Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa offers an old-world elegance and luxury to a degree that was never equaled in the 1920s. Many seasoned IRT Society travelers consider it their favorite train experience. Celebrated not only for its teak equipment, the train is rightfully proud of its stellar dining, amazing South African wine list, and friendly on-board service. In short, the entire experience is consistent in meeting the highest luxury standards. The coaches have been painstakingly rebuilt with fine teak paneling, traditional furnishings and period décor for an elegant ambiance.
Latest News: IRT’s Angela Walker and Rachel Hardy just returned from South Africa, where they were inspecting Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa, among other luxury travel partners. Click here for part one of their report on the train, here for part two.
Inside Track: We dined with Rovos Rail’s Alicia Taljaard recently. Her favorite trip? It’s not what you might think. Click here.
There are three types of accommodation, among the most spacious in the industry. Usually, the train accommodates 72 people.
All cabins 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.
All compartments have a plethora of windows, perfect for admiring the African countryside.
Pullman: These are the newest and most “Spartan.” There are just 15 Pullman compartments, and they sell out quickly. They are 76 feet square. A comfortable, daytime sofa-seat converts to double or twin beds (one up, one down) for evening. They also have ensuite, private shower, sink and toilet.
Deluxe: For years, these were Rovos Rail’s standard cabins, but they are huge and beautifully appointed, in comparison with other luxury trains. There are three to each train carriage. Deluxe suites accommodate two passengers in either twin or king-size bed and have a lounge area and ensuite toilet, sink and shower. They are about 118 square feet. There are usually 22 deluxe cabins in the consist.
Royal Suites: Royal Suites take up half a train car. Most departures have four Royal Suites. Special features include en-suite bathroom with Victorian bathtub and shower, and a separate, private lounge. These are about 172 square feet. (Until the Maharajas’ Express in India came on line, they were the largest in the world.)
The two restaurant cars feature meal after meal of incredible perfection. All on-board meals and drinks are included in the price of the program. If one highlight of your vacation is fine food and wines, with service to match, this is the journey for you. Jackets and ties for gentlemen and dressy outfits for ladies are expected at the dinner hour on the train.
Fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are frequently on the menu. Every morning, a made-to-order breakfast is served in the diner. Lunch and dinner are multi-course affairs on lovely china, silver and linen. South African wines are served. All meals are served in one sitting in the two Victorian-era diners.
The lounge, at the end of the train, has a bar and sitting area as well as an open-air “patio” in the rear for wind-in-the-face viewing. It is a favorite spot on the train, and something just about all IRT travelers mention enjoying immensely. This lounge is nonsmoking; there is also a separate lounge (fully enclosed) where smoking is allowed. All drinks in the bar are included.
Off-train alcohol is not included in the price of the tour. For programs in Africa’s winter, which would be around July, it’s good to note that although rooms are heated, hallways are not. Our single travelers say Pullman class is fine––but our IRT couples report that it’s just too tight a fit for two people and their luggage. Next time, they’ll get a deluxe, they say.
Just about all IRT travelers rave about the food, the service and the fun on board. As H. Grabill of Ohio and Kentucky, who traveled on board July, 2011 put it, he waited decades “to put that in the bucket list…I just appreciated the people a lot. I hated to get off that train, I’ll tell you. Some way, some how, I’m going to go back.”to top