1) What is the local currency and how should we manage carrying our money?
It’s best to come into the country with US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change in the main towns and airports.
The Zambian currency is the Kwacha, and it fluctuates quite regularly. As at Jan 2013, Zambia rebased the currency dividing by 1000.
As at April 2019, K100 = $8.29, GBP6.35, ZAR116.8, EUR 7.38 (Source https://www.xe.com)
Kwacha note denominations are K100, K50, K20, K10, and K2
Coins are in denominations of K1 and 50, 10 and 5 Ngwee.
Payments within Zambia can be made in US Dollars. Foreign currency will be accepted once you have cleared immigration at the airport. There is no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can bring in, provided it is declared on arrival through a currency declaration form. To find out more about the current exchange rate, please visit www.xe.com
You can pay for your bill at the lodge using a credit card (VISA, MASTERCARD or AMERICAN EXPRESS)
2) What are the Passport and Visa requirements?
The Zambia Immigration website contains visa guidelines for different types of visitors. Each visitor to Zambia must declare the primary purpose of their visit. This will determine what sort of visa one needs, and where to obtain it. You cannot pay for visa fees with your credit card; only cash in US$ or local currency equivalent.
3) What is the normal luggage restriction on internal flights in Zambia?
Each passenger is limited to between 10-15 kgs of luggage, depending on the size of the plane, plus a typical size camera bag, laptop bag or ladies handbag.
4) Are tipping and gratuities the norm?
As a custom, tipping is not compulsory but is usually expected as a sign of appreciation of excellent service, and 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 & can be rewarded directly.
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 around a tree-lined corner and are faced with a herd 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 different pace to African life – nothing rushes. Life moves in a somewhat tranquil fashion than on the rest of the planet. This is a fabulous thing, but it can take a bit of getting used to, and if you don’t embrace it, it can become a little frustrating. The trick is to remember you are in Africa – look around you and marvel at your surroundings, and it’ll quickly settle you into 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 is 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 rainy season they also help protect you from the dreaded mosquitoes).
- A bathing costume for when you take a dip in our infinity pool or private plunge pools, all overlooking 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 evening 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 walking safaris.
- 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 catch all the wildlife action.
- A small flashlight or head torch is always a good idea when you’re in the African bush (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 essential. Zambia is considered a high-risk malaria area during certain times of the year, so contact your local travel clinic/pharmacist six weeks before travel to discuss the use of a suitable prophylactic if required. However, remember, the best option is always prevention – long sleeves from dusk, and plenty of repellents 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 (ChapStick) 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 recommend locking these valuables in the safe in your suite. The safes provided have a digital keypad and are big enough to keep Ipad’s, 13-inch laptops and medium-sized cameras.
Instructions on how to use your safe can be found in your suite, and your room hand will also demonstrate to you on arrival. If you find you have any problem, please inform management.
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 conditions, 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, as well as ice for consumption, is purified using a process called reverse osmosis. Filtered water stations are located around the main building for your use and water flasks provided in your rooms. We 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.
9) What electricity voltage do Zambian plugs require?
The power supply at the lodge is 240 volts ac. Every room is fitted with square ‘English’ sockets. It is advised that guests bring their own adaptors. Please note the 240 volt supply will damage some American 110-volt appliances.
10) Is there electricity at the Royal Zambezi Lodge?
There is 24-hour electricity at the lodge, provided by a 240V Generator. Solar panelled geysers heat water for showering and bathing.
11) Do I need any vaccinations?
The country you usually live in determines the vaccinations required. Please contact your local doctor for advice, ideally two 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 anti-malaria tablets.
12) Should I be concerned about safety in general?
Royal Zambezi Lodge is fortunate to be situated in one of the last great unspoiled wilderness areas left in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, elephants, hippos, buffalo, antelope, baboons and monkeys often visit. 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 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 if you want assistance merely 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. Please look at our “Getting Here” page for transport options.
14) Can you offer family friendly holidays?
Yes, we do offer family-friendly holidays, children under eight years old on request only. The lodge has a family unit that consists of 2 Deluxe suites sharing an outdoor seating area, so is ideal for families or friends travelling together. We can also offer Presidential suites as one big family unit.
15) Can I get the internet?
Yes, there is Wi-fi 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 weak 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. However, you can make WhatsApp calls and contact family members using our WI-FI.
17) What’s the food like?
Meals are made from the finest fresh ingredients; dinner is served at private tables under the stars, while breakfast and lunch may be served in the lodge or as a picnic during a morning of activities. For a special occasion, we can offer private candlelit dinners on your private suite deck.