For those traveling Africa north to south, Zambia is the gateway to Southern Africa, and is one of those countries that are easy to travel cheaply using public transport. Although most travelers pass through quite quickly on their way to the world-famous Victoria Falls, there are many, many other attractions in this friendly country and it is rightly well known for its wildlife.
Coming from Malawi, the first stop on any traveler's itinerary should be South Luangwa National Park near the village of Mfuwe. This is accessed from the town of Chipata, which has two excellent backpacker hostels, if you choose to overnight here. Coming from the south, the national park has direct bus services from Lusaka, a ten-hour journey. There are two riverside lodges just outside the national park gate that offer hostel dorm accommodation and self-catering facilities, so this is a fantastic place to spot big game at budget prices.
The center and north of Zambia is rarely visited by backpackers, but offers some wonderful nature in Kasanka National Park and great trekking in the Mutinondo Wilderness. The Great North Road continues up as far as Lake Tanganyika, a beautiful tranquil place to stay a few days. There are direct buses from Lusaka and local taxi boats ferry people along the lake to the many fishing villages on the lake shore.
Lusaka, Zambia's capital, isn't a place to linger, as it doesn't offer much to the foreign visitor. It does, however, have many foreign embassies, if you need visas in advance. There are many Zambia hostels in Lusaka offering dorm accommodation and cheap double and twin rooms. Most of these are located in the central area just east of Levy Park Mall and within easy walking distance from the bus and railway stations. The accommodation is good value, on the whole. If you want to stay a little out of the centre, there are also many Zambia hostel choices in the suburbs, particularly in the northeast of the city around Manda Hill and East Park Malls. Some of these are excellent value for money if you can get to grips with Lusaka's cheap local transport.
Most travelers head for Livingstone and Victoria Falls, which is a must-see for any visitor to Southern Africa. Even in dry periods, it is still a very impressive sight. Livingstone has a large number of Zambia hostels, all of very good quality and all offering a wide variety of trips and activities, particularly for the younger adrenaline fueled crowd. Livingstone is a backpackers' magnet and has a vibrant social scene.
For those wanting to see more of Zambia and at a slightly slower pace, public transport takes you through Kafue National Park in the west, as well as Barotseland which see very few tourists, but is a wonderfully scenic part of rural Zambia, with tarred roads and regular buses. Zambia hostel accommodation is not readily available in the more rural parts of Zambia, but there are many cheap guesthouses in the small towns and there is always the option to camp. Carrying camping equipment also offers up the opportunity to visit some of the national parks and private reserves that are normally only available to the more upmarket traveler. Many of these lodges offer campgrounds at very cheap prices, but with access to the same facilities as the private lodge guests.
The southeast corner of Zambia, near the Zimbabwe border, is home to the mighty Zambezi River. Again, it's easily accessed by public transport and with cheap accommodation available and offers all kinds of trips on the river and the surrounding countryside.
Bird-watchers will have a great time in Zambia, as it accommodates many endemic species only found in Zambia. It is also a crossroads, where East, Central and Southern African species can be spotted and the summer wet season sees many migrants returning. More than seven hundred fifty species have been recorded in Zambia.
Big-game spotters will also love Zambia. The Big Five can be seen in many of the national parks, as well as less-frequently seen animals such as civet cat, caracal, serval, painted hunting dogs, and a bewildering array of different antelope species. Many of the parks and reserves offer night game drives where you might spot very rare species.
Zambia is a great country to visit for budget travelers, if you are resourceful. Cheap public transport covers a large part of the country, giving access to remote, rural areas and getting you close to the major parks and reserves. Accommodation is cheap and plentiful, but carrying a tent gives you access to pretty much everywhere, as Zambia hostel accommodation seems to be focused largely on Lusaka and Livingstone. There are hostels in Chipata and Kabwe, however, and these give one the opportunity to get onward travel information to the lesser-known regions. Zambia rewards those who have the time and initiative to take the roads less traveled.
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the Hostelz.com local expert for Zambia hostels. Welcome.