Located in Southern Africa, Zambia has begun to be known as the “real Africa.” Having been a British colony, but independent in 1964, it was recently named one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries in 2010.
It has incredible natural wonders, like Victoria Falls, and some of the best wildlife reserves (it has some of the most abundant animal populations in Africa). It's not as well known as other African countries, so it receives fewer tourists, but the ones who do go are seeking a genuine and unparalleled experience. If you're looking to spend high school abroad in Zambia, you'll immerse yourself in a truly unique and off the beaten path experience.
Zambia is best for students who want to go off the beaten path and explore a smaller, lesser known area of sub-Saharan Africa.
As Zambia is a developing country, and still rising in popularity as a travel destination, the options for high school abroad there remain limited. Teen travel programs which go to a variety of African countries are a good way to see Zambia, in addition to some of its larger neighbors (like South Africa, Kenya, or Tanzania). These travel programs integrate academics with travel and students will often receive hands on experiences with development, environmental protection, and language / culture.
Lusaka is the capital city, although you likely won’t spend much time here. Most high school programs that travel to Zambia will get students out of the city and exploring the more rural areas.
Tourist visas are available upon arrival, and all foreign visitors pay $50 USD for single entry (up to one month), $80 USD for double entry (up to three months). Applications for multiple-entry visas ($80 USD) must be made in advance at a Zambian embassy or high commission.
If you're traveling through a program, however, they'll provide assistance. You should also double check that these numbers are up to date, as they're likely to change.
As a mostly rural nation, your accommodations will be very basic. Running water and electricity isn't always available, and power outages are common. Smaller and simpler homes and rooms (and huts) are very common, and not all accommodations have flush toilets. Be prepared, but don't be nervous!
Since Zambia is a developing nation, the cost of living is very affordable compared to western countries. For example, a meal at an actual restaurant will cost around $5 USD and a bottle of water is about 30 cents USD. However, imported goods (like at the South African supermarkets that are in most major cities there), will be about the same prices as back home.
In addition to flights and program fees, plan to budget around $20 - 30 per day for personal expenses. You might spend a little more if accommodation isn't included, and a little less if you make a large effort to only eat local foods.
While traveling to Zambia, be sure to pack:
- Comfortable, lightweight clothes (layers are great)
- A warm jacket (it can get cool at night)
- Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
- A headlamp (in case of power outages)
- Breathable hiking shoes (like Tevas or trail runners)
- A day backpack
- Mosquito repellant
It's also a good idea to pack your belongings in a backpack, rather than a suitcase, and to limit the amount of electronics you bring.
The CDC recommends all routine vaccinations when traveling to Zambia, as well as hepatitis A, typhoid, and talking to a travel doctor about preventative medication against malaria. Some travelers (depending on your stay) will want to inquire with their primary care physician about Hepatitis B, rabies, and yellow fever as well.
While Zambia has been fairly successful in their effort to reduce country's population affected by HIV/AIDS, the disease is still a concern so visitors should exercise appropriate caution. You should also make sure you are drinking bottled / filtered water and protecting yourself from the sun.
Zambia is generally very safe. However, like in most developing nations, there's always a chance of being targeted by thieves or con artists in more urban areas. Make sure to stay aware of your surroundings no matter where you go.
You should also avoid any areas along the Zambia–Congo border, especially around Lake Mweru due to civil conflict. Foreign embassies in Zambia warn of landmines in the Sinazongwe area on the shores of Lake Kariba, so make sure to avoid wandering off in this area as well.