Volunteer Information

Getting to Mwandi

The closest international airport to Mwandi is in Livingstone, Zambia. The airport is serviceable by 2-3 daily flights for from Johannesburg. It is also possible to fly to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, and take a regional flight to Livingstone. Airlines include British Airways, South African Airways, and Proflight.

Visas may be purchased upon entering Zambia. Travelers can also be purchased directly by completing an application and sending the application along with passports to the Zambian Embassy in Washington D.C. http://www.zambiaembassy.org/, but allow plenty of time before you travel for processing. Single entry visas are $50.00 USD at the border and double entry visas are $80.00 USD. An additional handling fee is added to the cost if you obtain your visas from the embassy in Washington, D.C.

If you or your group want to travel outside of Zambia (e.g. for safari in Botswana)…you will want to purchase double entry Zambian visas. Botswana and Namibia do not require visas for most passport holders (US, UK, AUS, NZ, European). If you are citizens of another country you should check with the embassies to see if you require a visa either of those countries.

Transportation is available from Livingstone to Mwandi by public transportation or by making arrangements with Wild Side Tours (contact information can be found below). A round trip fee from Livingstone for a group bus from Wildside Tours will range from $1,000 – $1,250. Public transportation includes taxi service and the Local Mahzhandu Bus Service.

Medications

Make sure all medications you bring with you are properly labeled in Rx bottles and in your carry-on luggage. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended, as well as taking precautions using insect repellants, wearing long sleeves, and limiting exposure outside from 5 p.m. through early morning. Mosquito netting while sleeping is also recommended.

Vaccinations

Zambia now requires all individuals entering the country to have a current Yellow Fever immunization. Hep A and B, Tetanus, and Polio should be current. Check CDC website for other suggestions. Rabies is an issue in Mwandi and visitors should take appropriate precautions, including considering rabies vaccines before traveling to Zambia.

Note:  Passport Health provides immunization services and travel counseling.

Other precautions
  • The only water safe for drinking is bottled water or water that has been boiled. Simba House drinking water (not tap) has been filtered and boiled. Foods washed in Simba are washed in safe water.
  • Carry a medical card identifying blood type, allergies, and medications.
  • Execute and carry a copy of a medical power of attorney that would permit someone else in the group to make decisions for you in case of a medical emergency in which you are unable to act for yourself.
  • Have comprehensive travel insurance, including medical evacuation.
Accomodations

The mission guesthouse, more commonly known as the Simba House, is a modern house with five guestrooms. The maximum number of guests for any group staying at Simba House is 12. The room and board charges includes meals, laundry, and cleaning services. Please advise Mission Support of any dietary restrictions before arrival. Simba House has both 110V outlets and 220V outlets. As a cautionary note: hair dryers, curling irons, and other appliances that are not adaptable to 220V may not function properly even when plugged in to the 110V sockets, i.e. they may overheat. It is best to bring a voltage converter or bring appliances that function both on 220V and 110V.

Hotels in Livingstone have only 220V. Use of adapter plugs and voltage converters (for some appliances) are suggested.

For recognized mission related trips, the cost of Simba accommodations are $50.00/day for room, two meals, and laundry services. Lunches and dinners are prepared for visitors by the staff from Monday through Saturday. All Simba House staff will not work on Sundays and holidays (see below for holiday dates). For groups who want a prepared breakfast (Monday – Saturday), the rate will be $60/day per individual. $5.00 of all room and board fees will be set aside for Mission House maintenance costs. Food for Sunday and holiday meals will include leftovers and other food prepared in advance by Simba staff and stored in the freezer. Zambian holidays include:

  •  New Year’s Day is on Thursday, January 01, 2015
  • Youth Day in Zambia is on Thursday, March 12, 2015
  • Good Friday is on Friday, April 03, 2015
  • Easter Monday is on Monday, April 06, 2015
  • Labour Day in Zambia is on Friday, May 01, 2015
  • African Freedom Day (Anniversary of the OAU’s Foundation) is on Monday, May 25, 2015
  • Heroes’ Day is on Monday, July 06, 2015
  • Unity Day Zambia is on Tuesday, July 07, 2015
  • Farmers’ Day is on Monday, August 03, 2015
  • Independence Day Zambia is on Saturday, October 24, 2015
  • Christmas Day is on Friday, December 25, 2015

For groups visiting from the US, please contact mwandiafrica@gmail.com regarding available dates and additional information. A deposit is required 6 months prior to the visit, with full payment due one month prior to arrival.

Additional information on accommodations, restaurants, and shopping in Livingstone, Zambia is available at: http://www.livingstonetourism.com. A list of safari lodges and accommodations around Chobe National Park can be found at the Botswana Tourism site. Previous visitors to Mwandi have given “thumbs up” for the following accommodations and travel services:

Wild Side Tours + 260 213 323726 Email: wild@iconnect.zm

Accomodations in Livingstone: Bushfront, Fawlty Towers, and Maramba River Lodge.

Safari Lodges in Chobe: Elephant Valley Lodge, The Garden Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Chobe Marina Lodge, and Chobe Game Lodge.

Currencies

US Dollars are accepted in many places, as are major credit cards (although each transaction will cost an additional 5% of purchase. Foreign currency can be exchanged at Bureaus de Change in Livingstone or at one of Livingstone’s banks. The exchange rates can vary from day to day or from bureau to bureau. Debit cards can be used at major banks and at ATMs. Cash withdrawals from ATMs are in Kwacha. Mastercard will not work on ATM machines. When carrying USD bring large bills ($10-$50) and make sure the bills have “big heads”  and are in good condition (relatively new bills). Smaller bills for tips are fine, but it might be best to tip using Kwacha because the exchange rate for smaller bills is not very good.

Internet access

There is internet access in Livingstone at internet cafes and in many hotels. Mwandi’s Simba House  has a dongle modem for connecting to the internet. Visitors can purchase internet data bundles in Mwandi at Mark Olsen’s shop.  Of course, visitors can purchase their own dongles at the MTN store in Livingstone for around $40.00 USD, if preferred.

Cellular phone service

Mwandi is served by ZAIN and MTN. Phones can be purchased in Livingstone for use while in Zambia. Cell phones with international coverage also work well for calls and texting.

Cross-cultural Sensitivity

The Lozi culture has ancient roots that are different from our own. It is important to honor those differences and treat the Lozi culture with respect and appreciation. A few helpful suggestions:

  • Women should not wear sleeveless tops or short skirts or shorts. You can buy and wear chitenges (wrap skirts) in the village market.
  • English is the national language, but not all people speak English fluently. Slang terms and some accents are not well understood. The Lozi people also appreciate when you try to communicate in their native language, Silozi.
  • Local people expect visitors to uphold high standards of Christian morality.
  • Do not make promises you can’t keep. Those following you will need to explain why you failed to keep your commitment.
  • Although Mwandi is safe, guarding valuables is advised. Simba House has a safe for where cash, passports, and other items of value can be kept. Don’t flaunt expensive electronics or other items.