So the train ride from Nampula to Cuamba didn’t disappoint. It was as amazing as it was talked up to be (by Lonely Planet and other travellers we had met) and completely worth the struggle involved in getting to Nampula, the extra days we were forced to spend in Nampula and everything else that depressed us for the 2-3 days prior to the train ride.
The train operates daily in both directions, however second class seats are only available every second day (departing Tues, Thurs and Sat from Nampula and every other day from Cuamba). Annoyingly, the tickets must be bought the day before between 2pm and 5pm. We were advised against travelling third class (and by the look of the station and the queue for tickets we trusted this judgment), hence why we were stranded there for two days too long. Second class tickets are 400MZN (approximately US$14) and third class tickets are 170MZN.
We boarded the train a little before 5am on the morning of Thursday and vowed we would stay awake for the entire duration of the trip (12 hours) for maximum scenic-absorption and train-appreciation time. With cameras in hand and tourist face on, we eagerly stared out the windows and awaited sunrise.
True to our word, we actually did stay awake for majority of the trip. Besides keeping distracted by the incredibly beautiful landscape we traversed through, at least a couple of times every hour we would stop by a village where the entire community would come running out to sell fruits, vegetables and everything else they had to offer. Apparently lots of people take the train just for the cheap grocery shopping. We bought a bunch of bananas for 10MZN (approx. 30c) and a massive watermelon for 25MZN (approx. 85c). Though the bloating caused by that watermelon essentially cancelled out any financial gain. (Because “financial gain” is how an Asian generally perceives a discounted purchase)
Ridiculous as it sounds, for 12 hours every time our train pulled up to another village I would feel a new sense of excitement.