Zambia food and tipping practices

Zambia’s lodges serve excellent Western-style food, with a few local delicacies thrown in for the adventurous. Meats include local game, beef, chicken and freshwater fish along with rice, potatoes, salad, fruit and vegetables.

Outside the camps and lodges, Zambia’s staple food is nshima – a thick maize-based starch most often served with red meat, chicken or fish, and accompanied with side of relish. You’ll find it in most smaller restaurants and it’s delicious. Definitely worth trying at least once.

Tipping is not compulsory but always appreciated. Although when and how to do so can be tricky. At a local eatery it’s not expected, but at more upmarket restaurants you can tip 10% for good service. At camps and lodges, tipping guides is the norm, but different establishments handle the tipping process differently. Some expect you to tip staff directly, while others implement a tip box which is then split between all. Many camps also exclude guides and spotters from the communal tip box, assuming that guides will be tipped individually after each activity.

As with most things in Zambia, asking what the policy is ahead of time is the best way to avoid misunderstandings. As a general rule, tip guides for their efforts at the end of your stay (not after each activity) and if there’s no communal tip box then tip the camp staff separately (assuming you feel the service has been worth it!). Between $5 and $10 is generous per activity, and around the same rate per day is a good tip for staff.


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