Zambia offers an excellent choice of accommodation options to cater for all budgets. The safari lodges in the national parks in particular provide a memorable stay, whether camping in the wilderness or taking a bubble bath looking out across the wildlife-rich plains. During shoulder season prices drop, and offer some good deals.
In the cities and most towns, budget travellers will find a backpacker lodge or a well-priced guesthouse that offers a comfortable and clean standard of lodging. Livingstone in particular is well set up for backpackers’ needs, while Lusaka also has a lot of choice for places to stay. For a dorm bed you’ll pay around the US$12 mark, and a private room with shared bathroom about US$25, or US$35 with a private bathroom.
If visiting the national parks without camping gear, South Luangwa is your best bet, with a number of excellent budget lodges offering magnificent views and wildlife encounters. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s worth bringing along a tent, or buying one on arrival; at campsites you’ll rarely pay over US$15 a night per person. Otherwise in most national parks there’s a lodge or two that can rent you a tent with mattress and bedding for US$20 to US$30 per night.
In the bigger towns you’ll be able to find somewhere very comfortable to stay with all the mod cons for around the US$75 to US$100 a night mark.
In the national parks, however, it’ll be more of a struggle; many lodges offer either camping or luxury chalets, with less choice in between. With that said, in all of the national parks there are affordable options such as tented camping with attached bathrooms or basic cottages. Otherwise visiting during the shoulder seasons will bring great discounts across the board for lodges in the national parks.
Some of the top-end lodges in the country are truly stunning. They offer a wonderful balance between luxury comforts and a rustic safari charm. Most of the upmarket lodges offer ‘tented chalets’, which combine thatched roof, canvas walls and local materials with teak or rosewood floors and furniture. All overlook a river or prime wildlife-viewing area, enjoyed from a private balcony. A real treat are the open-air toilets and showers, which offer a memorable experience. Rates mostly include meals, drinks, park fees and activities, such as wildlife drives, but not transfers by road, air and/or boat.
If you’re seeking comfort in the larger towns and cities, there’s usually an option of a business hotel or boutique guesthouse.