Crossing Africa’s most iconic landscapes in elegant style, this wonderful train and its beautifully restored carriages travel between Pretoria and Cape Town, the wide deserts of Namibia and the powerful tumbling morass of Victoria Falls, the vast plains of the Great Karoo and the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal.
During the journey you’ll enjoy excursions, game drives and guided tours by historians to further illuminate your journey, as well as bush lunches and suppers under a million-tog duvet of African stars. The fleet of locomotives is rich in history, with even the oldest and smallest engine, called Tiffany, still seeing occasional use. Each carriage, cabin, kitchen car and locomotive has been painstakingly restored, and Rovos Rail now operate four trains across its fabulous choice of journeys.
Travelling on board a Rovos Rail service is like stepping back in time, while keeping the most comfortable technological additions of the 21st century with you.
Each train is generally made up of a club lounge, an observation car with vast windows and an open-air platform for enjoying the views, two dining cars and 36 spacious cabin suites, with further upgraded accommodation available. The stunning Edwardian-era carriages have been painstakingly restored to showcase their elegant period details, while adding all the modern comforts that today’s travellers desire on cross-continental journeys. Put simply, it feels like stepping back into a bygone era, but with discreet luxury touches.
Even more beautiful are the pre-1940s dining cars, which were also restored into service with the addition of button-trimmed leather seats, wooden marquetry and other added embellishments. When the train was expanded from 42 to 72 guests, the addition of a lounge car provided a convivial space to come together and share stories of the day’s adventures over fine beverages. Today, the lounge cars still have comfortable wingback chairs and deep sofas for prime afternoon snoozing, and a small gift shop. Some of the train windows can be opened to let in the sights, sounds and smells of Africa in.
All meals on board are served over one sitting in the dining cars; it’s a sociable time of the day when all the guests come together to celebrate the diversity of dining across the continent, sampling delicious cuisine complemented by fine South African wines. A fleet of experienced chefs is tasked with creating innovative and beautifully presented meals for the maximum of 72 guests on board, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients including speciality game.
Breakfast is a leisurely affair and served until 10am, with lunch at 1pm, afternoon tea served in the late afternoon and your formal dinner service at 7.30pm. The bar service runs until 1am, but you might want to get an early night if you’re taking a game drive the following day. What’s certain on board Rovos Rail journeys is that you’ll never go hungry. That, and that every lunch and dinner service is announced with the sounding of a gong.
There are three cabin types on board, each one a luxurious suite with en suite facilities that is adorned in ornate wood panelling and period Edwardian features – you’ll find a writing area and personal safe, and amenity bags which are replenished on your request. For your comfort, there’s 24-hour room service and slippers and gowns in the suite.
Beginning at 7sqm, the Pullman Suites are fitted with a sofa-seat during the day, which converts to either a double or twin bed at night. They also have an en suite bathroom with a shower. A dedicated host or hostess is always available and services the suites daily.
More luxurious still, the 11sqm Deluxe Suites have a separate lounge area and an en suite bathroom. A dedicated host or hostess is always available and services the suites daily. A bar fridge is filled with the on-board beverages of the passengers’ choice.
The most luxurious option is the Royal Suites, of which there are four on board each service, with each taking up half a carriage. These offer 16sqm of space and have a private lounge area and a full en suite bathroom with a shower and Victorian claw-footed bathtub. With wood panelling and period Edwardian features, these air-conditioned suites are the epitome of elegance, where the original fittings combine with the addition of modern technology such as hairdryers and plugs. A dedicated host or hostess is available at all times and services the suites daily. A bar fridge is filled with the on-board beverages of the passengers’ choice.
The Rovos Rail offers four itineraries with different durations:
Pretoria – Cape Town – Three nights
Cape Town – Pretoria – Three nights
Pretoria – Victoria Falls – Three/Four nights
Victoria Falls – Pretoria – Three/Four nights
Yes, all four itineraries vary between three- and four-night durations, so you will enjoy a comfortable and cosy night’s stay on board the train.
Rovos Rail provides a complete amenity bag with soap, shampoo, hand and body wash, hand and body lotion, lip balm, insect repellent gel, reusable bamboo rounds, ear buds and shower cap. There is also sun cream, shoe mits, nail files, sewing kits and ear plugs.
While in South Africa, only South Africa Rand can be used on board the train. US Dollars are accepted in Zimbabwe, Tanzania (Dar es Salaam only), DRC and Angola. All major credit cards can be used on board the train.
As you’re travelling between diverse destinations, from city to safari, the dress code on board is mostly casual; during the day, you can feel free to dress in whatever comfortable, smart casual resortwear you have brought along with you to dine in the dining car and relax in the lounge. In the evening, a formal dress code is implemented to enhance your experience, so you can imagine travelling in the Golden Age of travel – dinner jackets for the men, while ladies are advised to wear cocktail or evening attire, whether a dress or suit. Some longer journeys feature themed evenings, for example ‘Africa’ or ‘1920s style’.
Yes, accommodation in a deluxe cabin inclusive of all meals, all drinks, and activities.
In the spirit of the Golden Age of travel, there are no radios or televisions on board, as well as no Wi-Fi. If you need to use a mobile phone or laptop, this should be confined to the privacy of your suite.
Smoking is allowed in the smoking Club Lounge and in the privacy of your suite.
Anti-malarial precautions are recommended. Malaria areas include Swaziland, Kruger Park, Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Etosha, Zambia and Tanzania.
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