Frequently Asked Questions
1) What is the local currency and how should we manage carrying our money?
It’s best to come into the country with Dollars, Pounds or Euros which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureaux de Change in the main towns and airports. The Zambian currency is the Kwacha and it fluctuates quite regularly. As of Jan 2013, Zambia rebased the currency dividing by 1000.
As of June 2014, K100 = $16.3, GBP9.7, ZAR175.4, EUR 12.04
Kwacha note denominations are K100, K50, K20, K10, and K2
Coins are in denominations of K1 and 50, 10 and 5 Ngwee.
Payments within Zambia can be made in US Dollars. Foreign currency will be accepted once you have cleared immigration at the airport. There is no limit to the importation of foreign currency, provided it is declared on arrival through a currency declaration form. To find out more about the current exchange rate please visit www.xe.com
You can pay for your bill at the lodge using a credit card (VISA, MASTERCARD or AMERICAN EXPRESS)
2) What are the Passport and Visa requirements?
The Zambia Immigration website (www.zambiaimmigration.gov.zm/) contains visa guidelines for different types of visitors. Each visitor to Zambia must declare the main purpose of their visit. This will determine what sort of visa one needs, and where to obtain this visa. You cannot pay for visa fees with your credit card only cash in US$ or local currency equivalent.
3) What is the normal luggage restriction on internal flights in Zambia?
Each passenger is limited to 15 kgs of luggage plus a typical size camera bag
4) Is tipping and gratuities the norm?
As a custom, tipping is not compulsory, but is usually expected as a sign of appreciation of good service, it is entirely at the guest’s discretion. This can be done either directly to the member of staff or placed in the communal box (in the shape of a house) in the entrance hall of the main building. Please note that guides and management are not included in this communal box.
5) What should I pack?
The most important thing to remember when you come to Africa is to bring a sense of adventure. Going on safari is by no means like going to the zoo, where the animals are almost ‘on demand’. On safari, you get the real deal! The animals you will encounter are out there living their normal day-to-day lives – and you are going to try and find them… This can be both the most rewarding and frustrating process. Sometimes you won’t see anything for a while, but then suddenly you come round a tree and are faced by a heard of bull elephants or a pride of lions having lunch. The beauty of safari is you never know what is going to happen next, or for that matter when.
There is also a slightly unique pace to African life – nothing rushes…. Life moves in a somewhat more tranquil fashion to the rest of the planet. This is a fabulous thing, but can take a bit of getting used to and if you don’t embrace it can become a little frustrating. The trick is to remember you are in Africa – look around you and marvel at your surroundings, it’ll quickly take you down to African time….
On a slightly more practical note, here are a few things to pop on your packing list:
- Light cotton neutral/dull coloured garments are recommended for day wear (khaki, beige, olive green).
- Long sleeves are advisable to help protect the skin from the harsh African sun, but sunscreen with SPF 30+ will suffice if short sleeves are preferred. (During the hot dry and the rainy season they also help protect you from the dreaded mosquitoes).
- A bathing costume for when you take a dip in our infinity pool that overlooks the mighty Zambezi River.
- A light jacket or sweater may be necessary for the summer evenings, and a heavy jacket and sweater are suggested during the winter months (May-August), as the early morning and evenings temperatures can be quite chilly.
- A hat to help protect you from the glaring mid-day sun.
- Strong sturdy shoes for walking are essential for visits walking safaris.
- A light raincoat for the wetter months (usually November through to April).
- A good pair of binoculars is a must. Ideally in the 10×40 range.
- A Camera is a must for capturing your African memories. Just don’t forget the zoom to ensure you capture all the wildlife action.
- A small flashlight or head torch are always a good idea when you’re in the African bush (just don’t forget extra batteries).
- A small personal medical kit containing any prescribed drugs as well as plasters, headache pills and antihistamine is always useful. Your guide and the lodge will also carry first aid supplies.
- Mosquito repellent is an essential. Zambia is considered a high risk Malaria area during certain times of year, so contact your local travel clinic/pharmacist six weeks prior to travel to discuss the use of a suitable prophylactic if required. But remember, the best option is always prevention – long sleeves from dusk and plenty of repellent generally keep the mozzies at bay.
- A high factor sunscreen is always recommended – the African sun can be deceptive and even the shade of the game drive vehicles can’t protect you completely.
- Lip balm (Chap Stick) is a good idea; the sun can leave lips feeling dry.
- Sunglasses are crucial for protecting your eyes and enabling you to see everything without squinting.
6) How can I be certain that my valuables will be safe where we are staying?
At Royal, you will not require your passport or wallet and we do recommend locking these valuables in your personal safe in your cupboard. We have two types of safe at Royal, one with a key and one with a digital pad. If you have a key safe then please lock the safe and keep the key with you or in a safe place. If you have a digital pad then please follow the instructions below:
Press hidden button behind door of safe to reset.
With the safe door open, enter a 4 digit code on the keypad, followed by “A” or “B”
Close and lock the safe
To open the safe, simply enter the same 4 digit code followed by the same letter “A” or “B” and the safe will click and you will be able to open the door.
Your personal room hand will demonstrate on your arrival and if you find you have a problem please inform him as Management holds a master key.
7) Is it safe to self-drive?
Yes, it is safe to self drive, and our reservations manager Vanessa, will provide a map with GPS coordinates. However please note that the gravel road is not in the best of condition and is very bumpy and is therefore only accessible by 4 x 4 vehicles and 4 x 2 vehicles during the dry season. Please note that the road is only accessible by 4 x 4 vehicles during the rainy season from December to March.
8) Is the water safe to drink?
Yes the water is safe to drink. The water we provide for guests to drink and as ice for consumption is purified using a process called reverse osmosis. There is also bottled water available if you require. We just ask that you don’t drink the water directly from the tap or the shower. The fruit and vegetables are all washed in safe clean water, so there are no concerns with regards to food items.
9) What electricity voltage do Zambian plugs require?
The power supply at the lodge is 240 volts ac. Every room has been fitted with square ‘English’ sockets. It is advised that guests bring their own adaptors. Please note some American 110 volt appliances will be damaged by the 240 volt supply.
10) Is there electricity at the Royal Zambezi Lodge?
There is 24 hour electricity at the lodge, provided by a 240V Generator.
11) Do I need any vaccinations?
Depending on where you are a resident may vary the vaccinations required. Please contact your local doctor for advice ideally 2 months before departure. Often the following are recommended – Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid, Yellow fever – although incidences of Yellow fever are extremely rare. You may also be prescribed Maleria tablets.
12) Should I be concerned about safety in general?
Royal Zambezi Lodge is fortunate to be situated in one of the last great un-spoilt wilderness areas left in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, elephants, hippos, buffalo, antelope, baboons and monkeys often visit the Lodge. Less frequent visitors have included lion, leopard and hyena. We ask you to be careful when walking around the property.
If you notice a potentially dangerous animal then please just remain in your room or on your deck and try and draw the attention of one of our staff members. During the night, security staff or guides will escort you to and from your suite. Torches are available in your rooms. Please carry them with you. The security guards patrol the lodge at night and in the event that you want assistance simply call one of the guards. They will assist you or call a member of the management.
Royal Zambezi has provided a phone in your room for your convenience. At night when you are ready to go to the main building for dinner, please call the main lodge and request an escort. You may also use the phone to request tea, coffee or drinks from the bar during the day. In the event of an emergency at night, please call the main lodge and a security staff member will answer your call. If we need to call you, the phone will make a loud sound in one single tone. Once you pick up the phone this sound stops.
13) Will you help plan my flights?
Our reservations manager will assist with arranging domestic transfers only.
14) Can you offer family friendly holidays?
Yes we do offer family friendly holidays, children under 6 years old on request only. The lodge has a family unit that consists of 2 Classic suites joined by an outside communal lounge area, so is ideal for families or friends travelling together.
15) Can I get the internet?
There is Wifi internet access at the lodge.
16) Will my mobile phone work – should I bring it?
Royal Zambezi Lodge is situated in one of the last regions on the planet where there is a poor mobile phone signal. If your phone is on “roaming” you may pick up the Zimbabwean NET ONE signal from the deck but this is sporadic.
17) What’s the food like?
Meals are made from the finest fresh ingredients; dinner is served at either the long banquet table or at private tables under the stars, whilst breakfast and lunch may be served in the lodge or as a picnic during a morning of activities. For a special occasion, Royal Zambezi Lodge is happy to offer a candlelit dinner with a difference – on an island in the Zambezi.