Rovos Rail at Victoria Falls.
woman taking photos on the Rovos Rail The Ultimate Luxury Trek, Cape Town-Dar es Salaam journey
Luggage is whisked away by friendly Rovos Rail porters the moment you arrive at the station. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Woman takes photo from Rovos Rail observation platform.
Man in Rovos Rail lounge car.

Rovos Rail The Ultimate Luxury Trek, Cape Town-Dar es Salaam

Africa
15-day Escorted Tour
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Overview

The Highlights

  • Eleven nights on board one of world’s top luxury trains, with all meals and drinks included
  • Two-night stay at a deluxe lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve, with four game drives and all meals included
  • Kimberley Diamond Mine and Museum
  • Victoria Falls Hotel overnight with plenty of time to explore the Falls
  • Zambezi River Sunset Cruise
  • Chisimba Falls excursion
  • Makambako-Kiduna Tanzania rail descent into pass
  • Fabulous meals and service on board Pride of Africa

The Tour

If you do just one high-end rail trip in your life, make it Rovos Rail’s Ultimate Luxury Trek, Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. The experience is unforgettable.

This 15-day private rail tour aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa stretches across South Africa and Botswana, touches Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, and crosses Zambia to Tanzania.

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From Kimberley’s diamonds to “big five” game drives, from the very British Victoria Falls Hotel to Africa’s Great Rift Valley, every day is unique.

One highlight: a two-night stay at a deluxe lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve with many game drives.

Combine with the Blue Train, another South African luxury train, for a unique view of the African subcontinent’s diverse, spectacular scenery.

IRT Report: IRT’s Angela Walker and Rachel Hardy loved their time on Rovos Rail’s Pride of AfricaClick here for part one of their report on the trainhere for part two.

Rovos Rail The Ultimate Luxury Trek, Cape Town-Dar es Salaam map

Countries Visited

  • South Africa
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Tanzania
  • Botswana

Itinerary

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Day 1: Cape Town

Depart Cape Town Station aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa this morning.

Upon boarding, you might want to head straight to the open-air deck and wave goodbye to Cape Town and spectacular Table Mountain. Or settle in to your private and spacious compartment and unpack.

Before you know it, a hostess is chiming you to a fabulous luncheon with beautiful South African wines paired with delicious food.

Arrive Matjiesfontein for a stop late afternoon; explore this tiny Victorian village and poke around its small museums and stretch your legs, before dinner and overnight on the train.

Day 2: Kimberley

Breakfast and lunch are served on board as the train travels through the Karoo, a vast semi-desert region that once was an enormous inland sea.

Arrive in Kimberley this afternoon.  Capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is well known for the discovery of diamonds that led to its establishment in 1871. Enjoy a tour of the Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum.

Day 3: Pretoria

Arrive Pretoria and Rovos Rail’s private Capital Park station this morning.  Enjoy a walking tour of the station and the locomotive workshops (weather permitting) followed by lunch on the platform and a city tour of Pretoria.

Dinner is served in the dining cars this evening.

Day 4: Madikwe Game Reserve 

After breakfast, we transfer to a lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve for a two-night stay.  Lunch is served on arrival, followed by an afternoon game drive.

Madikwe is a prime malaria-free Big Five wildlife reserve bordering Botswana. In addition to the Big Five, it is home to more than 300 resident and migrant bird species.

Dinner at the lodge.

Day 5: Madikwe Game Reserve 

Enjoy an early morning game drive, evening game drive and/or other activities. All meals and overnight at the lodge. Or, if you’d rather, opt out and make a spa appointment (at additional cost).

Day 6: Madikwe Game Reserve; Botswana

After another early-morning game drive and breakfast, we transfer back to the train at Gaborone in Botswana. Border formalities will take place en route.

Lunch is served in the dining cars as we cross the Tropic of Capricorn and the eastern edge of the Kalahari Basin. Afternoon tea and dinner on board.

Day 7: Zimbabwe

Botswana/Zimbabwe border formalities take place this morning.

Enjoy a full day day at leisure on board the train to take in the passing scenery. Travel along one of Africa’s longest stretches of straight railway line – 70 miles (114 kilometers) – and along the eastern edge of the Hwange National Park. Lectures will be given by the on-board historian.

Don’t miss the lectures! Learn about Cecil Rhodes, about Victoria Falls, David Livingstone and more. When we were on board, the onboard lecturer was a huge hit.

Day 8: Victoria Falls

Arrive Victoria Falls around noon. Walk from the train to the “Grand Imperial Lady,” the Victoria Falls Hotel, a short way down the path. The train staff transfers your small luggage. Established in 1904, and recently redecorated, this gracious colonial-style hotel is set in lush tropical gardens.

Lunch is served at “Jungle Junction,” named after an early train station there, but now a lovely open-air dining area with delicious, fresh food.

You’ve got plenty of time for a hike, a nap, or just gazing at the miracle before you, as your hotel is situated just a few minutes’ walk from the Falls.

Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Keep your eyes open for hippos. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (Optional steam dinner train excursion, see “More” section below.)

Day 9: Victoria Falls

Day at leisure. Optional activities include tour of the Falls, round of golf, helicopter tour of the Falls, more. (These are optional and require US$ cash.)

Re-board the train and depart late afternoon, crossing the famous Victoria Falls Bridge. Complete border formalities for entry to Zambia, followed by dinner on board.

Day 10: On board

After breakfast, the train travels across the Kafue Railway Bridge – a 1565-foot (477-meter) long steel girder truss bridge of 13 spans each at 108 feet (33 meters) supported on concrete piers.

Pass through Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, as lunch is served. Lectures offered in the morning and afternoon. A special African-themed dinner on board this evening.

As you travel through Zambia, you will notice many small villages of circular thatched huts. When the children hear the train, they dash to wave, thrilled to greet the visitors. It is a delight to wave back at them. 

Day 11: On board

Day at leisure as the train travels the Tazara railway line, an engineering tour de force and one of Africa’s best-kept secrets as it passes through remote territory. All meals on board, with lectures offered.

We love these all-train days.  Shall we attend a lecture? What about sipping a drink on the rear, outdoor deck? Or, shall we just hang out in our beautiful cabin with all the windows open?

Wherever you perch in this luxurious train, look for villages, animals, Baobab trees.

Day 12: Arrive Tanzania

Disembark in Kasama for an excursion to Chisimba Falls. This is of course not as fantastic as Victoria Falls, but still magical. There’s a path for travelers of all walking abilities to admire this national park. The Rovos staff sets up a bar for refreshments.

Afternoon arrival at Zambian/Tanzanian border control. Breakfast, lunch and dinner on board. This evening, the train passes Baobab forests and descends the Rift Valley towards Mbeya.

Day 13: Makambako

Arrive Makambako and enjoy a stroll through the town (time permitting). Descend spectacular pass to Mlimba. Much of the day, descend over gorges and through tunnels. It’s a spectacular day of railroading through rugged terrain.

Day 14: Selous Game Reserve

The train descends into the highlands and traverses the fertile lands of Tanzania towards the Selous Game Reserve. We’ll have an afternoon game drive in Selous Game Reserve, largest in Africa (time permitting). Dinner on board as we travel towards Gwata.

Day 15: Dar es Salaam

Travel east toward the coast to Dar es Salaam. Breakfast on board before morning arrival (scheduled for 10 a.m.).

Please note: Due to rough track and delays, the train can arrive late into Dar es Salaam. It is best to schedule an overnight in Dar es Salaam before flying out.

Day 1: Dar es Salaam

Board Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa (12 p.m. departure) in Dar es Salaam. The train first travels along the Tazara line. Settle into your private cabin and enjoy lunch in the dining cars while traveling through the fertile lands of Tanzania toward Selous Game Reserve.

Day 2: Selous Game Reserve

Game drive in Selous Game Reserve, the largest in Africa (time permitting). This afternoon the train passes the Udzungwa Mountains, continuing to Mlimba.

Day 3: Makambako

Late morning the train ascends the escarpment negotiating the hills and valleys with dramatic tunnels, switchbacks and viaducts. Guests may enjoy a stroll through the town of Makambako (time permitting). Enjoy the forests of Baobab trees while lunching on board; dinner is served en route to Mbeya and Tunduma.

Day 4: Chisimba Falls

Tanzanian and Zambian border formalities take place. Enjoy a morning or afternoon lecture. Disembark at Kasama for an excursion to Chisimba Falls. Return to train and enjoy an “African” themed dinner en route to Mununga.

Day 5: On board

Day at leisure on the train, with lectures in the morning and afternoon in the lounge car. The train passes through Kapiri Mposhi to Ngwerere for the night.

Day 6: On board

Travel through Lusaka, capital of Zambia, and cross the Kafue railway bridge – a 477-meter (1,565 feet) long steel girder truss bridge of 13 spans each at 33 meters (108 feet), supported on concrete piers. Lectures by the on-board historian as the train travels toward Zimbabwe.

Day 7: Victoria Falls

Arrive at Livingstone for Zambian border formalities; then cross the bridge for Zimbabwean border formalities. Arrive at the incomparable Victoria Falls. Disembark and walk across to the famed Victoria Falls Hotel. Enjoy a welcome address and lunch at Jungle Junction. This evening, relax aboard a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 8: Victoria Falls

Day at leisure at Victoria Falls with optional activities (tour of Falls, helicopter over Falls, elephant-back safari, walk with lions, whitewater rafting, bungee-jumping, golf, etc.). Breakfast and lunch at the hotel. Reboard for dinner on board as the train heads toward Bulawayo.

Day 9: On board

Enjoy a day at leisure on board. Lectures will be given by the on-board historian. The train heads southwards through Francistown and Serule, crosses the Tropic of Capricorn and continues via Mahalapye to Gaborone.

Day 10: Madikwe Game Reserve 

Disembark at Gaborone and transfer to Madikwe Reserve for a two-night stay at a deluxe game lodge. Border formalities will take place en route. Lunch is served upon arrival at the lodge. Afternoon tea and game drive. Dinner/overnight at lodge.

Day 11: Madikwe Game Reserve 

Enjoy an early morning, afternoon game drive and other guest activities. Overnight at the lodge.

Day 12: Madikwe Game Reserve 

Early morning game drive followed by breakfast. Depart the lodge and transfer to the train at Zeerust. The train traverses the Magaliesberg Mountains – a range of low hills stretching 120 kilometers (75 miles) due east-west from Pretoria to Rustenberg. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 13: Pretoria

Breakfast served while traveling north through the goldfields. Arrive at Rovos Rail’s private station in Pretoria. Disembark for city tour. Lunch on the platform and a walking tour of the Rovos station and locomotive workshops (weather permitting). Afternoon departure; travel south towards Kimberley.

Day 14: Kimberley

The train arrives in Kimberley. Passengers visit the Big Hole and the Diamond Mine Museum. Proceed overnight through the Karoo via Beaufort West to Matjiesfontein.

Day 15: Matjiesfontein/Cape Town

Enjoy a stroll through the historic village of Matjiesfontein. In the afternoon, the train reaches Touws River in the Hex River Valley before descending ± 2400 feet (750m) down the face of the escarpment. There are four tunnels on the pass, the longest at 8 miles (13.5 kilometers) long. Lunch is served in the dining cars. The train climbs down the face of the escarpment through the Hex River Valley and the town of Worcester. The broad valley hosts hundreds of grape-producing farms. Arrive in Cape Town Station at approximately 6 p.m.

Dates & Prices

2021 Dates

June 26 - July 10

September 25 - October 9

October 12 - 26 *

*This departure runs Dar es Salaam to Cape Town.

All prices are per person.

2022 Dates

February 1 - 15 *

July 2 - 16

September 24 - October 8

October 11 - 25 *

*This departure runs Dar es Salaam to Cape Town.

All prices are per person.

2023 Dates

January 14 - 28

January 31 - February 14 *

July 1 - 15

September 16 - 30

October 3 - 17 *

*This departure runs Dar es Salaam to Cape Town.

All prices are per person.

More

Please note that this trip is not for everybody; this is an adventure experience.
The track is very rough, especially in Zambia and Tanzania. This contributes to delays and can mean missed or truncated outings off the train.

Medical/evacuation insurance is required for this journey. Several visas, yellow fever inoculation, and malaria prevention may be required and/or recommended. Note: entry into South Africa requires passport with two blank passport visa pages facing each other. Passport should have seven months’ validity beyond travel dates.

Pre and Post-Tours available:
Extend your journey in Cape Town, Tanzania and beyond.  We can customize pre- or post-tour extensions based on your specific interests, such as:

  • Discover Cape Town and its surroundings, with full-day excursions to the Cape Winelands and Cape Peninsula
  • Hop over to the island of Zanzibar and relax at a beach resort
  • Go on safari in Tanzania, with game drives in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater
  • Add the Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town for an additional luxury train experience
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We work with the best hotels, lodges, tour and safari operators in the region. Contact us for more information about adding on to your Rovos Rail journey.

In Victoria Falls, there are several options on your free day which are additional cost: some require cash payments. IRT travelers recommend the flight sightseeing over Victoria Falls.

Royal Livingstone Dinner Train: Optional excursion available on steam-hauled, dinner train across border from Victoria Falls Hotel in Zambia. More info.

Inside Track: IRT’s Angela Walker and Rachel Hardy loved their time on Rovos Rail’s Pride of AfricaClick here for part one of their report on the trainhere for part two.