If you’re looking for a different way of seeing Africa, why not consider taking the train? And no, we’re not talking about an ordinary train. The Blue Train and the Rovos Train are bywords for luxurious travel that will take you back to an era when taking the train was a more gracious affair.
The Blue Train came into being in the 1920s as a mode of transport for a burgeoning upper-class - attracted by the discovery of gold and diamonds in South Africa’s Witwatersrand - and one that came to expect a more opulent mode of transport.
After being pressed into military service during World War II and then reincarnated in 1946, the trains’ distinctive royal blue and cream shades gave rise to the phrase ‘those blue trains’. It was in these shades that a legend was born.
A carriage-by-carriage refurbishment in the 1970s and modernisation from steam to electricity and diesel in the 1990s, defined this train as epitomising luxurious modern travel, evoking the spirit of a bygone age.
The Blue Train now traverses South Africa in a manner that befits the mystique that has grown around it.
Kings and presidents have indulged on this magnificent five-star ‘hotel-on-wheels’. From love-struck honeymooners, to celebrities, to travellers who romanticise about a life of spectacular luxury.
A De Luxe Suite on the Blue Train will forever alter your definition what railway travel is about. From your elegant and relaxing lounge during the day, it transforms into a subtly lit bedroom for the night, bedecked with goose-down and 100 per cent percale-cotton bedding. It also has under-floor heating, an opulent marble and gold-fitted bathroom and electronic entertainment options.
While the Blue Train lives up to its five-star reputation in every sense, its cuisine surpasses even the highest expectations. It could be said that dinner will be the most unforgettable experience of your adventure.
And then, of course, all this is accompanied by the ever-changing vistas of the South African countryside…
Rovos Rail is a private railway company operating out of its own colonial-style Capital Park Station in Pretoria, South Africa. The company was started in 1989 by Rohan Vos and is still family owned, providing rail journeys all over southern Africa including South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Life on board The Pride of Africa - as the train is called - is luxurious and relaxing.
The train has three types of accommodation, the smallest being a Pullman; the largest being the Royal Suite, which is half a train car. All cabins have an en-suite shower, sink and toilet.
Meals are served in the charming Victorian-style dining cars and are complemented by a selection of fine South African wines. There’s an emphasis on fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty.
During the day, dress on the train is smart casual. Evening attire is more formal – for the gentlemen a jacket and tie is a minimum requirement while for ladies it’s cocktail or evening dresses or suits. Rovos is all about maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era and travelling on the Pride of Africa is an experience that you’ll never forget.