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Chipata

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Eastern Zambia : Chipata
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Chipata is a fast-growing urban centre 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.

Understand[edit]

View of Chipata

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.

Orientation[edit]

The main axis is the Great East Road (T4) from Lusaka, which to the west is referred to as Lusaka Road, to the east as Malawi Road, and in town as Umodzi Highway. Near the western boundary of town is the aptly named Lundazi Turnoff where the M12 meets the Great East, taking travellers north to Lundazi and west to Mfuwe. Continuing into town, to the left at the first set of traffic lights is the "Down Shops" trading area. Further north of the Down Shops is the poorer, sprawling neighborhood of Kapata, packed with stalls, vendors, and small homes. Cresting the hill and arriving at the second set of traffic lights, visitors enter central Chipata, commonly referred to as "Town." Most banks, government offices, and supermarkets are located here. To the south on the hillside are the wealthier neighborhoods of "Little Bombay" and "Kalongwezi." Exiting town to the east, the Great East Road continues on to Mwami/Mchinji at the Malawi border.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Proflight Zambia offers daily flights from Lusaka to Mfuwe Airport, the closest airport to Chipata and gateway to South Luangwa National Park. During the high season, Proflight also offers daily flights from Jeki Airstrip at Lower Zambezi National Park. Bookings can be made online.

By bus[edit]

From Lusaka, Chipata is a 7 to 8-hour bus ride on a "luxury" bus, costing approximately K170-190. It might be possible to find slightly cheaper transport, but it will probably take twice as long to arrive. Juldan, Andrich, and Jonda are the safest and most reliable. Zambia Malawi is another option, although they have a poorer safety record. All offer daily service. Jonda offers continuing service to Mfuwe on select departures, some Juldan buses continue on to Lundazi, and Zambia Malawi has a route to Lilongwe via Chipata. Per government mandate, buses can only travel between 0500 and 2100. Most leave Lusaka between 0500 and 0700. When entering Lusaka's Intercity Bus Station, you will often get surrounded by salesmen for the individual companies, who may lie that the bus for a certain company has already left. Better companies depart near scheduled times, but buses generally leave when they fill, so it's a good tip to just check which buses are more full and buy from them. Better still, stop by the station the day before and purchase tickets in advance to guarantee your seat. In any case, 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 Lusaka before 10AM, to make it to Chipata before dark.

Long-distance coach buses arrive at and depart from Kapata Bus Station in Chipata. A taxi from here to the town center should cost around K15-20.

By taxi[edit]

Chipata is located roughly 12 km from the border with 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. Shared taxis are available from the border to Chipata for K15. Alternatively, book a taxi for K60-80 to avoid having to wait for the car to fill. The road to town from the border is tarmac and in good shape.

From Mfuwe, a taxi booking will cost approximately K500. From Lusaka, the price is around K2500.

Get around[edit]

Chipata is a sprawling small city, but most points of interest for travelers are located in the center of town within walking distance of each other.

Cabs are abundant in Chipata. A few are painted an eye-catching blue, but most are silver Toyota sedans. To flag one, just extend your arm with your hand flat and palm facing down and wave up and down. There are no meters, so bargain hard. You should pay K10 to get around town (starting as far as the Protea Hotel to the center) or K15-20 for longer distances. Nighttime rides may be an extra K10. Cabs will also take you to the border if necessary. Prices may vary on the number of people traveling.

You can also hire bicycle taxis for K2, although safety isn't included in the price.

See[edit][add listing]

Central Mosque, Chipata

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, but no entry for nonbelievers unfortunately. Located in the Down Shops area. Muslims make up a relatively small minority of the population, are typically of Indian descent, live 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. From the city center, head west on Lusaka Road and turn left at the sign for COMACO. The hike up and back takes about 2 hours at a moderate pace.
  • Kapata Market is a great example of a crowded, hectic African market. See the Buy section for details.

Do[edit][add listing]

Two major festivals are held around Chipata and are well worth a visit if you're in town at the right time.

  • Nc'wala (n-CHWA-la), Mutenguleni village (25km west of Chipata on Lusaka Road), 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. Groups of Ngonis in traditional clothing perform dances such as N'goma for their chiefs. Cultural items such as shields and headdresses are available for purchase.
  • Kulamba, Undi village (75km from Chipata, near Katete), usually last week of August. A thanksgiving festival for the Chewa people that draws colorful Nyau secret society dancers not just from Zambia, but also Malawi and Mozambique. The area around the showgrounds has a carnival atmosphere with endless stalls, vendors, and sometimes even rides (although their structural integrity is suspect).

There is a golf course near the center of town, although it is more of a public park.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Beans, beans, beans!

Chipata is a good place to stock up before heading out into the bush. There is a recently opened Choppies, a large Shoprite, the Great East Mall with a 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 fresh local produce (busiest on Saturdays but open daily).

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 K20-30 each.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Chipata has several local restaurants offering cheap traditional food. However, most places are closed at night.

In Town

  • Blue Gums has a good variety of nshima dishes, 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 K30. Try the pepper chicken and chapattis. All chicken meals are magnificent (at least by African standards).
  • Chipata Golf Club has a 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, Shoprite, and Choppies all have deli counters serving nshima alongside western fare such as chicken, sausages, and chips
  • 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 South African chain restaurants recently opened in the Great East Mall, offering decent pizzas and burgers, although somewhat overpriced (39K-59K). Chicken and chips go for 25K.

Around Town

  • Shoka's Indian food, located in the "Down shops" business area. Only Wed-Fri nights, from about 1730-2000. Open Sundays 1200-2000 for Indian BBQ. Serves good naan, and some chicken and fish options. An expat favorite.
  • Protea Hotel, Chipata's most upscale establishment, has an assortment of western-style plates. The burgers are good, much better than Steers, and the pool offers a nice place to relax.

Drink[edit][add listing]

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." Unfortunately, thieves do operate at the discotheques so if going for a wild night out you shouldn't bring along anything you're not willing to lose.

  • 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 K8. 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.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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, [1]. 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

Higher End

  • 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.

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.

Cope[edit]

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.

Get out[edit]

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