Luxurious suites decked out in vintage decor. First-class service and exquisite cuisine. Romantic mahogany carriages. The soothing rumbling across the tracks and the beautiful scenery rolling by. Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa train is a luxury train travel experience like none other in South Africa. It’s the stuff of Agatha Christie’s mystery dreams, immersing you in a bygone era of old-world glamour and charm. We hop on board and find out what it’s really like to travel on South Africa’s Rovos Rail – and how you can embark on your very own Rovos Rail adventure.
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The private suites
The first thing you’ll want to do after boarding the train is sink into your lavish private suite. The regal sleeper carriages are all wood-panelled, carpeted, and refurbished to reflect a bygone era, while also fitted with supreme modern comforts and facilities. There are three different suites available, including the Pullman, Deluxe, and Royal. Every suite has an ensuite with a cosy bed, plush linens, shower, toilet, basin, air-conditioning, fluffy white gowns, safes, tea facilities, and cupboards. Every guest also receives an amenity bag with South African biodegradable products including shampoo, lotions, insect repellent, suncream, ear plugs, hairdryers, and more.
Stay in the Deluxe Suites and you’ll also get your own private lounge area in your carriage, plus a bar fridge filled with the onboard beverages of your choice. Or step it up a notch with the Royal Suites, where you’ll have a private space spanning half a carriage with your own private lounge area, and an ensuite bathroom with a full Victorian bath, separate shower, toilet and basin. There’s nothing quite like slipping into a bubble bath, lulled by the clickety-clack of the train, while rolling through the striking South African bushveld.
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Life on board
Once you’ve freshened up in your suite, it’s time to explore the rest of South Africa’s Rovos Rail. The train has multiple carriages including accommodation carriages, dining cars, a lounge car, a smoking lounge, a gift shop, and an observation car with an open-air balcony. As you wander down the vintage carriages, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time – especially since there are no televisions, radios, or any kind of digital entertainment on board. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind in an atmosphere of timeless elegance.
Head to the open-air balcony and feel the breeze as you soak up the gorgeous scenery. Sink into the luxurious lounge car with its plush sofas, booths, and large windows. Or mingle with other guests as you enjoy afternoon tea in the lounge or observation car. Head to the gift shop to pick out some bespoke memorabilia, or visit the Club Car, an open area for smokers, with glass walls on either side so you can watch the scenery pass by. For the longer journeys, you’ll even have an onboard historian hosting lectures in the lounge car.
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South Africa’s Rovos Rail is renowned for its impeccable service. It begins at the Rovos Rail Stations, where you’ll relax in comfortable lounge chairs, sip champagne, and eat dainty cakes and cucumber sandwiches. As you board the train, your dedicated host/ess will greet you. They’ll be available at all times during your journey and will service your suite daily. The discreet and friendly service continues into the dining cars, where waiters are ready to meet your every need.
If you can tear yourself away from your private nook or the stunning scenery, you’ll discover one of the best parts of South Africa’s Rovos Rail – the food. Guests enjoy breakfast, lunch and a formal dinner every day in the dining cars, with a talented team of chefs dishing up some very special meals.
Start your day with a hot breakfast, made to order. Then, when you hear a gong ring out, you’ll know it’s time for lunch or dinner. Make your way to the mahogany dining cars and take your seat under the intimate lighting amongst the crisp linens, fine china, glittering glassware and silver.
Both lunch and dinner are gourmet, four-course affairs, complemented by the finest South African wines. The chefs use fresh local ingredients to create contemporary and traditional dishes, such as bobotie, ostrich, and melktert. Later, head to the bar where you can sink into leather armchairs and sip cocktails whipped up by attentive bartenders. The music and drinks flow until at least 1am… And if there ever was a place to party like the 1920s, this is it.
What do you wear?
While smart casual is appropriate during the day and for breakfast and lunch, the evenings require more formal wear. Guests don evening gowns, smoking jackets and ties for dinner. On longer journeys, you’ll enjoy themed evenings where you can dress up accordingly. This is the place to dazzle in your finest pearl necklaces, cloche hats, feathered headbands, and beaded flapper dresses.
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Where do you go?
South Africa’s Rovos Rail carves out at least nine different journeys across the continent. You can take a three-night journey from Pretoria to Cape Town, Victoria Falls, or Durban. Or embark on an extended 10-night safari across South Africa or Namibia. You can even take an epic 15-night voyage from Cape Town to Tanzania or from Tanzania, across Zambia, to Angola.
How to travel on South Africa’s Rovos Rail with Luxury Gold
When you travel on our Spectacular South Africa luxury guided tour, you’ll take the thrilling three-night Rovos Rail journey from Pretoria to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. You’ll begin your adventure at the Pretoria Rovos Rail Station, where you’ll settle in your elegant suites before setting off across baobab country.
Some of the highlights include travelling through Warmbaths (Bela-Bela), Nylstroom (claimed as the source of the Nile River), and the Highveld. You’ll cross the Tropic of Capricorn and the Limpopo River before arriving in Beitbridge in Zimbabwe. The train meanders towards Bulawayo then chugs along one of the world’s longest stretches of straight railway line – a remarkable 114km.
You’ll then traverse the extraordinary Hwange National Park, the largest national park in Zimbabwe. Renowned for its regular sightings of leopard, lion, and cheetah, Hwange also has rare species like roan and sable. It’s home to one of Africa’s largest populations of endangered wild dogs and is one of the world’s last great elephant sanctuaries.
But the greatest wonder is save for last – the mighty Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya. As you disembark the train near the Zambezi River, you’ll be drawn to this enormous waterfall, famed as the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The grandeur of Victoria Falls is truly breathtaking, and it’s the perfect way to end your unforgettable journey on South Africa’s Rovos Rail.
You can travel on South Africa’s Rovos Rail as part of our 14-day Spectacular South Africa luxury guided tour. Tickets are extremely limited and sell out quickly. Book now to secure your suite on the Rovos Rail train.
You can also discover more of the world’s greatest luxury train journeys with Luxury Gold.