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IRT Annual Group Tour: From Mighty Mountains to Stunning Seashores on Rovos Rail’s “Pride of Africa”

By Owen C. Hardy

Rovos Rail
The Pride of Africa’s wood-paneled bar car boasts comfortable seating, a convivial atmosphere and – best of all – a large, rear outdoor deck, perfect for viewing the wild African landscape. IRT Photo by Nels Freeman

South Africa’s 15-day Cape Town – Dar es Salaam “luxury adventure” ranks among the top five rail trips for many IRT travelers.

But for Alicia Taljaard, sales and marketing executive for South Africa’s Rovos Rail, the shorter African Collage is her hands-down favorite.

We rolled out the red carpet for Alicia Taljaard, sales & marketing executive for S. Africa’s Rovos Rail recently. IRT Photo by Eleanor Hardy

We so trust Alicia’s judgement, we sent IRT’s Rachel Hardy and Angela Walker to South Africa to see for themselves.

The result?

We’ve made Rovos Rail’s 9-day African Collage between Pretoria and Cape Town the centerpiece of this year’s special group tour: South African Spectacular.

Running just once —Oct. 27-Nov. 12—our exclusive 17-day extravaganza includes many safari days. We have room for just 16 guests. It will be hosted by IRT’s wonderful Angela Walker and includes many exclusive experiences.

The African Collage is “our most scenic trip,” says Alicia, a longtime Rovos Rail veteran who recently visited us here in Louisville. (We were so thrilled to see her, we popped champagne and commissioned a special cake baked in her and Rovos Rail’s honor—see below.)

“It’s perfect for the safari enthusiast, and the scenery on that trip is unbeatable,” Alicia says.

South Africa's Garden Route is unbeatable for its scenery, which ranges from towering mountains to dramatic seashores. IRT Photo by John Fiorilla
South Africa’s Garden Route is unbeatable for its scenery, ranging from towering mountains to dramatic seashores. IRT Photo by John Fiorilla

“You have the mountain passes. And the Garden Route, a very lush, beautiful area along the coastline of the eastern to western Cape.

“Then there’s the vineyards and the ocean…”

Indian Roller
Spotted on safari: an Indian Roller. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy


And how best to experience these natural wonders? By direct contact with the outside world, Alicia says. “We love the fresh air.”

For starters, all the train’s windows open. But the train’s prime viewing location is “our beautiful, outdoor balcony” at the end of the train.

“It’s the best place to enjoy a ‘sundowner’ or get that perfect photo shot.”

Rovos Rail’s incomparable rear, open-air platform. IRT poster by Stephen Sebree from photo by Nels Freeman

That spectacular quality has made Rovos’ train, The Pride of Africa, one of the Society of IRT’s “World’s Top 25 Trains” since we began our list over three decades ago.

That famous Rovos Rail quality – along with its popularity and extremely limited availability – results in departures selling out in the blink of an eye.

IRT guests take full advantage of Rovos Rail’s rear outdoor deck. IRT Photo by Owen Hardy

At the time of this writing, we still have some availability for this year’s special fall trip — the perfect time to head to South Africa. But time is short.

Our advice: book now! And if you go, you will experience Rovos Rail’s famous hospitality (though not usually cakes with trains decorated on them).

IRT’s “welcome Alicia & Rovos Rail” cake. IRT Photo by Eleanor Hardy

For more information on this special Rovos Rail tour, or to book, please contact The Society of International Railway Travelers®: (502) 897-1725 or (800) 478-4881; or email