The Blue Train is one of the world’s great luxury trains, running between Pretoria and Cape Town. And now it’s even better: The train just announced a new schedule offering a three-day package. It departs either station at 6:30 p.m., allowing for two nights on board. The route — 994 miles — now includes a guaranteed, longer sightseeing stop in either direction. The train, operated by the state-run Spoornet, is gorgeous in every detail, from the golden brown of the walls, to the upholstered closets to the “B” logo just about everywhere. Butlers can be called any time from your in-room phone.
The unfolding journey is shown on a TV screen in the club car and on one of the TV channels in guest suites. Service is professional and experienced.
Our butler during our trip was the late Jan September, who served the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Margaret Thatcher during his 30+ years on The Blue Train. When Owen Hardy rode the Blue Train in 1998, he raved about the chef. He and Eleanor were delighted to meet the chef in person years later. (photo here). She is still making her “chocolate pot” dessert beloved by Mandela and many others.
Additional Itinerary: The Blue Train makes several round trips annually between Pretoria and Hoedspruit, located in S. Africa’s Kruger National Park and famous for its elephant-back safaris. Let the Society of IRT plan your Blue Train + Safari experience.
Latest News: Click here for owners Owen and Eleanor Hardys’ blog about their Blue Train adventure.
The train is air-conditioned. For cold weather, additional heating is provided under the marble tiles of most bathrooms. There are two train sets; one can take up to 82 passengers, the other accommodates 54. All compartments contain two twin beds or one double bed (stowed by day), as well as bathroom with shower or tub, hi-fi, audio CD and large-screen DVD systems.
De Luxe suites: Each De Luxe coach has four De Luxe suites each. Train set one has nine De Luxe coaches. Train set two has eight. One of the four suites in each De Luxe car has a double bed with a bathroom with tub. The other three have twin beds and a shower. (So if you’d like a De Luxe suite with double bed and tub, please let us know as soon as possible.)
Luxury suites: Each train has two luxury carriages, each with three compartments. Each compartment has a bathroom with tub and shower.
Meals are served in the 42-seat diner in two seatings and include delicious African and continental cuisine. Dining and service are gracious. Meals are multi-course and tasty. The wine list is outstanding. And in a fairly recent change, matching other rivals in the luxury travel industry, The Blue Train now includes all alcoholic beverages throughout your journey both in the bar and in the dining room. Breakfast or dinner can be served either in your compartment or in the dining car. Snacks and drinks can be served in your compartment at any time.
The Blue Train can accommodate vegetarian, Halaal, Kosher or other special dietary requirements, which should be specified when you make your reservation.
Each Blue Train set has two classic lounges in sumptuous shades of brown. Afternoon tea is served daily in the main lounge. The club lounge is the only public area where smoking, including cigars, is allowed. Don’t forget to visit the lounge car at the end of the train. There’s no better way to enjoy a drink or tea and cakes as you gaze out the gigantic rear window.
You can call your butler any time of day or night from your in-room phone. A major plus of the journey is the train staff itself — professional and experienced. The two engineers who are always on board the train love to talk to passengers about the train. While on board, please contact them. A camera mounted on the front of both trains gives guests a driver’s-eye-view of the scenery ahead. The unfolding journey is shown on a TV screen in the club car and on one of the TV channels available in guest suites.to top