the south african orient express

Rovos Rail: Get To Know Africa In A Luxury Train

Montserrat Barba

One of the most unique ways to tour Africa is aboard a victorian train.

Since 1989 it is possible to have an unforgettable African adventure aboard one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Rovos Rail offers terrific itineraries from Cape Town to Cairo, or South Africa to Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania —with an overnight stop at Victoria Falls.

Rovos Rail

These unique routes allow travelers to enjoy the African scenery and visit natural reserves such as Mpumalanga, with accommodations in Victorian style carriages from the 1920’s and 1930’s, completely renovated to please a 21st century clientele.

In elegant suites in three categories -Pullman, Deluxe and Royal- the tours aboard the “Pride of Africa” train can last from two days to one month. Among the varied special options enjoy a three-day safari in KwaZulu-Natal or a route for golf lovers and visits to local artisans, all while contemplating the contrasting landscapes of acacia woods and desert planes in Namibia: a mystical kaleidoscope of colors and sounds that captivated writers such as Rudyard Kipling, Karen Blixen and Doris Lessing.

Founded by South African magnate Rohan Vos, the Rovos Rail is considered the Orient Express of Africa, and is one of the most relaxing ways to experience the treasures of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. The train hosts a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 suites; the most luxurious are decorated with Edwardian wood-panels and Victorian style bathrooms. All with air conditioning, bar and a 24-hour room service, among other amenities.

The journey highlights the richness of African culture, evident in the restaurant where dishes are prepared with local products, accompanied by fine South African wines and cheeses. All meals are served on linen-dressed tables with fine china and silver. Dinner and the evening activities are the best time for an elegant look, as the train´s protocol requires formal attire. Ideal for couples, the Rovos Rail is a romantic reminder of colonial times in the heart of the African savanna.

The cost of the 28 days tour (Cape Town-Cairo-Cape Town) is around $50,000.

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