Life moves pretty quickly nowadays.
We’re always looking for a faster better way to do things, never really taking a chance to slow down and appreciate what’s going on around us. This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to travel. We want the quickest flight with the shortest layover getting us to our destination at record speed.
But what if the journey was the destination? Yeah, I know… that sounds about as cheesy as your parents’ fondue party, but a trip from Pretoria to Cape Town aboard the Rovos Rail definitely gives you a new perspective on travel.
Sure you could take a 2-hour flight, but here’s what you’ll experience when you take 2 days instead.
It’s no surprise that Rovos Rail makes every “Most Luxurious Train Journey” list in the world. A trip on Rovos Rail is a journey back in time. A journey back to the romance of African exploration and the glamour of train travel. It is truly epic!
I’ve often thought to myself that I was born in the wrong decade. Personally, I wish we still lived in a time where men never left the house without a hat and always wore a suit to dinner. The team at Rovos Rail have gone to extreme lengths in re-creating that exact experience… the experience of “remember when”? Onboard the train, every carriage is lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory by a team of craftsman and artisans at their private railyard. From the wood panelling on the walls to the bespoke plates and glasses at dinner; There’s no detail spared.
To maintain the glamour on board, a strict dress code is required. Smart casual for the day and a jacket and tie for dinner! I was in my element! There is also a strict ‘No electronic devices in public spaces’ rule. Not only does this stop you from annoying other guests with your constant thumb tapping, but it forces you to stop and watch the world go by. This is not something I’m used to, but it’s something I really appreciated on this 3-day journey.
Our trip pulled out of Pretoria on Shaun, (a lovingly restored steam train locomotive) before being hooked up to an electric train about 30min down the track, before we continued our trip to Durban. We simply sat in the viewing cart with our glasses of wine watching the scenery change around us.
All meals and drinks on the train, as well as all your excursions, are included as part of your journey. Everything from brunch to dinner was just perfect and it’s incredible what they can prepare in such a tiny kitchen. We’re talking 5-star dining paired with some of South Africas best wines and bubbly at every meal. Well, all except breakfast. It’s a little too early for a wine pairing, but the mimosas are definitely already flowing by this time.
The entire journey is only about 6ookm (about 380 Miles), so the train travels incredibly slowly and often stops during meal times and evenings. We loved this as it gave us a chance to appreciate the actual train journey when we could. They also stop along the way for excursions, usually just before cabin fever starts setting in.
On day 2 we stopped at Nambiti Private Game Reserve for an early morning game drive. The reserve had just undergone a controlled burn so the animals were pretty easy to spot in this crazy chared landscape – Amazingly, we managed to catch 3 lions enjoying a recent warthog kill (amazing for us, less so for the warthog). The excursions vary from trip to trip and really help to give you a taste of the local landscape and culture.
So? In the end, what is the best part of a trip aboard the Rovos Rail? The answer is quite simple. The trip. The trip is truly the best part. Sure the meals are delicious and the drinks incredible, but this trip offers you an experience that no hotel can – or at least no other hotel I’ve ever visited.
Somewhere between the forced electronic break, the black-tie dinners and the bottomless champagne, you find a whole new appreciation for taking it slow. The ability to enjoy the journey, over the destination, is not only a truly rare experience but a pretty good lesson in life.
Okay. Travel safe and stay fancy.