Chipata is a small and dusty crossroads in Eastern Zambia, and is a popular refueling station for overlanders on their way east to Malawi, west to South Luangwa National Park, or north to Lundazi. However, development is being directed towards the town, as evident with the new Protea hotel and Spar supermarket.
Formerly Fort Jameson, Chipata was the capital of North-Eastern Rhodesia until 1911, when Northern Rhodesia — later to become Zambia — was created. Now it's the capital of Zambia's Eastern Province and a fairly busy town with about 320,000 residents and more coming in daily.
The main axis is the Great East Road to Lusaka, which runs through to the town's solitary traffic lights ("Town"), after which it turns into the Umodzi Highway to the Malawian border. Before reaching town, to the north down the hill are the "Down Shops." Further north of the Down Shops is "Kapata," the original center of town and the poorer, sprawling neighborhood packed with stalls, vendors, and small homes. To the south side on the hillside are the wealthier neighborhoods of "Little Bombay" and "Kalongwezi."
Along the western boundary of the city, there is another road, heading north to Mfuwe and Lundazi, and eventually to Chama. It's known, appropriately, as Lundazi Road.
There are flights to both Lusaka and Mfuwe (for South Luangwa). Flights are now run by Proflight from MON-FRI. Bookings can be made at Jasat Travel Agency, located in Down Town.
From Lusaka, Chipata is a 7 to 8-hour bus ride on a luxury bus, costing approx 120-150K. It might be possible to find slightly cheaper transport, but it will probably take twice as long to arrive. Johabie has the best reputation; they're located at the north end of the bus station. Zoom has a rather poor safety record. You will often get surrounded by salesmen for the individual companies, who may lie that the bus for a certain company has already left. Buses leave when they fill, so it's a good tip to just check which buses are more full and buy from them. Buses to the Capital leave every hour. Be there at least an hour before departure, as the bus leaves as soon as it's full and will not always stick to the timetable. It's best to leave before 10AM, to make it before dark.
There are currently two bus stations, one for minibuses and one mainly for coaches. Long distances buses to Lusaka and Lilongwe leave from the Kapata Market bus station. For Lusaka, buses leave at 5 and 5:30 AM on Johabie. Purchase your ticket the day before to ensure your seat. Other buses leave only when full Be prepared to wait a while at the local bus station — no matter what time the conductor tells you that you will leave, it will be much later (minibuses will only leave when full). Kick back and have a warm beer; after all, you're in the heart of Africa.
Chipata is located roughly 12 km from the border of Malawi along Lusaka Road. Taxis taken from the Malawi side can take you through Malawi customs, but you'll have to change once on the Zambian side.
Chipata is strangely sprawling for a rural community. Most people with vehicles use them. For the most part however, walking is fine as the town is small for any destination you may need.
There are many cabs in Chipata. A few are recently painted an eye-catching blue but most are silver sedans that you can usually stick your hand out and flag down. There are no meters, so bargain hard. You should pay 10K to get around town (starting as far as the Protea Hotel to the center) or 15-20K for longer distances. Nightime may be an extra 10K. Cabs will also take you to the border if necessary. Prices may vary on the number of people traveling.
You can also hire bicycles for 2K, although safety isn't included in the price. For the whole day you can arrange with the TOURISM NEWS.Exposing african potential tourism
Chipata is rather low on tourist attractions, but provides a perfect perspective of a real Zambian town.
- Central Mosque, Mosque Rd. Probably the prettiest building in Chipata, no entry for unbelievers but in the Down Shops area. Muslims make up a relatively small minority of the population, who are typically of Indian descent living in Little Bombay and own most of the Down Shops.
- Kanjala Hill, on the northeast corner of town (nearly 2km east of Shoprite). Nice views of Chipata. Take a lunch and have a nice hike. If you want to drive it, you'll pretty much need a 4WD, but there's a track leading up from JBG Road.
- Kapata Market is a great example of a crowded, hectic African market. See the Buy section for details.
Two major festivals are held around Chipata and are well worth a visit if you're in town at the right time.
- Ncwala (n-CHWA-la), Mutenguleni village, usually Last week of February. A Ngoni festival to celebrate the first fruit of the season, where the Ngoni chief ceremonially tastes the fruit of the land, then spears a bull and drinks its blood.
- Kulamba, Undi village (75km from Chipata, near Katete), sometime in August. A Chewa thanksgiving festival that draws colorful Nyau secret society dancers not just from Zambia, but also Malawi and Mozambique.
There is a golf course near the center of town.
Chipata is a good place to stock up before heading out into the bush. There is a large Shoprite, the Great East Mall has the Spar supermarket and an assortment of stores, a number of petrol stations and a few places to change money. Saturday Market on the main road just before Shoprite is a great place to buy local fresh produce.
If you are interested in taking a look around a "real Zambian town," head to the Indian shops (also known as the Down Shops) and Kapata Market. This is a frantic, exciting area of stores, stands, tiny backstreets, and music playing where you will find thousands of Chipatans wandering around, meeting friends, or doing business during the day. Chitenje, the colorful traditional Zambian cloth wraparounds, are a good buy here and go for $2-3 each.
Chipata has several local restaurants offering cheap traditional food. However, most places are closed at night.
- Blue Gums has a good variety of nshima, including T-bone, chicken, and ox tail. One of the few places that will be open for dinner.
- Shaikh's Pride, Parerenyatwa Rd (down from Zamtel and Airtel). Serves both local and Zambianised Indian dishes from $2. Try the pepper chicken and chapattis. All chicken meals are magnificent (at least by African standards).
- "Shoka's." Indian food, located in the "Down shops" business area. Only open on Friday nights, from about five-thirty pm. Serves good naan, and some chicken and fish options.
+"Golf Club" small restaurant located in the clubhouse of one of Africa's oldest golf courses. Serves Nshima with a variety of meat and vegetable options.
- Lazeez Khaanaa, Next to Shaikh's Pride and possibly better. Serves similar food to Chef's Pride at similar prices. Best for beef steaks.
- Leom's has good sized servings of nshima and a small bar, which occasionally stocks Carlsberg from Malawi. Walk down the road at East Point and take a left before the golf course. Look for the yellow sign at the end.
- Spar at the Great East Shopping Mall has almost everything you need (although Shoprite has a larger selection) and has a cafe to relax.
- Mucho's Pizza offers a variety of excellent pizza for delivery (plain, beef sausage, mushroom, chicken). Call in advance: 0978 442187 or 0965 185879.
- Steers and Debonairs recently opened in the Great East Mall and offer decent pizzas and burgers, although somewhat overpriced (39K-59K). Chicken and chips go for 25K.
- In the Down Shops, the kebab place Shokas (translated as barbequing) to the right of Aybees General Dealers, serves good cheap snacks. In some Friday nights, they do dinner with a full Indian menu. The Sarea Khan chicken, butter chicken, and naan are fantastic (although pricey at 50K).
- Protea Hotel has an assortment of western-style plates. The burgers (just 30K) are good, much better than Steers, and the pool offers a nice place to relax.
Nightlife in Chipata is a little low-key, but Friday and Saturday nights sees a lot of people going out. Few expats stay in Chipata, so it's a good experience immersing in the "real Africa."
- Blue Gums, named for the trees surrounding it, is the most popular bar in town. The driveway is located just before Shoprite. Located in the woods, it's a big place with several outdoor bars and an indoor club. On weekends, this place is packed. Nshima with a variety of relishes goes for 20K.
- East Point is a large discotheque located in town with a lively scene. This is typically the afterparty on weekends after the crowd leaves Blue Gums.
- Mature Reaction, to the right of East Point, has a ridiculous name but a popular bar.
- The Golf Club has a quiet, chill lounge inside with couches to relax and a small TV.
- Wildlife Club, in the Wildlife & Environment Conservation Society building. Features a pool table and beers for K5 ($1). Theoretically members only but in practice anybody gets in.
- Pine View, located within the guesthouse property, has a chill bar, pool tables, and a nice outdoor space. A good chill out place to meet some locals and have some fun, especially during football matches.
- Crystal Springs at the end of town has a bar and outdoor pool, with a decent view down to Malawi.
Across from East Point is a side street of small bars. These can be sketchy, especially later in the night when locals get drunk and pick fights.
Chipata has several affordable guest houses:
- Pine View, on southeast side of town (off Umodzi Highway). A nice place offering double rooms from $20, popular with expats working in Chipata. There's a large outdoor lawn area next to the kitchen and bar.
- Chipata Motel, just north of intersection with Lundazi Rd. Clean if somewhat run-down doubles from US$10. Also hosts many concerts, which can be good to visit, but not so good to try to sleep through.
- Deans Hill View Lodge, (Deans Hill View Lodge is situated close to the Chipata Welcome Arch, 500m off the main Lusaka highway), ☎ Landline: (00260) (0) 6 221 673 Mobile: (00260) (0) 977 767 221, . Deans Hill View Lodge is situated close to the Chipata Welcome Arch, 500m off the main Lusaka highway. It has it's own walled garden, with views over Chipata, and towards the South Luangwa valley. The garden has indiginous trees and some exotic specimens, which provide a good habitat for many native birds. There are twin rooms, a family room that can sleep 6, a terraced camping area, with shared showers and toilets. There is a bar and restaurant where hot food is available, there is also a self catering kitchen. (,Landline: (00260) (0) 6 221 673 Mobile: (00260) (0) 977 767 221) edit
- Crossroads on the highway has nice rooms for 300 Kwacha, and restaurant with small terrace overlooking the highway.
- Crystal Springs at the end of town has a bar and outdoor pool, with a decent view down to Malawi.
- Luangwa House by the golf course.
- Protea is the upscale chain that recently opened in Chipata.
Out of Chipata
- Mama Rula's, Lundazi Highway (4 km north). Chalets and camping, popular with overlanders. There's a good bar where the bartender sports a bowtie and serves Mosi and Carlsberg for US$1.75 a bottle. Local and Western dishes are also served, but $10 for fish and chips is on the expensive side.
- Katuta Lodge, Lundazi Highway (10 km north). Camping for $5, clean singles/double with bathroom from US$15/20. Has a decent restaurant on grounds serving local and Western fare.
- Mayana Farm , Off Chadiza road (12 km out of Chipata), Working (Guest) farm with bookings only, farm house accomm, camping from Aug 08, trees, peaceful surrounds, bar, lit pool, lounge with DSTV and sat internet, home cooked meals. Owner run and tetchy about very late - or unbooked - arrivals, decent rates.
For those who have problems with finding nice Guest houses. The Tourism News, have an office their along Church Road, Mandawa Photo Studios Building, the road which goes to Luangwa House, +260 977 851 196. They will help you with anything to do with travelling and for those who want to use bicycles we can arrange bicycle at a very reasonable fee
Tourism News can also help you get around and see whats needs to be seen at a very minimum charge.
There are several petrol stations, a post office, and Barclays Bank with mostly-functional ATM on the Umodzi Highway (next to the traffic lights). Barclays has another set of 24-hour ATMs to the left of the entrance of Spar (accepting Visa and Mastercard). A variety of other banks can also be found, but these typically only accept Visa.
Chipata Health Centre and Chipata General Hospital are in town for emergencies. The town is generally safe and people are friendly. At night, beware of petty crime like pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas such as around East Point or late at night in Kapata.
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