24 Hours in Lusaka
Where business meets pleasure.
Each year, most of Zambia’s tourist traffic heads to the historic city of Livingstone and the world-famous Victoria Falls nearby. Lusaka, 500 kilometers to the north, may not boast any similar natural wonders, but the capital city is an excellent destination for combining business with pleasure.
At the heart of the tree-lined diplomatic district, the InterContinental Lusaka serves as an ideal basecamp for launching a business trip to the city. The hotel is just a short drive from the central business district and offers concierge services to arrange local excursions and dining plans.
But don’t forget to plan an extra day to explore, once work is done. For a quick start to your day off, grab a coffee and pastry at the Rhythms Café, located in the hotel lobby. Or to dine on more hearty fare, head to the Savannah Restaurant and Grill and enjoy a full buffet while seated on the terrace overlooking the hotel’s swimming pool and gardens.
For an introduction to Zambia’s history and diverse cultural traditions, start your trip with a visit to the Lusaka National Museum. The museum, which can be seen in a relatively short trip, features archaeology and anthropology exhibitions, as well as a collection of contemporary Zambian art and an onsite craft shop.
Stop by the Kabwata Cultural Village — a residential community where 72 local artists and artisans ply their trades and sell to the public. The village, which has been preserved to show how local Lusakans lived prior to independence, features the work of woodcarvers, basket weavers, batik artists and others from each of Zambia’s nine provinces.
Some of Lusaka’s best-kept secrets are the world-class wildlife experiences located less than an hour’s drive away. Just 40 minutes south from downtown Lusaka, for example, lies the Lilayi Lodge — a classy hotel situated on a game farm that allows visitors to experience the best of Zambia’s natural beauty.
Start your visit to Lilayi by checking out the elephant nursery, which cares for and rehabilitates orphaned elephant calves. Here you can learn about the process of how these abandoned animals are raised and released into the wild. Be sure to watch the feeding of the elephants from the viewing deck, which takes place every day just before noon.
Head to the Lilayi Lodge restaurant for an elegant lunch of African fusion cuisine. The eclectic menu features everything from Zambian crawfish ravioli to grilled eland (a local antelope) served with roasted vegetables and truffle cream, as well as a surprisingly extensive wine selection.
Lilayi Lodge offers afternoon game drives in open-top vehicles led by professional guides. The 650-hectare game farm features an impressive range of wildlife, including zebra, giraffe, more than 300 species of birds and most of Zambia’s native antelope species. Walking, biking and horseback safaris can also be arranged.
After heading back into the city, treat yourself to dinner at Filini, one of Lusaka’s leading Italian restaurants. Located in the center of the spaceship-like building that houses the Radisson Blu Lusaka, Filini features a diverse selection of Italian dishes with a local twist. The offerings include starters such as carpaccio of kudu (another local antelope) with rocket salad and Parmesan cheese, as well as entrées such as tagliatelle pasta with pan-fried prawns in a creamy chardonnay-and-garlic sauce.
To wind down your day, catch some live jazz music at The Misty Jazz Restaurant and Café. In addition to the resident band, The Optimistic, the venue also features performances by other local and international musicians.
Return to the InterContinental to call it a night. Refreshed by a day of leisurely sites and bites, you’ll be ready for whatever business awaits tomorrow.
Jacqui Oakley is a Canadian illustrator who spent her formative years in Bahrain, England, Zambia and Libya. Her work has included projects for clients likeThe New York Times, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Amazon, AOL, Penguin Books and more.