Foreign exchange is freely traded in Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls and Zambia. It’s always better to be prepared. Know the local currencies accepted at each destination and make sure you have cash on you for when cards are not accepted.
All international airports have foreign exchange desks, though for Zambia, Zimbabwe and in 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. It's worth remembering that the Namibian Dollar cannot be used in South Africa, so if you're heading that way it's best to change the denomination in Namibia before proceeding.
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.