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Best currency to use in Zambia

3 posts
Best currency to use in Zambia

Hello all,

We are travelling from the UK to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We are wondering if we should bring GBP and USD currencies with us or only GBP. Are there any recommendations?

We are also considering if we should exchange to Kwacha via ManorFX in advance, but doubt the exchange rate would be as good.

Thank you!

7 replies to this topic
London, United...
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
8 958 posts
1. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

It rather depends what you're doing. Self driving, back packing, on an organised tour? If an organised tour, what sort?

Hertford, United...
Level Contributor
5 331 posts
615 reviews
266 helpful votes
2. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

As above, where are you starting off?

Don't change kwacha abroad as you'll get the worst rates.

Just seen their rate of 26 for pounds when you can get 30 from the ATM.

Lusaka, Livingstone, Ndola are the 3 places with international airports and the cheapest way to get kwacha is ATMs.

US Dollars can be exchanged at most places including hotels.

Some places give you a higher rate for 100 Dollar bills than say 20s.

Some places can be a bit funny about not very crisp or torn notes.

Edited: 15 April 2024, 06:45
3 posts
3. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

Thank you for your responses!

Our itinerary is 2 days in Lusaka, a week organised safari and a week in Livingstone.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
Level Contributor
8 958 posts
4. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

Still not all that helpful.

I find if I'm in all inclusive safari camps then I don't really need any local currency. Even if the bar bill is not included, you can generally settle this at the end of your stay in $ or by credit card. Tipping in $ is fine. Although I'm from UK, as a regular safari goer I have $ as it's a pretty universal currency and I can use any leftovers for my next trip. I have no idea really about acceptability of £, it's not something I've ever really considered as I always have $.

If you are out and about in towns and cities and wanting to spend money in local shops and restaurants, then you will need local currency. In that case, I'd probably get some from an ATM.

Hertford, United...
Level Contributor
5 331 posts
615 reviews
266 helpful votes
5. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

You can get cash from an ATM in Lusaka.

All the restaurants and supermarkets we went to in both Lusaka and in Livingstone took card payments.

For your private safari, probably best to ask your hosts?

Lusaka, Zambia
Level Contributor
47 posts
13 reviews
9 helpful votes
6. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

If you can, please get cash from the ATMs. It's easier and safer.

Wiltshire, United...
Level Contributor
4 213 posts
123 reviews
119 helpful votes
7. Re: Best currency to use in Zambia

Don't know about Zambia, but definitely bring USD cash for Zimbabwe, including small notes ($1, $5, $10). You'll need cash for visa on arrival, taxis, curios, tips. National Park entrance fees, hotels and restaurants usually take credit cards, but have cash in case the machine is not working. Don't rely on ATMs in Zim.

In Botswana, if you need cash, Pula are easily available from ATMs.

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