Day 23 Kapiri Mposhi to Mbeya (Tazara Train)

We make our way across Zambia. We have managed to cram our bags under bunks and in a storage area. There are four bunks a small table in our compartment. Pillows and blankets are provided. The train is a little decrepit- there is no light switch – just two wires which need to be tied together to turn the light on; the doors to our carriage have no glass in their windows. This train is in decline. Even so the bed is comfortable enough and the ever changing view from the window is enthralling.   

We are in first class but contrary to expectations we don’t fet a meal included and must pay extra for our meals. 

The train stops every hour or so at a station and then we wait for up to half an hour. This disturbs the sleep a little over night but otherwise we sleep soundly.

In the morning as we stop people rush across the fields and approach with wares to sell. We buy bananas, sadly the donut seller decides that 3rd class is more lucrative and ignores our request. 

As the morning draws on we amuse ourselves playing card games as the country rolls by.



The train climbs through the mountains until just after midday when we cross the border into Tanzania – back on ‘home soil’ we lose an hour now we are GMT+3 again. Then there is a problem with the train – not sure what but we don’t seem to be making progress up hill into Tanzania. So we go back to Zambia again- we think this must have something to do with mommentum which will carry the train up the hill sufficiently.  We grind to a halt. This could take a long time!

Eventually we are on our way  an extra carriage added and a change of line (the cause of the delay). We look down on valleys below as we pass through the mountains of South West Tanzania. 

Late afternoon as the sun sets we reach Mbeya and stop. We wait ……. 

 An hour passes

We wait ……. We ask why

The engine has gone to the garage to be serviced. Just like scar the length of time this will take is indeterminate. 

We wait …..we wait. 

As I write this it is dark, there  is no access to a toilet while stationary and no electricity. We’re just glad we brought the solar lights.  

  Then finally the engine returns. We hear the hoots and the engine couples – we wait …… we’re still not moving yet.

We finally leave Mbeya at 8:45pm

Mode of Transport

  • Train


  • 576


  • Tazara Train


  • Various (Kapiri Mposhi to Mbeya)


  • 334 ZmK per person (£12.50)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. janemlong23 says:

    I will never grumble at British rail again. Did you sing the ‘ Wheels on the train go round and round all day long’. 🚂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember Mbeya. Six hours’ drive by Land Rover from our site, and the nearest place to make an international telephone call (Railway Hotel – is it still operating, I wonder). That was 1984; I expect things have changed a bit since then. Magnificent photographs again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. stlong says:

    Hope you’re FINALLY moving!! 🚊

    Liked by 1 person

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