Transport in Zambia

Buses

Long range buses frequently leave from Lusaka to all the main towns. Buses are generally clean and reasonably reliable.

Taxis

Minibuses and taxis are a common form of local transport in Zambia. These are all painted blue and can be jumped on at pretty much any juncture. They’re not expensive and can be chartered as a private minibus to wherever you want to go.

Car Hire

If you’ve come into Zambia without a vehicle, you can hire a chauffeur-driven vehicle to get around town or around the country. Self-drive is possible for those with confidence and plenty of experience. Cars can be hired in Lusaka.

Driving

Zambia has almost 40,000 km of roads – 8,200 km of which are tarred and another 8,000 km all weather gravel roads. The rest range from reasonable to bad dirt roads.

Once you cross into Zambia from the south, be prepared for a radical change in road conditions. It’s improving all the time but certain sections of the main roads become potholes strung together with strips of tar, so be really careful, especially if travelling at night for road markings are usually non existent.

Do watch out for animals in the road, vehicles without lights pedestrians, unannounced roadworks, bad drivers and broken down trucks with no warning triangles. If you see a branch in the road, slow down immediately – these are improvised warning triangles and there’s bound to be a truck or car in the middle of the road up ahead. Car theft is rife in Lusaka, but avoidable if you’re careful.

Sections of the major routes to the north, south, east and west are nearly always undergoing pothole repairs.If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Zambia it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tyre mending services at a very reasonable fee.

Petrol is available at most of the major towns, but gets more expensive as one gets further from the railway line. If travelling in the more remote areas be sure to take extra supplies as availability is not always guaranteed. If it’s an emergency, try the local markets. They sometime have bottles of petrol for sale.

Be sure to have all your vehicle papers on hand as you’re bound to encounter a few roadblocks and if you ever need to stop, pull well off the road.

Trains

Zambia has three main internal train lines, one from Livingstone to Lusaka, from Lusaka to the Copperbelt, and from Kapiri Mposhi to the Northern border with Tanzania. The main train station is located in central Lusaka.

Boats

Zambia is one of the five countries bordering Lake Tanganyika and a ferry operates from Burundi to Tanzania to Zambia and back once a week, arriving and leaving the port of Mpulungu every Friday.

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