Work on building Songwe International Airport had halted for some time but is now expected to be completed by the end of 2009. It is 20 km south of Mbeya. There is also a small airfield about 5 km south of Mbeya which operates infrequent charter flights.
Touts are a real problem around the bus station here and will do their utmost to sell you tickets. Only buy tickets from the bus company offices and in particular, don’t fall for the scam of buying a ticket all the way to Malawi, see border box, page .
Scandinavia Express, T025-250 4305, http://www.scandinaviagroup.com, buses are very regular to Dar via Morogoro (10-12 hrs, around US$26 luxury, US$20 semi-luxury and US$15 ordinary). Fixed departure times are 0630 and 0700. The road goes through the Mikumi National Park . There are 2 buses a week to Tabora on a poor road, (24 hrs, US$10).
There are 3 buses daily to Songea (6-7 hrs, US$12). To Njombe buses leave several times a day (3-4 hrs, US$7). To Iringa (4-5 hrs, US$8) several times a day. To Tunduma buses leave frequently (1-2 hrs, US$3).
The TAZARA railway station is outside the town on the Tanzam highway. The ticket office at the rather impressive glass station is open until 1700 Mon-Fri and 1300 Sat. Trains are often full and booking in advance is advised through the Tanzanian-Zambia Railway Authority in Dar, T022-286 5187, or http://www.tazara.co.tz for online reservations. In Mbeya, try and purchase tickets the day before travel as although it is possible on the day, the queues are long and chaotic. Currently the ordinary train to Dar departs on Tue at 1000 and arrives 24 hrs later. The express t rain departs on Wed and Sat at 1300 and arrives in Dar the following morning at 1000. 1st class US$21/25, 2nd Class US$15/18, 3rd Class US$12/15 for ordinary/express trains respectively. The route between Mbeya and Dar passes through lovely countryside. However, the frequent stops and jerky motions involved in braking and acceleration, mean that the journey is quite a tiring experience.
There are 2 express trains per week which terminate in New Kapiri Moshi, departing on Wed and Sat at 1200 arriving the following day at 0900. Passports and immigration matters are dealt with on the train. Fares vary from US$17-29 depending on which class you choose to travel in. At least 2nd class is advisable. Although the above are official departure times, after the multitude of children, boxes, chickens and associated needs of train travel are boarded, departure is usually delayed by a few hours. In 1st and 2nd class, bunks are provided, and there is a buffet carriage which provides reasonable food and beers etc, though it is advisable to take along some basic provisions.