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Zambia - Facts for the traveller, when to go, events

Facts for the traveller for Zambia

Impala <i>(Aepyceros melampus)</i> herd in the grasslands of the Lower Zambezi River Visas: Most visitors need visas, which are good for three months, plus an International Health Certificate showing proof of a yellow fever vaccination within the past 10 years.
Health risks: Cholera, Malaria, Typhoid, Yellow Fever
Time: GMT/UTC +2 (GMT/UTC plus two hours)
Dialling Code: 260

When to Go to Zambia

If you want to spot wildlife, August to October is the best time to visit, though it gets into the low 30s°C (high 80s°F) during the day by the end of that period, especially in low-lying areas - which includes the major national parks. If you want cooler weather and greener landscapes, visit during the cool, dry months of May to August. During the November to April rainy season most of the national parks are closed, and animals are harder to spot because of the lush vegetation, although the lodges that remain open offer very attractive rates. Getting around at this time is also harder as many rural roads become impassable rivers of mud. Zambia is an excellent place for bird-watchers; November to December is the best time, although conditions are good year-round.

Zambia Events

Zambia's most important public holidays are New Year's Day (1 January), Youth Day (second Monday in March), Workers Day (1 May), Heroes' Day, Unity Day (first Monday and Tuesday in July), Farmer's Day (first Monday in August) and Independence Day (24 October). Zambia also celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity on African Freedom Day (25 May).

The Zambian people celebrate many traditional festivals, although for tourists these are sometimes hard to pin down, and dates and even locations can vary from year to year. Perhaps Zambia's best-known festival is the Kuomboka, held near the town of Mongu in Western Zambia towards the end of the rainy season in late March or early April. The Lozi chief and his family are paddled in massive war-canoes across the Zambezi floodplains from their palace at Lealui to Limulunga, where the royal residence is high enough to evade the rising waters. In late February, the N'Cwala festival is held at Mutenguleni, 15km (10mi) southwest of Chipata, during which the chief of the Ngoni people samples the year's first fresh produce and commemorates the Ngoni's entrance into Zambia in 1835. The event is marked by feasts, music and some of the best dancing in the country.

In early March, anglers set their poles for the Zambia National Fishing Competition held on Lake Tanganyika.

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