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Zambia - Safe/ Not Safe ?

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Zambia - Safe/ Not Safe ?

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1. Posted by Emily_Oz (Budding Member 39 posts) 9y

This forum seems a bit slack on Africa travellers but I just wondered if anyone knew how safe I would be in Zambia as a lone female traveller? I am aiming to book with Real Gap (not sure if anyone knows their reputation either by any chance?!), as they have some fab trips on offer. I would like to work at a childrens orphanage volunteering for a bit. My parents are getting in a real state though about my enthusiasm about going as they fear for my safety. I am sensible, but I too wouldn't want to put myself at risk. I am not that wised up on Africa. Anyone able to help me?
Em xx

2. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

your neighbour is mugabe! im sure if you were visiting as a tourist in a group you might be ok.

been a lone female (white i assume)? then you are just asking for trouble. especially if you plan to be there for many months.

how about you pick another continent!

go to cambodia or thailand or vietnam...anywhere in south east asia!

why zambia? you would be better off to be in south africa in that case...

3. Posted by Pardus (Respected Member 2356 posts) 9y

Quoting oslaue

your neighbour is mugabe! im sure if you were visiting as a tourist in a group you might be ok.

been a lone female (white i assume)? then you are just asking for trouble. especially if you plan to be there for many months.

how about you pick another continent!

go to cambodia or thailand or vietnam...anywhere in south east asia!

why zambia? you would be better off to be in south africa in that case...

I have been to Zambia on a volunteer trip in 2004 and I just loved it. It's as safe as anywhere and we didn't have any trouble. The people are very open and friendly, even when we visited a very remote rural village in the far north. Neighbourship with Zimbabwe has nothing to do with anything. And it's definitely safer than South Africa.
I just loved the 4 months I spent there and I would love to go back again.
And for a lone female it's not much of a problem, you're going to be part of a group anyway (or meeting up with other travellers). Zambians (and I think most Africans for that matter) are very forthright - some of the girls got marriage proposals but that can be laughed off. The same goes for the people who ask you for money. It's normal in the African society to ask for things but a polite refusal will not be offending.
There are some dodgy areas like the Main Bus station where you have to be careful about pickpockets and the likes, but that's no different to any other country.

Go for it, you will love it. Remember to slow down your clock and the definition of Now:
Now = between 15 minutes and 3 days
Now Now = between right away and 15 minutes

Olaf: Please don't give advice if you don't know anything about the country.

4. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

yeah...go to hillbrow in johannesburg...i am sure they will greet you with open arms!

lets read the latest on zambia!

SAFETY AND SECURITY: U.S. citizens are advised to avoid travel in northern Luapula Province and in areas of the Northern Province adjacent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Although a cease-fire is currently in effect, the DRC is not yet stable and uncontrolled militias operate in the eastern DRC. In the past, armed gunmen have occasionally attacked vehicles near the DRC-Zambian border.

Land mines along the western, southern, and eastern borders make off-road travel to those areas potentially hazardous. American citizens are advised not to travel off-road along the border areas. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME: Crime in Zambia is widespread. Armed carjacking, muggings, residential burglaries, and petty theft are commonplace in Lusaka and other major cities, especially in downtown commercial districts and low-income housing neighborhoods. Armed criminals perpetrate carjacking, robberies and home invasions at all times of the day. Often carjackers will block the back of a car when one pulls into a driveway. Many times they will pretend to be distressed motorists seeking assistance or use other ruses to get their victim to stop. Carjackers target the full range of vehicles, and anyone who does not practice sound security procedures may be victimized. Thieves steal possessions from automobiles and public transport vehicles stopped in traffic. Bystanders have been known to pretend to assist victims of car accidents, while actually stealing wallets, cell phones or other possessions. Travelers should keep car doors locked and car windows rolled up at all times. Travel at night is particularly risky, both in Lusaka and on roads outside of the city.

I'm sure were the tourists go is great and safe! but who ever mentioned that you will be there?

and that info was from a government website. any advise is that you have a local with you at all times.

like any country...males can get away with it lot more than females...

its like someone giving advise...go to baghdad its completely safe...i dont need to visit a country when i watch the news, read and count on my friends experiences....by all means if one is on a suicide mission then its ok.

anyway at the end of the day is it worth the risk? NO IT IS NOT!

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 18, 2007, at 2:41 AM by oslaue ]

5. Posted by Pardus (Respected Member 2356 posts) 9y

From the British High Commission Website:

"We advise against all but essential travel to the parts of the north western Copperbelt, Central and Luapula provinces, which are close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly after dark. There are continuing reports of armed cross-border raids from the DRC. You should also be aware of landmines in this area, and on the borders with Angola and Mozambique.

The threat from terrorism is low. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

Around 100,000 British tourists visit Zambia every year and most visits are trouble free, although armed robberies and car hijackings are on the increase. The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Zambia are for stolen passports and drug and immigration offences.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance"

It seems the situation has gone worse than when I was there but it's certainly not like Baghdad. Crime is anywhere in the world, you can get mugged in London or New York at any time if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's the precautions you take to reduce the risk that make the difference. But there's always a risk wherever you go.
You are going with an organisation so that means they will NOT put you anywhere where it is obviously dangerous and they will move you out if the security situation gets bad.
I have emailed a friend who's been living in Zambia since 2003 and still lives there and asked her for advice. I will post back when I get more information.

6. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

100,000 people isnt a lot of people! considering the size of the country and population...and i like the way 100,000 visit zambia! how many westerns actually live and work in zambia? very very few id imagine...

yes its true...crime exists anywhere and everywhere...but why increase the risk by 1000%? id take my chances in south africa than zambia were one can help. more things to do and see too! and one can still help!

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 18, 2007, at 3:27 AM by oslaue ]

7. Posted by Pardus (Respected Member 2356 posts) 9y

100'000 people is only British Tourists. And a comparison with the stats on the High Commission Website for South Africa gives me the following calculation:

Population = 47.6 Mio Visitors (British) = 460'000
Percentage Visitors to Population = 0.1%

Zambia:

Population = 10.6 Mio Visitors (British) = 100'000
Percentage Visitors to Population = 0.1%

As for things to see. In Zambia you have more National Parks relative to the size than South Africa (I think even more in numbers, but am not sure). You also have the Victoria Falls.

A quick google on the internet gave me various mentions of a large expat community in Zambia (but I couldn't find figures). And the presence of an Irish Pub in Lusaka is a good indicator to back that up.

But what do you mean with "going to South Africa where one can help" exactly? Help with what?

8. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 9y

'childrens orphanage volunteering' from the original thread, one could do that in south africa, botswana...

i am just saying it be safer somewhere else thats all...south africas population for whites is 4 million...in zambia we are pretty much so talking about an all black land...thats my main point.

plus any white boy walking around they automatically assume 'american'!

9. Posted by Pardus (Respected Member 2356 posts) 9y

Quoting oslaue

i am just saying it be safer somewhere else thats all...south africas population for whites is 4 million...in zambia we are pretty much so talking about an all black land...thats my main point.

And that makes it automatically unsafe? Because you're a different colour of skin they all attack you and try to mug you? If they had a sufficient white community you'd be protected by the Whites?

Many African countries are inhabited by a majority of black people (or almost exclusively) and they are not considered unsafe. How about Botswana?

Quoting oslaue

plus any white boy walking around they automatically assume 'american'!

What's got being assumed American got to do with this? Zambia is a Christian Country, with small minorities of other religions. Terrorist attacks are unlikely to occur - what would they harm? They'd go for the big tourist spots like Kenya or Tanzania (or South Africa for that matter).

I am not saying it's entirely safe but if you take precautions it's reasonably safe to travel there. Of course there are areas you shouldn't go, but that's common sense. You make it sound as if you got off the plane and have a band of thugs waiting for you on the runway.

But furthermore, Zambia needs a lot of help. There is such a high poverty and without proper actions things will never improve. And any improvement should start with education and giving kids a better chance than their parents had. You have to help the people seeing a future and seeing that things will get better and this is where help is needed.
I'll never forget the expressions on the kids faces after we did our environmental education in the local school and they came up to us telling us that they wanted to become Wildlife rangers now and how excited they got about what they've learned. But then the NGO decided to pull out of Zambia during our phase because of lack of money.
As the Dalai Lama said: "Give them Hope".

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 18, 2007, at 5:15 AM by Pardus ]

10. Posted by Pardus (Respected Member 2356 posts) 9y

Okay, I got information from my friend in Zambia:

"Anyway, that information seems rather inaccurate! I
doesn't surprise me, it coming from the Americans- I
think they have a tendency to be hyper cautious. The
border areas with DRC are fine, though i have heard of
one incident with bandits. It's just a matter of
avoiding certain roads, namely those that pass
directly along the border. As for the fighting in DRC,
it tends to bein the northern areas..

I've seen warnings about landmines in border areas
before on the UK Foreign office website, but have
never heard of them being found or going off.

As far as I'm aware, crime is no worse than it has
been. Car jackings do occur, but again are rare. Same
with buglaries. Petty theft is a bit of a problem, but
it always has been.

In my mind, crime is certainly no worse than anywhere
else, it's just that as a 'mzungu' you're more of
target than you would be say in London. Crime also
doesnt tend to be violent, though it does occur
sometimes.. That write up makes it sound like
Johannesburg or Niarobi and it's nothing like as bad
as those places! I agree with the bit about avoiding
political rallies/demos. There were elections last
year and there were some riots in certain areas, but
they died down quickly.."

If you would like any more information just let me know (PM me or ask in the thread).