An elegant train ride through South Africa

Mossel BayRovos Rail is a beautiful anachronism: an authentically refurbished Edwardian-style train designed to take guests back in time as it meanders through some of South Africa’s least-seen but most spectacular countryside. A train ride complete with excursions to two of the country’s historical highlights.

Although the trip may seem slow to some — the train ride from Cape Town to Pretoria takes only two hours by plane but two days via Rovos Rail — guests aboard the company’s flagship train, the Pride of Africa, are more than happy to trade haste for history. After all, it’s not every day that one gets to ride a time machine on tracks.

In operation since 1989, Rovos Rail has always been more about the journey than the destination. Owner Rohan Vos has translated a lifelong passion for the lost art of train travel into a railway company that aims to provide guests with a luxurious locomotive voyage that, in the company’s words, recaptures “the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era” of travel.

To that end, Vos has visited scrap yards and salvaged train coaches dating from as far back as the 1920s. And it is in those exquisitely restored “rescues” that guests travel across the country (or the continent; Rovos’s longest trip is a 34-day voyage from Cape Town to Cairo). Trains are limited to 20 carriages and no more than 72 guests on each journey.

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