South Africa, Africa
Tiny planes transport safarigoers rom park to park bestowing bird’s eye views of the vast landscapes in between. For those with time to slow down, a rail journey permits entry to a world not many see, and in South Africa, you have two choices. The Rovos Rail, which features some cars thatdate to the late 1800s, is a throwback to the glory days of steam travel, when sleeper coaches and carriages were built with ornately carved embellishments and serviced by tuxedoed porters.
The Blue Train is all contemporary luxury and efficiency, like a slender and sleek hotel kitted out with lacquer, leather, and African prints. Both roll along from Cape Town north-east to Johannesburg and Pretoria, a journey of nearly 1,000 miles across the starkly beautiful plains of the Great Karoo and the canyons of the Highveld in the center of South Arica.
Rovos Rail offers a number of itineraries that can be mixed and matched according to time and budget. The 25-hour Cape Town to Knysna round trip, for example, chuffs through the fabled Hottentots Holland Mountains, taking in the lake district and the dramatic coastline. Three times a year, Rovos Rail offers a 14-day odyssey from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with stops at Victoria Falls, Kruger Park, and Zambia’s Chishimba Falls. Exceptionally large suites are outfitted with queen size beds and private bathrooms. Dressing for dinner on the aptly named Pride of Africa is only fitting when a meal of Cape rock lobster, paired with any of South Africa’s finest wines, awaits.
The Blue Train first took to the rails in 1946. As stylish and comfortable as the original trains were, passengers will appreciate their new generation of sophisticated railcars, introduced in the late 1990s. Private bathrooms are decked out with marble vanities and walls; suites include full entertainment centers, while meals feature local wines in crystal glassware and dishes that will satisfy the most discriminating palates. The journeys on Blue Train are faster than those on Rovos Rail and are limited to overnight jaunts between Cape Town and Pretoria just north of Johannesburg (and with transfers available to Durban and Kruger).
Where:Board in either Cape Town or Pretoria
Best Times: Oct-Mar if paired with a winelands tour; Apr-Sep if paired with a safari.
Book:Experiential Travel Journeys can book Rovos Rail and Blue Train experiences. Please Call us or Email us.