Kalulu Backpackers, Broads Road, Lusaka, Zambia
Kalulu Backpackers is ideal – its less than a 10 min walk from the centre of town but is in a quiet and safe neighbourhood. It has dorm rooms in the main building at the front of the property and a large selection of twin rooms in the buildings at the back of the property (along with some A-Frame tents and camping facilities). But what’s most important (in my opinion) is that you can cook for yourself. What’s almost as important is that they have a swimming pool, which is imperative during the hot season to stop you from spontaneously combusting.
- A swimming pool
- Well equiped self catering and food storage facilities,
- A bar and pool table,
- Lots of toilet and shower blocks
- Laundry facilities (4 usd per load)
- A kitchen serving basic food - burgers, chicken, steak and fish with chips.
Kalulu is a place where backpackers, volunteers and locals meet and share a drink at the bar or challenge each other to a pool competition. The bar is open to the public (well, those with a membership card for the bar) and can get quite lively at the weekend, though by midnight it is generally closed as those interested in further late night entertainment migrate to the bars and clubs in the city. Unfortunately, I never managed to stay awake after 10pm so I can’t advise on that front….
What I do know is that the windows of the dorm rooms open onto the bar and for those of you who enjoy a good nights’ sleep, I would recommend booking a spot in a twin room at the back of the property, where access is permitted to hostels users only and the vibe is one of volunteers and backpackers cooking and hanging out together.
During the day, Kalulu is quiet and laid-back which gives you lots of time to read by the pool or chat with Cynthia at reception, who is possibly the best receptionist in the world, with a happy smile for everyone who walks through the door.
Costs: Kalulu are giving a special deal of 400 Euro (around 540 usd) per month per person sharing in the twin rooms. If you are travelling alone you will be sharing with another long term stay volunteer. This price includes a light breakfast (though you will probably look after yourself when it comes to food). If you choose to stay in the other accommodations on offer, such as the twin tents, you will receive the usual 50 euro off the first months costs and 10% thereafter.
For those just passing through, Ethical Volunteer Members will receive the usual 10% discount on your nights stay.
Double en suite $50
Triple shared bathroom $50
Double shared bathroom $40
Twin shared bathroom $40
A Frame tents twin shared bathroom $30
9 bed mixed dorm shared bathroom $12 per bed
6 bed mixed dorm shared bathroom $12 per bed
6 bed Female dorm only shared bathroom per bed
Camping with own tent $5 pp
Camping with hired tent $8 pp
Getting around: Kalulu will supply bicycles for volunteers to use free of charge (returnable deposit required) and it’s safe to walk around the city during daylight hours. For those working in the compounds a little outside of the centre, there are buses that run all day from the station in the centre of town.
Taxi: From the airport you’ll need to get a taxi. Kalulu can send one to collect you if you let them know what time you will be arriving (30 usd).
Fly: Proflight operate between a few major towns/cities in Zambia (Chipata, Livingstone, the Copperbelt). If you have time and only carry-on baggage it can definitely be worth getting a stand-by flight (you can get them as cheap as 80 usd to fly Lusaka –Mfuwe). However, their weight restrictions are really strict, and lower than the standard airlines, so don’t get caught out.
Bus: This is your main mode of transport between towns/cities. The best advice is to book an early morning “luxury” bus (Mazhandu, Johabie, Zambia-Malawi) a day in advance, that way you secure your seat and the bus will leave at the time it says it will leave. There is still no guarantee that the bus won’t breakdown a few times, but that’s why you get the early bus and make no other plans that day. And don’t get spooked by the dudes that will swarm you at the station, just buy your ticket the day in advance and then steadfastly ignore them… though it seldom works…..
Available in Lusaka: Lusaka has everything you need… atms, banks, post offices, supermarkets, pharmacies and even a cinema, so don’t worry about stocking up for any eventuality, if you need it chances are you’ll find it in Lusaka. The city itself is quite sprawling but Kalulu is in the centre and everything is accessible by foot or local bus.
Around Lusaka: While I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Lusaka, to be honest, if I hadn’t been volunteering I wouldn’t have stuck around for longer than a few days. There is not a lot to do in the way of day trips from Lusaka, but if you have a few days off it would be a crime not to jump on a bus to Livingstone to check out Victoria Falls, while Zambia boasts a number of fantastic National Parks within a day’s journey of Lusaka, including Kafue and South Luangwa
Hanging out by the Kalulu pool
Bar and pool table
Shopping mall, 10 mins walk from Kalulu. The difference in the prices from local food stalls to the supermarkets never ceased to surprise me!