Tazara stands for Tanzanian-Zambian Railways, originally this 1800 km track was built by Chinese in 1970’s. Socialist camp African countries had minerals available for trade, but no other way to get them delivered to world. Chinese words come by everywhere, buildings, machines. But it’s very different world now, than time of Mao’s labor brigades that built Tazara!
Journey started horribly late behind schedule, about 12 hours! For a moment we thought there was riot breaking out at the station, fully packed with exhausted, tired people. Tired of hours waiting and sitting on floors. Outside our room, passengers began shouting and protesting constant postpone notices, banging the iron fence to platforms. Delays are common and perhaps because of political disagreements behind jointly owned and operated railway company of Tanzanians and Zambians. Finally train rolled to platform, loaded fast and journey started.
After got going, and trip has been progressing without surprises. Track is jumpy at parts and we’re stopping often on small village stations. On stops people rush to it from their huts, goods are loaded in and out, some leave, some hop aboard. Tazara is a perfect way to enjoy views of African countryside, relax, read or chat with fellow passengers.
Zambian border was a bit of surprise, since Visa must be bought on Dollars which I had none. Money exchange guys followed the immigration persons, so got my Dollars but what a rate!
After full day progressing under merciless African sun, view of brown and yellow savannas start to fade into dusk. Its time to go back sleep let train continue journey through the night.
All in all, an awesome experience! Too bad railways aren’t more common in Africa, what a great way to explore this vast continent.
@ Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Capiri Mposhi, Oct 2010.