Archive for the ‘Train from Zambia to Tanzania’ Tag

TAZARA (April 28 – 30)   1 comment


Zambia to Tanzania

After our fill of Victoria Falls we decided to head for Tanzania. This can be accomplished via flight (too expensive), bus (no fun) or the TAZARA train; we chose the latter. To begin we took the bus to the Zambian capital, Lusaka, where the TAZARA office is located. Upon arriving we are immediately pounced upon by Africans like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat. They all want to taxi us to our destination, however, since it was only about a kilometer away we decided to walk. While taking in the sights we notice this city more closely resembles a land fill than a capital city.

Later at the TAZARA office we asked for tickets on the Friday train (the other departs on Tuesday) and were told the ticket salesman is not there. “OK, we’ll come back tomorrow.” “No”, we’re told, “they will be back next week.” Apparently only two people in the world can issue tickets, the other one must be in Tanzania. I can’t imagine the training and certifications one must need to issue train tickets.

Maintaining high spirits we hop on a bus for Kapiri Mposhi to buy tickets at the station. Kapiri Mposhi is located 200km north of Lusaka and is truly the jewel in the Zambian crown. A bustling metropolis with one paved road and a couple of guest houses acts as the gateway for TAZARA. The logic for making the train depart/arrive here rather than Lusaka is lost on me, and probably anyone who dares to put logic and Africa in the same sentence.

A dirt road leads to the TAZARA station built along with the train and track in 1970-1975 (none of it changed/upgraded since). “No train today” was how we were met, “try tomorrow.” Ah, we get to enjoy Kapiri for another day. There is a God. The next day we buy tickets and are told we are to be separated into male and female cabins. After my initial frustration I realize that a bunch of Africans cohabited together on a train for 2 days is probably a bad idea.

As we depart for our 40-48 hr train ride we watch the scenery flow past and are regaled by stories of our fellow white passengers about Lusaka that include many muggings and one incident where a drunk driver passed out and ran over several people sleeping in the bus parking lot. The next day we entered Tanzania and the scenery immediately improved. Almost as though whoever drew the borders created a squashed telephone shaped country purposefully avoiding nice scenery. Beautiful green forests and mountains surround the train and the remainder of the journey passed rather uneventful, except for an exploded bottle of Coke. It was a very nice train ride even if it did take 56 hrs and arrive near midnight at Dar es Salaam.