As far as cities go, we really like Lusaka. It is laid back, clean, friendly and has some great places to stay. That said there is little of real interest to do here, so Lusaka usually acts as a pleasant stopover for travellers on their way to or from the national parks or Victoria Falls. If you did want to spend a little longer here, whether it be to acclimatise or to take in some sights in the city- we can certainly help by talking you through the accommodation options and the things you can do whilst you are here.
The city isn’t far from Zambia’s border with Zimbabwe, being south of the former country’s Copperbelt. Kafue lies to its west, the Lower Zambezi to its east, and the Luangwa to the north-east. The North Luangwa is situated the farthest distance from Lusaka, over 700 kilometres away.
History of Lusaka
The city was built on the site of a village that had been named Lusaka after its chief. In 1905, British settlers expanded the site by constructing a railway; and in 1935 it became the British colony’s capital of Northern Rhodesia, taking this title from the city of Livingstone. In 1964, Lusaka was named capital city of the newly independent Zambia. Since then it has seen rapid development, and today it’s a popular city for both Zambians and tourists, with further growth anticipated in business, housing, entertainment, and other areas.
Activities in Lusaka
If you do opt for a longer stay, here are a few examples of things to see and do during your stay:
City & township tours- If you only have time for one outing, most hotels in Lusaka are able to arrange highlights tours of the bustling city. These can include a wide variety of attractions, from visiting a traditional healer to admiring the city’s political buildings to looking around one of its breweries. Do contact us for further details.
Kabwata Cultural Village- This is an open-air market, full of thatch-roofed huts and stalls from which you can purchase a range of arts-and-crafts items from local sellers. At the weekends, usually from 2pm, you can watch a cultural performance too.
Art galleries- We recommend the Henry Tayali Visual Arts Centre for visitors who favour modern art, while the Nomwande Art Gallery is our top tip if you’d prefer to see the works of well-established painters and sculptors.
Shops- Lusaka’s development has included the construction of a lot of shopping malls, such as Cosmopolitan, Embassy, and East Park. If you have time to spare, you could certainly spend an afternoon browsing in any of these retail centres, taking an occasional break to refuel in any of their sit-down eateries.
Munda Wanga Environmental Park- This park is situated approximately 16 kilometres south of the city. It’s a rescue centre for the likes of owls and pangolins, alongside botanical gardens containing almost 500 plant species. If you’re here at 2pm on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you can watch the animals’ feeding time.
Kalimba Reptile Park- Located in Ngwerere, a suburb of Lusaka, Kalimba is perfect for fans of all things scaly. Showcasing crocs, snakes, tortoises, and more, the park also offers fishing, farming, and general fun for all the family.
Lusaka National Museum- This museum provides a wealth of information about Zambia’s history and culture. On the upper gallery, you’ll find an interesting account of the country’s development, as well as a children’s corner. The lower gallery boasts an exciting assortment of contemporary art.
Time/s of year to travel to Lusaka
Lusaka is an all-year-round destination, and the time of year you visit will of course depend on your safari itinerary. The city is hottest from September to November, and wettest from December through to March.
Top travel tips in Lusaka
Please contact us to discuss visiting Lusaka as a stopover destination within your Zambia safari schedule, or to ask for more information about the city itself. Presently we feature four properties on our website – Latitude 15° (a boutique hotel), Taj Pamodzi (a large international-style hotel), Pioneer Camp (a rustic lodge on the city’s outskirts) and Lilayi (a small boutique hotel located on a wildlife farm outside of town – great for longer stays). We’re happy to talk through any of these options with you so please do call us to chat them through!