News of luggage..and the Tazara Train to Catch

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Tazara Train

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, November 16, 2007

We boarded our ferry after a comical sequence of pushing, shoving and queue jumping before finding our first class seats. First class in Africa is a bit of a misnomer but it is better than economy! For the whole trip from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam we were surrounded by mosquito's and still being a bit paranoid, due to the disruption of taking our malaria drugs, we spent the time catching and killing them, much to the amusement of the locals. Once we had the mossies under control, Avan then decided his next battle was to ignore the roll of the ferry and the distinct possibility of being sick, the harbour at Dar was a very welcome sight, with stomach contents still intact.

On arrival at the port, there was a name board with our name, and the man with our train tickets, an associate of Sunny Safaris . He suggested, that as we had some 4 hours or so to kill before our train, he could give us a city tour of Dar... for a price. It turned out for our benefit because we negotiated a price (45,000 Tanz shillings - about $A43 that included us being taken to a local cafe for breakfast at Tanzanian prices, driven to Ethiopian Airlines office to check on our luggage, then the Zambia embassy to see about visas and to a grocery store to get our supplies for the train, as well as being taken the long haul out to the train station. The guide added to this a tour of the fish markets (he was so proud, but they smelt soooooo bad!), the botanical gardens (lots of weeds!) and a craft manufacturing place to buy souvenirs (not).

Our visit to Ethiopian Airlines drew some sympathy and the chap we spoke to said if we could give him our guides cell phone number, he would try and find out where the luggage was and call before we got on our train.

And believe it or not it happened!! We were in the very scrappy botanical gardens where our guide was unsuccessfully looking for a peacock to show us and his phone rang. He handed it over and the message was that our luggage had been located in Addis Ababa and where would we like it sent? This was probably the worst time of our trip to have somewhere for it to be sent, as we were going to be on the move for the next week. We advised him to send it to Windhoek, Namibia, where we would be in eight days time. How exciting!

The driver took us to the train station ready for our two day journey and there was not another westerner in sight. Great people watching experience, but after sitting for a while we noticed another waiting area and, on making inquiries, found it was first class waiting, area where we were supposed to be. Now there were a few other westerners, but not many.

We boarded our carriage with a bit of excitement. We had booked a first class carriage that was a four sleeper and we had paid for the two extra beds, so we could have it to ourselves. Bear in mind though, this is Africa first class and the Chinese made train had certainly seen better days. We had a table and could open our window, allowing us to lean out into the fresh air whenever we wanted. Well, except when the mossies were lively - Zambia being one of the worst places in the world currently for malaria!

This train trip is called the Tazara Railway and travels from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. One never knows how long the trip is going to take, as it is famous for delays. Apparently the train overheats so the driver simply stops wherever (sometimes for hours) to let it cool. We were an hour late getting going but once we got click clacking along it was very pleasant watching the scenery out of the window. The tricky bit was that the window decided to crash down, nearly smashing our camera's, hurting Heather's arm and cutting Avan's.

An hour or so into our trip, a steward came with a menu, which all seemed very pleasant and civilized, taking our chosen orders of chicken and rice with tea to drink. Three hours later the order arrived! Our steward said "sorry, sorry, sorry" and for the rest of the trip he kept saying the same thing, (three sorry's in a row!) because there was always a hiccup.
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