Zambia hotels that are visited by tourists are limited to only a few small pockets within this large country. Although it is the country's capital city, you will find fewer Lusaka hotels and choices than you might think. The reasons for this include the fact that Zambia is a very poor country and its tourism infrastructure in virtually all areas has only been developing since the late 1980s. Additionally, although virtually all visitors coming from other countries must land in Lusaka, few other than business and government travelers stay here more than a couple days. The main tourist pockets are located elsewhere in the country, and the majority of visitors get right on flights to those areas as soon as possible.
However, there are a number of Lusaka hotels that will suit the needs of almost all visitors, including those looking for comfort and convenience and those looking for a cheap place to unroll their sleeping bags. The three best hotels in the city are the Taj Pamodzi, a five-star property that is part of the prestigious luxury Taj Hotels group of India; the Intercontinental, part of the well-known chain based in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States; and the Protea, a South Africa group of mainly three-star properties. The Intercontinental and Taj properties both have most of the facilities and services you would expect from a fine international hotel, including sophisticated business centers, fitness and health centers, multiple dining spots, and traditional hotel rooms and suites. The Protea is more modest, but still has excellent amenities.
On the other end of the scale, you can find a couple Lusaka hotels that are similar to hostels and cater to backpackers. There are also a couple two/three-star properties for those on a modest budget who still want the comforts of en suite bathrooms and a central location, like the Lusaka Hotel on Cairo Road in the Central Business Center. All of these hotels are accustomed to dealing with the city's many business and government travelers as well as tourists staying for a couple nights before heading out on wildlife safaris and other trips elsewhere in the country.
The most important destination that almost all visitors want to see is the magnificent Victoria Falls, located in the far southwestern part of the country. This UNESCO World Heritage Site on the mighty Zambezi River is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. There are a couple world-class five-star Zambia hotels located along the river and within sight of the falls, including the exclusive and intimate Stanley Safari Lodge and the larger opulent Royal Livingstone Hotel, one of the finest hotels of its type in the world. Less than ten miles to the north is the historic colonial town of Livingstone, named for the Scottish missionary and explorer who was the first European to gaze upon the lovely falls. Accommodations here range from the luxury Zambezi Sun and slightly over-the-top, but charming Chrismar to budget hotels and backpackers accommodations.
The other main center for tourism is the incredibly rich and pristine wilderness of the Luangwa River Valley, located in the country's northeastern corner. Instead of Zambia hotels in this area, you will find intimate and luxurious safari lodges that rival the more famous ones found in more traditional safari destinations like East Africa's Kenya and Tanzania and South Africa's Kruger National Park. In addition to a younger and less-developed tourism infrastructure, the region's emphasis on low-occupancy, low-impact, high-end lodging has helped keep this one of the world's most intact wild ecosystems. Typical of this kind of lodging is the Tafika Bush Camp, accommodating no more than twelve guests in lovely bandas (cottages) and a family suite. Cost here is around $700-$800 per person, per night, which is actually "middle of the road." Or you can stay in the ultra-exclusive Luangwa Safari House (accommodating only eight guests for a mere $3,000 or so per person, per night). This is where heads of state and celebrities stay when they visit.
There are two larger and more commercial lodges: Chichele Lodge, accommodating 20 guests and owned by the upscale Abercrombie and Kent tour operator; and Mfuwe Lodge, oldest lodge in the park and accommodating 40 guests. The latter is the lodge famous for the elephants who periodically stroll through reception in search of papaya trees on the other side. Both of these also are relatively expensive, and you cannot expect to stay in a bush camp or lodge here for under $400 per person, per night. Do remember that these price ranges are virtually all inclusive of meals, professionally guided wildlife safaris, and use of all facilities. Generally, extra costs are only for alcoholic beverages, massage services, laundry, and other items of a personal nature.