Cash and Cards
Foreign exchange is freely traded in Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls and Zambia.
All international airports have foreign exchange desks, though for Zambia and Victoria Falls we recommend you use USD as it is universally accepted - bring a variety of denominations to avoid receiving change in a less-than-useful local currency.
Entry Visas are payable in USD so check the latest requirements on our Visas page and have the correct amount handy on arrival.
Some time ago, Zambia was flooded with counterfeit USD notes. Subsequently most vendors are suspicious of the older notes with “Small Heads” only accepting newer USD with the bigger portraits.
If you visiting Namibia only, we recommend you buy South African Rand (ZAR) - the Namibian Dollar is inter-changeable with the Rand in Namibia only and is not accepted at banks outside the country.
Travellers' cheques, credit cards and debit cards are accepted only in the large hotels and lodges in the cities. At safari lodges and shops in the more remote areas, cash is the only means of payment. Though many of the lodges are fully inclusive, some offer extra activities or charge for premium imported spirits and wine; you may want to buy some of the local craft and tip the staff in which case small denominations of US$ will again come in handy.
Tipping at lodges in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Victoria Falls is not expected but always welcomed. Many safari lodges have a system of sharing the tips among the general housekeeping staff with a separate system for the guides. We recommend you ask the concierge or your host about the tipping protocol when checking in or out.
More In General Travel Info
For the majority of visitors to Southern Africa, visas are issued on the spot at port of entry with no additional documentation needed. There are of course exceptions, anomalies and random changes so, regardless of what country you are from, be sure to confirm your visa requirements for every country you plan to visit well in advance of your travels.
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