Following on from my first post Moving To Mazabuka, here is some more information which you might find helpful. It is always easy to discover these things when you move here, but hopefully this will make it easier for those who would prefer to know more up front. A lot of the information below is not specific to Zambia, but relevant to anyone moving to Zambia.
Holidays in Zambia are super expensive, and do not expect equivalent standard as you might receive in South Africa or other countries. Camping will cost anything between $15- $28 per person. There are some places where you can pay less, but more often than not there is a reason for that. Many lodges are offering specials of $70 pppn including some meals and an activity if you are lucky. A special can still be $180. Camping is a very good option, especially for a bigger family. Other more affordable options are hiring larger houses and going as a group.
There are good deals about though, you just need to research and keep your eyes peeled. Everything is far, so you need to be prepared to travel, or the alternative is you just don’t get to see places. That said, there are random places about that you can go and do things affordably without spending a lot. We have camped on friends farms at their dams, sometimes you just need to get cheeky and creative to save precious annual leave as well as the travel fund! People don’t mind!
When booking holidays, request local rates for SADC. members. Green season (rainy season) is up to 40% off, take advantage. The season runs from around November to March-May, but bear in mind accessibility becomes an issue for many places. Ignore the prices listed on websites, you will pay a fraction of that as a resident/SADC member. Those on work permits qualify for resident rates.
Some useful sites:
Birding (Yes, this needs it’s own category)
Bird Watch Zambia is well worth joining, at just K200 a year. You receive a monthly newsletter and get included in all the birding goings on, via a Whatsapp group. This all depends on what level of Bird Nerd you have reached, but we are there. Birding is absolutely incredible in the Mazabuka District and the area is surprisingly diverse. You will find various birding groups have been created across Zambia.
Recycling & Waste
There are currently no recycling facilities in town. Carol Flemming at Sikhalozia farm collects glass which is crushed to make building sand. Poverty is a real issue in Zambia and so you will find your staff will reuse much of what you view as waste. The packets that vegetables, cereals, beans etc come in, are all kept and reused as are glass bottles, tins etc. The little village shops gladly re-use them for storing and selling their produce. Bottle tops etc are used for crafts. Below are some links that you will find helpful:
- The Bright Future Project – tin, glass, plastic, paper – Lusaka & Monze
- Less Plastic Lusaka & Recycle Lusaka – group for ideas and places in Lusaka
- Impact One Initiative – (thin cardboard boxes & bread bags – into learning resources)
It is usual to get quoted in USD for many things, but local currency is Kwacha (ZMW). Mazabuka has all the banks; FNB, Standard Chartered, Stanbic. There is a Bureau de Change opposite Stanbic down the alley amongst some small shops. Sounds dodge, but it’s actually legit. Most places take card (not the polo or tennis clubs), it is best to always have cash on you. Don’t turn up at the Lubombo Polo on your first weekend in Mazabuka and have to ask your boss for a cash advance at the bar. A couple I know very well had to do that, it was quite awks for us, I mean them.
If you need to bring anything in from “South”, RNJ Exports are your people, and it is not nearly as expensive as you think. They will also source and purchase items (within reason), on your behalf. Anything from olives, to a swimming pool, solar system or motorbike.
Ishop Road Freight is also a very good option, and cheaper than RNJ for your smaller parcels. You can do any shopping online in South Africa, have it delivered to their address in Edenvale addressed with your account number and you should receive it in Mazabuka within 2 weeks. They also offer a similar service from the States and UK, obviously more expensive. The iShop depot in Mazabuka is in a small cluster of shops opposite Autoworld, behind DSTV.
If you have a domestic worker or any staff you hire yourself, you need to register with NAPSA and make your payments before the 10th of each month. You can do these online and the staff are super helpful in town.
You need to have your car insured, licensed and fitness tested, this can all be done at RTSA on the edge of town. Go early or send someone to do it for you.
Immigration offices are in town opposite the Engen garage. Remember, if you are here as a spouse, you are not allowed to work or volunteer unless you have a permit to do so. Unless you your work is online and you are registered for tax and payments in another country.
Don’t say 2pm or 2 o’clock , say fourteen hours. Trust me, saves a lot of confusion.
Speed traps, everywhere. Speed limit signs, nowhere. Patience is a virtue.
When someone asks if you are going South, they don’t mean Livingstone or Botswana, they mean South Africa. When someone asks where you will be for Christmas, and you reply “South”; welcome, you are now local.
I am still discovering all the things this town and country has to offer. What have I left out?
There are some Facebook Groups which can be very useful no matter what area you live in Zambia.
I know there is much information I have not included! These are just things I have learnt from other expats and they are the questions I am most often asked by people heading to Zambia. If you are moving here and you are looking for advice that I have not included, get in touch, I will gladly help if I can. Although, the best bet is usually the Expat Facebook groups.