"Lusaka - Capital City of Zambia" Top 5 Page for this destination Lusaka by MikeAtSea

Lusaka Travel Guide: 76 reviews and 140 photos

Lusaka is a city whose bustling chaos has a certain charm that is just 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 world that’s surging ahead.

The fascinating thing about Lusaka is its energy. Not perhaps of the same ilk as the Big Apple, but an African energy, propelled by that need to survive.

Lusaka is as much a part of "the real Africa" as the 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 are filled and cleared every day. A myriad of motor spares dealers, restaurants, hairdressers, fishmongers, fruitsellers and rows and rows of "salaula" - discarded clothing from the West sold to Africa by the bale.

Venture out to a nightclub or roadside shebeen and "get in the groove", so to speak, of the local people. Dance the night away to the sounds of rhumba, kwela, techno or good old rock 'n roll.

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 carraigeway 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.

The capital covers an area of over 70km sqare and is one of the fastest-growing cities in central Africa. It’s population almost trebled in the immediate post-independence era and continues to grow daily. There has been no influx control and the city is bursting at the seams. Grossly inadequate municipal facilities are hard-pressed to cope with the ever-increasing demand.

It is a sprawling, unplanned metropolis with many multi-storey buildings, high-walled suburbs and busy shanty towns. Fast-growing industrial development has brought together people of many nationalities, making it a bustling centre for economic, political and cultural activities.

The city lies at the junction of the main highways to the north, east, south and west at an altitude of 1 300m above sea level. There are air links to most of the major tourist destinations in Zambia from Lusaka International Airport.

The shops are mainly grouped along the broad double carriageway of Cairo Rd, but the government buildings are about 6km away along Independence Ave.

  • Last visit to Lusaka: Feb 2001
  • Intro Written Aug 7, 2005
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Reviews (2)

Comments (2)

  • paulthetyre's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Great description of a great place. I have been there every 6 weeks for the last 2 years and the more I'm there the more I love the place and the people.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2005 at 9:31 AM

    A very nice Intro Mike!! It is great to see that Lusaka is still alive and kicking all these years later since I was last in town. Zambians are very friendly, so best of luck to them!

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