Rovos Rail and the Blue Train – South Africa

The Golden Age of Train Travel, Past and Present

Relive the glory days of steam travel in the lap of Edwardian luxury as you huff and puff with Rovos Rail through the heart of the bush and some of the continent’s most magnificent scenery. A menu of train itineraries can be mixed and matched according to the time and budget of rail and romance enthusiasts.

Take the twenty-five-hour Cape Town to Knysna round-trip route through the fabled Hottentot Holland Mountains and along the lake district and dramatic coastline. Or plan ahead for the once-a-year no-holds-barred fourteen-day Cape Town to Dar es Salaam journey, which passes through Zimbabwe and Zambia with excursions to and stopovers in places such as Victoria Falls along the way. Some of the vintage steam trains used by Rovos Rail date back to the late 1800s. All prewar carriages are spacious, richly paneled cars, and a posh 1924 dining car is perhaps the handsomest of all.

Exceptionally large suites are outfitted with queen-size beds and deluxe amenities. Dressing for dinner seems appro­priate, when entrees like Cape rock lobster are paired with South Africa’s best wine selection. It’s red-carpet treatment all the way on the aptly named “Pride of Africa.”

The Blue Train first took to the rails in 1946, and as elegant, stylish, and comfortable as the original trains were, passengers will cer­tainly appreciate the new generation of railcars, introduced in the late 1990s. The fresh and sophisticated contemporary decor is accented by an African aesthetic – the most visible dif­ference in this updated breed of luxury travel, whose runs from Cape Town to Pretoria (one night on board) and from Pretoria to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (two nights), are the most pop­ular among a number of choices.

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