Visiting Zambia? You’re sure to spend some time in Lusaka during your visit. And that’s no bad thing, says resident Carol White, who gives her inside tips to getting the best out of the city on a flying visit.
When I first came to Zambia eight years ago, I was embraced by the sultry, seductive vibe. “Why is everyone so happy?” I pondered.
Lusaka has a pulse that beats with the heat. It is peaceful and safe, a charming cosmopolitan city that has enjoyed considerable development in recent years. Often I wonder what nationalities a group of people at a restaurant are, but this multi-culturalism is normal in Zambia.
Just finding a cappuccino eight years ago was limited to the Intercontinental Hotel and the Ocean Basket restaurant. Today there are three modern shopping malls with South African food and retail outlets, market boutiques and trendy fashion stores.
Zambians are polite, helpful and interested in improving their lives. Having gained independence peacefully in 1964, they have a gentle attitude to life. Respect is important, and they have pride in being Zambian. This creates a welcoming charm that extends throughout the whole country.
Misty’s A Jazz Club and restaurant, with a live band from time to time.
Rhapsody’s Well-frequented restaurant and bar, for casual and semi-smart dining. A popular meeting venue for evening drinks.
Portico Restaurant Meet for cocktails and dinner, with alfresco Italian cuisine.
101 Fancy a bit of dancing? This is a popular nightclub for the young and energetic.
Chicago’s A great vibe, popular in early or late evening. Delicious chicken wings.
La Triumph Dolphin A Karaoke venue and Mauritian-themed restaurant, popular with groups.
Green Ethiopian Restaurant Alfresco dining with Ethiopian specialities and coffees. Evening chill-out place.
Another Mike’s Pub A popular local hangout renowned for its whole bream cooked in foil with onions, tomato and chilli on the braai (barbeque).
Kalahari Restaurant Saturday lunchtime groove and goat meat braai a speciality. Live music Friday and Saturday nights. I love the organic speciality known as ‘village chicken’.
Chita Lodge Great, easy hang out for urban trendy types, frequented by a mixed crowd after work.
Mint Cafe and Mint Lounge Fresh homemade salads and juices, signature wraps and vegetarian meals. Try the detox juice. Mint Lounge is a trendy spot for sundowner cocktails.
Zoran Cafe My current favourite place, with great service and the Serbian owners hard at work in the kitchen.
Deli Cafe A busy, informal lunch venue popular with professionals and expats. Offers a selection of home-cooked meats and salads, and decadent home-baked cakes.
Chang Thai Best Thai cuisine in town (try the crispy duck!). Consistently good and great for groups.
Marlin Restaurant An old favourite and a must-do. Set in the same ‘60s decor as The Lusaka Club, they have a deserved reputation for their steaks. The pepper sauce is legendary.
Gerritz A long-standing owner-run continental restaurant and cocktail venue with a local touch, featuring German specialities. The oxtail and mashed potato is a favourite.
Zebra Crossing A popular lunch eatery sharing premises with Ababa House and Art Gallery, with art exhibitions and handicrafts for sale. A contemporary African theme.
Lusaka Experience Tour of the city and the local townships, including the Chilenge house that President Kenneth Kaunda lived in.
SugarBush Cafe and Jackal and Hide shop Outdoor café with homemade fayre. The shop has a designer collection of hide, suede and material handbags and decor items. An absolute must-visit.
Lilayi Lodge – Elephant orphanage Gourmet dining for lunches on weekends. Be there for the feeding of the elephants from 11.30-1.30pm.
Pakati Market An eclectic array of curios and handicrafts, clothing, plants and second-hand books.
Market at the dutch reformed church Handicrafts, curios, homemade preserves, plants and farm vegetables. Last Saturday of each month.
Places to stay
Southern Sun Ridgeway A crocodile in the pond near the Musuku Restaurant and nesting weaver birds add a wildlife element. Best breakfast buffet in town.
Stay Easy Well-priced mid-budget hotel in a central position, adjacent to Levy Junction Shopping Mall.
Raddison Blu Hotel Newest 5-star hotel with great pool and bar area as well as open terrace for sundowners. The Singapore Sling Cocktail is as good as Raffles Hotel Singapore!
Taj Pamodzi The Grill Room has excellent steaks and a cosy African evening ambience.
Intercontinental Hotel First 5-star hotel in Lusaka, with delicious mochochinos.
The two Protea Zambia Hotels The best deal in the 3-4 star range. Excellent service. The 6th floor Sky Bar and Steak restaurant at the newly-opened Protea Lusaka Tower is the latest trendy spot.