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November 2008 Travel Zambia 15 All aboard the Tazara Express Train travel is seldom on the agenda for tourists in Zambia. But in the Tazara line to Dar- es- Salaam, Zambia boasts one of the world's great railway journeys. Sara and Andrea Nolli, Italian volunteers at Meheba refugee Camp near Solwezi, went along for the ride. Sara told Travel Zambia about the journey. The Tazara Express leaves Kapiri Mposhi on Tuesday and Friday afternoons – officially at 15.00, but you should be prepared for long delays. There are tickets for first, second or third class. We opted for first class, at 200,000 kwacha each. Every first- class compartment consists of four couchettes. Our first surprise was that women and men cannot share the same compartment, so we had to separate. I travelled with three large, friendly Zambian women and their children. At first there was enough space, but at each station my companions bought more stuff: big bags of potatoes, dried fish ( very smelly!), onions, garlic, bananas... In no time the compartment was like a market place; I had to clamber across vegetables just to reach the toilet! Meanwhile Andrea shared his compartment with three very talkative men. He usually prefers to read a book and watch the landscape, so the only polite escape from the endless chat was in the bar coach. After a few hours we met up at the bar. It was fantastic! From our window we watched the train climbing the plateaux ( reaching 1,789m near Mbeya), then descending to the vast lowlands. Passing through the Selous Game Reserve we saw giraffes, zebras, buffalo, wildebeest and even a couple of lions. In theory you should reach Dar in 48 hours, but inexplicable stops in the middle of nowhere can make the journey considerably longer. You won't get hungry, however, since the restaurant coach offers typical African dishes such as nshima, chicken or fish, while women and children sell fruit and other snacks by the track at every stop. On the return journey we booked a whole compartment, which allowed us to travel together – and in plenty of space. All in all, it was a great experience. True, there are some inconveniences, but we believe that the best way to discover Africa is to travel slowly and with local people. Tazara fact file The TAZARA Railway ( also called the Uhuru Railway and the Tanzam Railway) was completed in 1975 and runs 1,870km from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi. Andrea and Sara bought their tickets at the station. But you can book them in advance by calling + 26 0211 222280 ( Zambia) or + 255 22262191 ( Tanzania) Where Eagles dares Proflight have welcomed their first female pilot to the Zambian skies. Joan Eagles, from Shepperton UK, first caught the flying bug after an hour's helicopter lesson at the age of 28. Before long she had changed career and retrained as a pilot, gaining both her private and her commercial licence. " Flying in Zambia is a lot less stressful than flying in the UK," says Joan. " I have never before been surrounded by such natural beauty and flying amongst it all is a dream come true." ANDREA & SARA NOLLI ( 2)

16 Travel Zambia November 2008reservations@ chongweriver. net - www. chongwe. comZambia, the real Africa ... Chongwe, the real ZambiaLOWER ZAMBEZI NATIONAL PARK ~ ZAMBIA