The Rovos Rail is one of the world's most famous and luxurious train journeys, allowing passengers to travel in style across the unfolding landscape of South Africa. In March of this year I was lucky enough to take the two-night journey between Cape Town and Pretoria.
The experience started with a warm welcome from the Rovos Rail staff at the private waiting room of Cape Town railway station. Here we enjoyed champagne and light snacks accompanied by tranquil music from a guitarist and a harpist whilst we relaxed and waited for the arrival of the other passengers. After a glass of two of bubbly the owner of the train, Mr Rohan Vos, greeted us as we were assigned our cabins and lead to the train – our home for the next three days!
The 3-day journey takes you through the ever-changing beautiful landscape of South Africa with two stops en-route; first at the historic village of Matjiesfontein where you step back in time to the late 19th century and, secondly, to the diamond town of Kimberley, home to the world's deepest man-made mine – the Big Hole. Notable personalities such as Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes here, and the roots of the De Beers Company can be traced to the early days of the mining town.
Lesser Flamingos can be spotted as the train passes a shallow lake before continuing to Klerksdorp. The experience of travelling in luxury across the Karoo is the main draw of the Rovos Rail. Upon boarding, the mini-bar in your cabin is stocked with your preferred beverages whilst the first of many three-course meals with unique wine pairings is served in the dining carriages.
The journey passes through the haunting barrenness of the Great Karoo, and the gong is sounded, calling guests to the dining carriage for a three-course dinner in their finery. The evening meals, which are focused around the amazing and diverse cuisine of South Africa, are more of a formal affair with silver service and a strict dress code; men should wear a collared shirt with a tie and a blazer and women a cocktail dress.
After meals, most either retire to their cabin to relax and enjoy the tea, coffee and after-dinner drinks which your host will have laid out, or make the most of the open bar at the rear of the train with plush leather sofas and the open observation deck. The train stops travelling overnight (if there are no delays), so everyone can enjoy a motionless rest.
A Rovos Rail holiday can be combined with Cape Town, the Garden Route, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls. Click here for more information or call us on 020 7263 3000 to speak to someone who's been.
All photos in this blog can be credited to Rovos Rail ©