travel to a number of international destinations and domestic flights around the country. There are a number of car-rental and travel firms, where vehicles maybe hired and personalized tour and safari packages arranged. Transport in and around Lusaka consists of taxis or pale blue and white minibuses - the latter being quite inexpensive but probably not the most comfortable mode of travel. Most taxis are not metered, so be sure to negotiate a price in advance or use Dial-a-Cab. Several companies offer long-range luxury coach travel to all main towns as well as various other southern African destinations.
Other Services - Lusaka's thriving commercial sector is seeing the development of a variety of new retail outlets as well as an ever-expanding range of services. Impressive shopping centres such as Manda Hill, Arcades, Crossroads, Downtown offer an extensive selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Retail outlets include jewellery, fashion, sport, electronics and departmental stores in addition to supermarkets and specialist service providers. Along with the upgrading of tourism and business infrastructure, hotels and lodges are becoming more luxurious and offering value-added conveniences, such as spa and beauty facilities, from massage treatments to fitness centres.
Boasting the world's highest-grade copper and cobalt deposits, the Copperbelt is where most of the country's mines are situated. The busy capital of the Copperbelt complex, Ndola is a thriving commercial hub as well as being the centre of a variety of industries and manufacturing concerns. The oil pipeline from Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania ends its 1,700 Kilometre journey at the refinery here. Tourist attractions comprise of the Slave Tree where Swahili traders once congregated to buy and sell slaves and the Dag Hammerskjöld Memorial Site. The Copperbelt Museum has a number of items dating back to the Stone Age as well as mineral samples, exhibits from both ancient and modern copper industries and local arts and crafts. Attractions include the beautiful Nsobe Game Camp, the 100 metre deep Lake Kashiba, one of the two sunken lakes in the region.
Kitwe is Zambia's third largest population centre and one of the major player in the copper mining industry and it is also home to the Copperbelt University. Kitwe has an array of modern shops, hotels and entertainment venues and good sporting facilities and hospitals. Additionally, Kitwe has attractive locations such as the Mindolo Dam situated some 7 Kilometres to the southwest and the scenic Makwera Falls and lake are to be found a short distance off the Kitwe-Ndola dual carriageway. The Chembe Sanctuary is approximately 30 Kilometres from Kitwe set in thick woodlands surrounding a small lake and campsites.
Chingola home to the biggest open-cast mine in Africa is known as the Copperbelt's prettiest town. The near-by Nchanga Golf Course is reputed to be one of the most picturesque in Africa. A visit to the famous Chimfushi Wildlife Orphanage west of Chingola is a must. Chifunshi is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary and rehabilitation centre in the world founded in 1983 by David and Sheila Siddle. It is a home to over 100 orphaned chimpanzees, many of which where confiscated from poachers or rescued from dilapidated zoos and circuses and also cares for a host of other sick or unwanted animals.
Accommodation - ranges from basic to ultra-luxurious. Ndola has two hotels, comfortable lodges and a variety of budget accommodation. Kitwe has two good hotels and boutique-style luxury lodgings to a number of guest houses and B&Bs. Chembe Bird Sanctuary is a pleasant alternative campsite. The new prestigious 40 room hotel near Nchanga's championship golf course is one of the three comfortable hotels in Chingola.
Restaurant & Night Life - Adventurous diners should try the local dishes, such as 'nsima' (maize) served with a variety of traditional relish or with beef and chicken stews and not forgetting the mouth watering fresh fish. Western-type of foods of most varieties is readily available where restaurants serve anything from modern French cuisine to pastas and pizzas not forgetting the popular foods such as fried chicken and burgers. Entertainment includes a number of nightclubs where DJs play an eccentric mix of Zambian and International music, a visit to the casino, catch a live band at a local pub or a comedy show at a hotel.
Travel & Tours - The Copperbelt is easily reached from Lusaka along the Great North Road. Ndola being the Capital of the region is well connected by air and home to one of Zambia's four major international airports offering local and international flights. Buses run from the Copperbelt to Lusaka as well as across the Tanzanian border. An efficient road and railway transportation network connects Ndola to the area's mines and industry and other important centres. A dual carriageway links Ndola to Kitwe, while tarred highways connect to Mufulira and Lusaka.
Livingstone - is the former capital city of Zambia, was named after the famous Scottish missionary, Dr David Livingstone who explored much of the area. Home for the famous Victoria Falls located 10km from Livingstone and 480km south of Lusaka also known as 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' - 'Smoke that Thunders' is one of the world's seven natural wonders. Apart from the many activities on offer, the town has much to interest the visitor, including three museums which are worth visiting:
Mukuni village is an authentic Zambian village where residents give demonstrations of ancient skills and crafts. A few kilometers upstream of the falls is the Mosi-oa-Tunya Zoological Park which runs along a strip of riverrine forest. The Park is best known for its giraffe but it also contains elephant, white rhino, buffalo, zebra, stable, eland, wildebeest, Kafue lechwe, impala, warthog, baboon and vervet monkey.