5 Top Tips for Your Zambia Volunteering Trip

You want to volunteer in Zambia? That’s fabulous! Volunteering abroad (or at home) can be one of the most memorable times of your life, and being clear about your motives and expectations will ensure that you have a good experience and that your host has a good experience, too.

We’ve put together a list of five things to consider before booking your volunteering trip: 


In Zambia, if you are volunteering then you should not be in the country on a tourist visa.

Please contact the NGO or company that you will be coming to volunteer with and they should be able to advise on up to date information or visit the official Zambian Department of Immigration website.

Research the organisation:

The number of organisations offering volunteer projects can be overwhelming. Be sure to thoroughly research who your partner-organisation is, what their mission is, where your money actually goes, and what you get for paying to volunteer. You should feel comfortable asking these questions and the organization should be willing and able to answer them.

Zambia volunteering Volunteering tips Zambia Volunteer projects Backpack Zambia Jollyboys

There are a lot of fancy websites, with expensive volunteer placements but cost doesn’t always equal the quality of the projects on the ground. Often much of the money is going towards overseas marketing campaigns and administration costs. Don’t underestimate your ability to contact people on the ground and see about local grassroots projects that could really use your skills.

Research the location:

You should research the country, its culture, customs and traditions, the food habits of the people and the entire social setup. You need to understand the Dos and Don’ts, what to wear, how to greet people, and if possible, learn a word or two in the local language. The more you know about your host country, the more connected you’ll feel with them and that will positively affect your work as well. 

Think about your own needs as well – would you be happier in a rural location with limited electricity and WiFi or would you be happier in an urban location? Would a traditional village environment be more your cup of tea or would you like city accommodation with air conditioning? Knowing your own comfort level will make the whole experience better for everyone.

Think about your effectiveness:

Reflect on things that make you excited – like any kind of work, if you are enjoying yourself and engaged, then you will do a better job and everyone will have a better experience. Think about what makes your heart sing!

Zambia volunteering Volunteering tips Zambia Volunteer projects Backpack Zambia Jollyboys

Joining a project that aligns with your skillset will help you to contribute in the most effective manner. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a qualified librarian, a nurse or teacher (though there are projects specifically for all of these things) but perhaps you are great at art, football or even writing funding proposals? You should be coming to make a positive impact with your project, but if the Project Coordinator needs to spend most of their time training you, then this will not be the most effective use of either of your time. 

Never underestimate what you can achieve from your home country before departure. For example, many sports charities would love second-hand footballs, cleats, shin guards or team sports shirts. A Facebook appeal to your friends might surprise you what people are willing to donate.

Consider what you want to achieve:

Be honest about your reasons for volunteering; knowing your intentions properly will help both you and your project. It’s OK if you want to bulk up your CV for a university application or if you’ve just had a bad break-up and want to do something completely different. 

Just be realistic about what you want to achieve with your time volunteering and use the time effectively. It should go without saying that it isn’t OK to want to volunteer just for the Instagram snapshots! Like most things in life, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of this experience.

Chat to us for more information about volunteering in Zambia generally as well as the volunteer projects we run at Jollyboys.

How to Pack a Christmas Shoebox for Lubasi Children’s Home

For over 15 years, Jollyboys has worked closely with Lubasi Children’s Home, based in the Maramba area of Livingstone. ‘Lubasi’ means family, and this home provides so much love, comfort and support for all who pass through the doors.

Christmas at Lubasi is a highlight of the Jollyboys’ year – a large, traditional Christmas lunch is sponsored for all of the children and school staff and Jollyboys welcomes all of our guests to join in the festivities.  Christmas carols, dancing, a feast and excited children – just what every traveller needs while away from home for the holidays.

We kindly ask a few things in return:

1. Please respect the children of Lubasi Home by not taking pictures.

2. Please bring in advance a donation towards the individual Christmas boxes that we give each and every one of the over 45 children.

Shoe boxes with each child’s name, age and gender are located in the reception of Jollyboys Backpackers. Children are aged between five and 18 years of age, with most being teenagers. 

Lubasi Childrens Home, Jollyboys Backpackers, Christmas Shoebox, Volunteer Zambia, Backpack Zambia

Please look through the suggestions below for items to bring out from home, or consider making an even bigger impact and purchasing these items locally.  Items do not have to be brand new – gently used is also very appreciated.

Sports equipment:

Footballs/soccer balls are always a winner!

Ball pumps/bicycle pumps

Rugby balls, tennis balls, cricket balls and bats

Football/soccer cleats

Footballs/soccer socks


Tip: Buy balls that can be deflated and pumped up once you are in Livingstone to save luggage space. 


Plush toys – teddy bears and the like


Tip: Don’t give toys which require batteries or have too many pieces that can get lost.


Board games (with all pieces)


Puzzle books


Hair bands and clips








Tip: School supplies and clothing are also great options and easy to purchase whilst in Livingstone.

Please contact us with any questions about our work with the kids and staff of Lubasi Children’s Home. 

What does Zambian Independence Day mean to you?

Every year on October 24th, Zambia celebrates its Independence Day to commemorate the day that freedom was achieved from British Rule.  The public holiday is celebrated throughout the country with street parades and merriment.  Throughout the month of October, the Zambian colours of red, green, black and orange start to adorn many businesses and homes, and fabrics in a myriad of patriotic colours are sewn into amazing Chitenge designs.

On 24 October 1964, what was Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia, with Dr Kenneth Kaunda as the first president.  The father of our nation is still going strong and enjoys dancing and partaking in the national celebrations. 

This year marks Zambia’s 55th birthday and our Jollyboys staff will be CELEBRATING! We asked the staff…

“What does Independence Day mean to you?”


Zambian Independence Day, Jollyboys Backpackers, Backpack Zambia, Livingstone Backpackers

Though I’m Zambian, my parents worked abroad and I grew up in South Africa and Botswana.  We generally only celebrated Zambian Independence Day when we had family visiting since we didn’t have many other Zambians around where we lived.  I moved back to Zambia when I was about 15 years old, and Independence Day was the biggest party of the year.  Lots of drinking and lots of chicken and rice (which seems to be what everyone wants during a celebration in Zambia).  I love the Zambian chitenge patterns that are available just before Independence Day and the creative outfits that are showcased on the day. 


Zambian Independence Day, Jollyboys Backpackers, Backpack Zambia, Livingstone Backpackers

I can remember as a child that on Independence Day, we had the day off of school and we would play Waida which is a game where 2 people use a rope and a third person jumps over.  I could play this for hours before sitting down to a meal of chicken and rice with my family.  On most other days in Zambia we eat Nshima but on a celebration, we generally have chicken and rice.


Zambian Independence Day, Jollyboys Backpackers, Backpack Zambia, Livingstone Backpackers

My family all gets together on Independence Day and it is like a family reunion in Livingstone.  My great grandmother is still alive and was around in 1964 when Zambia gained Independence.  She always sits down with the family and recalls stories of how life was before Independence and how things have changed since. Then we all have a meal of chicken and rice.

From Cairo to Cape

For this week’s blog post we sat down with a guest from the backpackers and she told us a bit about her trip from Cairo to Cape Town

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Yurika Hamy Demura, I am a nurse from Japan … I quit my job sometime last year and decided to travel and I have been travelling with my boyfriend through Africa for the last six months.

What made you do the trip?

Africa had always been a place I wanted to travel through.  Previously I had travelled to America, Asia and South America, Europe seemed like the next suitable destination but when we calculated costs it was going to be expensive. So we skipped Europe and came to Africa.

Where did you start?

We started out in Egypt then we decided when we got to Tanzania we were going to buy a car and road trip the rest of the countries along the way to Cape Town.

What were your best  countries to visit in Africa apart from Zambia?

All of the various African countries had something unique to offer but some of my memorable moments were in Uganda and Sudan. The architecture, landscapes, culture and way of life in Africa is so phenomenal from country to country and that in its own was quite refreshing.

Life lesson you learnt from travelling in Africa?

Remove any ideas you think you may have of a place before you go there. You learn way more from actually going to the places yourself, and most of the time it is worth it and so much fun.

Aswan, Egypt

Uganda Equator

Chobe National Park

Cape Town

Minimizing the ecological effects of hiking in Zambia

Even nature lovers have potentially dangerous implications for the environment: recent studies have found camp trails treaded by hikers lose roughly 50% of vegetation cover, which in turn damages local ecosystems. Fortunately, Zambia benefits from a dedicated community of ecotourism focused on the region’s abundant wildlife and plant diversity. To conserve local ecosystems, backpackers can take key steps for environmental protection: both in sub-Saharan Africa and globally.

Carry In, Carry Out

Like most national parks, the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls stresses a ‘carry in, carry out’ policy to usher environmental protection onto the area. This means that there are limited trash receptacles throughout the park’s landscape, and visitors are responsible for removing their garbage upon leaving the premises. To minimize waste, you should use a backpack suited to your body type so that you have space to carry and store prepared food, alongside garbage accumulated throughout the trip. For longer treks, plan on buying food in bulk so that you will have enough nutrients to sustain you during hikes under the sub-Saharan sun.  

Keep fires contained

In Zambia, the climate is often hot and dry, which is why it’s important to only use fires in picnic and park areas designated for fire pits by the Zambian government. This will prevent the accidental spread of forest fires, which are caustic to local ecosystems and obviously quite dangerous for travelers. When gathering round the campfire, you should keep fires small and have water supply ready to put on a fire in the event it grows to large to handle.

Trust the professionals

Most hikes in national parks in Zambia, including the Zambia side of Victoria Falls, are conducted with the leadership of a guided professional. Generally, the guided leader is armed for protection against the park’s roaming animal life, including elephants, lions, and snakes. Therefore, it’s important to trust the input you receive from your tour guide: for your own protection, but also for the protection of wildlife throughout the area. Often, in smaller national parts such as Malawi, visitors will opt to explore the parks independently, as animal predators pose less of a threat. In these instances, it’s absolutely important to know your route and stick to it, as you will likely lose cellphone service/WIFI reception during your trek. 

Practical considerations

Depending on your background and level experience, there are practical considerations to hiking in Africa that you may not be familiar with from treks in American and Western Europe. The biggest emphasis is on the sun: Zambia’s climate sees temperatures regularly rising above 30°C, with the European / American summer season (Zambian winter) seeing no rainfall. Visitors will need to bring sun protection and ample water supply to protect against dehydration. It is also important to bring currency in Zambian Kwacha, although many popular tourist destinations accept foreign currency such as USD. 

Ecotourism brings backpackers peace of mind in knowing that, by taking key steps towards environmental protection, they are helping to protect local integrity on a social and ecological level. Through these shared efforts, we can work to minimize carbon impact when traveling: an endeavour that respects the livelihood of Zambia’s rich cultural and environmental history.

Written by Jennifer Drake

Vitumbuwa Recipe

Picture by @zealousteam

What you need

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/3 water


  1. Mix all dry ingredients together until well mixed.
  2. Slowly add the water until you foam dough that is smooth and not sticky.
  3. Add more water or flour as needed to ensure the dough is smooth.
  4. Cut dough into equal pieces.
  5. Fill pan with enough oil that will be used to deep fry the cut dough and heat over stove.
  6. When the oil is hot place dough pieces and fry till the dough is brown on all sides and ready on the inside.

Place on plate and enjoy delicious goodness!

Q&A with Samuel

Name: Samuel

Position: Cook

How long have you worked at Jolly Boys?

A: Around one year

What do you do for fun?

A: I like riding my bike around Livingstone, it’s really fun to explore the town and bike out to the falls.

Would you rather be the richest person in the world or the most handsome.

A: I would rather be the richest man in the world because money rules the world and I would be able to afford anything I want.


Planning a trip and needing a bit of advice?  Hopefully the below will give you the assistance you need …..

What is the difference between the Backpackers and the Camp?


Jollyboys Camp is 1.2 kilometers from the main Mosi-oa-Tunya road, behind the Livingstone Golf Course, in a quiet residential street, near the suburb of Linda.  The closest supermarket and stores are a quick 7 to 10-minute walk away.  The main road is a 10 to 15-minute walk away.

Jollyboys Backpackers is parallel to the main road, in the middle of town, set behind the Livingstone museum.  The closest supermarket and stores on the main road are a 5-minute walk away.


Jollyboys Backpackers tends to cater more for individual travelers, wanting a more social environment.  The bar and restaurant are open to the public and we often host events such as pub quizzes, fun games, the occasional party for special events.

Jollyboys Camp is more tranquil and a great space for groups, families or travelers wanting a more relaxed atmosphere.  The bar is not open to outside guests and events are tailored to guests that are in-house. Jollyboys Camp also has much more expansive lawns for camping and can cater to about 40 tents; whereas Jollyboys Backpackers accepts camping on a walk-in basis only and there is only space for about 6 tents.

Facilities & Amenities

We aim to ensure the facilities and services at both Jollyboys Backpackers & Jollyboys Camp are very similar – both offer a fabulous swimming pool, free daily shuttle to Victoria Falls; a free pick up from Livingstone Airport, and a great travel office.  One main difference with room types would be:

Jollyboys Backpackers – all ensuite rooms and dorms have air-conditioning; all other rooms have fans.

Jollyboys Camp – all rooms have either ceiling fans or stand-up fans.


Jollyboys Camp has a breakfast and lunch snack bar from 6:30am-14:00, and a weekly extended Sunday Brunch menu.  Group meals are available to pre-order, vegan and vegetarian as well as a budget or standard option.  The area has several restaurants nearby as well as meal delivery options.

Jollyboys Backpackers has an a-la-carte menu from 06:30 till 21:00, as well as several daily specials (vegan and vegetarian options always available).  We recommend pre ordering group meals.

Wellness Spa

Jollyboys Backpackers has a beauty spa on-site offering a range of treatments such as waxing, manicures/pedicures and massages.  Appointments for the spa treatments can be made for guests staying at the Camp.

What visa should I get?

It is always recommended that you confirm visa requirements directly with the country you wish to visit, usually via their government website as regulations do tend to change without notice.

Saying that, we are very happy to assist with up to date information – please get in touch with us if you have any questions whatsoever.  Please remember that due to our vicinity to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, it may be best to get a visa which allows for multiple crossings.

Do I need travel insurance?

YES!  Please ensure your travel insurance covers medical treatments and emergency cover.  Local doctor surgeries and hospitals offer consultations and treatments for a fee, the fees vary from nominal $20 to $2000+ for certain treatments.

Do I need anti-malaria tablets?

We always recommend visiting a tropical health or travelers’ clinic before arriving; you may need the normal travel vaccinations.  The chemists and pharmacies in Livingstone are accustomed to regular traveler illnesses, they can assist in many areas.

After several successful years of targeted mosquito spraying programs by the Government, Livingstone has been down-graded from a ‘High risk’ to a ‘Low-risk’ malaria area.  Outside of Livingstone, malaria is still common in certain areas.

Should you experience flu-like symptoms or a sever headache and neck pain after visiting a malaria area, immediately see a doctor for a malaria test; most clinics in Zambia offer quick and easy malaria tests that cost very little, however outside of Africa you should visit a tropical diseases hospital / travel clinic and not a General Practioner (GP).

What is the difference between Livingstone Airport (Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport) and Victoria Falls Airport?

The Livingstone Airport is in Zambia, roughly 7 kilometers (10 to 15 minutes) from the main town, whereas the Victoria Falls Airport is in Zimbabwe (so you will need a visa for Zimbabwe and Zambia) and is roughly 40 kilometers from Livingstone main town (up to 1-hour travel time).

Do I need a guided tour to see the Victoria Falls?

The walking routes around Victoria Falls (both on the Zimbabwean side and the Zambian side) are clearly marked paths, and we offer all our guests free maps for Vic Falls as well as the town.  There are some paths that require a steep climb and can be slippery when the spray is at its fullest or rainy weather.

When is the best time of year to travel?

April / May: The vegetation should still be green and lush after the rainy season, however the rains should have stopped by now.  The landscape this time of year makes for great photography; contrasting dirt / sand roads with the deep green bush and bright blue skies, all of which makes many animals spotted on safari stand out brilliantly; zebras, giraffe, lions, ostriches etc.

June/July/August: This is generally the busiest time of year in the Livingstone area.  It is also the dry, winter months making for excellent game viewing.  If you can, ideally avoid July as this is very busy – late into August will have the start of multi day rafting.

September / October / November: These are HOT and dry months!  If you are wanting to feel the warmth of the African sun, this is the time.  The Jollyboys swimming pool will be your haven and ice-cold beers will be your best friend.  The vegetation will be much drier and less dense; this does assist with game viewing in thinner bush and also makes entertaining river Safaris at Chobe National Park, with animals staying closer to water during the heat of the day.

December / January / February: These months are typically the rainy season; warm, humid and brilliant African storms!  The dry and parched vegetation springs to life, the rains revive everything in the bush after the long dry summer.  Ordinarily the days are semi-humid and hot, until the pressure builds up late afternoon and a tremendous storm breaks to clear the air, these are usually pretty short-lived storms.

How much should my Livingstone budget be?

There is a LOT of fun to be had in Livingstone; adrenalin activities, safaris, gastronomic experiences and once-in-a-life-time opportunities.  Contact enquiries@backpackzambia.com in order for us to help you plan your trip.  Make sure you have enough time in Livingstone to make the most of what it has to offer!

Groceries can be expensive in Zambia as most things are imported and the fuel costs are high for transportation.  Soft drinks and other staple items are often in short supply in Zambia and costs can be close to Western prices with frequent fluctuations.

We try to keep our restaurant and bar prices as budget as possible for our guests; drinks ranging from $1 to $3 and food ranging $2 to $10.  Everything is made from scratch and from local producers as much as possible.

Is Zambia safe?

YES!  Zambia in in category 1 (of 1 to 4) as one of the safest places to travel by the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory, in 2018.  Zambians are mostly very conservative, polite and extremely friendly, however please ask before you take photos of people as many do not like to be photographed.

As with any travel or backpacking in the world, don’t bring anything that is irreplaceable, or sentimental, as things do get lost and broken on the road.

Global Peace Index 2018: Rank – Country – Score

1 – Iceland – 1.096
23 – Netherlands – 1.574
29 – Botswana – 1.659
43 – Namibia – 1.806
44 – Malawi – 1.811
48 – Zambia – 1.822
57 – United Kingdom – 1.876
121 – USA – 2.3
124 – Zimbabwe – 2.326
125 – South Africa – 2.328

Stop Eating Boring Camping Food!

The days of hot dogs and cold canned chili are long gone. Just because you’re spending time camping, or eating in a self-catering kitchen doesn’t mean your food has to be bland and boring. Making use of online recipes, common sense planning, and better and cheaper camping cookware mean it’s much easier than it used to be for you to have a satisfying meal at the end of a long day exploring Livingstone or during an overnight safari. Any good adventure should include hot and delicious meals.

Pack Smarter

One of the best ways to eat well while out travelling is to plan a little ahead. Taking small steps like packing premade spice mixes, researching easy, creative recipes before you go, and sticking to self contained meals (think one pot) can keep you from eating a banana for dinner, or from spending half the night cleaning up after a failed experiment. A small nalgene pre-filled with salt and pepper and garlic salt can instantly brighten an dish, and keeps you from the hassle of keeping spices in separate baggies, where they’re easy to lose or spill. Try packing energy dense foods like nuts and berries for snacking to keep yourself energized throughout a busy day. Taking little steps like this can keep you focused and having fun during, say, an amazing raft trip.

Bring the Luxury to You

There’s a whole range of new products out there that making cooking on the go easier, faster, and more delicious, so you can spend more time looking for wildlife, and less fidgeting with a finicky stove. One-pot quick boiling stoves, for example, are easy to use and make it easy to whip up some soup packets or easy pasta. New improvements in cookware materials and designs make it easy to choose a set for your trip that won’t leave you feeling like you’ve carried the whole kitchen with you on safari. Lightweight and foldable pour-over coffee makers, or french press conversion accessories mean that it’s easier than ever to drink quality coffee, even when the nearest Starbucks is miles away. Just make sure your water is safe to drink and that you’re treating it if it isn’t.

Ask Around for Flavor

When you’re out buying food before a safari, adventure, or night at the camp, it can help to look at what locals are buying, and to ask what some of the best foods right now are. Obviously some common sense is needed – you wouldn’t want to take wet squishy fruit on a rough road trip – but taking a cue from those who live in Zambia can introduce you to some new foods, and also point to the foods that are in season and have the most flavor.

Camping made YUMMY!

Article written by Jennifer Drake

Responsible Tourism: environmental outreach in Malota

Malota, like many communities in Africa, have no formal waste management systems. Generally; Council (Municipal) waste collection is accessible to those who pay council rates and not those living in informal settlements or those too impoverished to afford the luxury.

Waste management in this context is mostly dumping and burning; people have to live in the direct vicinity of large areas of burning waste, which has many negative health consequences.  Not to mention toxic air, ground and water pollution. The situation is now affecting wildlife with elephant dung being found full of plastic bags whilst I personally witnessed elephants eating plastic bags from a small dumpsite.

Rubbish burning at a dump site.

Pollution affecting elephants.

Zigzag is a local artist who is as passionate about environmental awareness and protection as we are. Several years ago, Zigzag installed a wire elephant on the front lawn of the Livingstone Council, to highlight the lack of environmental awareness of pollution as well as the plight of thousands who are forced to live in it. In collaboration with Jollyboys, Zigzag took a group staying with us to Malota township to reach out to the residents and help the message about waste management gain more momentum.

Getting involved.

Spreading the (enviro) love ….

Jollyboys and Zigzag aim to establish and maintain a regular line of cooperation and communications with Malota (and hopefully other townships). Before the end of the year we aim to return to Malota with Norwegian artists and Zigzag and put on a mini concert to put some fun into a pretty grim subject.

Making something out of nothing.

As we say at Jollyboys …. BE PART OF IT!!