Mpika in Northern Zambia is a busy where the Great North Road forks: one branch going to Kasama, Mbala, and Mpulungu on Lake Tanganyika, the other heading directly for the Tanzanian border at Nakonde.
It is about a day’s travel from Lusaka, Mpulungu or the Tanzanian border, which makes this a convenient stop to overnight.
Daily local bus services link Mpika with Lusaka, Mbala and (to a lesser extent) Isoka. These all pass by the main central boma of town (the central, circular meeting place), so if you wait there you shouldn’t miss any of them.
Mpika is one of the stops between Kapiri Mposhi and Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, on the TAZARA railway.
The TAZARA station is about 5–6km out of town, almost on the road to Kasama, and private pick-up trucks operate shuttle runs between there and the central boma in Mpika, fitting as many people on to the vehicles as they can carry.
If you arrive by train in the early hours of the morning then your options are to get one of these shuttles quickly, or to sleep rough on the station until daybreak and then try to get one. At times like this, the station is crowded but fairly clean and safe.