The Best Luxury Train Safaris in Southern Africa

Luxury train safaris in Southern Africa offers a unique perspective of some of the most diverse landscapes. You’re gazing out at a tapestry of vineyards one hour, surrounded by towering mountains the next, followed by vast bush dotted with wildlife. And Southern Africa is blessed with not just one but two luxury trains! Here’s where to experience the best luxury train trips and what to expect.

Fairytale landscape in South Africa, image credit: Rovos Rail

Romance on Railways 

Is there anything more romantic than a train? There’s just something about that monotonous rhythm, watching the world pass by. It’s almost a meditative experience, giving you the space and time to sit back and just be. 

As African Travel Experts, we have a genuine appreciation for the finer things in life (bring on the Champagne and caviar!). And a luxury train safari through our beloved Southern Africa really is one of our favourite ways to experience it – in style. 

Rovos Rail

Dubbed the ‘most luxurious train in the world’ and dating back to 1989, Rovos Rail journeys through some of the most spectacular landscapes Africa has to offer. 

As the world’s largest collection of privately-owned and operated trains, it’s the personal touch that elevates your experience from the expected to extraordinary. You can rest assured that this family, with owner Mr Rohan Vos at the helm, will ensure your trip is nothing short of perfect.  

They focus on elegant, 5-star experiences aimed at bringing happiness to their guests. And with a never-ending stream of raving reviews, you know that you’re in good hands as soon as Mr Vos or one of his representatives welcomes you in person.

Deluxe Suite in the luxury Rovos Rail train

Your Deluxe Suite abode is anything but humble, image credit: Rovos Rail

All Aboard the Pride of Africa 

The train’s grand interior is glamorous and reminiscent of The Titanic. So, stepping on board the Rovos Rail feels like you’ve stepped back into a bygone era. 

With its colonial-style luxury and attention to detail, it’s evident that you’re in for a treat as soon as you step onboard. Picture glossy polished wood, emerald green carpets, and classic touches like crystal glasses and fine china. And you’ll quickly realise that this is no ordinary train trip. 

Historical paintings and photographs adorn the walls here and there, but the actual artworks you’ll be looking at are the spellbinding views from the large windows, leaving you transfixed. You’re invited to sink back into one of the deep sofas or wingback chairs and soak it all in. 

And what completes the picture is that there’s a formal dinner dress code, so be sure to pack your snazziest dinner jackets and most fabulous sparkly dresses! 

Bar service at Rovos Rail

At your service with a smile, image credit: Rovos Rail

Full Steam Ahead at a Leisurely Pace

You can call Rovos Rail a slowcomotive. Although, fun fact, none of their trains are steam rains, and haven’t been for years. All their trains travel at a maximum of 60 kilometres per hour, the goal being to really slow down. Switch off all those digital devices, tuning in to savour every sight and sound of the experience instead.

The open-air observation deck at the train’s posterior is another highlight so that you can feel the wind in your hair and have an unobstructed vantage point of the scenery. So, remember to pack your camera!

Bells and Whistles 

Rovos Rail is known for upholding only the highest calibre of their dedicated and discreet service, attention to detail, excellent cuisine, and curated South African wine selection. Presentation is everything, and they really work hard to ensure everything is flawless.

With a butler assigned personally to you, there to pour every drink your heart could desire, fluff your pillow, or bring your favourite nibble, it’s this hands-on, personalised service that makes it something exceptional. You’ll feel like royalty – and deservedly so! 

From sipping your morning coffee in fine china to clinking crystal for sundowners, a Rovos Rail train trip is all about revelling in these little moments.

Accommodation Options 

The Rovos Rail trains, some electric and other diesel locomotives, can accommodate 72 passengers in 36 Suites. You can choose from three kinds of Suites, namely Pullman (7 square metres), Deluxe (10 square metres), or Royal (16 square metres).

All Suites have en-suite bathrooms with a shower, toilet and basin. The Royal Suite has an additional clog-footed bath, the most luxurious way to end your day onboard. 

Private bathroom at Royal Suite, Rovos Rail

The private bathroom in the Royal Suites, image credit: Rovos Rail

Who’s it for?

A luxury train trip with Rovos Rail is for anyone and everyone. Solo travellers, couples, groups, and families will all enjoy the experience. However, please note that they don’t recommend longer journeys for children under 13. There are no childminding facilities available, there are adult-only carts, and children must adhere to certain regulations.

Do you have a big milestone coming up? You can rent the train for exclusive use! Now, that’s one party no one will forget.

Our Favourite Rovos Rail Luxury Train Safari: Pretoria to Victoria Falls

Duration: 4 or 5 days

Rovos Rail has many different journeys you can go on. One of our favourites and best-selling excursions is the Victoria Falls one, a three- or four-night trip.

This luxury train safari takes guests on a gentle adventure departing from Pretoria. You’ll travel north through Warmbaths (Bela-Bela) and Nylstroom, before continuing towards Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

Here you’ll continue along one of the world’s longest stretches of straight railway line (114km) until you reach Hwange National Park, where you’ll feel the pulse of adventure on a game drive. The journey ends in the world-famous Victoria Falls, the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

It’s also possible to do the journey the other way around, starting in Victoria Falls and travelling to Pretoria. 

Other Destinations You Can Visit 

Pretoria to Victorial Falls luxury train trip with Rovos Rail

One of their luxury train safaris in Southern Africa starts in Pretoria and travels to Victoria Falls, image credit: Rovos Rail

The Blue Train

The Blue Train wishes to bring you modern-day luxuries in an old-fashioned style, a place where the past and the present meet. With a rich history dating back to 1946, it still shows off some of its original charms but has been refurbished with all the conveniences to make your journey more enjoyable. 

A Window to the Soul of Africa

The Blue Train has been around for years, offering their signature Southern African journeys with a strong focus on heritage. Since they started offering luxury train safaris, they’ve welcomed many of the world’s rich and famous, including Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Danny Glover, and many more. 

The interior boasts old-world charm and luxury, but what really makes it special is the outdoors, with these train tracks taking you on a VIP scenic route through Southern Africa. And with a strict formal dinner dress code, you’ll look and feel the part as you enjoy a classy fine dining experience paired with South Africa’s best wines. 

The luxurious and comfortable lounge

Sit back and enjoy the view from the lounge, image credit: Blue Train

Accommodation Options

The Blue Train has two train sets, one accommodating a maximum of 54 guests and the other 82 guests. The latter also has a paraplegic suite and conference car. 

There are De Luxe and Luxury Suites to choose from. The De Luxe Coaches have 4 Suites sized four by two metres. One of these De Luxe Suites has a double bed and a 3/4 bathtub with a handheld shower, while the others have twin beds with showers.

The Luxury Coaches have 3 Luxury Suites, 5,13 by 2 metres in size, and you can choose between a double bed or two twin beds. 

The Luxury Suite in the Blue Train

Romantic turndown in the Luxury Suite, image credit: The Blue Train

Who’s it for? 

The Blue Train is perfect for romantic getaways, corporate and private events, and family holidays. Children are welcome, although they have to adhere to the strict Children Policy while onboard. 

Our Favourite Blue Train Luxury Train Safari: Pretoria to Kruger

Duration: 3 Days

Take the journey from Pretoria to the Big 5 safari mecca, the Kruger National Park, for an adventure of a lifetime. You’ll start your journey with a 5-course gourmet lunch, followed by an indulgent high tea, and end your day with dinner, followed by post-dinner cognacs and Cuban cigars before heading to your Suite. 

The following day, you’ll step off for your safari at Nkambeni Safari Camp, including cultural experiences. You’ll end your eventful day around the crackling boma fire sharing stories over dinner before climbing back on board the train for after-dinner drinks before bed.

Other Destinations You Can Visit

The Blue Train Pretoria to Kruger National Park

The journey with the Blue Train mapped out, image credit: Blue Train

Luxury Train Safaris: Books Yours Now! 

If you’re anything like us, you’ve reached for your passport by now! Well, what are you waiting for? It’s time for Africa! 

If you’d like to experience the wonder of luxury train safaris in Southern Africa, contact our Rhino Africa Travel Experts, and let’s start planning

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