Basic – travel preparation
Tiko offers people the opportunity to get involved in the community center, for example during on-site visits. Of course, these require a certain amount of planning. Since in the meantime many mainly young people, also many from Germany, have already decided to take part in such an experience, we would like to refer to them.
Inke Haas visited Tiko in 2011. She has written a detailed report about her travel preparations and a checklist. From both, future Tiko volunteers can already learn a lot about how they can master a trip to Zambia and accompany Tiko a bit on its way. Here you can find both articles as pdf: 2012-Travel Preparations-Inke-Haas , 2012-Checklist-Inke-Haas
Personal preparation – by Inke Haas
Hello, my name is Inke, I am 23 years old and I am currently working as a volunteer at the Community Centre Tikondane in Katete. On October 15, 2011 I flew to Africa and I will try to support Elke here as good as possible for 3 months. My preparations started at the beginning of August with an appointment at my family doctor to inform me about the vaccinations for Zambia. Of course, all standard vaccinations should be active, but it is important and partly mandatory to get vaccinated against yellow fever, hepatitis, rabies and similar. Also get advice which malaria prophylaxis is best for you, because here the risk of infection is very high. The very next day I refreshed my standard vaccinations and was able to start my vaccination marathon, as this takes the most time during travel preparation. It is also a good idea make an appointment with a tropical doctor besides the information you can get on the internet and co.
In comparison, the amount of time needed for the visa is very small. On the website of the Zambian embassy in Berlin, you download a request form, fill it out and send it off together with your passport and 40 euros. Already after 10 days I had the certificate in my hands. In order to be fully covered, you should take out various insurances so that you don’t have to worry about this in case of an emergency.
In case you have to go to the hospital (we have the best one in Zambia right next door) you should still bring your own needles and syringes. The hospital is very good, but you never know.
Since everything in Zambia is still very new and foreign, the body must first get used to it. In order to be able to deal with slight stomach upsets, headaches, etc., you should have a small first-aid kit with you, which also contains plasters and ointment. Chipata, an hour’s drive away, has a very good pharmacy. To withdraw money in Zambia, it is best to take a Visa credit card. I have a Mastercard here and can only withdraw my money in Chipata. This is not bad, because about every other week someone goes to Chipata, but Visa machines are available here, in the center of Katete, 20 minutes walk from Tikondane, which makes things more convenient. When traveling to Africa, it is always good to take dollars with you. Euros can only be changed in a few places, but they can be changed in Chipata. Larger hotels and game parks accept credit cards, but dollars have to be exchanged for Kwacha in exchange offices. For this it is better to bring 50 or 100 dollar bills. Apparently there is so much counterfeiting going on here that the smaller notes have a very unfavorable exchange rate. It is a good idea to buy a Zambian phone card with talk time and you can do that in Tiko.
Travel Check list – EXAMPLE
The hardest part for me was actually packing. I was very happy that I had a contact person in Tiko who could advise me. When you tell Elke that you want to come, you can ask if there are other helpers in Tiko, which is usually the case. Furthermore, it is important to inform yourself about the temperatures in Zambia during your stay, because in June/July there can be very cold days, so it is better to take some sweaters and a jacket with you. In the rainy season a light rain jacket makes sense. Otherwise, you don’t need a lot of pants, because here in Tikondane it is seen with pleasure to wear chitenge (a kind of wrap skirt). Of course, this only applies to the ladies. Men should just wear long pants, as it is taboo to show your legs. So if you as a woman absolutely have to take a pair of pants, then only a long and very wide one. It is possible to buy chitenge here and have wide pants tailored at the tailor. I did that too, because I always tripped in the skirts. I am not very ladylike in this respect, unfortunately. Chitenge are very cheap here and the tailors are also not expensive – a chitenge costs about 3 euros each.
Regarding T-shirts you can wear whatever you want, as long as it is not too revealing. Otherwise, you should pay attention to the necessary care of the skin: Sunscreen, sunglasses, a head covering, body lotion are important for its protection, because you will spend a lot of time outside and you can quickly get a sunstroke and/or sunburn. Furthermore, the skin needs a lot of moisture here.
You don’t have a real shower here, but a shower basin with 2 taps and bowls for washing. A washcloth can be very helpful. Sturdy shoes for excursions are important, otherwise good sandals and maybe flip-flops for showering are enough for everyday life. For small trips, a sturdy backpack that is comfortable to carry on your back is good. Since it gets dark in Zambia already at 18.00 o’clock, a good flashlight is useful, preferably one that you do not have to carry (headlight), so that you have your hands free for other activities. If you want, you can take disinfectant for the water and the hands, if you want to disinfect your hands or objects in between after a long contact-intensive day. Once in a while it can’t hurt. In the beginning it is not advisable to drink the well water immediately. Therefore, a small travel stove is very handy to boil it first and bottle it. Otherwise, you don’t need to take big precautions, because you can buy a lot of things when you arrive in Africa.
Most of the time you will land at the airport in Lusaka and from there you have to take a bus along the Great East Road to Tikondane. This takes about 6 hours. There is a Spar in Lusaka, for example, where you can buy food and drink for the trip, cutlery and dishes if you want to cut and eat something in your room (bread, fruit, salad, …). and washing up things to make everything clean again, as well as candles in case of power failure. You should also have hand washing powder to wash your dirty clothes, because there is no washing machine here.
A good insect spray is also helpful, especially in the rainy season. Shower gel and shampoo, hygiene products are also available there.
At Tiko there is a small market where you can buy regional food, such as beans, tomatoes, bananas, pumpkin leaves, but also bread, water, coffee, sugar, flour, eggs. The next bigger market is in the neighboring village of Katete. If you need something more special, it is possible to go to Chipata, which is an hour’s drive from here. There is no need to worry about wild animals or muggings in Tiko. Spiders and mosquitoes are numerous here, but they are not a serious threat. In the evenings and at night, Tiko employs a guard service with dogs, so that even strangers cannot enter the premises unnoticed. So it is enough to arm yourself with insect repellent during the night. Mosquito nets are available over every bed.
If you would like to bring something for the children, please do not bring books. We have a small but full library, but games to learn English and counting for example would be a nice idea. I brought my own laptop to upload photos or work with the internet. We have wi-fi here, so it’s also a good way to call family over the internet, even if the connection isn’t perfect.
Here in Lusaka you can get hygiene products without problems at Shopride, Spar or Melissa. But special hair treatments, hygiene products (tampons, pads) creams, perfumes, sunscreens, which are particularly gentle on the skin or anti-allergenic, ecological etc.. Are better to bring from Germany for the beginning.
- Warm clothes for the cold months April to August
- Warm sleeping bag for the cold season
- Thin inlay (cotton or silk) for the hot season
- At least one flashlight (preferably with a handy hand crank for recharging)
- “provider-free” cell phone, possibly spare cell phone, charger
- Mosquito net (a four point net and not a pyramid net)
- Pocket knife
- First aid insect repellent
- English- German- dictionary
- Travel guide book
- Adapter, USB stick
What is also practical for traveling:
- Micropur Katadyn drops for fast and safe water treatment
- Hand charger for cell phone (for charging with hand crank)
- Leatherman (small tool)
- Laptop with program installation CDs (with back up at home)
- Digital camera and external hard drive
- Water filter (Katadyn)
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa. Its shape resembles a butterfly with 2 wings. The total area of the country is 752,614 square kilometers. This is about the size of Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland. Zambia is located in the so-called inner tropics, between the 8th and 18th degree of southern latitude and 12th and 34th degree of eastern longitude. Due to its location on a 1000 m to 1500 m high plain, many parts of the country have a surprisingly temperate climate for the tropics. Zambia borders Congo to the north, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Angola to the west, Mozambique to the southwest and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the south.
Climate and Environment
Zambia has three seasons: The warm rainy season lasts from December to April. Heavy rainfall is frequent during this season, followed by brilliant sunshine. From May to August follows the cold dry season. Then it is occasionally very cool, dry and windy. In some places there is even night frost. The land becomes drier and bush fires are typical for these seasons. The following warm dry season lasts from September to November. During this time it is hot and dry, with average maximum temperatures e.g. in Lusaka of 31.6°C.
|Min. TempIn C||15||15||15||15||13||8||9||11||14||16||15||15|
|Max. TempIn C||28||28||28||28||28||29||29||30||31||31||28||27|
|Feuchtigkeit In %||89||91||91||90||87||85||81||71||72||79||82||93|
Zambia’s natural landscape consists of vast areas covered with a tree and shrub savanna. But the first impression of a wild and untouched nature deceives about the current world problems. Deforestation, water pollution, soil regeneration, air pollution and species extinction are unfortunately a common phenomenon in Zambia as well. The ecologically compatible Chitimene cultivation (deforestation and slash-and-burn cultivation of alternating small areas) is no longer sufficient to supply the people due to the population increase. Deforestation in favor of agricultural land and charcoal production is progressing. For two thirds of the population, wood and charcoal are the only sources of energy. Native wood species are unattractive for cultivation because of their slow growth and long germination time (up to 20 years). Corn cultivation is the most widespread soil management, which leads to an overfertilization. Southern, eastern and central provinces are particularly affected by severe soil erosion. Widespread large-scale brush fires are traditionally started to prepare agricultural land, for hunting, honey harvesting, or to improve the grass cover. They hinder tree growth and thus forest regeneration. Water pollution is mainly due to industrial activities, as well as fertilizer input from agriculture. Inadequate wastewater treatment or disposal leads to increased nutrient pollution in water bodies. Other threats occur in mining areas due to pumping operations and the construction of dams, which drain landscapes and in turn create artificial water bodies that are breeding grounds for bilharziasis and malaria. There are 36 national parks in Zambia and 33% of the country’s total land area is legally protected from overfishing and poaching as Game Management Areas.
n general, food and water hygiene can help to limit most diarrheal diseases during your time in the field. The best way to prepare food is to follow the basic “colonial golden” rule:
“boil it, peel it, cook it, or forget it!”
Only drink water of safe origin, such as store-bought bottled water and not tap water. If possible, use filtered, disinfected or boiled water for cooking and brushing teeth. Make sure to wash hands as often as possible, always after defecation and before cooking and eating.
Malaria Zambia is a year-round malaria area. From November to June there is an increased risk, especially in the south (Zambezi Valley, Kariba Basin, Victoria Falls, Luanwa Valley) and in the Northwest Province. Malaria prophylaxis is therefore highly recommended. Transmission occurs through the bite of female, blood-sucking, nocturnal Anopheles mosquitoes. The disease can still break out weeks to months after the stay. If fever occurs, it is therefore necessary to report suspected malaria to the doctor treating the patient in Germany after a longer stay abroad. For malaria prophylaxis, various prescription drugs (e.g. Malarone, Doxycyclin, Lariam) are available on the market in Germany. The choice and personal adjustment, as well as side effects or incompatibilities with the other medications should be discussed with a tropical or travel physician before taking a chemoprophylaxis. However, despite taking malaria prophylaxis, there is no 100% protection against the disease. Due to other mosquito-borne infection risks, it is also recommended:
- Wear body-covering (light-colored) clothing (long pants, long shirts).
- ALWAYS sleep under a mosquito net
- Wear body-covering (light-colored) clothing (long pants, long shirts)
As in all tropical countries, a number of venomous snakes occur in Zambia. Nevertheless, snakebites are uncommon and rarely occur unprovoked! Do not reach into holes or crevices in the ground, under stones or brushwood, twigs, and similar obscure material. If snakes are encountered, a proper distance should be kept. Under no circumstances should they be touched, caught or provoked. There are also some quite poisonous spider and scorpion species, as well as other animals with potentially strong poisonous effects (e.g. certain butterfly caterpillars, centipedes, ants, etc.). These animals should also not be touched or irritated. Before using bed covers and linen, clothing, footwear, headgear, remove any poisonous “lodgers” by carefully shaking them out. Especially in the morning, remember to do this before slipping into your shoes.
HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS Zambia is a high-prevalence country for HIV and AIDS. The immunodeficiency and its consequences permeate all areas of society in the country. However, numbers are decreasing thanks to prevention work and education.
Women are much more affected than men. Young women between the ages of 12 and 25 are five times more likely to be infected with HIV than young men in the same age group. There is a very high risk of infection e.g. through unprotected sexual intercourse and mother-to-children-transmission but also drug use (unclean syringes or needles) and blood transfusion.
Communication / Money
Landline telephones and cell phones
Zambia has a relatively reliable telephone network, which is sometimes overloaded in the provinces. Cell phones are THE common method of communication for Zambians, and cell towers are located almost throughout the whole country. Cell phones are more expensive in Zambia than in Germany, so be sure to bring a “free” cell phone, i.e. not provider-bound.
Your phone should support GSM standard (which most modern phones do).
Make sure to bring a functioning and reliable phone since spare parts and phone repair services are expensive and often not available at all.
Brought devices can be operated after buying a Zambian SIM- card. They are available in all bigger cities or towns and at the airport.
However, mobile data packages are rather expensive and often slow. Therefore, it is recommended to stick to WiFi where available and SMS to avoid high telecommunication costs.
The postal time from /to Germany is about 14- 28 days. Parcels take between 3 weeks to 6 months. Most delay is caused by the limited parcel transport between Katete and Lusaka and vice versa.
The currency of Zambia is the Kwacha. 100 ngwee=1 kwacha
2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 kwacha bills are available as well as 5, 10, 50 ngwee and 1 kwacha coins.
Major credit cards: Visa Card, EC Card (Maestro) and Master Card. Please inform in advance in Germany about the current offers of free foreign withdrawals (e.g. at DKB). Withdrawal of money is possible with the Visa card in Lusaka and in larger provincial capitals at ATMs, with the EC card only at Stanbic Bank in Lusaka and larger cities. Cash (US$) can be exchanged at all banks and large hotels, as well as at exchange offices (Bureau de Change). The cheapest way is to use intact US$ 100 notes, for which you get a better exchange rate. Old dollar notes (with small heads) are not accepted. The exchange rate is sometimes subject to significant fluctuations.
The daily exchange rate to the dollar can be obtained from the website of the Bank of Zambia (www.boz.zm), otherwise it is advisable to use the common currency converter of Oanda (www.oanda.com) to check the exchange rate.
In Lusaka and the larger cities in the country there are supermarkets on the European model (Shopride, Melissa, Super Spar). In these supermarkets you can also find muesli, chocolate and olive oil. In terms of prices, however, they are always above the prices of local markets for food (for regional vegetables, fruit). In rural areas, small “corner stores” with a very limited offer dominate. Markets are then the best choice for cheap and fresh food (but only for regional and seasonal products. European clothing is relatively expensive and often of poor quality, there is a large supply of secondhand clothing. Outdoor clothing is rarely found in Zambia. On the other hand, you can find chitenge (Zambian wrap skirt) and fabrics for self-sewing almost everywhere. Technical equipment is generally very expensive and usually of inferior quality.
Public Holidays (might change frequently)
|01. January||New Year|
|08. March||International Women Day|
|12. March||Youth Day|
|March||March Equinox (Season)|
|March/April||Good Friday (Easter)|
|March/April||Holy Saturday (Easter)|
|01. May||Labour Day|
|09. May||Mother´s Day (Observance)|
|25. May||Africa Freedom Day|
|June||Father´s Day (Observance)|
|04. July||Heroe´s Day|
|05. July||Unity Day|
|01. August||Farmer´s Day|
|18. October||Prayer Day|
|24. October||Independence Day|
|25. December||Christmas Day|
|Good morning, how are you?||Mwauka bwanji?/ Muli bwanji?|
|I am fine and you?||Nbili bwino, kaya inu?|
|Thank you, good||Zikomo, bwino|
|Thanks, Thank you||Zikomo/ Zikomo kwambiri|
|I am happy to meet you||Cabwino kukuziwani|
|Could you say that again, please?||Bwerezapo, zikomo|
|What´s your name?||Dzina lanu ndani?|
|My name is…||Dzina langa ndine …|
The official language is English, in addition, there are seven officially recognized tribal languages: Bemba (31%), Nyanja (16%), Lozi (9%), Tonga, Lunda, Kaonde, Luvale, and another 72 dialects.