The Pride of Africa is a luxury train running a number of routes across the whole of Africa. Making its maiden voyage in 1986 with a small train consisting of restored vintage carriages, the company has grown exponentially since then to become one of the world leaders in luxury rail travel and great rail holidays.How did the Pride of Africa come into being?
The most luxurious train in the world began when its founder, Rohan Vos, was invited to join a steam train preservation group. Vos fell in love with railways, and attended an auction to buy three private carriages for his family. To assist with financing the venture they decided to sell tickets, and thus Rovos Rail and the Pride of Africa was born. As this was a private venture, the company were free to develop their own unique style and level of luxury without any outside influences. This freedom allowed Rovos Rail to develop a truly unique luxury experience.
Rohan Vos searched Africa for authentic African railway carriages and vintage dining cars, he found them in scrapyards, private enterprises and clubs all over the country. Altogether sixty carriages were found and painstakingly restored to their former glory. This massive renovation process took a solid three years. Each carriage was designed with style and comfort at the forefront of the design, this led to the Pride of Africa being the most spacious luxury train in the world.
Rovos Rail now boasts six working steam locomotives, the oldest of these is named 'Tiffany' and dates back to 1893. Tiffany had to be entirely rebuilt and is now the oldest running steam locomotive in the world. Rovos Rail now operates seventy restored carriages and has its own private station in Pretoria, South Africa. The station in Capital Park has fifteen train lines and an elegant Victorian style departure lounge and platform for a decadent beginning to a holiday. Railway enthusiasts can also enjoy tours of the working steam train environment upon request.
On its shortest journeys the Pride of Africa travels from its own dedicated station in Pretoria to Cape Town. On this route, passengers stop in Kimberly to visit the 'Big Hole', the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. Rumours of diamonds drew prospectors from all over the world armed with picks and shovels, altogether 2,720 kilograms of diamonds were found at Big Hole.
The journey to Victoria Falls lasts four days and takes passengers from Pretoria through Botswana to Zimbabwe. Travelling along one of Africa's longest stretches of straight railway, travellers also enjoy a game drive at The Hide before the final overnight leg and on to Victoria Falls.
Another two night journey takes passengers from Pretoria to Durban including stops for a game drive in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve. The trip includes the option to take a battlefield tour at Spionkop and a visit to the Ardmore Ceramics Gallery. The train then traverses the Valley of a Thousand Trees as it makes its way into Durban.
The longest journey travels from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam. This journey takes fourteen days and is a wonderful way to make the most of some of the best experiences Africa has to offer.
There are also a number of other journeys available, for the keen golfer there is the nine day Golf Safari, visiting some of the best golfing clubs in Africa. Also lasting nine days is the African Golf Collage which sees travellers visit famous wineries, take game drives at famous wildlife parks and visit the Addo Elephant Park, as well as enjoying a tee or four at some luxury golf clubs.
Called 'The Smoke that Thunders' by local tribesmen in the 1800's, the Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive natural sites in the world. Forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, during rainy season more than five hundred million cubic meters of water plummet over the two kilometer wide brink every minute. Classed as one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Victoria Falls is a spectacle that must be seen to be believed.
For the oenophiles, a stop at some of South Africa's most celebrated vineyards is a must. The Stellenbosch and Paarl Valley wineries are among the finest in the world, encapsulating historic villages, spectacular scenery and fabulous wines. Even if you're not a budding wine connoisseur, a cellar tour with wine tasting is a wonderful experience in one of the world's finest wine producing regions.
On this luxury rail journey, holidays wouldn't be complete without a visit to at least one of Africa's amazing wild game reserves. Kruger National Park is the largest in South Africa and offers the chance to see all of the 'Big Five' game animals, lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards and rhinos. The national park spans almost two million hectares and is one of the most diverse wildlife parks in Africa.
The Pride of Africa is truly a train like no other, and a wonderful way to experience Africa.