Traveling by TAZARA trains from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia.
Every day, people travel between Tanzania and Zambia. These could be people visiting their families, traders, travelers, and tourists. The fastest way to get to either of the destinations is by flight. The other option which is also faster is to use daily intercity buses which frequent the Dar es salaam-Lusaka route. If you are looking for an adventure, lifetime experience and interacting with people throughout the journey, Travelling by train is the best option.
This post will guide you on how to travel by train between Dar es Salaam and New Kapiri Mposhi. Booking, Schedules, charges, stopovers, border points, safety, train station transfers and other information.
The Journey and destinations.
Once you have decided to use the train, you need to book your tickets in advance. There are many people using this service so it is recommended to book or reverse at least one week earlier. Booking opens one month before travel day. There is no online booking so have to either buy the tickets at the TAZARA offices, main train stations or call for reservations.
The main train stations are Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and New Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia). Along the line, the train stops at other smaller stations and takes about 2 days to reach the final station.
Kilimanjaro ordinary train and Mukuba express train.
There are two trains that run between Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and New Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia. These trains use the 1860 Km TAZARA (Tanzania Zambia Railway) line which is a joint project between the two countries. Tanzanian authorities operate the Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train while their Zambian counterpart runs Mukuba Express Train. Both trains are well maintained with all the necessary facilities: a restaurant, bar, clean toilets, clean compartments, and bedding.
Kilimanjaro ordinary train has a bit of run down cars compared the ones for Mukuba express train which were built and delivered by China in 2016.
Both trains have the following common facilities.
- First class: 4 people in each compartment
- Second class: 6 people in each compartment
- Super seater: 1 personal per seat.
- Third class seats: Sharing seats
- Restaurant car: A restaurant and a bar lounge
- Electricity sockets in all the cars and inside the compartments.
- Clean toilets with a shower provision.
- Good food and drinks (Make sure you take the Zambian fish!).
- Wide corridors serving the passenger compartments.
- A viewing window inside and outside the compartments.
- Clean bunks and bedding.
- A cooling fan in the compartments.
TAZARA Trains Schedule
Kilimanjaro ordinary train departs Dar es Salaam for New Kapiri Mposhi every Tuesday and arrives on Thursday. The train then leaves New Kapiri Mposhi for Dar Es Salaam every Friday and arrives on Monday.
Mukuba express train departs Dar es Salaam for New Kapiri Mposhi every Friday and arrives on Monday. The train then leaves New Kapiri Mposhi for Dar Es Salaam every Tuesday and arrives on Thursday.
The arrival dates may vary depending on whether there are any delays along the railway or not. During my travel, we had two delays. On our journey to New Kapiri Mposhi on board the Tanzanian train, one of the cars derailed and we had to wait at Mbeya station for more than 8 hours. On the journey back on board Mukuba express, we had to as well wait for 3 hours at Mbeya station to pave way for Rovos Rail luxury train from South Africa.
TAZARA Trains fare charts between Dar es Salaam and New Kapiri Mposhi
Reservations and Currency exchange
1 USD = 2100 Tanzanian Shillings (Tshs)
1 USD = 8.6 Zambian Kwacha (ZMK)
Dar es Salaam Station: Salma +255 713 354 648, June +255 715 469 239
New Kapiri Mposhi Station: Mr. Sinkala +260 966 529 753
Lusaka Booking Office: Ms. Splendour Mweemba +260 979 484 980
Other useful information
Both TAZARA Main stations are located outside the city centers. To access the TAZARA Dar es Salaam station from the city center you can either get a taxi or board the public buses.
If you are heading to Lusaka, Zambia, there are buses at the New Kapiri Mposhi station that charges about 70 Kwacha to Intercity bus station where you can as well get a bus to Livingstone.
Necessary travel documents are required at the entry points for both countries. There are two Entry points, Nakonde for Zambian authorities and Tunduma for their Tanzanian counterparts. A valid passport, yellow fever vaccination card, and Visa are the main documents (Check the visa requirements for your country before you travel). The immigration officers board the train at the respective border points to issue Visas and stamp passports. Passengers normally don’t have to get off the train. It is highly recommended that you remain in the train while at the border so that you don’t miss the immigration officers.
You can exchange money at Tunduma and Nakonde. The exchange rates are not favorable at the border so you might want to make the exchange before you travel.
It is advisable to carry US Dollars or Euros as some of the currencies cannot be exchanged in these countries (In Zambia they don’t exchange Kenyan shillings for Kwacha).
1 USD = 2100 Tanzanian Shilling = 8.6 Zambian Kwacha
Mobile Sim cards and talk time (airtime) are sold in all the towns and at the Boarder points. Make sure you have your sim registered before you use it. The recommended network is Airtel for both Tanzania and Zambia. The dialing codes are +260 for Zambia and +255 for Tanzania.
All the compartments are alternate single sex. Men and women sleep in different compartments for first and second class. If you are traveling as a group, you can choose to book a full compartment. That way you can travel in the same compartment.
Recommendations and tips
- Keep your ticket safe throughout the journey; you will have to submit it at the end of your journey.
- There is security in the trains with armed officers from both countries but it is recommended you keep your belongings safe.
- The journey takes 2 days between Dar es Salaam and New Kapiri Mposhi but you can expect delays. We had to wait for more than 3 hours at Mbeya station to give way to the Rovos Rail luxury train from South Africa.
- Carry enough water and snacks though you can buy them inside the train or along the way.
- Arrive at the station early. The train leaves at the exact departure time.
- Use either the first or second class cars, the third class gets full quite fast and if you are traveling for the whole journey you may not be fully comfortable.
If you need more information about the TAZARA trains services or how to book the tickets, contact the Kenyan backpacker.
Update: Kindly note that Effective December 05 2017, TAZARA was suspended on the Zambian side due to a strike by the railway union workers. Check the TAZARA facebook page for latest update.
Also, kindly share your experiences in the comment section below.