Depart on Rovos Rail at 3:00pm from Capital Park Railway Station to Cape Town
(Note: You are required to be at the Railway Station one hour before departure, to enable your luggage to be tagged and for a welcome reception)
Rovos Rail operates two classic 20-coach, 72 berth trains as well as a third 13-coach, 42-berth Edwardian train. A few dating back to 1911 were constructed in Europe and shipped to South Africa in the first half of the last century. Each train has a non-smoking Observation Car with large windows and open-air balconies. In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets onboard. The air-conditioned suites are all equipped with a writing surface, personal safe, and bar fridge. Room service is available 24 hours a day. In the bathrooms original fittings combine with the modern technology of hot showers, hair dryers and shaver plugs. The Royal Suites, each of which take up half a carriage, are spacious and elegant, measuring 172 sq ft. Each has its own private lounge area and full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower. The Deluxe suites 118 sq feet also accommodate two passengers in either twin or double beds and have a lounge area and en-suite bathroom with shower. A third level of accommodation, the Pullman Suite is 7 76 sq ft in size and while it includes the identical bathroom to that of the deluxe suites, the bedroom is smaller with a one-up one-down bunk for twin requirements or a double bed for couples. During the day this can be converted into a comfortable couch. With regard to cuisine, traditional dishes such as game are a specialty, complemented by excellent South African wines. All meals are served in one sitting. Dinner is quite a formal affair, while during the day dress is more casual.
The "Pride of Africa" travels in a southerly direction on a 1600km (960 mile) journey, which follows in reverse a 160 year old pioneering train forged out of the African bushveld. (Note: You are to arrive one hour before departure to ensure your luggage is tagged and for a welcoming reception). Pretoria, known as the “Jacaranda City” on account of the thousands of Jacaranda trees, which line the wide city streets, was founded in 1855 by Marthinus Wessels Pretorius, son of one of the original Voortrekkers, Andries Pretorius. The city and its environs provide a solid frieze marking the progress of the Afrikaner people and their interaction with other cultures. Leaving Pretoria, the "Pride of Africa" climbs gently as it moves eastwards towards Kempton Park, a dormitory city adjacent to Johannesburg International Airport. First stop is among the skyscrapers of Johannesburg, the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa. It is on the heights of the Witwatersrand, some 1828 metres (6000 feet) above sea level, that the greatest goldfields in history were discovered before the turn of the century. You pass through Bloemhof and Leeudoringstad en route to Kimberley, thereafter heading for Warrenton, named after Sir Charles Warren who led an 1885 expedition, which annexed the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now Botswana.
Depart Kimberley (the Diamond City) at 12:30pm for Cape Town
In Kimberley, the "Pride of Africa" enters one of the finest Victorian railway stations in Africa. A product of the railway heyday of the 1870’s, the cast iron girders encased in glass soar over the platforms to recall the intricate patterns of a bygone era. Kimberley was among those South African towns besieged by the Boers during the Anglo Boer war. The British Army under Lord Methuen attempted to capture the town but suffered two serious reserves at the battle of Modder River (28th November 1899) and Magersfontein (11th December 1899). The famous Black Watch regiment suffered terribly during this campaign, exposed to the intense heat and unable to advance or retreat under withering Boer Mauser Fire. Finally, they broke and fled, an ignominious defeat, which, resulted in the siege being maintained for a further two months. Rhodes was among the town’s citizens who lived through the siege. Enjoy a Kimberley “Big Hole” Tour and afterwards have the opportunity to visit the Diamond Museum, an intensely interesting and carefully constructed display of historical memorabilia housed next to the “Big Hole,” the largest man-made excavation in the world. This astonishing excavation was once the site of a small hill which diamondiferous “blue ground” Kimberlite ore was discovered. Literally thousands of claims were pegged as would-be miners from all corners of the world sought to make their fortunes. Millions of tons of ore were removed as the diggers continued their search hundreds of metres below ground level. The "Pride of Africa" continues its journey southwards towards De Aar, a major railway junction to Namibia and the northern Cape line. The changing vegetation provides guests with an indication of the increasingly arid nature of the region as the train heads southwards into the heart of the Karoo.
Depart Matjiesfontein at 10:30am to arrive Cape Town Railway Station at approximately 6.00pm
You disembark from the train in this historical town where the Laird Logan set up a small refreshment hotel for the hungry and thirsty travelers of the Cape Government Railways some hundred years ago. Major Buist, a descendant of Logan’s still lives in this village. An authentic Victorian railway village stands perfectly preserved at Matjiesfontein. Legend has it the station is occasionally visited by the ghost of a wounded British “Tommy” of the Anglo-Boer war. Leaving Matjiesfontein at 10.30am, the train continues southwards towards Touws River, leaving behind the strangely haunting barrenness of the Great Karoo as it descends to the first terrace and the vineyards of the Hex River Valley. It continues to lose altitude, reaching the first mountain terrace and the town of Worcester before heading for Paarl in the heart of the Winelands. Close to Cape Town, the vegetation is either tinged green by the winter rain of the Western Cape, a region that enjoys a Mediterranean climate, or burnt brown during the long hot summer. Cape Town, internationally known for the majestic beauty of Table Mountain, is the “Mother City” of South Africa being the site of the first European landings and settlement in Southern Africa. The subtle interplay of sea and mountain, which characterizes the Cape of Good Hope, moved intrepid explorer Sir Francis Drake to call it “the fairest Cape in all the circumferences of the globe.” It has become a most fitting description for Cape Town. At Cape Town Railway Station you disembark and continue with your onward arrangements.