Lusaka is a city whose bustling chaos has a certain charm which is quintessentially Zambia. The tourist passing through the capital may not see any reason to stay, but Lusaka is the product of a country battling to find its way in a new world, caught between colonial beginnings, years of socialist independence and now democracy. It typifies the problems many African countries face as they find their "independent" footing in a world that is surging ahead. The fascinating thing about Lusaka is its energy. Not perhaps of the same ilk as that of New York City, but an African energy, propelled by that need to survive.
Lusaka is as much a part of "the real Africa" as Zambia’s rich national parks and stunning scenery. Well over 60% of its 2 million inhabitants are unemployed, but there are surprisingly few beggars. Although petty theft occurs, most people try to make an honest living, selling their wares or services, and smiling to boot. The markets are a hive of activity; the thousands of stalls being filled and cleared every day. A myriad of motor spares dealers, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruit sellers and rows and rows of "salaula" - discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale.
But Lusaka is also a city undergoing a facelift. A walk around the city will reveal new shops – including a new market and a multi-million dollar shopping mall under construction, smart fast food outlets, new double carriageway roads, old buildings being refurbished and the transformation of the city's parks. For many, this is the perfect example of what economic liberalisation has done for the country. And viewed from the villages, Lusaka is the glittering capital which still persuades rural Zambians to take the bus there in search of jobs and dreams.
How to get there
Lusaka is close to the centre of Zambia between the eastern and western bulges. All major routes to the east, west, north and south flow through the city. The Great North Road comes down from Tanzania via Kapiri Mposhi, and is about 1 100km from the Tanzanian border. The Great East Rd from Chipata to Lusaka is 570km. The road from Livingstone in the south meets up with the "Kafue Road" and is 470km long. From the Chirundu border with Zimbabwe, the route is well paved and 136km long. The Mongu road coming in from the west via the Kafue National Park is 591km long.
The domestic railway goes to Livingstone, Kapiri Mposhi and the Copperbelt. The Tanzania Zambia Railway - Tazara - comes down as far as Kapiri Mposhi, where the Zambia Railways train links it to Lusaka. Buses arrive from Harare, Lilongwe, Johannesburg, Livingstone and the Copperbelt.
Lusaka International Airport, which is 14km from the city centre, receives most international flights. Zambian Airways will fly to and from Johannesburg and currently has scheduled flights to Mfuwe, Chipata, the Copper belt and Livingstone. Proflight and Airwaves have scheduled flights to Livingstone, Lower Zambezi and Mfuwe. InterAir Flies into Ndola from Johannesburg and Entebbe from where a connecting flight to Lusaka can be taken.
1. Intercontinental Lusaka is situated in the heart of the commercial district about 4 miles from downtown Lusaka and 13 miles from Lusaka International Airport.
2. Pamodzi Hotel is located in Lusakas business and government district.
3. Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari Lodge is located within its own private game reserve of around 2500 acres. It is set within beautiful gardens with separate open sided buildings for the restaurant and bar.
4. Chachacha Backpackers is located in the central area of Lusaka, only 15 min walk from both the bus and train station and the town centre banks, a 10 min walk from Northmead shopping centre and craft market.
5. Chongwe River Camp is situated on the confluence of the Chongwe and Zambezi Rivers, directly opposite Mana Pools.
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