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Go to Region of Tanzania-> Southern Tanzania

Southern Tanzania - Rail Journeys

Tanzam Railway

The Tanzam, or TAZARA, Railway was constructed between 1970 and 1975 to connect Zambia with the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. Funded by China and constructed by 50,000 Tanzanians and 25,000 Chinese, the railway was designed to provide an export route for Zambian produce, particularly copper, and runs for 1,860km. Although it provided an economic stimulus to the region, the railway has suffered recently from competition from roads and the reorientation of Zambia's economic links towards South Africa and a financial crisis was recently only alleviated by a Chinese loan of $39m. The Tanzam is certainly not a tourist train and few travellers will choose to travel on this route - don't expect luxury but do expect frequent and lengthy delays. You will be rewarded however with a unique travel experience and the chance to view some spectacular scenery en route. It passes through Mikumi National Park and Selous Game Reserve where you are likely to see game such as elephant, giraffe and zebra from the train. The section between Mlimba and Makambako is the most dramatic - travelling through mountains, valleys and swamps required the construction of numerous tunnels and bridges, including the bridge across the Mpanga River which rests of three 50 metre pillars. Makambako is a busy transit town where the railway meets the Tanzania-Zambia Highway. Heading further south, the railway reaches Mbeya before crossing the border into Zambia where it ends at Kapiri Mposhi - here rails connections to Lusaka and Livingstone can be found.