TAZARA Railway: A Man Brushing His Teeth for Over 20 Minutes

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In effort to make up for some lost time, we decided to play catch up and take my second favorite form of transport from Mbeya to Dar Es Salaam…

Somewhere along the way we had spoken with another cyclist (making his way south from Cairo) who mentioned taking the TAZARA Railway from Dar to Mbeya. He, among others we spoke with, gave a fairly glowing report of the 1970s rail-riding experience. So as a change of pace, literally, we thought we’d give it a go.

The TAZARA Railway links the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam with the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province, with dozens of stops in between. One of the great things about taking this train is the scenery. The 1,870 kilometer line slowly winds through incredibly beautiful parts of Tanzania including the Selous Game Reserve where passengers have the opportunity to spot giraffe, elephant, zebra, antelope and warthog. Then there is the lively social aspect of riding these rails. A first class passenger has one of four bunks in a compartment (or a couple can book a whole compartment, as we did). We met several other travelers as well as government officials, businessmen, etc; most folks generally leave their door open and gladly strike up conversation over a beer from the bar car.

Once you get past the somewhat shabby amenities of the train (for example, the lack of running water) and learn to let go of the little things (like sharing your tiny cabin with a few cockroaches who are actually pretty well behaved), the 28 hour (or somewhere thereabout) journey is a delight. Here are some photos:

Bike on the Tazara Rail Train

The cargo handlers gladly took our bikes (for about $10) and gave me a nice receipt along with assurance of the guard on duty.

Tazara Rail

Although the waiting area in the cargo bay seemed a wreck, I had faith that our bikes would arrive in one piece.

Tazara Rail

This must be an older retired model.

Tazara Rail

Tazara Rail Train Station - Mbeya

Tazara Rail Train Station - Mbeya

The platform in Mbeya.

Tazara Rail Train Station - Mbeya

Thick cardboard tickets had a vintage feel.

Tazara Rail Train Station - Mbeya

Tazara Rail Train Station - Mbeya

Tazara Rail Compartment

Our cabin.

Tazara Rail Compartment

Rolling out around sunset with a cold Kilimanjaro from the bar car.

Tazara Rail Tanzania

Catching sight of the front of the train going around a wide turn.

Tazara Rail Tanzania

Tazara Rail Tanzania
At each stop, the platform comes to life…
Tazara Rail Tanzania
Women selling fruits, veggies and all kinds of other food treats.
Tazara Rail Tanzania
Fresh avocados.

Tazara Rail Tanzania

Tazara Rail Tanzania - portrait
Tazara Rail Tanzania - portrait
Tazara Rail Tanzania - portrait

Tazara Rail Tanzania - portrait

Tazara Rail Tanzania
OK, about that guy brushing his teeth. I poked my head out and saw this man vigorously brushing, so I thought I’d try and get a photo…
Tazara Train Tanzania
I kept snapping, just for fun…
Tazara Train Tanzania
and he just kept brushing…
Tazara Train Tanzania
on the way into a tunnel…
Tazara Train Tanzania
and still brushing…
Tazara Train Tanzania
We were amazed that it continued for over 20 minutes. Impressively clean; maybe no more enamel though.

Travel Tips

– Reserve your compartment a day or so in advance; we saw people get same day berths, but if you want a compartment, it will be safer to reserve it ahead of time.
– You have to go to a train station to book; they don’t do it over the phone, or online.
– Currently the train comes through Mbeya on Wednesdays and Saturdays (the Wednesday is the express which has a few less stops).

Tags

  • John Q.

    Hold on a minute, gotta go brush my teeth……. John Q.

  • Cass

    Favourite shots so far!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks!

  • http://www.gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/ Nicholas

    This is great.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Nicholas… hope all is well up in the north country. And congrats on the Fatbike compendium, looks great!

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