Tanzania to Zambia by Bus: Get well informed

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bigbrotherrugambwa

bigbrotherrugambwa

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Recently (End of July 2017) I travelled to Zambia and on my way back I wrote this "article". I am following an example of one person ("Chocolate Honey") whose information online: Travel Challenge : Traveling from Daressalaam to Lusaka by bus helped me a lot but insufficient and outdated. I believe this information would be quite helpful to a person who is going to Zambia for the first time by bus as it was my case.

Tanzania to Zambia by Bus
(Moshi - Dar es Salaam - Lusaka - Livingstone)
Always before you travel to a country you have never been before you find yourself restless while trying to answer several questions such as:
1. Do I need Visa?
2. What else is required by the Immigration office (apart from the visa and passport)?
3. How much does it cost for travel from one place to another. What options are less costly
4. Should I go by bus, train, or by flight to minimize cost at the same time to accomplish my travel mission within the given time?
5. What bus or flight company should I take ?
6. How do I move from the airport or bus terminal to the hotel or a place I go?
7. How much is the food, hotel, local transport, etc?

Although these questions seem easy to answer (particularly today through online information) the fact is you may not get correct answers until you experience the situation. Similarly It may be easier to get online information about US but not neighbouring African country like Zambia where I visited this week.
In this narration I share with you just briefly what you need to know if you travel to Zambia by bus for the first from Tanzania and you don't have a friend in Zambia to help you with logistics.

Immigration Documents needed
1. Tanzanian or Foreign Passport
2. No Visa if you belong to one of SADC countries. If you are a national from non SADC country then you need a visa. It is obtained easily at the boarder at 50 US dollars.
3. You need to have all evidence of why you should be in Zambia.
4. You need evidence of yellow fever vaccination and it should be recent. If the vacinnation period has expired you will be required to pay 5000 TZS for re-vaccination at the Immigration office (Tunduma/Nakonde). Foreigners (non SADC) are requested to pay 20 US dollars for that.

Note: I heard and experienced corruption from Immigration officers.
a) You don't get a receipt for yellow fever "re-vaccination"
b) Re-vaccination isn't real but just a stamp without vaccinating you.
c) Foreigners are charged more than required. For instance a Rwandan National was asked to pay 20 US dollars for yellow fever re-vaccination. Instead (after some thinking and inquiry) gave them 20,000TZS and they accepted it (imagine!) - with no receipt though. Hence it couldn't be clear to me what was the right charge for re-vaccination for foreigners.
The same Rwandan man was asked to pay 100 dollars for Zambian Visa. However, he was given a 20 dollar receipt. When he complained (bse he knew the correct visa charges before coming) they strongly insisted it is 100 but didn't change the receipt figures. He was really angry but couldn't do anything.
d) As indicated above Zambian Immigration officers are corrupt. I was warned by one of
'money exchangers' that I need Zambian Kwacha before entering the Immigration office because every person has to give a Zambian officer some amount of money before his/her passport is stamped. I didn't understand what they meant and when I asked a lady who came from the office, she said she didn't get that experience. When I arrived at the Zambian Desk the officer (lady) asked me what I was going to do in Zambia. I told her I was attending the conference in Livingstone. She then asked if I have any evidence (e.g. invitation letter). I told her conferences don't have invitation letters but registration forms which are sent online. She asked me to bring evidence or I go back. Unfortunately my phone was off charge and hence I couldn't show her my emails from conference organizers. The conductor of Taqwa bus advised me to give her money. I put 10,000 in the passport. At first she pretended to refuse saying I shouldnt bribe her but when I explained my situation she said wait until the group finishes the immigration process. It was then that she accepted the money and stamped my passport (Imagine).

I should note here that people like me hate corruption and it's a sin to be part of it but ask yourself "will you miss your bus and stay at Tunduma just to print the supporting documents? Will you be ready to lose the fare you paid to Lusaka and pay new fare? Will you risk being late to what you are going to do in Zambia? The officials know that you can't decide to stay behind and hence you will do as they wish.

There are two ways to avoid corruption at the border:
i) Prepare every document required including invitations or any other proof of what makes you visit another country. However, it is sometimes tricky. As a SADC country citizen I may go to any SADC country just for leisure, tourism or resting. Do they need evidence for that too?
ii) Some efforts should be made by our governments to stop corruption caused by immigration officers at TZ/ZM boarder. In some cases, however well you are prepared, the immigration officers may still demand money from you. It is like a norm, as passengers were saying, for Zambian immigration officers to demand money before stamping one's passport. In fact they don't even hide that money. The lady collected money from me and just put it on the table with other money (kwacha) collected from different passengers with no sign of fear.

Travel information and costs
For foreigners who come from or through Kenya it takes 12 -13 hours from Arusha to Dar es salaam (It takes 10.5 - 11 hrs from Moshi). Bus fares range from 20,000 to 28500 TZS for semi-luxury buses and from 32000 to 39000 for luxury buses (Arusha/Moshi to Dar es Salaam) depending on negotiations (for semi-luxury buses) and the time you travel. Luxury buses (e.g. Dar Express, Kilimanjaro and Kidia One) have fixed costs throughout the year.
I payed TZS 120,000 for fare from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka. I booked Falcon but found my seat sold to another person and hence the conductor had to ask for a place in Taqwa for me. The two buses Taqwa and Falcon go to Harare from Dar es salaam. It takes two days from Dar es salaam to Lusaka. Passengers sleep in the bus at Tunduma after immigration procedures. Therefore, the bus leaves Dar at 6.00 hrs and arrives at Tunduma at around 22.00 (or mid-night if the bus is slow as it was our case).
Falcon buses are new and care about time. However, since they are most prefered and lack organization the bus workers can sell one seat to two people and trouble you by taking you to another company bus (as it was my case). In fact I was also told I would get the front seat but they gave me J1 before selling. In short they are not trustworthy.
Another thing I sensed in few minutes when I was in Falcon bus before taken to Taqwa was the fact that the seats were too close and the air inside was thick. I was therefore happy to be transfered.
Taqwa buses (as I read online) are old. However, the workers (conductors) are friendly and understanding (supportive when somebody needs help for instance s/he wants to go out for a short call or stomach pain). Moreover, I found the bus seats more comfortable. Despite these positive qualities, bus attendants don't care about time and spend much time in stopping centres such as Morogoro. It is for that reason we arrived at Tunduma late, at 2.00 am. The bus was driven at a very high speed and passengers stayed 10 hours without eating anything (imagine!).
Morover, Taqwa has frequent problems with trafic police and weigh bridges which consume time too. For instance passengers were often asked to move from their seats to the middle to avoid exceeding the required weight at the weighing bridges.
Furthermore the bus wasn't clean with so many laggages on the passage between the seats. The dirty containers were not emptied on time and were knocked down by passengers making the dirtly spread on the passage (how disgusting!)
Usually the buses leave Tunduma/Nakonde at 5 am and arrive in Lusaka at 7 or 8 pm. We arrived at 8 pm.

Local Transport (within Zambia)
As I was going to Livingstone. I booked and boarded Zambia-Botswana Express. The cost is 140 Zambian Kwacha. There are other comfortable buses to and from Livingstone. The best one is Mazhandu Family Bus Service at the same fare. Shalom Express (the best of zambia) is also an option.
Taxi costs about 20 Kwacha for shorter distances from the bus terminal (within what they call inter-city). For longer distances (e.g. 7km hotels from city centre) it may cost up to 70 kwacha.
Lusaka Bus Terminal is far smaller compared to Ubungo Bus Terminal. However one has to be careful since the passengers are welcomed by a group of tax drivers and bus agents when you move from the bus or move in the terminal.
On Friday (the day I was coming back) Taqwa and Falcon were not working. I was told it is a resting day for them (according to Islamic faith). So I booked Power Tools. Lusaka to Nakonde is 220 - 230 Kwacha.

Hotels and lodges
I should admit that if there is something which disturbed me was housing. You will be in trouble if you compare ordinary hotel costs in dar es salaam with those in lusaka. While in dar es salaam or moshi or Arusha you can sleep comfortably in an ordinary hotel at TZS 30,000 - 45000 the same type of hotel in lusaka will cost you 350 Kwacha which is about 85000 TZS. Your 30,000 TZS (120 Kwscha) can only make you afford a very cheap lodge or backpackers (shared room lodges).
Therefore cheap lodges or backpackers cost 100 - 140 kwacha. Better lodges cost 200-250 kwacha. And hotels cost from 350.
I should note here that there are few exceptions. For instance I heard on my way back that there is a good hotel just few metres from the entry gate of the bus terminal which is relatively very cheap (150-200 kwacha). I therefore suggest that you make inquiries online and if possible call the hotel before travelling. Some hotel websites show affordable costs. Getting a new chip (line) for your mobile phone is one of the best decisions you can make. I relied on taxi drivers for hotel information. While one was helpful the second one moved me around before showing me a hotel and a lodge I didnt like. At the end I had to querrel with him regarding high taxi charges he caused and had to sleep in a backpacker (at higher rate because I wanted to sleep alone).

Phone Communication
As I said earlier it is very very useful to buy a new 'line' from Zambian phone company. It will help you communicate with home and within Zambia as well as getting internet access. Don't travel with a fixed line phone like me. I possess Vodacom tablet. I maintained the network with the aid of MTN and could get text messages from Tanzania but couldn't recharge airtime or network bundle. In a hotel in Livingstone I got WiFi because it was an expensive hotel but with hotel problems in Lusaka I couldn't access WiFi and hence I stayed out of touch with my family!

Costs of different commodities
Ordinary and good food cost from 20 to 30 Kwacha
Fruits cost 1-2 kwacha (e.g. banana, orange, and apples)
Soda (cocacola, fanta, mirinda, etc) cost 8-10 kwacha
Biscuits cost 3-5 kwacha
Toilet services cost 2 kwacha at each bus stop

Language of communication
Zambians use English to communicate with visitors. Other languages used mostly in Lusaka are Nyanja, wemba and Tonga.

Weather
In late July when I visited the weather was generally mild - not hot and not cold. However the mornings and evenings may be very cold during this time of the year (e.g. the bus thermometer showed 11 degrees of celsius - what about outside!)

Time difference
I was surprised to note that Zambian time is behind that of Tanzania for one hour. Smartphones automatically switch to new time when you access a new network. For laptops you may need to reset first your reference time city.
 
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sawa.
 
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Tumekusoma
 
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Text tam sana, ila hizo kwacha ungekua unaziweka pia kwenye T sh ingependeza
 
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Ila mi napenda nipate mtu wa kunifafanulia namna ya kufika Botswana kwa njia ya Bus,
Hiyo ndo nahitaji
 
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Nyuzi kama hizi zinaokoa wengi sana. Tunaomba mwenye kujua kwa sasa aanzishe uzi mwengine na atuwekee updates
 
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nimejifunza vingi kupitia huu uzi, nipo mbioni kuwatafuta wadau kama ninyi nitengeneze makala ndefu sana ili iwasaidie na wengine nje ya JF. barikiwa.

big brother Lugambwa?? Alen?? OR??
 
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Beware of Iwambi \ Mbalizi slope. Demonic slope
 

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