4-berth 1st class sleeper on the train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia

The Mukuba Express from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi on the TAZARA Railway...  Photo courtesy of Burcu Canbulat

 

Across Africa by train...

Taking the train is a safe, pretty comfortable and above all, fascinating way to get around Tanzania, and to travel between Tanzania and Zambia.  This page explains routes, train times, fares and how to buy tickets.  Click here for a route map.

Train times, fares & tickets...

  Dar es Salaam-Mbeya-Kapiri Mposhi by Tazara train.

  Kitwe-Kapiri Mposhi-Lusaka-Livingstone by Zambian Railways.

  Livingstone-Victoria Falls by local transport.

  Dar es Salaam-Kigoma/Mwanza by Tanzania Railways.

  Dar es Salaam-Zanzibar by fast ferry.

  Interactive map of Southern Africa train routes

  Useful country information - visas, currency, time zone...

  Hotels in Tanzania & Zambia

On other pages...

  Dar es Salaam-Nairobi, Mombasa & Kenya by bus.

  Victoria Falls-Bulawayo by train.

  Bulawayo-Gaborone or Messina-Johannesburg

  Johannesburg-Cape Town, Johannesburg-Durban by train.

Sponsored links...

 

Useful country information

Train operators :

Tanzania & Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), www.tazarasite.com.

Tanzania Railways Corporation Dar es Salaam-Kigoma/Mwanza, www.trctz.com.

Railway Systems of Zambia (no website).

Time zone:

GMT+2 all year round.

Dialling code:

Zambia dialling code +260, Tanzania dialling code +255.

Currency:

£1 = 9.0 Zambian Kwacha = 2,600 Tanzanian Shillings.  Currency converter

Visas:

UK citizens need visas to visit both Zambia & Tanzania.  Although tourist visas can be bought at border points & airports, it can be better to buy them in advance from the relevant embassy, see www.tanzania-online.gov.uk and www.zambia.embassyhomepage.com.

Tourist information:

www.zambiatourism.com    www.tanzaniatouristboard.com

Hotels in Tanzania & Zambia   Tripadvisor Tanzania page   Health & vaccinations

Page last updated:

24 July 2014.


Dar es Salaam - Kapiri Mposhi (Tazara)

The Tanzania & Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) runs trains between Kapiri Mposhi, Mbeya and Dar es Salaam, taking two nights.  The trains have sleeping-cars and a restaurant car, and the journey is a great adventure, see the travellers' reports below.  The line is 1,860km long and was only opened in 1976, built with Chinese funding and assistance.

The times shown here reflect the new timetable introduced on 10 October 2008 and still in force as far as I know in 2010.  There are no longer any additional local trains Dar-Mbeya or Kapiri-Nakonde, just the two train shown here, one train per week an express, the other now an ordinary train.

Update July 2014:  Tazara train service to be cut in two? 

In a press release issued on 4 July 2014, Tazara officials appear to announce that Tazara's Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi passenger service will be cut in two either side of the Tanzania/Zambia border, Dar es Salaam to Mbeya and Nakonde to Kapiri Mposhi with a trainless gap of some 121 km between them across the border where passengers will have to find alternative transport.  Further details are not yet available, this page will be updated when the situation becomes clearer.

 Dar es Salaam ► Mbeya ► Kapiri Mposhi

km

 Classes:

Mukuba or Kilimanjaro

Express train

1S, 2S, 2, 3, M or R

Mukuba or Kilimanjaro

Ordinary train

1S, 2S, 2, 3, R

0

 Dar es Salaam

depart

15:50  Tuesdays

13:50   Fridays

849

 Mbeya

arrive

depart 

13:08   Wednesdays

13:23   Wednesdays

14:10   Saturdays

14:40   Saturdays

969

 Tunduma (frontier) 

arrive

depart 

17:02   Wednesdays

17:17   Wednesdays

18:38   Saturdays

18:53   Saturdays

970

 Nakonde

arrive

depart 

16:22   Wednesdays

16:47   Wednesdays

17:58   Saturdays

18:18   Saturdays

1852

 Kapiri Mposhi (New)  

arrive

09:26*  Thursdays

13:37   Sundays

1S = 1st class 4-berth sleepers;  2S = 2nd class 6-berth sleepers;  2 = 2nd class seats;  3 = 3rd class seats;  M = meal at seat service;  R = Restaurant car.

One of the two Dar-Kapiri Mposhi train sets is Zambian and called the Mukuba Express (= 'copper' in the Bemba language), the other is Tanzanian and called the Kilimanjaro.  You have a 50:50 chance of getting either trainset. 

Each train typically consists of 3 x 1st class sleepers, 3 x 2nd class sleepers, 3 x 3rd class seats cars, a 2nd class seats car, two restaurant cars, a 1st class lounge car and a couple of baggage vans.

You can check times at www.tazarasite.com.  * = Expect an arrival closer to 13:00!

 Kapiri Mposhi ► Mbeya ► Dar es Salaam

km

 Classes:

Mukuba or Kilimanjaro

Express service

1S, 2S, 2, 3, M or R

Mukuba or Kilimanjaro

Ordinary train

1S, 2S, 2, 3, R

0

 Kapiri Mposhi (New)  

depart

16:00   Tuesdays

14:00   Fridays

882

 Nakonde

arrive

depart 

08:39   Wednesdays

09:09   Wednesdays

09:13  Saturdays

09:23  Saturdays

883

 Tunduma (frontier) 

arrive

depart 

10:14   Wednesdays

10:29   Wednesdays

10:30  Saturdays

10:45  Saturdays

1003

 Mbeya

arrive

depart 

14:13   Wednesdays

14:28   Wednesdays

14:32  Saturdays

15:00  Saturdays

1852

 Dar es Salaam

arrive

12:35   Thursdays

15:46  Sundays

Kapiri Mposhi (New) station is 2km from Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia Railways) station. 

 Fares...

One way per person.  Express train fares.  Ordinary train fares are around 20% less.

 Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi:

104,000 Tanzanian shillings (£40 or $64) in 1st class sleeper.

84,600 Tanzanian shillings (£32 or $52) in 2nd class sleeper.

78,700 Tanzanian shillings in a 2nd class seat.

72,600 Tanzanian shillings in a 3rd class seat.

 Dar es Salaam to Mbeya:

47,200 Tanzanian shillings (£18 or $29) in 1st class sleeper.

39,200 Tanzanian shillings (£15 or $24) in 2nd class sleeper.

36,300 Tanzanian shillings in a 2nd class seat.

33,300 Tanzanian shillings in a 3rd class seat.

 Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam:

1st class sleeper, express = 333 Zambian kwacha (£37 or $59)

2nd class sleeper = 272 kwacha (£30 or $48)

2nd class seat = 252 kwacha

3rd class seat = 233 kwacha

 Kapiri Mposhi to Mbeya:

1st class sleeper = 191 Zambian kwacha (£21 or $34)

2nd class sleeper = 152 kwacha (£17 or  $27)

2nd class seat = 143 kwacha

3rd class seat = 132 kwacha

On Tazara, Children under 7 travel free, under 15 pay half fare.  Bookings open 1 month in advance.

The sleepers are single sex, so men and women will be in separate compartments unless your party books the complete compartment.

You may be able to check prices at www.tazarasite.com.

How to buy tickets for journeys starting in Dar es Salaam...

You cannot buy tickets online, you should buy them at the station or by phone.  Call Dar Es Salaam ticket office on +255 22 26 2191 for westbound journeys, or call the station master at Dar on +255 78 7099 064, reserve by phone and collect and pay for tickets when you get there.  An email from Tazara customer relations also suggests that bookings can be made on any of the following numbers, although this hasn't been confirmed:   +255 784345492, +255 754260988, +255 715469239 or +255 784454510.  Please let me know if one of these works for you.  Alternatively, you can buy tickets before you get to Tanzania by contacting a good local travel agency.  Contact the highly-recommended Sykes Travel Ltd, www.sykestravel.com, tel +255 22 211 5542 or email abe@sykestravel.com.  Booking opens 1 month in advance of departure.  Feedback on ticket buying would be appreciated.

How to buy tickets for journeys starting in Zambia...

You cannot buy tickets online, you should buy them at the station or by phone.  Call the Kapiri (Zambia) booking office on +260 211 220 646.  One report suggests the Kapiri ticket office answered the phone promptly and made a first class booking, with payment to be made at the station on the day.  The same report suggests places in first class were available even booking at the station one day before travel.  Feedback on ticket buying would be appreciated.

  TAZARA train from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia) Copyright Adam Young

Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Tanzania.  Photo courtesy of Adam Young.

 
  Tazara train

The Mukuba train from Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam.  Photo courtesy of Ivor Ines

 
  TAZARA train in hills

The Mukuba train on the Tazara railway in Tanzania.  Photo courtesy of Ivor Ines

 
  1st class sleeper on Tazara train

On board the Mukuba:  This is a cosy first class sleeper.  Each passengers gets 2 blankets, 2 sheets, mineral water & toilet roll. Photo courtesy of Ivor Ines

 

Travellers' reports...

Here are some real accounts of trips on the Tazara Railway.  Further feedback or photos is very welcome!

Traveller Geoff Edwards reports from a trip on Tazara: 

Buying the tickets:  "Booking tickets was done easily through Sykes Travel Agents via email. The tickets can only be booked a month in advance but can be collected at the offices in Dar.  Booking through the travel agent meant that the price was 87,500 Tanzanian Shillings per person in 1st class sleeper rooms.  We booked four places between the two of us which allowed us to have the whole compartment to ourselves. If budget allows, I would recommend doing this. You may lose out a bit on the opportunity to meet new people but the extra freedom and comfort it allowed us was very worthwhile. You have more space to spread out your things and can lie down and watch the country go by as you please. 

On board the train:  Due to a local strike, we eventually left 8 hours late, so instead of leaving at 14h30 we left a little after midnight. As much as this was an inconvenient event, it did not take away from the great time we had on the rest of the trip.  The 1st class sleeper cars are clean and comfortable. We had a sheet, pillow, bottle of water and roll of toilet paper for each bed (No blanket). The carriage was kept clean by a couple of friendly staff members and the bathrooms were adequate, although occasionally lacked running water. The lights in the compartment worked in the evenings, and we had a ceiling fan which worked for about half the trip. 

Food & drink on board:  There was a dining car and a bar carriage on the train. We never went to eat in the dining car but spent some time in the bar. Drinks started off cold but as the trip progressed the ice melted and the drinks got a bit warmer.  We were served food in our carriage. An attendant comes around and asks if you will be having the meal, and then brings it to your compartment about 30 minutes later. Breakfast was an omelette and two slices of toast, with tea or coffee. At supper time there was a choice of two meals. We had chicken both nights (I think the other options were steak and fish) which was very tasty and came with either rice or chips and some vegetables. The meals were not too expensive (15 000 Zambian Kwacha on the Zambian side) but you might want to bring some snacks for lunches (as we did) to avoid unnecessary costs. 

Crossing the border was very simple, but was made a bit awkward by the timing of the crossing. We crossed the border around midnight so at 11pm a Tanzanian official came around and stamped all passports, and the Zambian official waited until 7am to do his rounds and stamp the passports into the country. Being South African we didn’t need to pay for visas.  Money changers also jump aboard around the border, but offer very poor exchange rates. You need the currency of the country that you are currently in, but try exchange as little as possible, and rather wait until you are in a bigger centre to exchange money. 

The scenery was really beautiful and changed as you moved through the countries. Tanzania started off dry and sparsely inhabited, and then moved into a mountainous region filled with tunnels and bridges, and then the Zambian countryside is lush bush with a lot more signs of population. It was a fabulous and relaxing way to see a lot of the country from the comfort of your bed! Bring plenty of books as it affords you time to catch up on those books you always meant to read. 

We arrived in Kapiri Mposhi at around midnight again ( which meant that, apart from the initial 8 hour delay, the train kept good time and arrived almost on schedule). There were buses waiting outside the station ready to take people to Lusaka or wherever there next destination was.  Overall, the trip was an adventure out of a different era. The train felt like quite a anachronism compared to the plane trip and the hustle and bustle of Dar es Salaam. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to anyone with a desire to see Africa.  Things I would recommend bringing on the train:  Blanket or sleeping bag, bottled water, good books, torch or headlamp, and an interesting travelling partner."

Ivor Morgan reports from a trip on Tazara:

Buying the tickets:  "I had originally planned to travel southbound on the Tazara, starting in Dar Es Salaam.  I tried emailing the  travel agents listed on Seat 61: Inihotours.co.tz did not respond at all, but Sykes responded very promptly, with helpful information and a price of 350,000 TSh for a 1st class 4-berth sleeper.  However, as we eventually travelled northbound I didn’t book with them as they couldn’t help with northbound bookings.  To book a departure from Kapiri, I called the number for Tazara in Kapiri Mposhi listed on Seat61 and got through immediately – the woman on the end told me the booking clerk was away on a 2 months training course, but she gave me a mobile number for someone else.  I got through to him immediately, he confirmed the price as 237,200 kwacha per first class berth, and I booked a compartment. I asked about payment, and he said it was fine to pay at the station on the day.

...Arriving at the station in Kapiri Mposhi:  We actually reached Kapiri Mposhi the day before departure. The same man I’d spoken to on the phone was working in the ticket office, and it was no problem to get our ticket issued. I’m not sure he had formally made a reservation for us in advance, but there was no problem getting space one day beforehand, and some other tourists also managed to get berths in first class even just a few hours before departure.  We were told to be at the station 2 hours before departure.  We had to get our ticket endorsed by the ticket office man, then have our passport details entered in the manifest at the adjacent reservations office.  Some people had old-style cardboard tickets, but we only had a piece of paper like a receipt, so I was a bit concerned about the difference.  It turned out that both are valid, though I couldn’t work out why some people got issued one type, and others the other!  As noted on Seat61, the Tazara station is a couple of km from the old RSZ station in the centre of town. There aren't many shops around the Tazara station, so if you need supplies for the journey, buy them in the town centre first.  Also, the few ‘hotels’ in Kapiri Mposhi are along the main drag, there’s nothing near the Tazara station.

...What was the Tazara train like?   We travelled on the Zambian-operated Mukuba express.  The train consisted of : 3 luggage vans (2 of these were left at the border); 6 economy seats cars; 1 restaurant between economy & 2nd class; 1 ‘super-seater’ car (reclining seats with 2 overhead TVs); 3 2nd class sleepers (6 berth compartments); another (more upmarket) restaurant car; 3 1st class sleepers (4 berth); a lounge/bar car; and a staff car.  There was an attendant for each 1st class sleeper or two, who was generally very helpful, and swept the corridors and compartments a couple of times each day. The main compartment and corridor lights worked during the night (but not the individual reading lights, nor power sockets). Our carriage had running water (most of the time) in the shower and in the washroom. There was no running water in the toilet, but a bucket full of water was provided for flushing. I am not sure if even the other 1st class carriages had functioning showers, but the staff seemed to be very good about keeping the water buckets in the toilets topped up, and the toilets themselves reasonably clean.  There was no security chain on the compartment door, but the main lock did function (after a bit of fiddling around). We could lock it ourselves from inside when leaving, and then just needed to ask the attendant to open it with the staff key when we returned. The window and screen both worked, and locked in position, so the compartment was fairly secure.  At the start of the journey, each berth was provided with 2 blankets, 1 sheet, 1 pillow, 1 pillowcase, and a bottle of water.  There was also one toilet roll per compartment.

...Crossing the Zambian/Tanzanian border:  Crossing the border at Nakonde (Zambian side) / Tunduma (Tanzanian side) was pretty straightforward. Moneychangers boarded at Nakonde, exchanging ZMK for TSH, and also selling Tanzanian SIM cards. (As other Seat61 correspondents have noted, the restaurant car only accepts currency from the country it is in, so you need to change money at the border). The Zambian authorities came down the train, and stamped us out before the train moved on.  On the Tanzanian side, I was a bit worried that we pulled out of Tunduma before we had seen an immigration official. However, the staff said they had boarded the train, and would make their way along it while we were moving.  Which, sure enough, was what happened. We didn’t have visas for Tanzania, but it was no problem to get them on the train for $50 each, paid in USD. I was told by Sykes Travel in Dar that you can get Zambian visas on the train when going the other way. A bit later on, we passed the Kilimanjaro Express going the other way, and all the immigration officials jumped off our train, and on to the Kilimanjaro for a ride back to the border.

...What's the scenery like?  The terrain is fairly flat on the Zambian side, so the train moves fairly fast. However, as it approaches the border, the terrain gets more hilly, and it slowly creeps and crawls over the Southern Highlands.  Some of the track speed limit signs were as low as 20km/hour, but the route through the hills is very scenic.  There were lots of damaged railway wagons alongside the track, presumably the result of previous derailments and crashes.  However, we only saw wrecked freight wagons so hopefully passenger carriages have a better safety record!  We seemed to be keeping to time for the travel between stations but we had a lot of long waits while we were at various stations. I estimated this as ~12 hours due to a derailment of a freight train ahead of us; ~6hrs due to ‘miscellaneous’; and ~6 hrs because we had to keep waiting for a Rovos cruise train ahead of us, which was running to a slower timetable but was still given priority – which was very annoying. We eventually reached Dar Es-Salaam almost exactly 24 hours late...  Unfortunately, the late running meant it was dark most of the time we were passing through the Selous Game Reserve, but we did see some wildlife including warthogs, baboons, guinea fowl and various deer on the outskirts of the reserve in the morning.  As noted by other Seat61 correspondents, the restaurant car serves basic but good and reasonably cheap food; the lounge/bar car could be pleasant, but is ruined by the TV screens playing loud B-movies.  There were 4 other western tourists travelling from Zambia through to Dar, and another 5 or so got on in Mbeya. The train itself was reasonably well-used but not full in 1st & 2nd. Economy seemed much more crowded, especially as a lot of people seemed to bringing farm produce with them which was stacked up in the vestibules and elsewhere.

...Summing up:  Guidebooks and some websites including the UK Foreign Office seem to discourage train travel in Tanzania – but this seems misguided.  The Tazara was very pleasant, and although I haven’t been on a bus in Tanzania, I’m sure the train was more comfortable.  Trains in Tanzania may be less safe than those in Europe, but air & bus travel in Africa is hardly risk-free either, a point the guidebooks and FCO often seem to miss.  Despite the 24 hour delay, the Tazara was a very pleasant and relaxing way to travel."

Traveller Adam Young writes:  "The service to Mbeya is fantastic. The train goes through the Selous game park and I've seen elephants, monkeys, gibbons, zebra, giraffes, bok things (it's difficult to get a good ID from a moving train!) and various bird life. A very cheap safari. Hard sleep (6 beds per cabin) is good and people are always very friendly and like most train trips it is a good chance to meet local people.  I've been delayed for over 12 hours on this route, but hey, this is Tanzania and is all part of the fun."Andrew Kerr reports (August 2008):  "We travelled from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhe in Zambia.  The dining car contract has been renewed, so getting food was not a problem.  Someone had their back pack stolen out of a compartment window while they were sleeping when we were in a station. This was entirely preventable, as there are closeable metal grilles that can keep out mosquitos and wandering hands. In addition, the doors are lockable when you leave your compartment, you just need to get your carriage attendant to open again when you return (which was easy).  Our journey took 72 hours instead of 45, as a goods train had derailed further up the line so we waited for 15 hours, and then later we also ran out of fuel!  But I’d do it again: amazing scenery and I met so many interesting people, both other backpackers and locals.  I managed to buy a first class sleeper ticket on the day I travelled but I think I was lucky in getting this.

Traveller Chris Cummins reports:  "We travelled on the Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi.  Prospective travellers should be aware that currently there is no restaurant car on the train, the contract has run out and is still under negotiation.  Not knowing this, we arrived with only a small amount of food.  We also struggled for most of the journey to buy any food from vendors as they mainly sell large bags of potatoes, etc, there was not much other foods available.  The ones who do sell the suspect looking roast chicken or fruit do not come down to the end of the train to the sleeping cars, they stay up the front and serve the seated passengers.  There are little or no food vendors allowed on the platforms at each station.  We were lucky to buy some rice mixed with boiled cabbage from a tin shed kitchen adjacent to a platform, which kept us going. Take all you need to eat and drink.  We eventually made it to Kapiri Mposhi over 12 hours late due to numerous stops for repairs.  We departed Dar an hour late and stopped in many places so workers could get out and hit the brakes with rocks picked up from the ballast.  At one stage the engine was taken away for 4 hours while we sat in the middle of nowhere in the dark until it came back. We had a sleeper cabin and booked all 4 berths so we would not have to share, at each stop in the night we kept the door locked and many tried to look for a bunk with us only to be firmly told by the wonderful carriage hostess (one in each carriage) to go away.  At no time though did we feel unsafe or have anything stolen either on the local trains or over 6 weeks travel in Africa.  Arriving in Kapiri Mposhi was the usual chaos but we easily found a mini bus to Lusaka and arrived there safely 2 and 1/2 hours later along a good road. Although we did squeeze 26 people and all their luggage into a Toyota Coaster."

A train ride on Tazara from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi...  Watch the video

Dar es Salaam train station sign   Dar es Salaam railway station
Dar es Salaam station...

Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

  Dar es Salaam station...

Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

Dar es Salaam railway station   The Mukuba in the platform at Dar es Salaam station

First class passenger lounge at Dar es Salaam station.  Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

  The Mukuba in the platform at Dar es Salaam station.

Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

4-berth first class sleeper   The Mukuba in the platform at Dar es Salaam station
First class sleeper on the Mukuba.

Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

  Breakfast, served in a first class sleeper.

Photo courtesy of Burcu Canbulat

Mukuba Express from dar es Salaam to Mbeya & Kapiri Mposhi   4-berth 1st class sleeper on the train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia

The Mukuba Express from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi.  Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Stobino

  A first class sleeper on the Mukuba Express

Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Stobino

Mukuba Express from dar es Salaam to Mbeya & Kapiri Mposhi   The Mukuba Express at Mbeya, on the Tazara Railway
Lounge car on the Mukuba Express

Photo courtesy of Burcu Canbulat

 

Mukuba Express at Mbeya.  The attendant's uniform is the colour of the Zambian flag.  Courtesy of Alister Renaux.

Restaurant car on the Tazara train from Tanzania to Zambia.   2nd class seats on the Tazara train

The restaurant car on the Mukuba Express...

Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Stobino

 

'Super seater' 2nd class seats...

Photo courtesy of Ivor Ines

A meal on board the train from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya (copyright David Eerdmans)   The Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya (copyright Sebastiaan van Kooij)

A meal on board the train from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya...  Photo courtesy of David Eerdmans.

  The Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya...

Photo courtesy of Sebastiaan van Kooij

Sleeper corridor on the Tazara train from Tanzania to Zambia   Kapiri Mposhi station on Tazara
First class sleeper corridor...

Photo courtesy of Jean-Michel Stobino

  Kapiri Mposhi station...

Photo courtesy of Ivor Ines

Watch the video:  A journey from Dar to Kapiri Mposhi on Tazara...

Tazara from plant stories project on Vimeo.


Kitwe - Kapiri Mposhi - Lusaka - Livingstone

A concession called Railway Systems of Zambia has taken over from Zambia Railways, running passenger trains between Livingstone, Lusaka, Kapiri Mposhi (change for TAZARA trains to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania) and Kitwe.  If you have any feedback or further information about these services, or any photos that could be used on this page, please e-mail me.  Please double-check all train times locally.

 Livingstone ► Lusaka ► Kitwe

           

 Kitwe Lusaka Livingstone

See note:

Note A 

Note A 

  See note:

Note A 

Note A

0 km

 Livingstone

depart

20:00 Mon, Fri

15:00 Wed

Kitwe 

depart

08:45 Mon,  Fri

-

467

 Lusaka

arrive  

13:20 Tue, Sat

06:40 Thur

Ndola  

arr / dep  

11:30 Mon, Fri

-

depart  

14:20 Tue, Sat

-

Kapiri Mposhi  

arr / dep  

16:42 Mon, Fri

-

652

 Kapiri Mposhi  

arr / dep

21:30 Tue, Sat

-

Lusaka

arrive  

23:50 Mon, Fri

-

785

 Ndola  

arr / dep

02:50 Wed, Sun

-

depart

00:30 Tues, Sat

18:00 Thurs

851

 Kitwe

arrive

06:00 Wed, Sun

-

Livingstone

arrive

18:45 Tues, Sat

09:25 Fri

Note A: Economy class seats only.  No sleepers or first class.  Run by Railway Systems of Zambia using South African passenger coaches.

In Kapiri Mposhi, trains use the 'old' station, not the 'new' (Tazara) station.

 Fares

 One way per person in economy class

 Livingstone - Lusaka:

 40,000 ZMK (£5 or $7)

 Livingstone - Kapiri Mposhi:

 53,000 ZMK (£6 or $10)

 Lusaka - Kapiri Mposhi:

 13,000 ZMK (£2 or $3)

Children under 6 travel free,  children under 14 pay half fare.  Just buy tickets at the station.

How to buy tickets...

It's easiest to by tickets when you get there, at the station.  However, you could also try calling the departure station, using these numbers (feedback would be appreciated):

Lusaka  +260 211 228023

Livingstone  +260 213 321001

Kabwe  +260 215 224027

On board the trains...

Until 2006, there were four classes of accommodation, sleeper class with 2-berth & 4-berth compartments, 1st & 2nd class upholstered reclining seat, and economy class with basic hard seats.  However, as from 2006, the train now has economy class seats only, using ex-South African economy seats cars.

Kitwe-Kapiri Mposhi-Lusaka-Livingstone train, Zambia

The Kitwe-Lusaka-Livingstone train, in its post-2007 guise.  Photo courtesy of Dennis Nicoll.

Traveller's reports:

Traveller Patrice Etienne reports from a Livingstone-Lusaka journey:  "The train left Livingstone station at 20:00 and it stopped only 5 minutes later, due to a problem with the engine.  After an hour it started again and there was no more problems to Lusaka, where we arrived at 16:00 the next day.  Economy class bench seats throughout the whole train: no sleepers, only benches.  The staff invite foreigners to sit in their wagon, where there is plenty of space so it is possible to lie on the bench for the night.  Which is welcome because the train shakes a lot during all the journey.  So I suppose the local passengers have a strong back pain after the night sitting on the benches!  Note that at that time of the year (October) the night on the train was cold, and some windows are broken so there was a continuous air flow, so advice is to take trousers and polar.
No food nor drink on board but possibility to buy it at stops.  So, a slow and shaky rodeo train, but it's really worth taking, as the itinerary and slow pace of the train enable you to see a probably more authentic part of Zambia than in a bus on the road: scenery, villages in the bush, people, children waving hands with amusement... and poverty too.  Remember that in this area, you can face big delays on the buses too, as well as discomfort, broken aircon.... and sometimes road hazards..."

Traveller Dennis Niccoll from Canada reports:  "At Kitwe station there is detailed information posted about prices but nothing about schedule.  The ticket office seemed permanently closed, so I asked around and was eventually directed to the parcel office.  There, a lady told me that the train leaves at 9 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday and, with a lot of prompting, that it is scheduled to arrive in Livingstone at noon on following day.   She said there was no first class or sleeper.  I was worried about how bad third class would be so I arrived early to check it out before committing to the trip.  Locals I had spoken to said that there was no way they would take the train, and that I certainly should not take it! I arrived early on Friday morning and got a good look at the train from behind a fence.    Most cars had seats with padded backs.  Coaches looked in good condition with clear, unbroken windows.  It was not too crowded so I would at least be able to get a seat.  I decided to go and joined the ticket line, which moved slowly and as I got near the front realized that there was nobody selling tickets – we moved up as people in front gave up!  A guard standing nearby said to buy the ticket from the conductor on board.  I found a good seat facing forward in a car near the back to avoid noise, soot and smell from the engine.  Seating was 2 person bench seats facing each other.  The train left on time at 09:00, but it soon stopped for no obvious reason.  According to my map, we almost right at the Congo border on the route to Ndola.  I bought my ticket from the conductor and paid only 27,500 Kwacha (about CAD7.30).  Later, a man came up to me and started talking about lights.  I eventually realized he worked on the train and that only 3 of the 12 cars had lights that worked at night and that he was strongly advising me to move to a car with lights!  We went back one car but it had only hard seat backs, so we went toward the front of the train.  He found me a space on 3-person bench with seats facing each other.  We were stopped a long time in Kabwe (1 ½ hours).  I slept on and off sitting uncomfortably on my bench, and we reached Lusaka at about 04:15 and left at 06:15.  I never could get any idea of when we would arrive in Livingstone. It had long been obvious that the scheduled 12-noon arrival was out of the question.   I got estimates of 22, 23, then, as they say, ‘zero one’.  We arrived at ‘zero two’ on Sunday, 41 hours after leaving Kitwe.  I decided it was too risky to walk or take a taxi to look for a hotel at this time of night, so I went with many others to the third class waiting room.  It’s a shed-like place with a concrete floor open on one side and with only one bench seat to hold 4 of the 50+ people waiting. I sat on some concrete steps; cold and unsleeping till six when it started to get light.  By 6:30 it was light enough to walk into town, eat (no food on the train), find a hotel, and visit the excellent railway museum!"


Livingstone - Victoria Falls

Zambezi Bridge linking Zambia with Zimbabwe near Victoria FallsVictoria Falls to Livingstone by foot & taxi...

Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and Livingstone (Zambia) are about 13km apart either side of the Zim/Zam border across the Zambezi river.  Although linked by a railway line there are currently no passenger trains between the two places other than irregular steam specials.  However, you can easily walk from central Victoria Falls to the Zimbabwe border post, pass through Zimbabwe customs, walk across the famous road and rail bridge spanning the Zambezi river gorge (resisting the urge to bungy-jump) to the Zambian border post.  There are then taxis from the Zambian frontier the few miles into Livingstone.

Pictured right:  The famous bridge across the Zambezi in no man's land, linking Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Sadly, these days you're more likely to bungy-jump off it than cross it by train!


Tanzania Railways routes

Dar es Salaam - Kigoma, Mwanza, Moshi, Arusa

Trains aren't running from Dar to Moshi or Arusha at the moment, but here's what should currently be running to northern Tanzania:

 Dar es Salaam ► Kigoma / Mwanza

Km

 Classes:

1st & 3rd class

1, 2 & 3

0

 Dar es Salaam * depart

17:00  Tuesdays & Fridays

17:00  Tuesdays & Fridays

465

 Dodoma

08:10   Wednesdays & Saturdays

08:10   Wednesdays & Saturdays

840

 Tabora arrive 

18:25   Wednesdays & Saturdays

18:25   Wednesdays & Saturdays

840

 Tabora depart

20:10   Wednesdays & Saturdays

21:30   Wednesdays & Saturdays

1256

 Kigoma arrive

07:25   Thursdays & Sundays

    |

1220

 Mwanza arrive

-  

07:25   Thursdays & Sundays  

* Dar es Salaam Tanzania Railways station is about 8 km (5 miles) from the Dar es Salaam Tazara station.

1st class consists of 2-berth sleepers;  2nd class converts to 6-berth sleeper compartments for overnight use; 3rd class is basic seating.

Change at Tabora for Mpanda.  A train departs Tabora on Wednesdays & Saturdays at 21:00 arriving Mpanda 10:30 next day.

A train leaves Mpanda on Thursdays & Sundays at 13:00 arriving Tabora at 02:45 next day, connecting with the train to Dar es Salaam.

 Kigoma / Mwanza ► Dar es Salaam

 Classes:

1st & 3rd class

1, 2 & 3

 Mwanza depart

-

18:00  Thursdays & Sundays

 Kigoma departs

17:00   Thursdays & Sundays

   |

 Tabora arrive 

04:30   Fridays & Mondays

04:00   Fridays & Mondays

 Tabora depart

07:25   Fridays & Mondays

07:25   Fridays & Mondays

 Dodoma  

18:40   Fridays & Mondays

18:40   Fridays & Mondays

 Dar es Salaam * arrive  

08:50   Saturdays & Tuesdays

08:50   Saturdays & Tuesdays

 

 Fares...

One way per person...

 Dar es Salaam to Kigoma

60,000 Shillings (£28 or $45) 1st class sleeper 

40,000 Shillings (£20 or $35) 2nd class sleeper

19,900 Shillings 3rd class seat.

 Dar es Salaam to Mwanza

59,000 Shillings (£28 or $45) 1st class sleeper 

? Shillings (£20 or $35) 2nd class sleeper

? Shillings 3rd class seat.

On board the train from Dar to Mwanza...

Dar es Salaam to Mwanza train   Mwanza railway station

The Dar to Mwanza train...  Photo courtesy of Roger Crawford

 

Mwanza railway station...  Photo courtesy of Roger Crawford

1st class sleeper on train Dar to Mwanza   3rd class seats   Restaurant car

1st class sleeper...  Photo courtesy of Roger Crawford

 

3rd class...  Photo courtesy of Roger Crawford

 

Restaurant car...  Photo courtesy of Roger Crawford

Travellers' reports...

  Tanzania Railways train to Mwanza
 

The Tanzanian Railways train to Mwanza.

Photo courtesy of Andy Allsebrook

Traveller Roger Crawford reports (January 2013):  "Services from Mwanza to Tabora to Dar es Salam resumed around 3 weeks ago.  Services depart Mwanza each Thursday and Sunday at 1800 hrs. On most occasions it will leave on time but I have observed over the last 3 weeks that the departure time can be hit and miss, either late or the next day depending upon how late it is running from Dar.  There is first, second and third class.  First sleeper is just one carriage and bare essentials. Need to bring all your own linen. Most bedding is torn and fairly ordinary.  Mwanza station has also received a coat of paint to celebrate the reopening of the rail service to Tabora/Dar."

Travellers Andy Allsebrook, Tim Lonsdale & Steven ‘Bungle’ Hoyland travelled from Dodoma to Mwanza:  "The train ride was one of the most wonderfully Africa experiences of the whole trip. From the disorganised beginnings to the chaotic, scrambling end we never felt more like we were off the beaten track and truly amongst everyday African life. We departed around 8am (I forget the day we left – they all had begun to blend into one by then) and trundled slowly across the sparse Africa landscape. Occasional stops were made in what seemed like the middle of nowhere but out of the baking scrubland impromptu markets erupted at the arrival of the train. The standard meal off the train was greasy goat and soggy, undercooked chips served in a plastic bag with far too much salt. Meals on the train were brought to our couchette (which we shard we 3 other passengers). It was usually of a rather high standard (fish and rice or chicken and rice) and was incredibly cheap. The train had a bar which was jam packed with drunken Africans who would want to engage in banter (always friendly) every time we headed up there for a beer. We would have loved to have sat and drank with them but there was simply no room. Train from Dar to KigomaMoving between carriages to get to the bar was a mission in itself – the gaps between them were unguarded and each carriage change required a leap of faith which left ones heart pounding. Unfortunately, after about 10 hours the bar had been drunk dry and I had to resort to reading my Jilly Cooper novel (having travelled from Rwanda English language novels were hard to find so forgive me). Around 10 hours into the journey we stopped in a large town (I forget its name) [probably Tabora] to await the arrival of a train from the lake. Having been given no indication as to how long this would be we  were reluctant to leave the train for too long. One of our party of 3 would leave the train to get cold drinks/goat when needed but no one wanted to stray too far for fear of being trapped in the town with no name. We needn’t have worried. The train remained at this station, unmoving, from around 6pm to 11am the next morning with absolutely no explanation. Africa is as Africa does however and the stoical, unblinking acceptance shown by the families around us made the journey bearable. We struck up conversations, wandered to station and drank warm cokes (the fridge in the shop had by now broken down). The night was spent sweating on a red leather couchette bed while we conversed in the pitch dark with the young African doctors who were taking the train home. They laughed at us when we said we did not believe in God. But it was a friendly laugh, almost one of pity. In the night a rat appeared in our compartment, scuttling from under the bed to under the sink and back again. Then into the space between to carriage walls. Sleep was difficult with a rat inches from your head. We spent the next full day and half of the next night until we arrived in Dodoma, hot, filthy, starving, thirsty, tired, angry and approximately 20 hours late. But after a shower and a beer we looked back on it as the best journey so far in Africa and it turned out to be one of the best of the trip."

Pictured, right:  The train from Dar to Kigoma, showing 2nd class 6-berth sleeper.  Photos courtesy of Graham Sowa, read his blog at http://grahamrussellsowa.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/train-across-tanzania/#more-180.


Zanzibar

  Dar es Salaam waterfront, with a fast ferry to Zanzibar
 

Dar es Salaam waterfront, with St Joseph's cathedral and one of the fast ferries to Zanzibar. Courtesy of Ivor Ines

Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar by ferry...

There's a twice-daily fast ferry between Dar es Salaam and the island of Zanzibar, departing at 14:00 & 16:00, journey time 1 hour 30 minutes.  Departures from Zanzibar at 10:00 & 13:00.  Fare $55 economy class or $65 first class.  See www.explorerkenya.com.

Traveller Ivor Morgan reports:  "There seem to be several companies operating on this route, so there are quite a number of sailings each day, not just 2. Most ferries are fast catamarans taking 1.5 – 2hrs. However, there is at least one much slower boat, the MV Flying Horse, so check which one you’re booking on before you pay for a ticket.  The ferries leave from what I assume is the old port area, on Sokoine Drive, just across the road from St Joseph’s Cathedral. I think the Central Line station is within walking distant of the port (although I didn’t have time to check).  The Tazara station is about 5km away, requiring a taxi ride.  Unfortunately, the ferry area is plagued with touts, and you should only buy tickets directly from the ferry companies, who all have office booths in a long, low building opposite the cathedral.  Other than the all-inclusive ticket price, there are no more fees to pay, although the various touts may try to charge you for “departure tax”, Yellow Fever cards, etc, etc.!  We paid only $35 per person one-way in economy (“VIP class” is hardly worth the extra $15), but I think the prices might have been reduced as it was Ramadan.  On arrival in Zanzibar, foreigners (but not locals) need to show their passports and complete Immigration cards again, even though you’ve already entered Tanzania on the mainland. However, there are no fees to pay, and no need for a new visa."


Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Southern Africa guidebookTo get the most from a trip to Southern Africa, you'll need a good guidebook - and I think the Lonely Planet guides are about the best ones out there.

Buy Lonely Planet Southern Africa online at Amazon.co.uk

 

 


Hotels & accommodation in Tanzania & Zambia

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Flights

Overland travel by train & bus around Africa is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But a long-haul flight might be unavoidable to reach Dar es Salaam in the first place.  For flights to Tanzania, compare airlines at Skyscanner.com.

skyscanner generic 728x90

Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find some huge bills waiting for you.  I've known people run up a £1,000 bill in data charges just by leaving their iPhone connected during a simple trip to Europe.  However, if you buy a global SIM card for your mobile phone from a company such as www.Go-Sim.com you can slash the cost by up to 85% and limit any damage to the amount you have pre-paid.  It cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also works for laptop or PDA data access.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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