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Essential travel information

This page is dedicated to everything you need to know before you jump on a plane to Zambia.  We understand that travelling to a new location can be daunting.  You will be facing new climates, new cultures and environments.  Some can be challenging, however, all are rewarding, especially if you arrive prepared.  Check out the following information and ensure absolute success on your trip Volunteer Experience!


Zambian Climate


The weather in Zambia is very variable but mostly quite pleasant. There are four main seasons: wet-hot (Oct-Dec), wet-cool (Jan-Apr), dry-cool (Apr-July) and dry-hot (Aug-Oct).


October, the hottest month (often reaching 40°C or 104°F), is usually the start of the rainy season, with occasional rains, becoming much more frequent by December.

January and February are usually the wettest months with rain lessening and ending by March-April. When it rains here, it can downpour for a couple of hours and activity may come to a standstill, but then generally the rain will lighten and often dry up again. Humidity mostly remains low here even in the wet season, so the climate is usually comfortable. During the rains it can get chilly, though warm up as soon as the sun comes out. You should therefore be equipped for all temperatures. In the winter, June-August, night-time temperatures can fall to 0°C or 32°F, though it may be 30°C or 86°F during the day, so a warm set of clothes/nightwear such as thermal underwear is an essential.

Recommended Reading
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Packing List

packing list

You will receive two GRI Volunteer t-shirts on arrival. Whilst there is not a strict dress code for volunteers, you will be expected to follow our basic uniform requirements. It is requested that you wear earthy colours on camp, firstly due to the dust and secondly so it is clear that you are on duty to all personnel on camp. Out of respect for the Zambian culture we also request you to wear shorts or skirts not shorter than knee length. Bright colours are not encouraged in the bush as they stand out to wildlife, reducing your chances of spotting animals, and may startle the orphaned elephants.

If you are buying new shoes, please ensure they are comfortable and that they are worn in before you come out so that you avoid uncomfortable blisters.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Khaki/earthy coloured light-weight t-shirts (please no revealing vest-tops)

  • Full-length trousers for the evenings and fieldwork. Cropped trousers or knee length shorts are fine for camp work.

  • Sweater/fleece

  • Nightwear

  • Swimsuit 

  • Head protection - baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat

  • Hardwearing shoes/strong trainers

  • Flip flops/sandals


May-Sep Volunteers

  • Beanie

  • Hat

  • Gloves

  • Warm nightwear/thermal underwear is highly recommended

Oct-Apr Volunteers

  • Rain poncho or rain coat

  • Wellington boots/Gum boots

First Aid Kit 

  • Sun cream

  • Insect Repellent

  • Assorted plasters

  • Lint dressing

  • Medical tape

  • Cotton wool

  • Small bandage

  • Iodine/antiseptic ointment

  • Antihistamine tablets/cream

  • Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen

  • Re-hydration salts

  • Anti-diarrhoea treatment

  • Anti-fungal foot powder

Other Essentials

  • Small lock and key

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Face masks

  • UV protection sunglasses

  • Sun screen

  • Insect repellent

  • First aid kit, including rehydration salts and anti-diarrhoea treatment

  • Towel

  • Binoculars

  • Zip-lock or water/dust proof bags and silica gel

  • Alarm clock

  • 1L Water Bottle

  • Head torch/lamp & batteries

  • Camera and camera cords for sharing photos

  • Small backpack

Optional Extras

  • Solar charger

  • Battery pack for charging phone

  • Books

  • Games

  • Binoculars

  • It would also be useful if you could bring your own laptop/tablet or smart phone which we would connect to the wi-fi for project related work.


Your food, transfers and park registration costs are covered by the project. However, you may wish to supplement your camp rations with some snacks, treat yourself to a game drive or buy some drinks at the local lodge on your rest days. Please note that the organising of game drives is not guaranteed, as local operators are sometimes booked out with in-house guests.


When you arrive in Lusaka, there will be an opportunity for you to change money and visit a supermarket. To give you an idea of costs, the average cost of lunch at a local lodge is $11.50, while a CocaCola is typically around $1.


The local currency in Zambia is the Kwacha, which can only be procured within Zambia. Therefore, it is best to bring large denominations (which get better exchange rates) of US Dollars, GBP or Euro and get these changed in Lusaka. There are plenty of Currency Exchange Locations in the malls in Lusaka that usually have better exchange rates than the airport. Most shops, restaurants, hotels and supermarkets accept credit cards. If you are carrying US Dollars, please ensure that they are dated at least in the year 2000 as anything in the 1990s is very difficult to exchange.


We request that you bring USD 100 with you as a medical deposit, which should be kept in hand and used in the event of you requiring any medical attention whilst in the field. If used, this money can later be claimed back from your insurer.

pack for the project

If you have a little extra room in your luggage, we are always keen to receive gifts in kind to distribute to our projects.  No matter how small a contribution you make, these items are incredibly helpful and can make a large impact to the work we do.  Thank you. 

  • Crayons, pens, pencils, sharpers, rulers, erasers, notebooks, stickers, paper for our Education projects

  • Towels, bedding, personal hygiene items for Rural Health Clinics 

  • Beads, jewellery making tools, sanitary items for our Women's Empowerment Groups

  • Stopwatches, SD cards, pens, power banks, clipboards, binoculars, whistles for our Research Team

  • Head torches, socks, beanies, gloves, multi-purpose tools, first aid kits for the Rangers

  • We have a list of more specific items HERE with links.

Basic Nyanja

basic nyanja

Nyanja is an official language and commonly adopted language by various parties speaking other languages in Malawi and Zambia, and is spoken by some in MozambiqueZimbabwe and South Africa as well.

The name Nyanja actually means "lake", so chinyanja is the "language of the lake" — referring to the language of the Chewas and other tribes who have adopted their language. In Malawi, the official name is Chichewa, while Zambia and Mozambique call it Nyanja.

In Zambia, often the best common language is a big smile, this will go a long way.  But here is a download of a few basic phrases which will be nice to try out as you visit the communities and schools in Zambia. 

Onward Travel


After the 21 day trip with GRI, often Volunteers want to extend their stay and enjoy more of Zambia's natural heritage.  The tour ends in Livingstone, and you have the option to remain in Livingstone, or to return with the vehicle to Lusaka.  Below are some of our recommendations for accommodation in both destinations. 


Please be aware that your Business Visa will only be valid for 30 days and cannot be extended. Therefore, if you are planning to travel either side of your volunteer placement you will need to do so within this timeframe, or else leave the country and re-enter on a Tourist Visa. Please contact the Zambian Embassy in your home country for more information.

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