The Pride of Africa is as impressive as its name suggests.

South Africa Train Safari | Diamonds, Karoo & Cape | 2 Nights Pretoria & Cape Town

This luxury train safari on Rovos Rail connects two of South Africa’s major cities, but this is a trip that’s much more about emotion than locomotion. The experience is a classic example of the journey itself being the destination, allowing you to glide serenely back to an era when travel was more elegant.

  • A trip from the Jacaranda City (Pretoria) to the Mother City (Cape Town), beginning in the Highveld and meandering through the Karoo and the mountains and winelands of the Western Cape before ending in the shadow of Table Mountain.
  • The chance to enjoy the incredible diversity of landscapes that make up South Africa, to explore South Africa’s rich diamond legacy in Kimberley and to learn more about the Victorian heritage that inspired Rovos Rail in the restored village of Matjiesfontein.
  • The deluxe suite gracefully combines wood-panelled charm with modern conveniences, including an ensuite bathroom with shower. As well as the pullman and royal guest sleepers, the Pride of Africa train has a non-smoking lounge car, a smoking lounge, two non-smoking dining cars, a kitchen car and an observation car.

The train safari

As we stepped out from under the purple-blossomed jacaranda trees in Pretoria and boarded our Rovos Rail train, the Pride of Africa, we knew that this would be a journey unlike any other we’d experienced in South Africa. Not only would we be travelling 1,600km cross-country to Cape Town, but we’d be journeying back in time to when travelling first became an art form.Starting our luxury train safari in the afternoon gave us plenty of time to settle in, even though we were moving. After a relaxed tea in the observation car, I was torn between examining the period details in our deluxe suite, and watching as the city of Johannesburg slowly gave way to the Highveld landscape. I ended up doing a bit of both.While we unpacked, my partner and I traded anecdotes about great rail journeys, both real and fictitious, until we heard the gong sound to announce dinner. Dressed up in our evening finery, we walked to the dining car, and toasted the start of our journey with an excellent Pinotage as the new moon rose over South Africa.There was no need to get up early the next day, so we skipped the alarms and woke naturally … to very different scenery. There was a real sense of the scale of the country we were traversing as we rolled towards Kimberley. The name alone was enough to make anyone’s eyes sparkle – we were heading towards diamond territory.We stopped in the town long enough to visit the site of many excavations and the Kimberley Mine Museum, with the Big Hole being particularly impressive. It had once been a hill, but thousands of miners had inverted it into a crater, from which almost three tonnes of diamonds had been excavated.Back on board, we continued along the old pioneer route, passing De Aar and Beaufort West as we slept. By the next morning we were at the Victorian village of Matjiesfontein, and we took yet another step back in time as we wandered around.Then on across the rolling Karoo. It was hauntingly beautiful, punctuated by skeletal windmills and plump sheep. The vast landscape allowed my mind to wander, and I found my thoughts turning to our plans for Cape Town.Other than an ocean liner, we couldn’t imagine a more stylish way to arrive, and we were excited to snorkel with seals, tour the Cape Peninsula and explore the Cape Winelands during our time there. We got our first glimpse of the vineyards from the train, then it was time to alight beneath iconic Table Mountain.

As we stepped out from under the purple-blossomed jacaranda trees in Pretoria and boarded our Rovos Rail train, the Pride of Africa, we knew that this would be a journey unlike any other we’d experienced in South Africa. Not only would we be travelling 1,600km cross-country to Cape Town, but we’d be journeying back in time to when travelling first became an art form.

Starting our luxury train safari in the afternoon gave us plenty of time to settle in, even though we were moving. After a relaxed tea in the observation car, I was torn between examining the period details in our deluxe suite, and watching as the city of Johannesburg slowly gave way to the Highveld landscape. I ended up doing a bit of both.

While we unpacked, my partner and I traded anecdotes about great rail journeys, both real and fictitious, until we heard the gong sound to announce dinner. Dressed up in our evening finery, we walked to the dining car, and toasted the start of our journey with an excellent Pinotage as the new moon rose over South Africa.

There was no need to get up early the next day, so we skipped the alarms and woke naturally … to very different scenery. There was a real sense of the scale of the country we were traversing as we rolled towards Kimberley. The name alone was enough to make anyone’s eyes sparkle – we were heading towards diamond territory.

We stopped in the town long enough to visit the site of many excavations and the Kimberley Mine Museum, with the Big Hole being particularly impressive. It had once been a hill, but thousands of miners had inverted it into a crater, from which almost three tonnes of diamonds had been excavated.

Back on board, we continued along the old pioneer route, passing De Aar and Beaufort West as we slept. By the next morning we were at the Victorian village of Matjiesfontein, and we took yet another step back in time as we wandered around.

Then on across the rolling Karoo. It was hauntingly beautiful, punctuated by skeletal windmills and plump sheep. The vast landscape allowed my mind to wander, and I found my thoughts turning to our plans for Cape Town.

Other than an ocean liner, we couldn’t imagine a more stylish way to arrive, and we were excited to snorkel with seals, tour the Cape Peninsula and explore the Cape Winelands during our time there. We got our first glimpse of the vineyards from the train, then it was time to alight beneath iconic Table Mountain.

What sets it apart

From the liveried attendants to the gleam of the wood and brass fittings in the corridors, everything about our luxury train safari spoke to quality, dependability and elegance.Sitting back and letting South Africa come to us, we watched the ever-changing landscapes roll by from the windows of our deluxe suite, or the even larger panes in the specially reconstructed observation car.We rediscovered the magic of rail travel – something that no other form of transport can match. The delight of being on a locomotive, the hypnotic clickety-clack of the wheels, and the thrill of plunging into the darkness of a tunnel only to re-emerge moments later into dazzling sunlight.After several days of khaki, it was a joy to be able to dress for dinner – indeed, it was required. Cocktail dresses, jackets and ties got an airing, and sashaying through to the dining car allowed us to make quite an entrance.Delicious meals, fine wines, and the opportunity to see more of historic South Africa at each stop all added to the sense that we were in a Victorian time machine, while travelling through the night lulled us to sleep and kept our itinerary on track.

From the liveried attendants to the gleam of the wood and brass fittings in the corridors, everything about our luxury train safari spoke to quality, dependability and elegance.

Sitting back and letting South Africa come to us, we watched the ever-changing landscapes roll by from the windows of our deluxe suite, or the even larger panes in the specially reconstructed observation car.

We rediscovered the magic of rail travel – something that no other form of transport can match. The delight of being on a locomotive, the hypnotic clickety-clack of the wheels, and the thrill of plunging into the darkness of a tunnel only to re-emerge moments later into dazzling sunlight.

After several days of khaki, it was a joy to be able to dress for dinner – indeed, it was required. Cocktail dresses, jackets and ties got an airing, and sashaying through to the dining car allowed us to make quite an entrance.

Delicious meals, fine wines, and the opportunity to see more of historic South Africa at each stop all added to the sense that we were in a Victorian time machine, while travelling through the night lulled us to sleep and kept our itinerary on track.

DAY 1

3pm: Depart Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria, South Africa, and overnight on the train.

DAY 2

You'll get to see Kimberley's Big Hole on this trip. © Rovos Rail

10am: Stop in Kimberley to visit the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum.
12.30pm: Depart Kimberley and overnight via De Aar and Beaufort West.

DAY 3

End your journey in the magnificent Cape Town.

8.15am: Stop and explore Matjiesfontein.
10.30am: Depart for Cape Town via Touws River and Worcester.
6pm: Arrive at Cape Town Station’s Platform 24.

  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, taking into account when you’d like to travel, how long you’d like to be away for, who you’d be travelling with, what safari lodge style you’d prefer, and more.
  • This luxury safari trip idea is simply to show you what’s possible. To see what this type of safari costs, and what’s generally included, click here.
  • You can also click through to our blog on African safari prices for a general overview of our safari price categories:

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