Travel Tips + Accommodation

Luxury Train Travel with Rovos Rail

 

Written by Lisa Nel

General Manager of Marketing and Product at Ker & Downey® Africa, Lisa Nel, recently embarked on a journey aboard the  Rovos Rail – leaders in luxury train travel in Africa. The 4 day expedition took her from the city of Pretoria in South Africa to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Note: From 2022, Rovos Rail will also offer a 5 day journey which includes an additional excursion to Polokwane, South Africa.

Getting there:

Rovos Rail train station

Rovos Rail departs from a number of train stations throughout South Africa. For this specific trip, we were due to leave from the Pretoria Station. The station is easily accessible from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and you can choose to either take a direct 45 minute transfer to the station or overnight in one of Pretoria’s 5 star hotels. 

About Rovos Rail

Drinks at sunset on Rovos Rail

At the forefront of luxury train trail, Rovos Rail was established in 1989 and offers a series of bespoke train journeys that range from 48 hours to 15 days. The elegantly refurbished locomotives transport guests to some of Africa’s most sought after destinations including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and offer a variety of off-train excursions including  safari game drives.

Rovos Rail crossing Victoria Falls bridge
A highlight of my journey was traveling across the Victoria Falls bridge – giving you a close up of the cascading water plummeting into the pools below. 

A highlight of my journey was traveling across the Victoria Falls bridge – giving you a close up of the cascading water plummeting into the pools below. 

Suites on Rovos Rail

Royal Suite on Rovos Rail

The charter train features 36 suites with three accommodation options – the Royal Suite, Deluxe Suite and Pullman Suite. I stayed in the Deluxe Suite which is refurbished to mint condition and offers every amenity and comfort that you might require. A highlight for me was the impeccable turn down service which included a bottle of sparkling wine, as well as our personal butler who was available for our every need 24/7. 

Tips on accommodation options on board Rovos Rail:

The Royal Suite

Royal Suite on Rovos Rail
  • The most spacious suite on the train 
  • Features a private lounge area and an ensuite bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower
  • Double or twin bed configuration 

The Deluxe Suite

Deluxe Suite on Rovos Rail
  • Double or twin bed configuration  
  • Features an ensuite bathroom with shower only
  • Small lounge area

The Pullman Suite

Pullman Suite on Rovos Rail
  • Double or twin bed configuration 
  • Daytime sofa setting 
  • Ensuite bathroom with shower only

Experiences on board the Rovos Rail

Observation deck on Rovos Rail

Off train experiences

Each itinerary includes off-train excursions. If you opt for the Pretoria to Victoria Falls itinerary, you can enjoy a 2 to 3 hour game drive at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Here, we had the opportunity to spot the Big 5 before a luxurious bush breakfast served under a canopy of trees. 

If you opt for the Pretoria to Victoria Falls itinerary, you can enjoy a 2 to 3 hour game drive at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Wildlife in Hwange National Park, photo credit | The Hide

Afternoon Tea

An afternoon high tea is served in the observation car at 16h30 every day. The observation car features an open-air balcony,  big picturesque windows and comfortable sofa booths – a great spot to watch the landscape unfold and mingle with other guests. Bar service on board the Rovos Rail is open from 07h00 to 01h00 and offers an array of beverages.

High tea served in the Observation Car on Rovos Rail
An afternoon high tea is served in the observation car at 16h30 every day– a great spot to watch the landscape unfold and mingle with other guests.

Formal Dining

The culinary experience onboard the Rovos Rail is world-class and is complemented by incredible South African wines. During my stay the chef’s went out of their way to cater to my dietary requirements. A formal four-course dinner is served in the dining car each evening at 19h30. Most guests dress up for the occasion so to be sure to pack formal attire for your trip. 

A formal four-course dinner is served in the dining car each evening at 19h30. Most guests dress up for the occasion so to be sure to pack formal attire for your trip. 

Lisa enjoying dinner with friends on Rovos Rail

Our tips on a luxury train experience with Rovos Rail

  • The Rovos Rail experience is ideal for discerning clients looking to experience a ‘slow travel’ experience.
  • I recommend arriving at the station an hour prior to departure. Here you can sit back and enjoy finger snacks, drinks and live music before you board the train. 
  • Be sure to pack formal or semi-formal attire for the dinners aboard the train. For men, a suit and tie is compulsory.
  • I recommend visiting Victoria Falls in May. You can expect clear skies and an impressive volume of water flowing from the Falls.
  • Once you arrive in Victoria Falls I recommend you stay at Victoria Falls Hotel, an iconic hotel located a short distance from the station and Victoria Falls. 

Luxury train travel on board the Rovos Rail is a bucket list item and is a unique way of seeing Africa while traveling in absolute luxury. If you want to add a Rovos Rail journey to your safari itinerary in Southern Africa, get in touch with our team who can assist with your travel plans.  

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