In this guide I will explain, step-by-step, how to travel from Kigali, Rwanda to Arusha or Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by bus. The journey is pretty straightforward though it is long and exhausting. This service just recently started operating. Before, the only way to travel between Rwanda and Tanzania would be a series of buses and minibusses or a 40-hour bus journey through Uganda and Kenya in order to reach Tanzania. The trip to Dar es Salaam takes about 24 hours. The trip to Arusha will take 2 days because a transfer is required.
Buying Tickets in Kigali
The bus company operating this route is called Trinity. Their buses are new and comfortable. The service is safe and reliable. I recommend you head to the bus station at least a day in advance to book your ticket. This is a popular route and the buses do fill up.
In Kigali, travel to the main bus station. It’s called Nyabugogo Taxi Park. This station is located kind of inconveniently on the edge of the city. You can get there by taxi or city bus. Every cab driver knows where this place is.
The main bus station is big, crowded, and hectic. You may have to ask around to find the Trinity ticket office.
- Tickets to Dar es Salaam- This is a direct bus. No transfers are required. The bus from Kigali to Dar es Salaam leaves at around 4:00 am. I don’t remember the exact cost of the ticket but I believe it is around $45. You should arrive in Dar es Salaam early the following morning. The ride takes about 24-30 hours. Travel time depends on traffic, the border crossing, and overall road conditions. My bus broke down and slowed us down by about 3 hours.
- Tickets to Arusha- This trip will require a transfer. Book a ticket to Singida, Tanzania. You will ride the same bus that is continuing on to Dar es Salaam. I believe the ticket costs about $35. The bus leaves around 4:00 am.
The bus to Dar es Salaam does not pass through Arusha. It turns off in Singida and passes through Dodoma on its way to Dar es Salaam. If you wish to travel to Arusha, you’ll have to change buses in Singida.
Crossing the Border to Tanzania
The bus will arrive at the Tanzania border at the Rusumo crossing at around 7:00 am. Visas are available at the border for most nationalities. Americans pay $100 for 1-year multi-entry (the only option available) and pretty much everyone else pays $50 for 3 months. Make sure you have your yellow fever card here. They will ask to see it. The border crossing takes about 2 hours. For more info on visas, you can read my African visa guide.
Changing Buses in Singida, Tanzania
The bus arrives in Singida around midnight. There are no buses to Arusha until the following day so you’ll have to stay the night there.
We stayed at a place called Usagara Annex Hotel. I think it was about $20 per night for a double room. Not a good value but it was clean and breakfast was included. There are a few more budget hotels in town. Maybe you can find a better one. The included breakfast was a bit strange. They served bread, spaghetti with sugar on it, tea, and hard-boiled eggs.
Singida is a sleepy little African town. It is worthwhile spending an hour or two wandering around the following morning before you get on the bus to Arusha. Nothing really to see there but it is just a pleasant place to wander around.
How to Travel from Singida to Arusha by Bus
In the morning, head down to the Singida bus station. It’s located near the center of town where you were dropped off the previous night. You can easily walk there from anywhere in town. If you have a lot of luggage, tuk-tuks are available.
Note: There is a small fee to enter the Singida bus station. I don’t remember exactly how much it was but less than a dollar. They give you a receipt so I believe this charge is legitimate and not a scam, though it is annoying.
Once you’re inside the bus station, people will approach trying to tell you that you need to buy a ticket in advance or that there is only one bus traveling to Arusha. This is not true. They just want you to travel with their company. We bought tickets in advance and ended up watching 10 buses to Arusha pass through the station before our bus arrived.
I recommend you just stand near where the buses park and ask where each bus is going until you find one going to Arusha. You shouldn’t have to wait more than about 20 minutes until a bus comes by.
The ride to Arusha takes about 5 hours. The ticket costs around $5.
Food and Drink on This Journey
The bus makes stops for lunch and dinner as well as a long stop at the border. At each stop, you will have the opportunity to buy food and drinks, though options will be limited. You can also use the bathroom at this time.
I recommend you make a stop at a grocery store in Kigali and buy some snacks for the ride. I brought bread, tuna, and avocado and made some sandwiches for lunch. Chips and cookies are also nice for snacks along the way.
Your large backpack or suitcase will be stored under the bus. It seemed to be pretty safe. There is space on the bus to store a small carry-on bag. I recommend you bring any valuables and electronics on the bus with you just to be safe.
My Experience on This Journey
Shortly after we crossed the border, our bus broke down and we spent about 3 hours on the side of the road waiting for someone to go get parts and fix it. During this time we ate lunch and sat in the shade.
For a list of more step-by-step bus guides, check out my Ultimate African Bus Guide.
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