Guest Post by Jeff Cammack.
Experience the decadent side of railway travel by boarding the Rovos Rail. Based in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, Rovos has quickly earned an international reputation as a truly extravagant and luxurious travel experience.
Combining the opulence of old world travel with a modern flair and spacious suites, Rovos trains are currently the most luxurious in the world.
Indeed for many visitors, there is no better way to explore not only South Africa, but the surrounding countries as well.
Seasoned travellers will tell you that South Africa is a world in itself, with golden rich grasslands and forests, soaring mountains, meanders and hauntingly barren desserts. In a country so large, it is very easy to miss out on all its treasures.
Travelling cross-country by train, while being deliciously spoiled no less, provides travellers with the perfect opportunity to discover the very best of everything the country has to offer.
Your trip will be fully inclusive, and once you step aboard the wood panelled coaches, you will find yourself swept away by the romance and atmosphere of an era long passed.
In accordance with the old world spirit of simple pleasures, you will find no radios or television on board, and guests are encouraged to put away their laptops and cellphones in order to become one with the passing landscape.
If you absolutely have to make a phone call, do so in the privacy of your suite.
The sound of a gong heralds lunch and dinner. Chefs spare no effort to ensure that guests have a constant selection of fresh and interesting options, especially during overland trips.
Meals are served in a single sitting in the very posh Dining Cars, accompanied by some of the best selection of South African wines.
Because you will be enjoying the pleasures of fine china and silver service, it is required that you dress in keeping with the atmosphere.
Men are required to wear a suit and tie at least, and cocktail evening dresses are suggested for the ladies of leisure.
By making the effort to dress up, you are simply adding to the authenticity of your experience.
Top class craftsmanship is evident in the wood panelling and traditional furnishings.
Every cart and every carriage, from the kitchen to the suites has their own unique story; some have serviced royalty, some have been discarded and forgotten for many decades before they were restored to their current day splendour.
While all the service cars are air conditioned, the windows can be opened to let in the sights and smells of the countryside.
Spacious suites are the personification of Edwardian elegance, and every single facility you will find in your room is of the highest standard.
Smoking on the train is only allowed in your private suite, and in the Club Carriage.
You might even say that Rovos Rail is the pride of South Africa. A series of journeys lasting anything between a couple of days to a month links some of the top destinations to Pretoria.
Destinations in South Africa include Cape Town at the very edge of the continent, Durban in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, and a special trip for golf enthusiasts.
Routes (Excursions will be included in your trip, unless otherwise stated)
Duration: 9 days
Your journey will end in the Mother City, cradled by the infamous Table Mountain.
• Kimberley’s Big Hole and Diamond Museum.
• Passing through the Great Karoo, a seemingly barren stretch of semi desert landscape. However, it is teeming with life if you know where to look. Stargazing in the Karoo is unmatched.
• Visit the historical village of Maatjiesfontein.
• Cape Winelands.
Duration: 3 days
The Kwazulu Natal journey can be considered more like a cross-country train safari, with ample opportunity to spot the Big 5.
• 2 Game drives.
• A battlefield tour at Spioenkop.
• Spioenkop Game Reserve.
• See the Valley of a Thousand hills.
• A trip to Ardmore African Ceramics studio.
• Travel through the bio-diverse Nambiti Conservancy.
Nelspruit Golf Safari
Duration: 9 Days
This trip will delight just about any golf enthusiast. Optional excursions are available for non-playing guests.
Golf Courses include;
• Leopard Creek in Kruger Park.
• Royal Swazi in Swaziland.
• Beachwood Country Club in Durban (a city tour is arranged for non-players).
• Champagne Sports Resort in the Drakensberg Mountains.
• Sun City in the Pilansberg Mountains.
• A game drive in Mkhaya Game Reserve in Swaziland.
• Durban City tours.
• The Lost City at Sun City.
• Battlefield tours in the Drakensberg.
• Pilansberg and Drakensberg mountain ranges. The Drakensberg is coincidentally the oldest mountain range in the world.
Many journeys can be customized for large groups.
Rovos has a motto; if it can be reached by railroad, Rovos can take you there.
However, the journeys do not end here, and neither are they limited to South Africa.
Special trips runs once a year from Pretoria to Swakkopmund in Namibia, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania respectively.
And yet Rovos are still pushing their limits. Look out for the highly anticipated journey of epic proportions.
The Cape to Cairo trip will launch its maiden voyage in 2014. That’s right; the train will traverse the span of the entire continent, from the southernmost tip of Africa, all the way north to Egypt.
Read more about Rovos Rail trips from Safari Guide Africa.