As if living on the set of a Baz Luhrmann film, the romantic dreams of foregone times are brought to life aboard the Rovos Rail… and we checked in, Louis Vuitton and all.
Hailed as the world’s most luxurious train, The Rovos Rail offers visitors the chance to see the beauty of South Africa in the most opulent way. From the moment we arrived at the Rovos Rail station in Pretoria, an air of romanticism shrouds you. Visitors are greeted with a glass of bubbly and an afternoon tea of cucumber sandwiches as we waited for the Pride of Africa to arrive in all her glory. Decked with luxurious red carpets and dark wood interiors the train transports visitors to a time where one’s crystal glasses were always filled and their every whim attended to.
After our afternoon tea it was time to climb aboard and find our way to our cabin, a deluxe suite comfortably accommodating two guests and decked with every amenity one could need during their stay. From comfortable percale fitted beds to the modern technology of hot showers and hair dryers, the suites afford passengers the opportunity to travel in privacy and comfort. The bar fridge is filled with drinks of your choice upon arrival and your personal butler service offers guests the chance to have their laundry and dry cleaning done daily as well as a 24 hour room service should you need it – even at 3 am.
While the train meandered through the grasslands of the gold-rich Highveld to the haunting barrenness of the Great Karoo and trundled through the spectacular mountain ranges and scenic winelands of the Cape, guests were treated to the finest cordon bleu food paired with South Africa’s finest wines. Before passengers had the opportunity to finish unpacking high tea in the train’s lounge was served, comprising of scones and cake and the opportunity to idle away time with a novel from the train’s library or challenge your partner to a game of chess. Everything about your journey is romantically inspired by the golden years of European train travel.
After a light siesta and a fresh shower, dinner, a formal affair, is served in the train’s dining cart. Crystal, silverware and a constantly changing view are what meals are comprised of and guests are urged to leave their diets at their station of departure. A five course meal comprising of Lobster, beef medallions and chocolate fondants await guests whose dietary requirements are attended to by attentive staff. After dinner, guests mingle over a glass of port in the train’s observation deck before being rocked to sleep by the lull of the train from their beds which come with hot blankets for the colder winter months.
On our first morning aboard the train, we woke with the sun rays peeping through the wooden shutters of our compartment windows. Opening our screens we enjoyed the ever changing picture of the Free State before us. After a hot shower, we indulged in fresh fruit and a traditional English breakfast before taking in the sites on an organized tour of Kimberly, providing us the opportunity to enjoy a visit to the Diamond Mine Museum and the world’s largest man-made excavation, the Big Hole.
After our morning spent revelling in the history of Cecil John Rhodes and South Africa’s history with diamond mining we enjoyed our five course lunch while the countryside in our view changed from golden browns to the traditional landscape of the Karoo made famous in Eve Palmer’s novel, Plains of the Camdeboo. As the light began to fade and our routine aboard the Rovos became familiar, we relaxed into the lull of the train, relishing the sights and sounds around us.
Sunday morning called for an early start as guests enjoyed an optional 5km walk into the authentically preserved Victorian Village of Matjiesfontein – founded by Mr Logan as a refreshment stop in 1890. As the train set course for the last few hours of its journey, trundling through the spectacular mountain ranges and scenic winelands of the Cape, our journey’s end was on the horizon with a view of Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head.
It was with heavy hearts’ and full tummies that we rolled into Cape Town and bid farewell to fellow voyagers who like us, finally understood just how magical the Rovos Rail truly is.
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