Lusaka may be a bit off the beaten track for many tourists, but there's no denying the Zambian capital has an energy all its own. Situated at the meeting point of Zambia's four main roads, Lusaka has long been an important centre for commerce and government – and today it is one of Africa's fastest developing cities.
This means that not only is Lusaka an excellent starting point for safari expeditions to the many national parks scattered across the country, but it is also a thriving, cosmopolitan centre in its own right. There's an outstanding selection of restaurants serving up a range of cuisines for every taste, not to mention a lively nightlife, with bars and nightclubs frequented by locals and visitors alike.
Shoppers are spoilt for choice, with everything from ultra-modern shopping centres stocking international brands, to colourful local markets selling crafts, foods and other goods all on offer. Head to the Dutch Reform Market to pick up artisanal foods, crafts and furniture, or to the eclectic and sometimes chaotic Soweto Market for a true local experience.
For those interested in the region's history, the National Museum houses a diverse range of archaeological and cultural artefacts, and nearby you can see the Freedom Statue commemorating Zambia's struggle for independence.
The private Namwandwe Gallery is a good place to view examples of contemporary art from Zambia and the rest of Africa, while the Choma Museum and Craft Centre features traditional artefacts made by the Tonga tribe, including clay figurines, beadwork, spears and musical instruments. You can buy examples of their handicrafts in the on-site shop, which supports the preservation of traditional skills and provides a source of income for the tribe.
If you're eager to catch a glimpse of local wildlife, the Munda Wanga Environmental Park is a great place to learn about Zambia's rich natural heritage. The park encompasses beautiful botanical gardens and a wildlife sanctuary that rehabilitates a variety of big and small game for the wild.
Another popular destination for families is the Kalimba Reptile Park, where you can get up close to huge Nile crocodiles and an assortment of snakes, tortoises and chameleons. There is also a range of activities on site, including fishing ponds, crazy golf, a pool and playground.
Ready to start planning your trip the Zambian capital? Choose from a selection of Lusaka hotels by Marriott to make the most of your experience.