Rovos Train: Travel Through Africa Like Royalty


There are several ways to travel through Africa. The most common are off-road driving and domestic flights. But what if we were to suggest that you travel through time and travel through Africa at the same time? Before you continue reading this article, close your eyes and imagine yourself living in, say, early 20th-century England. Imagine what you are wearing and how you feel. You have just arrived on another continent to travel and experience a whole new world for you. Have you seen it? So, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Rovos Train! Our grand African journey is about to begin!

What Is a Rovos Train?

It is a train that comprises vintage carriages, designed for members of the royal family in 1911. It offers three types of compartments. Which one are you traveling in?

  • The Pullman. A small one- or two-person compartment with a sofa bed that you can unfold and sleep during the night journey or sit by day and gaze out the large window. Your compartment also has a separate shower to freshen up.
  • Deluxe. A similar compartment, but more spacious. Comprises a bedroom with a living area and a luxurious bath.
  • Royal Suite. The largest compartment occupies half of the car. A spacious bedroom, living room, and bathroom with a Victorian-style bathtub are at your disposal.

All compartments are lined with expensive mahogany, and the interior reproduces the style of the early 20th century. On the train, you didn’t find a radio or TV for the greatest immersion in the past.

Unlike a simple train, the Rovos is equipped with a dining car, a saloon car, an observation compartment with an open balcony, and a smoking lounge. 

Life on board

Let me help paint you a picture of A Day in the Life of the Rovos Train. At night you rest in your compartment. In the morning, dressed casually and somewhat elegantly, you head out for breakfast. In the dining car, dishes made of expensive porcelain and cutlery made of silver are already on white tablecloths. The waiter serves freshly prepared delicacies of the local cuisine. After a delightful breakfast, you have free time for a short excursion along the route. At 1 p.m. you will have a delicious lunch. Then you can take a nap in your compartment or head to the observation carriage to view the African scenery. By 4:30 p.m. you will be invited to a tea break, after which you can return to your compartment and prepare an elegant dinner. During dinner, there is a truly aristocratic atmosphere. Gentlemen in suits, ladies in evening gowns, enjoying a new culinary masterpiece from the chef, and drinking cool South African wine. After dinner, you can proceed to the lounge car, where you will continue your luxurious evening with cocktails and small talk.

One of the Longest Routes in the World

Now visualize your itinerary. You have embarked on the longest journey in Africa, which begins in Dar es Salaam and ends in Cape Town. Along the way, the train will make stops to visit the main tourist attractions and return to the train to continue the journey surrounded by luxury. The journey of 5800 km you will cover in 15 days. For two whole weeks, you will live as royalty, is not it wonderful?

Route details

Your journey begins in Tanzania, where you go on an authentic safari in Selous Park. Also, ride through the Great Rift Valley with tunnels, viaducts, and curves on the edge of spectacular cliffs. Then you’ll be in Zambia, where you’ll get off the train to walk to Chisimba Falls.

Further along the route, you’ll have one of the most spectacular stops on your trip. You will spend two days overnight at the Victoria Falls Hotel, enjoying the noise and views of the majestic Victoria Falls.

After passing through Botswana, you will find yourself in Madikwe National Park, on the border of South Africa and Botswana. You will change your leisure time on the train to a safari jeep for the next three days. You will ride through the bush surrounded by lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, and many other African animals.

Back on board, you embark on Pretoria, the capital of the Republic of South Africa. You will take a small sightseeing tour of the city.

You will continue your acquaintance with South Africa in Kimberley. Here you will see one of the region’s leading industries – diamond mining. You will visit Kimberley’s Diamond Mine Museum and the Big Hole. Learn many interesting stories about the owners of the diamond mines and the ordinary workers who worked hard to get the diamonds.

Another impressive stop is in the town of Matjiesfontein – a museum city that has kept the charm of a colonial British village.

Finally, you arrive in the city of two oceans, Cape Town. Stay here for a few days, visit the Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain, the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, and dine at one of the fine restaurants by the ocean.

Your journey back in time has ended. I hope you enjoyed this trip!

Alternatives Rovos Train Routes

The longest route can be taken in reverse from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. 

There are also shorter routes, such as Pretoria – Cape Town. This is the most popular option for those who want to visit South Africa.

Pretoria – Durban, where you can visit the capital of South Africa, go on safari, and relax in South Africa’s most famous resort on the shores of the Indian Ocean. 

Pretoria – Victoria Falls. The route passes through the territories of South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. So you will enjoy an impressive safari and visit one of Africa’s main attractions—Victoria Falls.

Pretoria – Wallfish Bay. From the capital of South Africa, you will travel to Namibia. Your main backdrop for the coming days will be the scenery of the Kalahari Desert and Namib, the rugged beauty of Fish River Canyon, and the unusual atmosphere of Windhoek and Wallfish Bay. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling by Rovos Train

What if I have to follow a special diet?

Before booking, you can leave food requests so that the chefs can prepare special dishes for you.

What is the dress code on the train?

We advise you to have casual, comfortable clothes, as well as evening clothes for dinner. For excursions, it is recommended to have comfortable shoes and clothing for safari tours. 

Are there any restrictions on luggage?

No, there are no restrictions on luggage for travel by train. The compartment has a large enough shelf for suitcases, which can accommodate all your belongings. 

Meet You on Board!

If you are looking for an unusual travel experience, the Rovos train is just for you. We will be happy to help you take the first step toward your dream. So, we offer to see one of the possible tours to South Africa, or to make an individual calculation based on your preferences.

What do you most want to see in Africa? Which route would you choose? Please share your thoughts.

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