Through the Karoo plains with Rovos Rail
You are looking for a different way to travel and discover Africa? We suggest you an elegant journey of discovery through some of the most scenic landscapes of Southern Africa. Visit Cape Town, Victoria Falls, experience all kinds of safaris, with the comfort and luxury of a vintage railcar, giving you a taste of years gone by. You don’t just step into a Victorian train, you step into a bygone era of nostalgic Luxury. The wine is always at the perfect temperature, the best meals are served… and the Rovos Rail train rarely runs on time.
Dating back to 1985, the history of this family run business only adds to the overall charm and character of its story. A vision of Rohan Vos, the owner – alongside his wife Anthea, the company was created out of a love of coaches and the railway.
One of the highlights of passengers of Rovos Rail is the possibility to visit the private station. Housing a small museum, footbridge and the traditional semaphore signals, the setting is truly unique in itself.
After arriving in the Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria, you are treated to champagne and a variety of delectable snacks. During an introduction by Rohan Vos himself, you are given a few guidelines to live by for the next few days; leave your worries at the station and your mobile phone in your country! No wifi on board, and that is part of the spirit of the travel.
Each accommodation was built with a different traveler and their requirements in mind. Pullman Suites have a sofa during the day which converts to a bed in the evening; Deluxe suites are much larger with a permanent bed, small lounge area and en-suite shower room. Royal Suites are larger still and have full en-suite bathrooms with Victorian bath as well as shower. All suites on Rovos Rail Pride of Africa are equipped with a writing desk, personal safe and a minibar. The bathrooms combine original fittings with the modern technology of hot showers, hair dryers and shaver plugs. The coaches – classics brought lovingly back to life – are wood paneled and elegant, the kind of location you’d expect to find Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot bustling about in.
A highlight of the Rovos Rail experience is the observation car at the back of the train. Big windows and open-air balconies give you a magnificent view as you sip your bubbly and gaze out over South African landscape, from the Karoo plains to the Mother City of Cape Town.
Meals are served in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the dining cars and are complemented by a selection of fine South African wines. An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring guests’ every need is catered for. There’s an accent on fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty. Breakfast is between 7h and 10h, lunch at 13h, tea at 16h30 and a formal dinner at 19h30. A gong heralds lunch and dinner. Breakfasts of the highest calibre were enjoyed (between 7h and 10h), and then a few relaxed hours later guests would return to the dining cart for lunch. Lunch (at 13h) and dinner (at 19h30) consist of four courses – starter, main, cheese and dessert. Both meals are accompanied with matched South African wines.
For days on the train dress is smart casual. Evening attire is more formal – for the gentlemen a jacket and tie is a required while we suggest cocktail dresses for ladies. Don’t forget warm clothing for cold mornings and evenings.
We would recommend this trip for anybody wanting to experience Southern Africa for the first time. Combined with flawless operations – the Rovos Rail experience of Africa proves extraordinary not only its presence, but its attention to detail and overall operation.