I wanted to try for many, many years, and finally made my first tour with Rovos Rail: an antique, luxury train icon crisscrossing magnificent South Africa; a country packed with delicious wines, nature, smart cities and wildlife. At very moderate prices, I would add.
The journey starts at Rovos Rail’s very own, private railway station in Pretoria, just 45 minutes from Johannesburg’s airport. Vintage, of course, as all train sets and interiors at Rovos Rail, carefully renovated and polished to perfection.
At the station, both arriving and departing travelers are greeted with juices or sparkling wine, often welcomed personally by the impressive Grand old man behind Rovos Rail, Mr Rovan Vos.
We spent three days and two nights on the shortest trip, between Pretoria and Durban. Oh what a nostalgic delight it was. I simply can’t wait to get back to the friendly atmosphere, watching South Africa’s mountains, plains, people and animals from the outside observation deck, with the warm wind in our hair.
Every now and then, you go in to the bar carriage and grab a drink or some fruit, or sit down in the library carriage to read or small talk in the coziest of sofas and armchairs.
During daytime, there are excursions included, such as artist visits, game drives or battle fields. Lunch is served between the morning and afternoon trips. Some people love the train so much that they skip an excursion or two, just to enjoy the crystal glasses, glowing hardwood and shining brass details on board Rovos Rail.
In the evening, everyone dresses up and goes for yet another delicious meal in the dining carriage. Did I remember to say that staff is ever so friendly, giving each and everyone such a warm-hearted welcome that I was really happy to have brought some extra cash for the tips last day; by the way the only thing not included in the trip.
It was with regret and a firm promise to try some other Rovos Rail route that we stepped off the train to enjoy some sunshine at another colonial icon: The Oyster Box in Durban. Lovely. Just book. And I have to go back there as well, since I did not book the signature treatment The Oyster Box Hammam Ceremony in the spa sufficiently well in advance, nor the gourmet restaurant.
We ended this South African dream with a few days of a Big five game drive at Thanda Safari Reserve; a huge private concession and nature park owned by the Swedish philanthropist and tech billionaire Dan Olofsson, more about the lovely – actually, Thanda means ‘love’ in Swahili – experience in another blog post here @lottiesworld.