Do you have experience traveling by Train through Zambia and Tanzania? Traveling by train in many African countries is a great adventure travel opportunity. This article examines what to expect and how to prepare for a train trip through these African countries.
Tazara Train Line Tanzania to Zambia
The Tazara line runs from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The trip takes approximately 48 hours if there are no delays or break-downs. Scenery along the way is lovely, with vistas that are ever-changing. The trip will take the traveler through vast expanses of pristine forests, bushveld and mountain ranges. The train goes through a large section of the Selous game reserve in Tanzania, where buck, giraffe, hippos, monkeys and other game can be spotted from the train window.
The train journey is a wonderful way to see daily life in small villages along the way: small children bathing in rivers, mamas bending over wood fires outside huts as morning life begins, children dawdling on their way to school. Expect to see a colorful flurry of activity as the train stops at a station and all kinds of vendors try to sell food and drinks through the open windows of the train.
Tips on Train Travel – What to Bring
Although bedding is provided for 1st class passengers, be sure to bring:
- Bottled drinking water. You can generally buy soft drinks and beer in the train, but bottled water often runs out.
- Toilet paper, tissues and wet wipes.
- Bleach and cleaning rags to clean out compartments and sanitize toilets. An attempt is made to sweep and mop out compartments and passageways regularly by the stewardess assigned to a compartment, but the seats, floors, walls and toilets have not been cleaned properly for years and are filthy . There a bucket with water available for flushing in each toilet, as flush systems and sinks are long since broken. Some showers do work.
- Snacks and food. There is a kitchen that provides meals such as chicken and rice, or local maize meal and stew at a reasonable price (around $2.50). The food is fresh and hot. Local women sell bananas, donuts, fried chicken and fish, sugar cane etc. at the stops along the way. Bringing a few extra snacks and drinks will ensure that the traveler has plenty of variety.
- Bring plenty of books and a headlamp for reading when traveling by train through Zambia and Tanzania, as generally only the overhead bulb works at night. Don’t forget to bring a camera and good maps of the route.
How to Book for Train Travel in Tanzania
Travel in first class is comfortable, even if it means buying all four seats in the first class compartment. Seats are approximately $50 per person from Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and $65 per person from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi. Children under 15 pay half price, children under 7 go free. The price varies a little due to currency exchange fluctuations when paying in the local currency (kwatchas in Zambia, shillings in Tanzania).
For up to date tariff information, check out the official Tazara website.
Departure times for the express train is 15h50 from Dar es Salaam and 16h00 from Kapiri Mposhi. Time of arrival varies considerably – expect to arrive late as the line is notorious for delays.
Where to Book Tazara Train Tickets before traveling by train through Zambia and Tanzania
Before traveling by train through Zambia and Tanzania, you must buy train tickets at the station in Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia or Kapiri (Zambia) booking office on +260 211 220 646.
In Dar es Salaam, you can book for the westbound journey at the station (it is preferable to book in person at least one week in advance). The telephone number for the Dar es Salaam booking office is +25 22 26 2191.
Local travel agents may also be able to assist with bookings, but expect to pay 10% to 20% more for tickets.
Visas and Money on the Train
Passport officials will come on board to stamp passports between Tanzania and Zambia. Make passports are valid for at least 6 months, and make sure all the relevant visas are obtained (double entry visas if it is intended to make the trip both ways).
Money is exchanged on the train between the two countries. Once in Zambia, only kwatchas will be accepted and only Tanzanian shillings will be accepted once in Tanzania. Do not accept the first exchange rate, negotiate among the different money changers to get the best deal, if necessary, ask the stewardess for help. Vendors will also sell Sim cards and airtime on the train at the border.
Well, this is our short guide on traveling by train through Zambia and Tanzania. If you have any suggestion or experience feel free to drop us a comment below. Have a nice train ride!