How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.




How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Late 2016, I decided to embark on a project “Travel Africa” with an aim of traveling to all African countries. My main goal was to explore, learn and experience what makes every country unique. This journey first took me to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda in December 2016. In July 2017, I took on a solo backpacking trip down south to Mombasa (Kenya), Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. Given that I was on a budget, flying was not an option, neither was five-star hotels. The only means left for me was traveling by bus, trains, hitchhiking and budget accommodations. And I did just that!



I hope this post can give you an insight of how you can visit the famous Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe) from Kenya without robbing a bank!

If you have time and are adventurous enough, you can use road and rail, and in about 4 days you would be viewing the World famous Victoria Falls (Mosi Oya Tunya) or bungee jumping at the mighty Zambezi Bridge.

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Kenyan Backpacker – Sunset

The route

Nairobi to Victoria Falls

I wanted to use the SGR Madaraka Express train from Nairobi to Mombasa so my first destination had to be a return to the beach city of Kenya (Mombasa).

The route was Nairobi – Mombasa – Tanga – Dar es Salaam – Tunduma/Nakonde – New Kapiri Mposhi – Lusaka – Livingstone – Victoria Falls.


Victoria Falls to Nairobi

Arusha and Moshi are my favorite towns in Tanzania; this is why I had to board a 17 hours bus from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi.

The return route was Victoria Falls – Livingstone- Lusaka – New Kapiri Mposhi – Nakonde/Tunduma – Dar es Salaam – Moshi- Nairobi.

Pre-Travel

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Travel backpack and sleeping mat.

Before setting out for the journey, I had to make sure I had all the travel essentials.  Since I was only going to travel for a few weeks, I choose to pack light and leave heavier traveling items behind.

Travel documents and essentials

Nairobi to Mombasa

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

SGR Madaraka Express Train

It was about a month since the launch of SGR Madaraka Express Passenger train in Kenya. The train had started its operations between Nairobi and Mombasa. I had to get the experience. The train was amazing. You save a lot of time traveling and you get to see Kenya’s magical and scenic beauty. The seats are comfortable and the service is great. As a traveler, I was used to the old Jambo Deluxe train which used to take 15 hours, so, being in the 5 hours train was not as adventurous.

The train left Nairobi terminus at 09:00 am and arrived at Miritini Station in Mombasa at around 2:00 pm. (We had to stop for a few minutes at Mtito Andei to pave way for the Nairobi bound train.)

On arrival, I boarded a Matatu (Bus) to Mombasa city center and booked bus tickets (At Mwembe Tayari) for next day travel to Dar es Salaam. Thereafter I headed to a friend’s place.


FYI:

  • It is advisable to arrive at the station 2 hours before departure time. The train leaves at exactly 09:00 am.
  • Book the tickets 3-4 days before travel day since they get fully booked quite fast.
  • Buses from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam leave every morning from 06:00 am to 10:00 am. Book in advance or make a reservation with the respective bus company.

Transport: SGR Madaraka Express Train and Buses.

Train fare: Kshs 700 for a second class seat.

Accommodation:  A friend’s place.

Currency: Kenya shillings (Kshs).

Mombasa to Dar es Salaam

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Modern Coast Bus from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam

The Modern Coast bus left Mombasa for Dar es Salaam at 06:00 am from Mwembe Tayari station. This was my favorite bus though there are other buses operating along the route. In this bus, there was a power socket, clean curtains, comfortable seats with ample leg space, working air conditioning system and the staff service was amazing.

We had one stop before arriving at Lunga Lunga border post (between Kenya and Tanzania).  After clearing with immigration officers on both sides, I exchanged Kenyan currency to Tanzanian shillings from the vendors at the border before we left for Dar es Salaam. The bus had stopovers at Tanga, Muheza, Lugoba, Msoga, and Kibaha before arriving at Kariakor bus station about ten hours later. From the station, I took a bus to my hosts’ resident where I stayed for a few days exploring Dar es Salaam.


FYI:

Mombasa to Dar es Salaam: About 10 hours.

Transport:  Modern Coast Bus and Tuk-Tuk.

Accommodation in Dar es Salaam:  Couchsurfing host.

Border point: Lunga Lunga.

Bus fare: Approximately Kshs 1600 for a Normal seat.

Currency: Kenya shillings and Tanzanian shillings (1Kshs = Tzshs 20).

Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train (Tanzania)

My next destination from Dar es Salaam was New Kapiri Mposhi (Zambia).

On the travel day, I headed for TAZARA Dar es Salaam station and paid for my reserved second class tickets. The train (Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train from Tanzania) left Dar es Salaam at 2:00 pm for New Kapiri Mposhi.

After an hour of chatting and getting to know the other five passengers in the compartment, I went to check out the rest of the train. We stopped at almost all stations along the railway line to either drop or pick up more passengers. Just before we reached Mbeya station, one of the cars derailed. We had to wait for more than 12 hours at Mbeya before the issue could be fixed. During the wait, we had a chance to see the luxurious Rovos Rail train that travels from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam.

The train arrived safely at New Kapiri Mposhi station in Zambia. The passengers alighted and headed to their different destinations.


FYI:

Transport:  Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train (Tanzania).

Train fare: About Kshs 3,500.

Distance:  1,860km.

Border point: Tunduma (Tanzania) and Nakonde (Zambia).

Currency: Zambian Kwacha and Tanzanian shillings (1 ZMK = Tzshs 200).

  • Do not lose your ticket. You must show it at New Kapiri Mposhi station on arrival.
  • Arrive early at the departure station.
  • Take water and snacks with you.
  • The compartments are unisex. If you are in a group or family where you can purchase tickets for the full compartment.
  • I recommend second class (6 persons) or first class (4 persons) if you are doing the full trip.
  • The train has a restaurant car and a bar.
  • No need to carry bedding. They are provided in the train.
  • If coming from Kenya ensure you change your Kenya shillings at Tunduma or Nakonde border. There is nowhere else in Zambia you can do this.
  • There is enough security in the train but it is always good to take care of your belonging especially travel documents and money!

To learn more about the train facilities, scheduled stops, charges and other information, visit this post I wrote about TAZARA train Services or visit the TAZARA Railway Authority’s main Web site.

Kapiri Mposhi to Lusaka

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

New Kapiri Mposhi Train Station in Zambia

On arrival at the New Kapiri Mposhi train station, I said goodbye to my new friends and then boarded a Coaster (Bus) to Lusaka. The bus took about 4 hours to arrive at the Inter-city bus station. I must point out that this is probably the busiest bus station I have seen so far in Africa. You can get direct buses to most of the cities and towns in South African countries including; Johannesburg (South Africa), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lilongwe (Malawi), Harare (Zimbabwe), Livingstone (Zambia) among others.

From the station, I headed to Wanderers Backpackers and Campsite where I stayed until the next travel day.

Lusaka to Livingstone

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Livingstone, Zambia

The journey to Livingstone from Lusaka (Capital city of Zambia) is about 7 hours. There are a number of stops along the way, the main ones being Kafue, Mazambuka, Monze, Kalomo, and Zimba. I used Shalom bus from the Inter-City bus stop. The bus is just one of the many buses preying the route. It was classy, comfortable and the driver was very careful and attentive. I would recommend this bus.

On arrival at Shalom bus stand in Livingstone, I walked to Zinga backpackers lodge. This hostel is not so far away from the bus station and it’s very affordable.


FYI:

There are other good hotels, hostels, motels, and lodges in Livingstone like Fawlty towers camping, Jolly boys, and Livingstone backpackers.

Transport:  Shalom bus service.

Bus fare: About Kshs 2, 300.

Livingstone to Victoria Falls

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

The Thunderous Victoria Falls.

The Victoria Falls (located at the border point between Zambia and Zimbabwe) is only a few minutes from Livingstone. Available means of transport that take people to the falls from Livingstone town include shared taxis and buses. You can access the falls from either Livingstone town in Zambia or Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.


FYI:

Transport:  Share taxis (10 Kwacha per person 4-people sharing).

Accommodation:  Zinga Backpackers.

Border point: Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Currency: Zambian Kwacha and US Dollar (Zimbabwe) – 1 USD = 10 Kwacha

Return trip

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Mukuba Express Train (Zambia)

Victoria Falls to Dar es Salaam then Nairobi

On the return trip, I used the same route from Livingstone (Zambia) to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) but a different one from Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) to Nairobi (Kenya).

Livingstone – Lusaka – New Kapiri Mposhi – Dar es Salaam

I hitchhiked from Livingstone to Lusaka and then from Lusaka to New Kapiri Mposhi.  This route is part of the Great North Road which runs from Cape Town (South Africa) to Cairo (Egypt). There are so many long-distance trucks from different countries using this road. And, if you are a budget backpacker, you can travel for almost free.


FYI:

Transport:  Hitchhiking (trucks) and Mukuba Express Train (Zambia).

Train fare: About Kshs 4500 from New Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam.

Border point: Nakonde and Tunduma.

  • Buy the tickets (New Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam) a few weeks or a month before travel day.
  • You can buy train tickets either at TAZARA Lusaka office or New Kapiri Mposhi station.
  • There are trucks from Livingstone to New Kapiri Mposhi, you can hitch a hike.
  • Keep your tickets safe until the end of the journey.

For more information about Mukuba Express train services see this post or visit TAZARA Railway website.

How I traveled from Nairobi, Kenya to Victoria Falls,(Zambia/Zimbabwe) by road and rail.

Modern Coast Bus From Dar es Salaam to Nairobi

Dar es Salaam to Nairobi

I really wanted to pass by Moshi and Arusha, Tanzania during the return trip. So, on travel day, I boarded Modern Coast Bus to Nairobi which left at 05:00 am. We had a couple of stops before arriving at Namanga border post between Kenya and Tanzania. After clearing with immigration, the journey to Nairobi began where we arrived at 10:00 pm.


FYI:

Transport:  Modern Coast bus.

Bus fare: Kshs 3500 for a normal seat.

Border point: Namanga.

End of trip 🙂 and Action item.

This was one of the most amazing backpacking trips I had done in a long time. The landscape was great, people were awesome, and the journey was worth it! A few days later I was still undergoingpost-travell depression and thinking about the next destination too.

If you have done this trip before, kindly share stories in the comment below. Feel free to ask any questions and share with others.

For more photos click HERE or visit Kenyan Backpacker Facebook Page



kenyanbackpacker

56 Comments

Carole

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for the fine print in the detail….i have always wanted to do this trip but am always apprehensive of travelling solo so far from home…

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hi Carole,
Thank you for the comment. There are many people even ladies traveling solo and it’s fine. Don’t worry too much. Once you set out for the first trip you will never look back.

Happy travels.

Reply
Adams

Nice read and indeed appreciated.I would love to if could you post the itininerary Nairovi to Addis Ababa,placed to visit

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hi Adams,
About Addis Ababa, I didn’t fry from Nairobi. I was in another destination. But I think there are direct flights from Nairobi(Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways).

I am yet to do a road trip but I will soon

Thanks.

Reply
Winnie

Very informative. Thanks for the detailed report now we can start planning on the same soon

Reply
Ratimo

I did this trip from Kisumu-Nairobi-Dar-Lusaka-Livingstone and back. Mine was all by bus. I had wanted to do the Tazara train from Dar but it was my first experience traveling solo that far and on a fairly tight budget. The bus is a lot of fun too. There is a bus that goes from Dar to Harare via Lusaka named Spider. You get to sleep in Tunduma though on your way to Lusaka. But on your way back the bus gets to Tunduma early morning and just continues the journey onward to Dar after clearing immigration. It’s quite an experience. Travelling in a bus for long hours you really have to know how to manage your urges. You can drink much water really. I want to head back to Livingstone again. I felt I left out so much to see and do there. I had a nasty experience at the Nakonde Zambia border on my way to Lusaka. I had to bribe my way through. I would be very apprehensive of going through there again. But my fellow bus travelers told me that the Zambian border agents really harass African travelers. Especially those from counties that don’t need visas. If you do a backpacking trip to Rwanda hit me up. Maybe we could do one together. My next bucketlist destination

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hi Ratimo,

Thank you for your comment. It is very informative. Yes, the buses there are great. I used the Shalom bus from Lusaka to Livingstone and Back and I loved it. I also didn’t have enough of Livingstone. I will head back there as I transverse Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and hopefully Mozambique. Personally, i had a good experience in all the borders. The immigration officers came on the train for the stamps and it was quite easy. The only thing that I observed is that if you miss them in the train, you will have troubles later. Some travelers had to head back to Tunduma from Makambuka for the stamp 🙁

I was in Rwanda last year and I am not intending to head there soon. But if it includes Burundi then I am in :-).

Cheers mate!

Safe travels,
Leo.

Reply
Nancy

Hi friend thanks for this.Its so timely especially because im intending to travel to Livingstone this Christmas. How are you intending to go to Malawi,Mozambique and Botswana?im interested in going to those places to

kenyanbackpacker

Hi Nancy, Good to hear you that the information is helpful. For Malawi, Mozambique, and Botswana, I will just go Backpacking (Buses, trains and hitchhiking). Whichever means available.

All the best in your travels.

Nancy

What route will you follow for Mozambique. malawi and botswana?

Clalffin

I would want to join in on one of this.Make two solo travellers, hehe if that makes sense.

Dennis

wow…Am planning Nairobi-Victoria falls this Dec. Thanks for the info that you have shared. Planning to drive all the way and camp where necessary.

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Thanks Kameni for your comment. By any chance do you have a spare seat or can you accommodate a stowaway? hahaha sounds like a great plan. All the best Bro.

Reply
Carole

Make that two spare seats pleaaaaaaaaase😊😎

Dennis

I may not be able to accommodate an extra person since we will be full in the car. I will share my experience, preparation and photos..

florence

Hello, the piece is quite informative. Would you by any chance know whether there are direct buses from nairobi to Dar? And have you done zanzibar?

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hello, Florence, Yes there is a bus from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam. Modern Coast Bus. Check their website or visit their offices in Nairobi. Haven’t been to Zanzibar yet, but will be heading there for sure.

Reply
Ivy

just found your page! and I have to say this was a lovely find. I’m plannning a solo backpacking trip to Tanzania and having all this tips ha mad me discover so much more. I will definately be a regular.

i’m currently stocking on my travel gear and I would like to know where you got your backpack

thanks for the amazing tips!

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Thanks Ivy and all the best in your trip. Check your mail box with regards to the backpack.

Reply
Eva

Am truly impressed by the detail- from. Fare estimage and accomodation
This is kind of info I have been searching for to start a.solo trabelling experience or for groups if they wish to dare.
Thank you for sharing and not hogging info. Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!

I will appreciate backpack recommendations too.

Reply
VuvuLens

I do love travelling and on this years to do list, I have the same exact trip. Nairobi – Dar – Lusaka – Livingstone – Vic Falls. Your blogs are really informative, thanks for that, maybe one day we can catch up and go down to the Okavango Delta in Botswana :).

Maybe you could help with a few details; I don’t mind spending a little extra for the buses and some accomodation. If it doesn’t pain you, maybe you can tell me of some comfy buses from Dar – Lusaka and maybe hotels. I know we have good Modern Coast buses from Ke.

Thanks
Vuvu

Reply
VuvuLens

I do love travelling and on this years to do list, I have the same exact trip. Nairobi – Dar – Lusaka – Livingstone – Vic Falls. Your blogs are really informative, thanks for that, maybe one day we can catch up and go down to the Okavango Delta in Botswana :).

Maybe you could help with a few details; I don’t mind spending a little extra for the buses and some accomodation. If it doesn’t pain you, maybe you can tell me of some comfy buses from Dar – Lusaka and maybe hotels (including estimate costs in Kshs). I know we have good Modern Coast buses from Ke.

Thanks
Vuvu

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hey Vuvu, Thanks for your compliment. It is good to hear of your plans to travel through that route. There are plenty of buses running from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka and they are faster than the train. Well, i own opinion is that the train experience is way unmatched compared to the buses. Maybe you can use the buses one way and try the train return. Sure, Botswana has a place in my brain too, Will hopefully be heading there next year. (Malawi, Botswana, Namibia ……).

Reply
Vuvu

Hey KBP, if traveling with a significant other on the train do they allow sharing on the sleeping cabins, now that I’m convinced the train is a good idea.

Count me in on the SW route to Botswana.

kenyanbackpacker

Yes the trains are amazing. Both of them. But i loved the one from Zambia more (Mukuba Express). The Tanzanian one is great too. Unfortunately the cabins are single sex. Men and Women in different cabins. The only way you can have the cabin by yourselves is booking all of it. You can book the entire cabin which has four banks to yourselves.

choong

Hi,
Wow for your backpacking from Kenya to Zambia to the Living stone Falls. May I know long does this journey take. We will be flying to and departing Nairobi soon. We have a month to do this trip

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hello Choong. From Nairobi it should take you one week to get to Livingstone if you use the train from Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi. If you use the buses from Dar to Lusaka, then 5 days is enough!

Reply
choong

Hi Kenya backpacker,
Thank you for the information. Does the length of time include stopping for a few days in the cities mentioned. We have bought our return air tickets arriving and departing Nairobi for a month. Is that adequate for the length of the journey and back and we wanted to go to a safari in Serengeti. Wwe will be there for a whole month of December. Any suggestion for places of interest around that area.. Your blog really helps and very informative. By the way is it safe to travel night buses in that area.? We are senior ladies and we love to backpack as we can see more things and on a budget too.
Thank you very much.
Choong

Jordan

HI.
This info is really helpful, is there a bus from Victoria Falls to Windhoek Namibia? and how much in total did the entire trip cost? Your Transport costs total to around 16k, adding food, accommodation and activities could you estimate how much it cost entirely? Thanks

Reply
Dinka

Wow, your post is really inspiring 🙂 How much did your entire trip cost, if you don’t mind me asking? Because I am a foreigner, I will need to apply visas each time I am entering a new country hence my budget will be more than yours. I am considering of doing the same route. Thank you for the inspiring post. Look forward to more travel posts 🙂

Reply
rick be

This was a very exciting thing to do but would it be as easy for a White American? I did The Falls from Joberg but on a safari.I didn’t think there was any public transport. But I gotta see Kili before I die & Dar,Zanzibar & Madagascar are also calling me.

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hi Rick, Offcourse it will be easy. That route serves everyone! All the best when you prepare to visit Kili, Zanzibar, and Madagascar. Holla when you are in town.

Reply
Jackson

Thanks for the detailed write up. We will be going to Livingtone falls,Zambia, in December . From 21st Dec to 3rd January, If anyone is interested . Holla.

Reply
Babeesh

I loved reading about your experience! And yay to taking the train! I hope I can take the train from Nairobi to Mombasa one day!

Reply
Castro

Wow this is amazing.Stumbled on your blog by accident but ill be a keen follower.

Reply
Petra

Great post! Useful details.

Reply
Caroline

Just exactly what have been looking for. Thanks Leo.

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

You are welcome, Caroline.
All the best in your Adventures and Travels.

Reply
Kevin

Hey!!..this is so helpful thanks!!…could you please tell me roughly how much the trip cost you? and the train to Mposhi?..how long is the trip?..im asking coz im concerned about the fact that only one sex are allowed per cabin?..I plan on travelling with my wife

Reply
Anne

Thank you for this! Planning to do it in December.Cheers!

Reply
Sawe

Thank you for your detailed information….planning to go to Harare by bus..kindly give me approximate amount I need to and fro

Reply
Mwangi Waiganjo

hi
This is lovely. I did this trip in 2011 but used bus from Nairobi to dar then train, then bus to Lusaka and finally to Livingston. We even spent 14 hours stuck somewhere near Mbeya cos the train had a problem.
But nothing prepares you for the falls. Nothing. It’s one of the world’s greatest spectacles.
Also met some Kenyan hawkers in Livingstone.

Reply
Biche | ChickAboutTown.com

Hahaha…and here I thought I was the only one who suffered from post-travel depression! 🙂

No, on a serious note, this is an awesome post. I’ve been saying I want to visit the Vic Falls for YEARS, but have never gotten round to it. Now, you have given me no excuse! I must do this soonest.

Reply
Harrison Mbuvi

wow. Am just amazed, i have always wanted to travel the whole of Africa. I didn’t know it’s this easy. Thanks a million

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Hi Harrison, Yes, it is quite easy to travel around Africa. All the best in your travels!

Reply
rose

you have really ignited the wanderlust side of me, thank you.

Reply
Sal

Thank you so much ! this is so detailed and inspiring. how many days did it take you in total ?Planning on Malawi and Zambia and also home Mombasa end of year . Very hard to get more info for African countries as majority cater to tourists and safaris only . Asanta Sana ! even more excited.

Reply
Nelly

Hi, how much did the whole trip cost you, the transport, accommodation, food etc.. I have plenty of time on my hands but limited budget, I think I could do this trip this year. Thanks

Reply
Ivan Machanule

Hey,
Woooahh woooaaahhh woooahhhh!
This post us heaven sent yaani 🤗
Me and my friends are planning the same trip only that we start in Nairobi-Kampala-Kigali-Bunjumbura-Lusaka-Victoria Falls and the return trip from Livingstone-Lusaka-Daresalm-Zanzibar-Mombasa-Nairobi
Am personally so excited about it ata hao wengine wakiBackdosn I will still go alone 😅😅

Thanks for this post, it has really provided a lot if details needed to plan the trip, only request is if you could attach the cost for each accommodation you used, that would really help in trying to budget

Reply
Ivan Machanule

Hey,
Woooahh woooaaahhh woooahhhh!
This post us heaven sent yaani 🤗
Me and my friends are planning the same trip only that we start in Nairobi-Kampala-Kigali-Bunjumbura-Lusaka-Victoria Falls and the return trip from Livingstone-Lusaka-Daresalm-Zanzibar-Mombasa-Nairobi
Am personally so excited about it ata hao wengine wakiBackdosn I will still go alone 😅😅

Thanks for this post, it has really provided a lot if details needed to plan the trip, only request is if you could attach the cost for each accommodation you used, that would really help in trying to budget

Reply

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