Our journey with Rovos Rail is one of the most unique travel experiences we’ve ever had. Passengers don’t just step into a Victorian train, they step into a bygone era of nostalgic luxury, where the wine is always cold, the food is always hot and the train rarely runs on time.
After arriving in the Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria, passengers are treated to champagne and a variety of delectable snacks. During an introduction by owner, Rohan Vos, passengers are given a few guidelines to live by for the next few days; leave your worries at the station and your mobile phone in your room.
There’s no wi-fi on Rovos Rail, and they’ve got no intention of adding it either – this experience is all about recapturing the spirit of a bygone age of luxury travel.
The train is a self-contained luxury hotel, with all the attention and care you would expect of this kind of establishment. What impressed us most of all was the level of detail on board – every element was considered, adding to the narrative of luxury and nostalgia.
Just like in days gone by, things don’t always go to plan. During our journey, a nearby cyclone in Mozambique caused some abnormal weather, resulting in huge delays. Originally the plan was to leave Pretoria on Wednesday afternoon and arrive on Friday evening. What actually happened is we arrived into Cape Town early Saturday morning, meaning we had to enjoy another night on this luxurious train.
Oh well. That’s a first-class-travel problem if I’ve ever heard one.
During our journey, we were enjoyed two excursions outside the train. First stop was a visit to the Big Hole and Diamond mine in Kimberley.
The Big Hole is aptly named, and at night (train delays) it didn’t photograph particularly well. The quaint mining town of Kimberley was a perfect spot for a pint of CBC (Cape Brew Co – great local beer!)
The second excursion we had was to the tiny township of Matjiesfontein. This idyllic location has a total population of around 130, and plays host to curious tourists and those seeking a unique wedding venue too. It’s another chapter of time that’s been preserved perfectly, and makes for a picturesque pitstop!
The food. Oh my goodness, the food! I’m still full thinking about the food on Rovos Rail!
Breakfasts of the highest calibre were enjoyed, and then a few relaxed hours later guests would return to the dining cart for lunch.
Lunch and dinner consist of four courses – starter, main, cheese and dessert. Both lunch and dinner were accompanied with matched South African wines (of course!)
If I could, I’d like to thank whoever invented the cheese course in a four course meal.
After dinner, guests retired to the rear carriage for a night-cap, because why not?
Whilst on Rovos Rail, we didn’t just journey from Pretoria to Cape Town, we travelled back in time in the most luxurious manner possible.
We would absolutely recommend this trip for anybody wanting to experience something entirely different to anything you’ve ever done before.
C + P.