The Blue Train with mountains in the background
Guests relaxing in the observation car on The Blue Train
Steward holding plates on The Blue Train
Exterior of The Blue Train
Friend sitting in the dining car of The Blue Train

The Blue Train

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The Blue Train is one of the world’s great luxury trains, running 994 miles between Pretoria and Cape Town.

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.

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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.

The train boasts many famous passengers, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Margaret Thatcher. 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. She is still making her “chocolate pot” dessert beloved by Mandela and many others.

The three-day journey between Pretoria and Cape Town includes a stop in Kimberley to visit the Big Hole Diamond Mine & Museum.

Additional Itinerary: The Blue Train makes several round trips annually between Pretoria and Numbi, located in South 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: Read owners Owen and Eleanor Hardys’ blog about their Blue Train adventure.


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.  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.  The Club Car, usually located behind the engine, has comfy seats and a bar, and is the only public area where smoking, including cigars, is allowed. The Lounge Car is near the middle of the train, with large windows, bar and afternoon tea served daily.

Most departures will also have an Observation 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.

IRT Insights

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. 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.

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