Introduction/History:

Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa offers an old-world elegance and luxury to a degree that was never equaled in the 1920s. The coaches have been painstakingly rebuilt with fine teak paneling, traditional furnishings and period décor. Many seasoned IRT Society travelers consider it their favorite train.

Celebrated not only for its old-world charm, the train is rightfully proud of its stellar dining, amazing South African wine list and friendly on-board service. In short, the entire experience consistently meets the highest luxury standards.

More News: IRT’s Rachel Hardy and Angela Walker visited South Africa recently, where they inspected Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa, among other luxury travel partners. Click here for part one of their report on the trainhere for part two.

Inside Track: We always enjoy visits by Rovos Rail’s Alicia Taljaard. On her latest visit, she confessed to having a favorite trip. It’s not what you might think. Click here.

 

 

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Accommodations

There are three types of accommodation, among the most spacious in the industry. Usually, the train accommodates 72 people.

All cabins are equipped with a writing surface and, for valuables, a personal safe. There is also a bar fridge filled with beverages of the passengers’ choice. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

In the en-suite bathrooms, original fittings combine with the modern technology of hot showers, hair dryers and shaver plugs.

All compartments have a plethora of windows, perfect for admiring the African countryside.

Pullman: These are the newest and most “Spartan.” They’re 76 feet square, but they sell out quickly. A comfortable, daytime sofa-seat converts to double or twin beds (one up, one down) for evening. They also have en-suite, private shower, sink and toilet.

There are nine traditional Pullman compartments on most shorter trips, 10 for trips to/from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and seven to/from Lobito, Angola. (Note that the longer Dar es Salaam and Lobito trips use “Pullman Gold” compartments. Contact us for more details.)

Deluxe: For years, these were Rovos Rail’s standard cabins, but they are huge and beautifully appointed, in comparison with other luxury trains. There are three to each train carriage. Deluxe suites accommodate two passengers in either separate twin beds or a large double-size bed and have a lounge area and en-suite toilet, sink and shower. They are about 118 square feet. There are usually 22 deluxe cabins in the train consist.

Royal Suites: Royal Suites take up half a train car. Most departures have four Royal Suites. The bed can either be a king or side-by-side twin beds. Special features include en-suite bathroom with Victorian bathtub and shower, and a separate, private lounge. These are about 172 square feet.   (Until the Maharajas’ Express in India came on line, they were the largest in the world.)

Dining

The two restaurant cars feature meal after meal of incredible perfection. All on-board meals and drinks are included in the price of the program. If one highlight of your vacation is fine food and wines, with service to match, this is the journey for you. Jackets and ties for gentlemen and dressy outfits for ladies are expected at the dinner hour on the train.

Fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are frequently on the menu. Every morning, a made-to-order breakfast is served in the diner. Lunch and dinner are multi-course affairs on lovely china, silver and linen, with fine South African wines. All meals are served in one sitting in the two Victorian-era diners.

Lounge Cars

The lounge, at the end of the train, has a bar and sitting area as well as an open-air “patio” in the rear for wind-in-the-face viewing. It is a favorite spot on the train, and something just about all IRT travelers mention enjoying immensely. This lounge is non-smoking; there is also a separate lounge (fully enclosed) where smoking is allowed. All drinks in the bar are included.

Other

Off-train alcohol is not included in the price of the tour. For programs in Africa’s winter, which would be around July, it’s good to note that although rooms are heated, hallways are not. Our single travelers say Pullman class is fine––but our IRT couples report that it’s just too tight a fit for two people and their luggage. Next time, they’ll get a deluxe, they say.

Just about all IRT travelers rave about the food, the service and the fun on board. As H. Grabill of Ohio and Kentucky, put it, he waited decades “to put that in the bucket list…I just appreciated the people a lot. I hated to get off that train, I’ll tell you. Some way, some how, I’m going to go back.”

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The Pride of Africa's open air patio is an ideal spot to watch the beautiful South African scenery roll by. Photo by Nelson Freeman.
The Pride of Africa's open air patio is an ideal spot to watch the beautiful South African scenery roll by. Photo by Nelson Freeman.
Luggage is whisked away by friendly Rovos Rail porters the moment you arrive at the station. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Luggage is whisked away by friendly Rovos Rail porters the moment you arrive at the station. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Guests enjoying the passing scenery from the dining car. IRT Photo by Rachel M. Hardy
Guests enjoying the passing scenery from the dining car. IRT Photo by Rachel M. Hardy
IRT's Angela Walker & Rachel Hardy enjoy the breeze on the observation car as the Pride of Africa arrives in Cape Town. IRT Photo.
IRT's Angela Walker & Rachel Hardy enjoy the breeze on the observation car as the Pride of Africa arrives in Cape Town. IRT Photo.
Service on Rovos Rail is friendly and efficient. Here, Innocentia serves coffee on the outdoor deck of the rear lounge. (IRT Photo by Owen Hardy)
Service on Rovos Rail is friendly and efficient. Here, Innocentia serves coffee on the outdoor deck of the rear lounge. (IRT Photo by Owen Hardy)