Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia is located in the centre of the country and ideally situated for day trips to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. From spending the day on a game drive, visiting orphaned elephants, or lounging on a houseboat on a lake, we’ve created this guide to take the stress out of planning so that you can enjoy the best day trips from Lusaka, all accessible within two hours or less.
Lake Kariba is a manmade lake in Siavonga town, Southern Province. With 2,000km (1,242 miles) of shoreline, the lake provides a great weekend getaway with activities including swimming, fishing or watching the sunset with a cocktail in hand. There are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget for those tempted to stay for a while. One option is the luxurious houseboat, The Southern Belle, which is considered one of the best boutique hotels in Zambia. Lake Kariba is only 100km (61 miles) from Lusaka, around a two-hour journey, so makes the perfect day trip.
Zambia has an incredible array of wildlife that can be spotted at any of its 20 national parks. Lusaka National Park is the newest national park in the country and features giraffes, a rhino, zebras and various antelopes including impalas. Around 30km (18 miles) from Lusaka’s city centre and at 11,520 acres (18 square miles), it is the smallest national park in the country, so it can be traversed in just a few hours. Entrance is US$3 per person including international visitors. There is a picnic area within the park that can be used by families and groups.
A full day at Lilayi Lodge, which is located around 15km (10 miles) south of Lusaka, includes a visit to the elephant orphanage located on the property, which is open daily from 11.30am–1pm. Game drives are also on offer in safari cars, on horseback or by foot, where guests can expect to see wildlife such as bushbuck, giraffe, zebra, antelope or more of the 25 mammal species and over 300 species of birds listed. Cool off by the swimming pool, have lunch or head to the spa for a massage treatment. For those who’d like to stay the night, or a few more, Lilayi Lodge has 12 individual thatch-roofed chalets, including two that accommodate whole families.
Around 95km (60 miles) north of Lusaka lies the town of Chisamba. Its short distance makes for a great day trip for families, friends, couples or even just a solo trip. For a safari drive, head to the Protea Hotel Chisamba, which offers drives at a cost of ZMW50 (around US$5). Expect to see zebras and antelope on the safari, and pay a visit to the four lions kept in an enclosure on the property. Before heading back home, visit the Fringilla Farm Butchery at the Fringilla lodge for perhaps the best sausages and pies in Zambia.
The Mukamunya Estate is a gated housing community located in Lusaka South at the source of the Mukamunya River. It forms a natural pool known as ‘Monkey Pools’, which is set among lush forests and makes a scenic family-friendly picnic for the day. In addition, there is a a clubhouse, swimming pool, and tennis and squash courts. On Sundays, the restaurant on the premises hosts brunch for US$16 per person, which includes entrance fees to the estate. Those wishing to have a picnic or swim at the Monkey Pools should pay an entrance fee of ZMW100 or around US$10 per adult, while children under 19 pay ZMW50 or around US$5. Children under 12 go free.
Situated on the Kafue Flats in a town in the Central Province of Zambia—which is only 100km (62 miles), or a three-hour drive from Lusaka—The Blue Lagoon National Park is a great day trip for those interested in bird watching. The park also has a large population of Kafue lechwe, a type of antelope that is endemic to the Kafue Flats. Park entrance fees for international visitors are US$10 per person per day.
Pa- Zuri is an outdoor wildlife park located 18km (11 miles) from Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Game drives are offered where zebras, emus, ostriches, peacocks and antelopes can be seen. Fishing can also be done on the premises, as well as golfing in the nine-hole golf course. There is also a spot for picnics and barbecues (food has to be brought by the guests). Entrance is ZMW100 (around US$10) for adults and ZMW50 (around US$5) for children between five and 13. Children under five enter free of charge. Camping is available on the premises for those who would like to have a weekend trip.
Enjoy a day on the Kafue River, which flows through Lusaka province, by booking a two-hour cruise on the Lady Betty, which departs from the Kafue River Cliff twice a day at 2pm and 4pm. The boat cruise costs ZMW150 (around US$15) per adult and ZMW100 (around US$10) for children. There is a well-stocked bar on the boat and guests can either order from the restaurant before the cruise departs to have food served while on board, or they can bring in their own food and drink for a fee of ZMW250 (around US$25) for food and ZMW300 (around US$30) for drinks. Entrance to the Kafue River Cliff is ZMW15 (around US$1.50) per person.
Kalimba Farm has long been a destination for school trips. The reptile park has Nile crocodiles, snakes and tortoises and is only a 20km (12 mile) drive from north-east Lusaka. There are trained guides on the premises who offer guided tours. Activities at the park include swimming, crazy golf, table tennis, volleyball and a trampoline for the kids. The restaurant on the premises serves croc burgers and other meals. Entrance fee for adults is ZMW50 (around US$5) and ZMW25 (around US$2.50) for children under 12 and free of charge to children under two. This fee applies for Zambian citizens, residents and foreign visitors.