Chipata is a growing multi-cultural town 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.
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.
The main axis is the Great East Road to Lusaka, which runs through town to the town's solitary traffic lights, after which it turns into the Umodzi Highway to the Malawian border. Along the western boundary of the city, there is another road, heading north to Mfuwe and Lundazi, and eventually to Chama. It's known, appropriately, as Lundazi Road.
There are flights to Lusaka and Mfuwe (for South Luangwa). Flights are now run by Proflight or Zambezi Airlines from M-F. Bookings can be made at Jasat Travel Agency, located in Down Town.
From Lusaka, Chipata is a 7 to 8-hour bus ride on a luxury bus, costing approx US$20. It might be possible to find slightly cheaper transport, but it will probably take twice as long to arrive. (Among the various bus companies that travel between Chipata and Lusaka, Zoom has a rather poor safety record.) Buses to the capital leave every hour. 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.we have Lungu luxury coaches,chibangamoto,Kapekele and many more, CR Carriers is just one of the many companies operating the bus services their website has pictures of the buses and services they offer,  [dead link].
There are two bus stations: one for minibuses and one mainly for coaches, though another station is under construction. You will need to ask around to find the location of the bus station you need. Be prepared to wait a while at the local bus station — no matter what time the conductor tells you that you will leave, it will be much later (minibuses will only leave when full). Kick back and have a warm beer; after all, you're in the heart of Africa.
Chipata is roughly 12 km from the border of 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.
Chipata is strangely sprawling for a rural community. Most people with vehicles use them. For the most part, however, walking will be manageable, although possibly tiring.
There are many cabs in Chipata, painted an eye-catching blue. No meters, so bargain hard — expect to pay K10,000-20,000 for most trips around town.
Cabs will also take you to the border if necessary. Prices may vary on the number of people travelling.
You can hire bicycles at little as K2000, and for the whole day that can be arranged with the Tourism News.
Chipata is rather low on tourist attractions.
- 1 Chipata Juma Mosque (Central Mosque), Mosque Rd. Probably the prettiest building in Chipata, no entry for non-Muslims but just down the road from the Down Shops. Muslims only make up a relatively small minority of the population, however.
- Kanjala Hill, on the northeast corner of town (nearly 2 km 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.
Two major festivals are held around Chipata and are well worth a visit if you're in town at the right time.
- Ncwala (n-CHWA-la), Mutenguleni village, 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.
- Kulamba, Undi village (75 km from Chipata, near Katete), sometime in August. A Chewa thanksgiving festival that draws colorful Nyau secret society dancers not just from Zambia, but also Malawi and Mozambique.
Chipata is a good place to stock up before heading out into the bush. There is a large Spar supermarket and also a Shoprite, a number of petrol stations and a few places to change money.
If you are interested in taking a look around a "real Zambian town," head to the Indian shops (so-called because they are almost exclusively Indian-owned). Also known as the Down Shops, among these shops you will find thousands of Chipatans wandering around, meeting friends, or doing business. Chitenje, the colorful traditional Zambian cloth wraparounds, are a good buy here and go for US$2-3 each; specialist shops selling these include Scorpio, Vitenje,Patel & Co and Khatri Brothers Ltd where you will find the best range of them.
- Super Spar, Great East Shopping Mall (Great East Road, west of Shoprite). 07:30-20:00. Groceries, take away snacks, top up cards for cell phone
- Shoprite supermarket..
- Standard Chartered Bank. Has a Visa card/Mastercard ATM.
- Stanbic bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM.
Chipata has several local restaurants offering cheap traditional food.
- Chef's Pride, Parerenyatwa Rd. Serves local and Zambianised Indian dishes from US$2. Try the pepper chicken and chapattis. All chicken meals are magnificent (at least by African standards).
- Lazeez Khana, next to Chef's Pride. Serves similar food to Chef's Pride at similar prices. Best for beef steaks.
- Jamraz, At welcome.
Nightclubs in Chipata are a little low-key.
- Up Town, near Caltex Filling Station, is the only proper nite club in Chipata.
- Wildlife Club, in the Wildlife & Environment Conservation Society building. Features a pool table and beers for K5,000. Theoretically members-only, but in practice anybody gets in. Popular with Chipata's small expat community.
- Pine View, on the Guest House property, has a chilled-out bar and pool tables. A good chill out place to meet some locals and have some fun.
Chipata has several affordable guest houses
- 1 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. US$10.
- 2 Pine View Guest House (southeast side of town, off Umodzi Highway)). A nice place offering double rooms from US$20.
- Katuta Lodge, Lundazi Highway (10 km north). Camping for US$5, clean singles/double with bathroom from US$15/20. Has a decent restaurant on grounds serving local and Western fare.
- 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 US$10 for fish and chips is on the expensive side.
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.
- [dead link] Deans Hill View Lodge (close to the Chipata welcome arch 500m off the main Lusaka high-way), ☏ +260-0-216221673. camping/dorm beds. bed and breakfast for Backpackers and travellers. US$6/$12.
There are three petrol stations and a Barclays Bank with mostly-functional ATM on the Umodzi Highway (next to the traffic lights). If you need one — most travellers can get it at the border. For people coming to Chipata for the first time there is no need to carry cash as there are ATMs in Chipata: Barclays Bank, and Zanaco which also offer Visa services at their ATM. Indo Zambia Bank, Investrust Bank, Finance Bank, Natsave and Cavomont Bank also offer ATM services.
- Lilongwe in Malawi, 2-3 hours away
- South Luangwa National Park, among the best in Zambia, also 2-3 hours away via Mfuwe
- Lundazi and Chama to the north