Rovos Rail Pride of Africa truly lives up to its name, taking guests through the majestic Mother Continent in lavish, five-star surroundings. Described by the operator at the ‘most luxurious train in the world’, Pride of Africa transports you to a bygone era of Edwardian carriages and polished teak interiors, all the modern amenities.
Offering journeys between Pretoria and Cape Town as well as a from east Africa to west, the Pullman-style train is a safari on wheels, showcasing the Big Five, Victoria Falls and Africa’s most spectacular scenery. In-keeping with the halcyon days of luxury rail travel, there are no TVs, radios or Wi-Fi on board, so there’s nothing to do but sink into a wingback chair and gaze out onto rolling plains with a glass of fine wine in hand. The train is one of two five-star luxury trains in South Africa, along with the Blue Train.
Prices from; R22,250
Departing from: Dar es Salaam, Pretoria, Cape Town
Journey length: 2-15 days
Rovos Rail Pride of Africa journey
Pride of Africa’s guests have plenty of journeys to choose from, with the train offering adventures through South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eight journeys are available, ranging from a two-night railing from Cape Town into the Karoo and three-day South African bushveld safari, right through to a mammoth 15-day east to west journey from Tanzania to Angola. Special journeys also include the Golf Safari and Victoria Falls adventure.
Rovos Rail Pride of Africa train
Pride of Africa is a majestic beast, made up of 20 historical carriages, half of which dating back to the 1920s. Along with a locomotive, generator car, staff and sleeper carriages, the train has a lounge, two dining cars, a smoking club lounge and observation car, all air conditioned.
Lounge cars offer guests comfy sofas and wingback chairs to sink into an enjoy the view, with a discreet gift shop also located for essentials. Restaurant cars are grand, with carved roof pillars and arches, large viewing windows and button-leather banquettes. All windows on board open, allowing guests to experience the sights and scents of Africa, and the observation car at the tail features floor-to-ceiling windows and an open-air balcony.
Cabins on Rovos Rail Pride of Africa
Pride of Africa is an all-suite train, with three categories to choose from spread across wood-panelled refurbished sleeper carriages. Pullman Suites are the standard, complete with sofa-seat by day and double or twin bed by night, en-site shower room, writing surface, tea drawer and personal safe. Slightly larger are the Deluxe Suites, boasting a lounge area, and those looking to splash out can book a Royal Suite.
Taking up half a carriage, Royal Suites boast a lounge area, personalised mini-bar, full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower, all in sumptuous Edwardian surroundings with period features and fittings. Unlike many even luxury competitors, all suites come with a private en-suite bathroom and include modern amenities like shaver plugs, hair dryers and 24-hour room service.
Food and drink
Like everything on board this sumptuous locomotive, dining is a grand affair, and all food and drink is included in the train fare. The focus is on local flavours and dishes, such as game, paired with the finest South African wines, and dietary requirements are catered to. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner is served everyday, with a gong announcing lunch and dinner. The bar service is open from 7am until 1am, allowing guests to enjoy local spirits, afternoon spritzes and late-night cocktails.
A safari adventure on wheels, excursions are all included on Pride of Africa, and vary per journey and itinerary. In South Africa, excursions include a game drive in the Kruger National Park, visiting an Ostrich farm and touring the Cape Winelands, while in Zambia guests can bush walk at Chisimba Falls. Other excursions include multiple wildlife viewing adventures.
With such luxurious surroundings, guests are expected to wear smart casual in the day, transitioning into formal attire in the evening. For gentleman this is at least a jacket and tie, and ladies should pack cocktail/evening dresses or suits. Guests embarking on long journeys should pack outfits for the train’s theme evenings, but these are not essential.
Pride of Africa attracts a discerning, luxury-loving crowd, and passengers are usually retired wealthy couples. Shorter journeys may attract a younger crowd, while 15-day adventures are usually the preserve of the former traveller.
Tickets on the Pride of Africa come with no hidden extras, and accommodation, excursions, a laundry service, insect repellent, meals and beverages, including alcohol, are all covered. Gratuities are not included, and guests can show their appreciation for staff on board at their own discretion, with Rovos Rail recommending between R100-200 per night.
Pros and cons
Pros, the train can be pricy, but everything is included, even alcohol, excursions and laundry services. Cons, there is a dedicated smoking carriage, which could be off-putting to non smokers.