Tazara train Dar-es-salaam review


Tazara train Dar-es-salaam review

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.”  This is all about Tazara train Dar-es-salaam review!


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