ABOARD THE PRIDE OF AFRICA
Since its establishment more than 10 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.
A SUPERB COLLECTION
OF REBUILT & REFURBISHED COACHES
Rovos Rail operates two classic trains of 20 superbly restored coaches, half of which date back to the 1920s. Each train can accommodate up to 72 passengers in unrivalled spaciousness. A third 13-coach, 42-berth Edwardian train is available year round for charter. The coaches - which have been collected from the far corners of the country - have been painstakingly rebuilt and refurbished to offer discerning travellers the last word in comfort and style.
The use of traditional furnishings and period decor, with top-class craftsmanship evident in fine wood panelling, has ensured an atmosphere of elegance and grandeur. Each one of these carriages, from kitchen cars to sleeper coaches and guards vans, has its own story. A few dating back to 1911 were constructed in Europe and shipped to South Africa in the first half of this century. Some have carried royalty, others have ended up serving as restaurants or lying derelict and forgotten in sidings for decades. All are now cherished members of the Rovos Rail fleet of 60 carriages. At Capital Park, the new headquarters of Rovos Rail, a team of craftsmen and engineers ensure that the coaches are up to standard and that their gleaming green paintwork is immaculate. Exquisite pillared dining cars are a signature feature of the Rovos Rail trains. Each one has a proud history and has been meticulously restored from a derelict state. For example, No 195 Shangani, which was built in 1924, was found parked in a siding in Alberton and acquired by Rovos Rail in 1986. Three of the magnificent teak pillars had been removed and her severely dilapidated condition required 18 months of painstaking restoration.
The pillars were faithfully recreated, restoring the Victorian atmosphere. Shangani ran on the inaugural trip in April 1989. Each of the trains has two 42-seater dining cars to accommodate the maximum complement of 72 passengers in total comfort at one sitting. One of the dining cars is a refurbished Edwardian pillared dining car dating from the 1920s, while the other is a classic luxury dining car of 1936 vintage. The latter is a favourite venue for lunch and offers a superb view from the larger picture windows. Service is friendly and discreet. Each train has one or two lounge cars. Permission was sought and granted by South African Railways to run the Observation Cars at the back of the Trains, enabling enlargement of the windows and the construction of unique open-air balconies. These classic coaches are the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely drink or a cup of tea, get to know the friendly hostesses and fellow travellers and read up more about the route and the many fascinating attractions. The lounge car and onboard gift shop is in the centre of the train.
CUISINE SERVED ABOARD THE PRIDE OF AFRICA
When you are catering for a full complement of 72 guests within the limited space of a Rovos Rail kitchen car, achieving a standard that rivals that of a top-class restaurant is a serious challenge. An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring that guests indulge and that all their favourite drinks are on board. Considerable thought and meticulous planning goes into making up the menus. Unlike many of the great trains of the world, travellers are on board the trains for several days at a time, requiring a much wider selection of meals. There is an accent on fresh local ingredients, and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty. A full breakfast is served in the morning, with a selection of cold meats, croissants and preserves as well as dishes cooked to order.
For lunch and dinner, there is a starter and a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian dish followed by a tempting dessert. A selection of fine wines from some of South Africa's most renowned cellars and estates complement the menus. Meals can be adapted to suit special requirements by prior arrangement. Many of the passengers aboard the Pride of Africa enjoy the formality of fine china, crisp linen and silver service and dress accordingly. During the day, we like our guests to feel at home and dress is casual. Cool, comfortable clothes and hats are recommended for excursions, especially in the game reserves where it can be very hot.