Since its establishment in 1989, 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 bygone era, when privileged travellers experienced the magic and mystery of Africa in a relaxed and elegant fashion. The trains – which may be hauled by steam, diesel or electric locomotives at various stages of the journey – carry a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 superbly appointed suites. Pride of place in the Rovos stable goes to the historic and newly rebuilt Capital Park Station and locomotive yard, which is the heart and new headquarters of this private railway company.
The rebuilt sleeper coaches contain the most spacious train suites in the world, offering every modern convenience and comfort. The epitome of luxury, with handsome wood panelling and period Edwardian features, the air-conditioned suites accommodate two people offering the option of twin or spacious double beds. All are equipped with a writing surface and, for valuables, a personal safe. There is also a bar fridge filled with beverages of the passengers’ choice and room service is available 24 hours a day. In the en suite 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 16 sq metres in size (172 sq ft). Each has its own private lounge area and full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower. The Deluxe suites (11 sq metres/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 square metres (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.
An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring guests every need is catered for, while 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’s an accent on fresh local ingredients, and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty. Every morning there’s a full breakfast with dishes cooked to order. A selection of cold meats, croissants, pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereals and preserves make up a tempting breakfast buffet. For lunch and dinner there is a starter and a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian dishes, followed by a tempting dessert and are complemented by a selection of excellent South African wines. All meals are served in one sitting only in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the Dining Cars. Many of the passengers aboard the Pride of Africa enjoy the formality of fine china, crisp linen and silver, and dress accordingly. During the day dress is more casual, with cool, comfortable clothes and hats recommended for the excursions, especially in the game reserves where it can be very hot. The Observation Car seats 32 passengers and is positioned at the rear of the train. At the centre of the train we have, when numbers dictate, a non-smoking Lounge Car, which seats 26 passengers in comfort. In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets onboard.