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Luxury Train Travel in Africa

Luxury train travel in Africa makes different demands on safari travellers. You’ll need to sit down, relax, take your time – and indulge your senses. Unfolding African landscapes pass by, clouds mass on distant horizons, silver cutlery gleams on white linen.

Train travel is truly about the journey. Step aboard and the experience begins: you’ll enjoy top service, fine dining and great South African wine plus all the fineries of luxury travel like air-conditioned suites and room service. There are no radios or televisions on board, and to preserve the old-world ambience, the use of electronic devices is limited to one’s suite.

And then there are the excursions. Luxury train travellers enjoy the same sights and sounds as those on lodge-based safaris. Visits to classic wildlife destinations such as the Kruger Park, Victoria Falls and the Selous Reserve are included in the itineraries as are iconic African destinations ranging from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam.

How to do it? There are only two luxury trains in Africa that will deliver on expectations: All aboard!

THE WORLD’S NUMBER ONE – ROVOS RAIL

Travel in Rovos Rail luxury suite

Put an image of luxurious train travel in your mind & there’s a good chance it’ll look like this – Rovos Rail.

If they say they are the world’s most luxurious train operators, then it’s worth taking them at their word. Launched in 1989, Rovos Rail seeks to recreate the golden age of train travel, combining simple elegance with unabashed luxury. It’s what you’d expect: wood-panelled coaches, your drink made just the way you like it, and a formal dress code for dinner. There are three types of suite on offer, accommodating one or two passengers in double or twin beds. All are air-conditioned and have private bathrooms with shower, toilet and basin; the largest suite – the 16m² (170 ft²) Royal – comes with a bath as well as its own lounge.

Rovos Rail itineraries are varied and include journeys focussed on golf and big game viewing, or tours with an accent on culture and history. Our favourites are:

Trail of Two Oceans

A trail-blazing route from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, this 15-day odyssey embarks from Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam and finishes across the continent in Luanda, the capital of Angola. It’s a journey with an emphasis on wildlife – there are safaris into the Selous Reserve and Zambia’s South Luangwa – as well as culture and history with walking tours in the Congo and Angola.

Cape Town to Dar es Salaam

Like it says, this itinerary begins with the unique culture and landscapes of South Africa’s Cape before delivering a montage of classic Africa – the Kalahari, Victoria Falls, the Selous Game Reserve – and ending in the bustle of Dar es Salaam. You’ll enjoy 15 days of ever-changing landscapes – from the Cape Winelands to the East African savannahs – with plenty of history in the mix too.

African Collage

Staying within the borders of South Africa, this journey wends its way in a big lazy ‘S’ from Pretoria to Cape Town and has both a golfing and a non-golfing itinerary. There are three excellent game reserves to visit – including the Kruger – a boat cruise on the Garden Route, lots of historical tours and if you are keen to play a few holes, then the golf courses on offer include some of the best in the country.

ICONIC REINVENTION – THE SHONGOLOLO EXPRESS

Aerial view of Shongololo Express luxury train

The Shongololo Express offers a wide choice of Southern Africa itineraries with built-in safaris.

If Rovos Rail is the Five Star train then the Shongololo Express is the Three Star alternative. And since the Shongololo has been in the care of Rovos Rail since 2016, it means that those three stars are gilt-edged. The Shongololo Express still delivers the luxury train experience you’d expect but at a more affordable rate. Service is great, the food and wine excellent and you’ll need to dress smartly for dinner; bring some 1920s finery for one of their themed suppers.

Operating within the ambit of Southern Africa, the Shongololo offers journeys of between 12 and 15 days, taking in classic destinations such as the Kruger Park and Victoria Falls as well as Namibia’s must-see giant sand dunes and the Fish River Canyon, second in size only to the Grand Canyon. Our favourite itineraries are:

African Trilogy

Spanning South Africa, eSwatini (Swaziland) and Namibia, this 15-day journey delivers wildlife viewing, cultural excursions and some of the most dramatic landscapes you’ll have ever seen. From the tangled bushveld of the Kruger Park to the rippling oceans of red sand in Namibia, this luxury train journey is big on experience.

Southern Cross

Beginning in Pretoria, this itinerary opens with panoramic views and big game viewing in the Kruger Park. Dramatic landscapes and wildlife remain the theme as you travel north from South Africa and eSwatini and into Zimbabwe. There are historical excursions and further game viewing to look forward to and the journey ends at Victoria Falls with a village tour and a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.

Dune Express

Focussing on the dry areas of Southern Africa, the Dune Express rolls over South Africa’s arid diamond country before crossing into Namibia. Highlights include the Fish River Canyon and the dunes of Sossusvlei – the world’s highest – as well as walking tours of sand-filled ghost towns and historical excursions. Finish with wildlife watching at Namibia’s flagship Etosha Park and the coastal town of Walvis Bay, one of the country’s top birding spots.

Hands-on Expertise

  • We’re based in Africa
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Reviews

Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)
Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Neena
It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)
Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)