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Rail Journey

Rovos Rail

For many visitors to South Africa, there's no finer way to see the country than on the popular weekly journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town and vice versa. One of the world's top destinations, Cape Town offers a blend of cosmopolitan city life, mountain splendour and scenic winelands. The twin cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg in Gauteng form South Africa's economic heartland and the ideal departure point for the Lowveld's world-famous game reserves. From the coast, the 1600 kilometre route follows an old pioneering trail carved out of the African bushveld, passing through the winelands and climbing up to the interior through the Hex River Valley. Highlights of the north and southbound routes include visits to the historic village of Matjiesfontein, a 100-year-old refreshment stop in the arid Karoo, and Kimberley (city of De Beers), the diamond boom-town that's home to the Big Hole, the world's largest man-made excavation.

Since its establishment more than 15 years ago, Rovos Rail has earned an international reputation for its truly world-class travel experiences. Step aboard the wood-panelled coaches - classics remodelled and refurbished to mint condition - and enjoy fine cuisine in five-star luxury as some of the most varied scenery imaginable unfolds beyond the windows. Recapture the romance and atmosphere of a by-gone era, when privileged travellers experienced the magic and mystery of Africa in a relaxed and elegant fashion.

In a series of journeys lasting from 24 hours to a fortnight, the Pride of Africa links some of Africa's greatest destinations from Cape Town at the tip of Africa to Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania, from scenic splendours as diverse as the game reserves of Mpumalanga to the Victoria Falls, from the desert landscapes of Namibia and the stark beauty of the Karoo to the lush canefields of KwaZulu-Natal and the magnificent Garden Route along the Cape South Coast.

The trains - which may be hauled by steam, diesel or electric locomotives at various stages of the journey - carry a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites. Pride of place in the Rovos stable goes to the historic and newly rebuilt Capital Park station and locomotive yard, which is the heart and new headquarters of this private railway company.

After a ten-year search the world's most luxurious train has found a permanent base in the once derelict locomotive yard of Capital Park, just north of Pretoria. Capital Park was chosen in 1939 as the site for a new locomotive shed and marshalling yard. Completed in 1943, the yard in its heyday was extremely busy housing some 140 steam locomotives. Technology and time moved on, and over the years newer forms of railway locomotion replaced the faithful old steam engines, which had served so well since the industrial revolution.

There's a story behind all of the Rovos Rail locomotives, their acquisition and restoration. Each one has a distinctive character and charm and all are named after members of owner Rohan Vos' family. The first engine acquired was No 2702 Bianca, a Class 19D locomotive built by Borsig in 1938. It was purchased in 1986 from Loewenthal's Scrap Metal. Dunn's Locomotive in Witbank was commissioned to return the 50-year old workhorse to running condition. The Rovos Rail staff then carried out cosmetic improvements, including a superb paint job, making Rovos Rail's first loco a beautiful sight. No 2701 'Brenda', a Class 19D locomotive with coincidentally a number just one digit away from Bianca, was bought from Chick's Scrap Metal while staged at Volksrust in Natal and restored at the workshops in Witbank.

Rovos Rail has five working locomotives at Capital Park in Pretoria. 439 TIFFANY is one of 40 Class 6 locomotives manufactured by Dubs & Co in 1893. Rohan and Anthea Vos saw this petite loco on the platform of Winburg Station in the Eastern Freestate and it was love at first sight. The loco was purchased in 1987 and Dunns Locomotive in Witbank was commissioned to return the 6 Class to running condition. She is named after their youngest daughter. The latest addition to Rovos Rail is a Class 25 NC locomotive that has been converted from a coal burner to an oil-fired engine. It completed an 18-month overhaul and refurbishment, which brought a gleam to every bit of brass and a glow to the faces of the team of people who had painstakingly restored her to her prime.

Use of steam has become increasingly difficult over the past years, as more and more water and coaling facilities have been scrapped. Wherever practical the trains may be drawn by any one of the five vintage steam locomotives. Where facilities no longer exist, diesel or electric locomotives will be used. Rovos Rail will, however, endeavour to ensure that arrivals and departures in Pretoria are steam hauled.

The Rovos Rail Journey

Day 1
  • 11:00 Depart from platform 23 at Cape Townstation and proceed inland via Worcester.
  • 18:00 Upon arrival at Matjiesfontein guests tour this quaint village.
  • 19:00 Depart Matjiesfontein.
Day 2
  • 13:00 Upon arrival in Kimberley we transfer to the historic Kimberley Club for lunch and then take the electric tram from the City centre for a tour of the Big Hole and museum.
  • 16:00 Depart Kimberley.
Day 3
  • 12:00 Arrive Rovos Rail Station, Pretoria.
Rovos Rail Information
Meals All meals
Luxury Coach
Departure Dates
As per Rovos schedule
Price Includes Three superb meals daily, all alcoholic and other beverages, Sightseeing excursions accompanied by a qualified tour guide, Entrance fees to places of interest, 24 hour full room service and bar facilities, Government Tax, Limited laundry service.
Price Excludes Items of a personal nature, gratuities and off train beverages
Minimum Number
Climate Cape Town: Lying between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, Cape Town enjoys mild winters and pleasant summers. Summer temperatures in December to February range from around 15 to 27°C (60 to 80° Fahrenheit), whilst in the winter months of June to August average temperatures are between 7 to 20° C (45 to 70° Fahrenheit). The Cape is a winter rainfall area Pretoria: Summer rainfall region, November to February thunderstorms, summer days are hot though rarely to the point of discomfort. October max temp 27° C and min 14° C.
Best time to go All year round.
Health Requirements None
Combines well with Cape Town
Other Ideas Additional days can be added.
Child Policy Rovos Rail does accommodate children but ask parents to be considerate of the sophisticated adult atmosphere we endeavour to maintain.
Clothing During the day, the dress is smart casual, Comfortable clothes are essential for game reserves and the African bush, Please include warm clothing for cold mornings and evenings, In keeping with the dignified atmosphere of the train, many guests prefer to dress for dinner. Evening attire might therefore be included in a guest's luggage, A jacket and tie is a minimum requirement please.
Things to remember Camera, Binoculars, Hat, Sunscreen.
Electricity on the Train 220V AC 50Hz * 3 point round pronged wall plug
Passports And Visas The onus is upon the client to ensure that passports and visas, as may be required, are valid.
Notes Security: There is a guest safe in every suite No pets allowed. Additional game drives can be added. Golf reservations recommended.

Price Indication

Per person sharing Single supplement
Pullman R7 500 R3 750
Deluxe R11 400 R5 700
Royal R14 800 R7 400

Tour Specials
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Tour Associate SATSA Bonded
Tour Associate Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa
Tour Associate Intasure
Tour Associate FTTSA

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Mike, UK
Many thanks for sending us this Newsletter. The comments and photos brought back wonderful memories of the splendid guided tour that we enjoyed so much. In retrospect we came to realise that we did just the right thing in having a fully escorted tour as it gave us the unique opportunity see your beautiful country with a maximum focus of direction and a minimum of risk.

We are advising friends to do likewise when they come to South Africa.
I hope all goes well with you.

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