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Journeyed Overland and Rails: From Nairobi, Kenya, to the Majestic Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Embarking on an extraordinary journey that spans overland and rail, this narrative unfolds through the mesmerizing landscapes and cultural tapestries that connect Nairobi, Kenya, to the majestic Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. This daring expedition encapsulates the thrill of traversing diverse terrains, capturing the essence of adventure and discovery. 

journeyed overland and rails from nairobi kenya to the majestic victoria falls in zambia and zimbabwe

Over the course of approximately four days, this account delves into the intricate details of a traveler's path, from the bustling city of Nairobi to the awe-inspiring cascade of the Victoria Falls, highlighting the nuances of each leg of the expedition and the myriad experiences encountered along the way. 

Whether embracing the modern comforts of train travel or the serendipitous encounters of hitchhiking, every chapter of this journey paints a vivid picture of the lands, cultures, and people that converge to create an unforgettable odyssey. Join us as we venture from Nairobi to the splendid Victoria Falls, witnessing the beauty and diversity of southern Africa at every turn.

Preparing for the Journey

Embarking on this captivating journey demanded meticulous preparation for a seamless and unforgettable experience. Opting for a minimalist approach, packing essentials was key, considering the relatively short duration of the trip.

Essential Travel Documents and Gear

  • Passport: The privilege of a Kenyan Passport paved the way for visa-free travel across southern African countries.
  • Yellow Fever Card: An imperative document for entry into numerous destinations.
  • Accommodation Reservations: A combination of hostels and the Couchsurfing platform secured lodgings well in advance.
  • Train Tickets: Reserving seats for the SGR Madaraka Express train and TAZARA train was crucial for smooth travel.
  • Travel Backpack: Packed strategically with attire, survival essentials, hydration, sleeping gear, and travel necessities.
  • Navigation and Reading/Writing Materials: Essential guide maps, an engaging travel novel, a personal journal, and writing tools were thoughtfully included for entertainment and documentation.

From Nairobi to Mombasa

Our remarkable voyage commenced with an exhilarating ride aboard the SGR MadarakaExpress train, connecting Nairobi to Mombasa. Introduced only a month prior, this train epitomized modern comfort and efficiency. Although not as ruggedly adventurous as the former Jambo Deluxe train, the journey through Kenya's scenic beauty remained utterly captivating. Departing at 9:00 am, the train gracefully pulled into Miritini Station in Mombasa at approximately 2:00 pm. Arriving in Mombasa, further travel arrangements were promptly coordinated, including the acquisition of bus tickets for the forthcoming phase of our escapade.

  • Travel Tips:
    • Allotting approximately 2 hours before departure for train station arrival was sage advice.
    • Due to soaring demand, booking train tickets several days in advance was an absolute necessity.
    • Buses departing from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam were scheduled between 6:00 am and 10:00 am.
    • Transport: SGR Madaraka Express Train and Buses.
    • Train Fare: Kshs 700 for second-class seats (now Kshs 1000).

From Mombasa to Dar es Salaam

Continuing our expedition, we embarked on a Modern Coast bus journey from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam. The 6:00 am departure from Mwembe Tayari station featured contemporary amenities such as power outlets, pristine drapes, commodious seating, and efficient air conditioning. Crossing the Kenyan-Tanzanian border at Lunga Lunga, we transitioned to Tanzanian shillings through currency exchange. After an exhilarating journey spanning around 10 hours, we triumphantly arrived in Dar es Salaam, greeted by a gracious Couchsurfing host who generously offered comfortable lodging.

  • Travel Tips:
    • Transport: Modern Coast Bus and Tuk-Tuk.
    • Bus Fare: Approximately Kshs 1600 for a Normal seat.

From Dar es Salaam to New Kapiri Mposhi

Our path led us to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia, commencing from Dar es Salaam. The distinguished Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train, a pride of TAZARA, embarked at 2:00 pm. As we traversed the rails, engaging conversations with fellow travelers blossomed, and the unfolding scenery served as a splendid backdrop. Encompassing multiple stops along the route to facilitate passenger exchange, the journey witnessed a minor hiccup as a derailment near Mbeya station led to a 12-hour delay. This unintended pause provided us with a chance encounter with the opulent Rovos Rail train en route from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam. Eventually, the train journey concluded at the safe harbor of New Kapiri Mposhi station in Zambia, where travelers dispersed to diverse destinations.

  • Travel Tips:
    • Transport: Kilimanjaro Ordinary Train (Tanzania).
    • Train Fare: About Kshs 3,500.
    • Distance: 1,860 km.
    • Border Points: Tunduma (Tanzania) and Nakonde (Zambia).
    • Currency: Zambian Kwacha and Tanzanian shillings.

From Kapiri Mposhi to Lusaka

Arriving at New Kapiri Mposhi station marked the transition to a bus journey destined for Lusaka. The 4-hour Coaster (Bus) ride traversed captivating landscapes, culminating at the bustling Inter-City bus station in Lusaka. This dynamic hub pulsated with the vitality of bus travel, connecting cities and towns across the expanse of southern African countries.

  • Transport Tips:
    • Transport: Coaster Bus.
    • Bus Fare: About Kshs 2,300.

From Lusaka to Livingstone

Pressing on, we continued our expedition with the renowned Shalom bus service, embarking on a 7-hour odyssey from Lusaka to Livingstone. As we journeyed through diverse towns such as Kafue, Mazambuka, Monze, Kalomo, and Zimba, glimpses of local life enriched the experience. The luxurious Shalom bus provided an exquisite blend of comfort and elegance, guided by a skilled and attentive driver. Our journey concluded at Livingstone's Shalom bus stand, where we found welcoming respite at the conveniently located Zinga Backpackers lodge.

  • Transport Tips:
    • Transport: Shalom Bus Service.
    • Bus Fare: About Kshs 2,300.
    • Accommodation: Zinga Backpackers.

From Livingstone to Victoria Falls

Approaching the magnificence of the Victoria Falls, our transport options expanded to shared taxis and buses, facilitating the passage from Livingstone to the falls themselves. This awe-inspiring natural wonder straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, accessible from both Livingstone town in Zambia and Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.

  • Transport Tips:
    • Transport: Shared Taxis (10 Kwacha per person, 4-people sharing).
    • Border Points: Zambia and Zimbabwe.
    • Currency: Zambian Kwacha and US Dollar (Zimbabwe) – 1 USD = 10 Kwacha

Return Expedition: Victoria Falls to Dar es Salaam, Then Nairobi

For our homeward journey, we retraced certain segments of the path while injecting fresh variations into our adventure.

Livingstone – Lusaka – New Kapiri Mposhi – Dar es Salaam

Opting for an economical and captivating route, we embraced the art of hitchhiking, a unique way to traverse the return journey. Riding alongside long-haul trucks, we journeyed along the renowned Great North Road, encompassing the route from Livingstone to Lusaka and finally New Kapiri Mposhi.

  • Transport Tips:
    • Transport: Hitchhiking (trucks) and Mukuba Express Train (Zambia).
    • Train Fare: About Kshs 4,500.

Dar es Salaam to Nairobi

Concluding our remarkable journey, we revisited the well-regarded Modern Coast bus service for our final leg from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi. Commencing at 5:00 am, the journey was punctuated by intermittent stops, including the essential immigration clearance at the Namanga border post, signaling the transition from Tanzania to Kenya. Our journey culminated in the heart of Nairobi at approximately 10:00 pm.

  • Transport Tips:Transport: Modern Coast Bus.
    • Bus Fare: Kshs 3,500 for a normal seat.
    • Border Point: Namanga.

This overland and rail odyssey from Nairobi, Kenya, to the sublime Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe encapsulated the essence of exploration, cultural immersion, and the exhilaration of traversing a diverse and vibrant region. Through border crossings, landscapes, and diverse communities, this journey etched unforgettable memories of southern Africa's allure, coupled with the thrill of experiencing it via modern modes of transportation and age-old hitchhiking.




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