I have always wanted to travel by train. There’s an old time romance about it. I love the idea of slowly watching the world go by and living beautifully while en route to your destination. It doesn’t hurt to have a cold glass of the finest Chardonnay in hand and still get from A to B. How very civilized!
Our journey to Cape Town started off at the gorgeous Rovos Rail station in Pretoria. Our luggage was tagged and whisked away and we were greeted with a glass of cold bubbly and snacks. We had a fascinating tour of the workshop led by Rohan Vos himself. This is the hub of operations and home to a massive team of extremely talented individuals who work on turning old reclaimed carriages into the magical moving hotel we know and love today.
After a handshake from Mr Vos it was finally time for the journey to begin! Hopping on board the Rovos Rail is like stepping into a different time. A time of vintage silver cutlery, monogrammed crystal glasses and cocktail dresses. I experienced a sense of wonderment as I walked down the immaculately restored hallways of the train cars in search of our cabin. Everything is in impeccable condition. It is truly a triumph.
We stayed in a Deluxe cabin as guests of Rovos Rail. The mahogany lined cabin was fully equipped with everything you could possibly need or want on the trip. A super comfy double bed, mini bar, tea and coffee station, swag bag of toiletries, a little lounge area and the best part- a gorgeous en suite bathroom. Loo with a view takes on a whole new meaning on board!
Afternoon high tea is served in the lounge cars in between meals. We sipped and nibbled on delicious things while watching the beautiful scenery like an ever changing painting. Then back to our cabin to get ready for the main event- dinner! I just adore that everyone is required to dress up for dinner. It adds such marvelous atmosphere and glamour to the evenings. What I will say though is applying liquid eyeliner while on a moving train is an experience and a half!
Every meal on the Rovos Rail is a feast. So come hungry and thirsty when you book! I was totally blown away at what the chefs were able to prepare on a moving train in a tiny kitchen. From seared scallops and fluffy omelettes to the most perfect ooey gooey molten chocolate fondant. The meals are expertly paired with some of the finest wine our country has to offer. You can choose to stick with your favourite or leave the choice in the hands of the supremely capable sommelier and you will be dazzled with top notch wine choices from course to course.
Not only is the food excellent but the service is world class. The staff are just incredible and really make the experience what it is. We were spoiled by so many individuals looking after us non stop, from making sure our drinks were never empty to the most OTT turn down service including a pillow extravaganza and a bottle of bubbly on our bed.
The best part about waking up in your extremely comfy bed while the train is gently rocking from side to side is opening the shutters and discovering the new scenery outside your window. Then it’s time for a hot luxurious shower and the promise of a hearty breakfast. (I mean- can I just live on this train forever?!) The breakfast spread on board is impressive. From a beautiful selection of fresh fruit, cereal and pastries to freshly made hot options that will satisfy everyone’s foodie cravings. The omelettes were particularly delicious. I had one both mornings and it was served piping hot and extra fluffy. So much yum!
We had two excursions on our trip from Pretoria to Cape Town. The first commenced as we pulled into the beautiful Kimberley station. We were whisked off with incredible efficiency in mini vans to visit The Big Hole. Rudely the husband didn’t buy me any diamonds but it was a very interesting excursion led by a wonderful guide and also lovely to stretch one’s legs and explore the mine and the museum.
The next day our excursion was to the charming town of Matjiesfontein. I have wanted to visit this adorable town and heritage site hotel, The Lord Milner, for years. It is a teeny tiny little one horse town and the train stops right in front of the hotel. We had a wonderful walk about the town, museums and hotel. I can’t wait to return and spend a night at the hotel one of these days. It is a truly special place that has been so beautifully preserved.
The scenery as we approached Cape Town was breathtaking. I am grateful every single day for this incredible country we live in. We are so lucky. The observation deck on the back of the train was definitely my favourite place to be. What a massive treat to have a completely open carriage with beautiful built-in wooden benches where you have the opportunity to literally have the wind in your hair and watch the countryside glide past. It is also directly next to the bar so a fresh G&T is a few steps away! As the train turned each corner winding into the Winelands we were met with picture after picture of the most magnificent landscape. I highly recommend ending off your journey in Cape Town. The sun setting over the mountains was the perfect end to a perfect journey.
As the train pulled into the Cape Town station I was filled with so much happiness and gratefulness for the incredible time we had just had and at the same time totally devastated it was all over! We met the most incredible people from near and far, made friendships for life and saw our country in the most beautiful way.
I am so grateful to the Rovos Rail team for giving me the gift of a lifetime. I will treasure these memories. It was a truly spectacular experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
To book your trip on this life changing loco click here!