In this age of whirlwind travel, why would one want to prolong a two hour journey into a two day journey. The answer is simple. There are few better ways to capture the romance and nostalgia of a bygone era than by luxury and leisurely train travel. And South Africans should be proud that we are home to one of the most luxurious trains in the world, if not the most – Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa. It encapsulates old-world elegance and opulence in a manner that few other trains do – while showcasing some of the most captivating scenery in South Africa.
I recently got to experience the glamorous Rovos Rail’s world-renowned offering on a two-day Pretoria to Cape Town trip. It was simply delightful to just sit back and relax for two days, with nothing to worry about besides meal times and two fascinating excursions en-route – to Kimberley, the Diamond City and the Victorian village of Matjiesfontein.
The train was grand. It was panelled in exquisite dark wood and carpeted in emerald green and gold. The public areas consisted of the lounge car, dining car, smoking car, and observation car with an open-air balcony for unsurpassed viewing. There was also a small library and a boutique shop for on-board retail therapy. There were three types of rooms – all en-suite. We stayed in the Deluxe Suites which had a comfortable double bed as well as a sitting area. Five-star comforts like towelling gowns, slippers and electric blankets were provided. The Royal Suites occupy half a carriage and are the largest train suites in the world. A hostess was always on call to look after our needs.
Meal times were special 5-course events. Although we could dress casually during the day, we had to dress up in suits and evening dresses for dinner. The service was excellent.
I’ve always been fascinated by train travel but now I’m well and truly hooked. Rovos Rail has trips all over Africa including Victoria Falls and Cairo and I can’t wait to experience them too.
Text and Photography by Sara Essop