South African Spectacular featuring Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa

17-day Escorted Tour


The Tour

We are thrilled to announce an exclusive IRT-hosted tour, South African Spectacular, featuring Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa!  (See our latest report here.)
This 17-day journey will take in the best of South Africa — beginning in bustling Johannesburg with three nights at the fabulous Saxon Hotel and Spa. Then board Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa for the journey south to Cape Town. Along the way, stop for three game drives, an ostrich farm visit, Spionkop history and battlefields tour, optional golf outings and the breathtaking Garden Route scenery of mountains and sea. End with four nights at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in scenic Cape Town, where you will experience fine dining, enjoy a winery visit, and tour Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.
Optional pre-tour extension on the Blue Train and post-tour Winelands extension in Franschoek.
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The Itinerary

Day 1: Sunday, October 27 – Arrive Johannesburg (D)
On arrival into Johannesburg, you will be met plane-side, whisked through Customs & Immigration, and transferred to the Saxon Hotel for a three-night stay in a Villa Suite. Nestled in the heart of Johannesburg in the tree-lined avenues of Sandhurst, the Saxon is located on ten acres of landscaped gardens. The Saxon is our favorite hotel in Johannesburg, as it is a calming and peaceful getaway from the bustling city.  This evening, get to know your fellow travelers over a welcome dinner together at the Saxon, known for its fine culinary experiences.

Overnight: Saxon Hotel, Villas, & Spa

Day 2: Monday, October 28 – Soweto / Apartheid Museum (B)
Choose between two touring options today:  1) Soweto and the Nelson Mandela House; or 2) Apartheid Museum.

Soweto is a cluster of townships on the southwestern flank of Johannesburg and was created in the 1930s. It is the biggest black urban settlement in Africa and has a rich political history.  Visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Orlando West, built in memory of the people who died on 16 June 1976 during the Soweto Uprising. Nelson Mandela’s humble little house in Orlando West, now called the Mandela House Museum, is dedicated to the life of the famous former prisoner. The museum, a house comprising four inter-leading rooms, contains an assortment of memorabilia, paintings and photographs of the Mandela family, as well as a collection of honorary doctorates bestowed on Nelson Mandela from universities and institutions around the world.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s house is also nearby on the same street – the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners.

The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of apartheid.  An architectural consortium, comprising several leading architectural firms, conceptualized the design of the building on a seven-hectare stand. The museum is a superb example of design, space and landscape offering the international community a unique South African experience. The exhibits have been assembled and organized by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers. They include provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artefacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga known as Apartheid.

Overnight: Saxon Hotel, Villas, & Spa

Day 3 – Tuesday, October 29: Cradle of Humankind (B, L)
After your included buffet breakfast this morning, travel approximately 45 minutes outside the city to one of South Africa’s archaeological wonders: the Cradle of Humankind.

South Africa has yielded fossils of some of the earliest known dinosaurs, at least 200-million years old. Fossils of our distant mammal-like ancestors, which lived more than 200-million years ago, have been found in South Africa. The Cradle of Humankind is the world’s richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils.

We will enjoy lunch together before returning to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure.

Overnight: Saxon Hotel, Villas, & Spa

Day 4 – Wednesday, October 30: Depart on Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa  (B, L, D)
This morning, we transfer from the Saxon Hotel to Rovos Rail’s private station in Capital Park, Pretoria. Here we board the waiting Pride of Africa for the 10-day journey to Cape Town.

Settle into your private cabin before enjoying lunch and dinner on board as the train descends the spectacular Drakensberg Mountain escarpment.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 5 – Thursday, October 31: Kruger Park (B, L, D)
After an early wake-up call this morning, enjoy a game drive in Kruger Park in open vehicles. Look for Africa’s “Big Five” and enjoy lunch at the Park. Return to the train at Malelane, and travel to the Swaziland border. Dinner is served on board.

Golfers’ Option: Tee off at Leopard Creek Estate (subject to availability; White River or Nelspruit may be substituted) at 7:00 AM before returning to the train at Malelane.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 6 – Friday, November 1: Hluhluwe Reserve (B, L, D)
Breakfast is served on board; morning at leisure. This afternoon, transfer to Hluhluwe Reserve for a game drive. Return to the train and depart for Shakaskraal as dinner is served on board.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 7 – Saturday, November 2: Durban (B, L, D)
Arrive Durban this morning and disembark. Our group will venture to our favorite five-star local hotel, the Oyster Box for a curry cooking demonstration (a local specialty) and lunch at this lovely beachfront hotel.

Golfer’s Option: Morning tee-off and lunch at Durban Golf Club or Durban Beachwood. Rejoin the train in Durban for dinner.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 8 – Sunday, November 3: Ladysmith (B, L, D)
After breakfast, transfer to Spionkop Lodge for light refreshments and a wonderful history lecture of the area, including a trip to the battlefields. Lunch at the lodge followed by an afternoon game drive. Back on board, depart for Kroonstad, with afternoon tea and dinner on board.

Golfer’s Option: Transfer to Champagne Sports Resort for tee off. Back on board for travel to Kroonstad.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 9 – Monday, November 4: on board Pride of Africa (B, L, D)
Enjoy a full day on board the train to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the on-board amenities.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 10 – Tuesday, November 5: Addo Elephant Park  (B, L, D)
This morning we tour Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth. Addo is home to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, and a variety of antelope species. Afternoon departure from Port Elizabeth to Willowmore.

Golfers’ Option: Morning tee-off at Humewood near Port Elizabeth.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 11 – Wednesday, November 6: Oudtshoorn; George (B, L, D)
After breakfast we arrive at Oudtshoorn for an ostrich farm visit. This afternoon travel to George. Here, you can choose a shopping option or railway museum visit. Dinner will be together at Fancourt Golf Estate.

Golfers’ Option: Tee off at Oubaai Golf Club — Ernie Els’ first signature course in South Africa. Transfer to Fancourt for dinner.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 12 – Thursday, November 7: Knysna (B, L, D)
This morning we disembark in George for the scenic drive to Knysna, where we’ll enjoy a ferry ride on the lagoon.  Afterward, enjoy time at leisure or a guided walk on Leisure Island.

Return to the train.  This afternoon, the train travels the spectacular Garden Route to Riversdale— sometimes high above the Indian Ocean, at other times practically at sea level.

Golfers’ Option: Transfer to Fancourt Golf Estate along the Montagu Pass for tee off and lunch. Rejoin the group for dinner.

Overnight: Pride of Africa

Day 13 – Friday, November 8: Cape Town Arrival (B, L)
Enjoy the day on board as the Pride of Africa traverses the Cape Fold Mountains en route to Cape Town. Arrive Cape Town early evening.

Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to the five-star Belmond Mount Nelson, our long-time favorite hotel in Cape Town, for a four-night stay in a Deluxe Room.

Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is Cape Town’s legendary luxury resort. The hotel of choice for cultured global travelers since 1899, it is a combination of romantic heritage, warm professional service, timeless style, and a magnificent setting, reinforcing its reputation as one of the most iconic leisure hotels on the African continent. Conveniently located within the city’s cultural center, the hotel is ideally situated for guests to explore the heart of the city, the V&A Waterfront (a 10-minute drive from the hotel), and the best beaches.

Overnight: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Day 14 – Saturday, November 9: Table Mountain & Constantia Tour (B, D)
Our tour of Cape Town begins with a trip up Table Mountain by cable car. Enjoy panoramic views over the Mother City and the Atlantic Seaboard, with Robben Island in the distance lying sleepily in Table Bay harbor.

Constantia is the birthplace of the wine farming industry in South Africa. As you drive through this historical valley, it becomes apparent why the first Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, chose this situation for his farm, Constantia. Proceed to the oldest wine producing farm in South Africa, Groot Constantia. The Estate has won numerous awards for its wines, and has done so consistently. Our stop at Groot Constantia includes a tasting and a visit to the Manor House, which houses a cultural history museum portraying the early years of Groot Constantia.

Enjoy dinner together at The Stack, named one of the 20 best restaurants in Cape Town by Conde Nast Traveler.

Overnight: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Day 15 – Sunday, November 10: Cape Point & Peninsula (B, L)
Set out on an awe-inspiring tour to the towering headland known as Cape Point.  Along the way are magnificent beaches, breathtaking views, historic and picturesque coastal villages.

We travel along the Atlantic Seaboard via Sea Point, Clifton and Camps Bay, stopping at a Llandudno look-out point before continuing to Hout Bay, a quaint village and fishing harbor with magnificent mountain views and beach.  We continue on through Chapman’s Peak to Cape Point and the Good Hope Nature Reserve, which has magnificent fynbos vegetation, birdlife, endemic antelope species and zebra, historic lighthouses and shipwrecks.  Cape Point is perceived to be the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we go on to historic Simon’s Town, a village with charming Victorian architecture, a naval base and a large penguin colony at the beautiful Boulders Beach. Boulders Penguin Colony is home to a growing colony of the vulnerable African Penguin. Wooden walkways allow visitors to view the penguins in their natural habitat and there is also a new information center.

Overnight: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Day 16 – Monday, November 11: Cape Town (B, D)
Today is at your leisure to explore Cape Town.   We can assist in arranging your desired excursion today (this will be at your own cost).  A few suggestions for your free time:

  • Take in the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art, newly opened in 2017.
  • Spend the day at the V&A waterfront, with a fabulous food court, shops and entertainment.
  • Explore Cape Town’s colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood to learn about the contribution of the Cape Malay people to the heritage of South Africa and Cape Town.
  • Take a ferry to Robben Island to visit the museum dedicated to the Freedom Fighters who were imprisoned on the Island, including Nelson Mandela
  • Venture to Kirstenbosch Gardens, acclaimed as one of the loveliest botanic gardens in the world.

We will enjoy a farewell dinner together this evening.

Overnight: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Day 17 – Tuesday, November 12: Cape Town Departure (B)
If you choose not to join our offered extension to the Winelands, you will be privately transferred for your departing flight. VIP airport assistance is included.


Click here for details of Ultra-luxe Blue Train Pre-Tour (October 23-27) and Western Cape Winelands Post-tour (November 12-14).

2019 Dates:

October 27-November 12
Pre-tour: Ultra-luxe Blue Train - October 23-27
Post-tour: Western Cape Winelands - November 12-14

The Prices

Main Tour:

Accommodations Double Single Deposit
Pullman $14,295 $20,795 30%
Deluxe $17,395 $25,395 30%
Royal Suite $20,395 $29,895 30%

Prices are per person.


Booking terms:

A 30% deposit is due upon booking by wire or credit card. Final payment is due June 28, 2019 by credit card or wire transfer. All payments are nonrefundable.

Medical/evacuation insurance is required for this journey. We highly recommend full tour cancellation/interruption insurance to protect your travel investment. We will send out information about insurance and a quote upon booking.

U.S. Dollar pricing is based upon the value of the South African Rand at the time of printing (November 2018) and is subject to change. Trip cost will be reevaluated at time of final payment and adjusted accordingly.

This journey is subject to minimum numbers of 10 persons booking the journey. Trip will be reevaluated and re-priced should the trip not reach minimum numbers.

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The Highlights

  • Luxurious accommodations: Nine nights aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa; three nights at the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa in Johannesburg, and four nights at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town
  • Travel along the spectacular Garden Route along South Africa’s coast
  • Game drives in open vehicles in Kruger Park and Hluhluwe Game Reserve
  • Addo Elephant Park—home to over 450 elephants, as well as Cape buffalo, black rhino, and a variety of antelope species
  • Ostrich farm visit in Oudtshoorn
  • Spionkop battlefields
  • Golfers’ option to play six challenging courses, including Ernie Els’ first signature course in South Africa.
  • Three days exploring Johannesburg, including the Cradle of Mankind; visit Soweto and the Nelson Mandela House, or the Apartheid Museum
  • Four nights to explore beautiful Cape Town in depth, including a full day excursion to the breathtaking Cape Peninsula
Rovos Rail traversing the famed, scenic Garden Route.
Rovos Rail traversing the famed, scenic Garden Route.
A white rhino takes a rest in Hluhluwe Reserve .  IRT photo by Angela Walker.
A white rhino takes a rest in Hluhluwe Reserve . IRT photo by Angela Walker.
Rovos Rail's lounge car.  IRT Photo by Rachel Hardy.
Rovos Rail's lounge car. IRT Photo by Rachel Hardy.
Ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn.  IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Ostrich farm in Oudtshoorn. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.