The station buildings are as lovely as the Rovos Rail trains.

South Africa to Tanzania Train Safari | Semi-desert, Waterfalls, Mountains & Savannah | 14 Nights Cape Town, Gaborone, Victoria Falls, Lusaka & Dar es Salaam

Part of the luxury of Rovos Rail is being able to set aside the time to see Africa in a more relaxed way; this indulgent approach to travel takes in five African nations in 15 days, touching on the cultural, topographical and ecological highlights of each, and enjoying the royal-suite life.

  • Crossing five different African countries, this luxury train safari begins deep in Southern Africa and winds its way to East Africa, via mountains, valleys and game reserves.
  • Opportunities to learn more about history and natural history, through onboard lectures and excursions to diamond mines and nature reserves, as well as the chance to descend into the Great Rift Valley and watch iconic cascades of water.
  • A Rovos Rail royal suite occupies half a carriage, and it houses a Victorian bathtub, separate shower, lounge area and double bed, all decked out in inimitable period style. As well as the pullman and deluxe 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

Our luxury train safari cut diagonally across Africa and was a safari in the original sense of the word: a journey. A journey that at times was almost mesmerising, between the scenes passing by the windows of our royal suite, and the onomatopoeic clicketyclack of the wheels on the track.We soon settled into life on board, and the little rituals that reinforced the sense that not only were we journeying towards new highlights each day, but also that we were travelling back in time.The juxtaposition between our cosseted experience as passengers, and the untamed wilderness unfolding on each side of us, was brought home to us when we disembarked from the train to spend two nights at Tau Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve.As it transpired, we would also see game later on our journey, as we skirted the hem of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, but in Madikwe we were on a mission to see the painted dogs.Undertaking this train safari in the green season meant that not only were many of the landscapes we passed through refreshingly green, but Madikwe was rustling and bustling with new life.The flipside of that coin was death, however, and we witnessed some compelling but slightly grisly scenes as a pack of wild dog got among a nursery of impala lambs, dispatching several of them in just a few minutes.As with any journey, our travelling companions also added to the experience. After the rush of seeing Victoria Falls in spate (a single sheet of white water, throwing up clouds of spray that drenched us but couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for taking cascade selfies), we enjoyed a quiet day back on the train getting to know some new friends.Attending a lecture as our iron-and-velvet centipede wriggled northwards through Zambia, we learned about the history of the Tazara line. Built by Tanzania and Zambia (hence the name) with Chinese assistance, it was also known as the Great Uhuru (‘freedom’) Railway, as it provided alternative ocean access to crossing then-apartheid South Africa.We then enjoyed sundowners together in the observation carriage, inviting the historian to join us, and soon found ourselves in a friendly debate as to which country had given us the best sunsets so far. My favourite had been in Zimbabwe, but then watching it from a boat cruising along the Zambezi as hippos grunted and ice cubes shifted probably helped!More history of every kind awaited us in Selous Game Reserve (at 50,000 square kilometres, larger than Denmark or the Netherlands and named after the explorer, conservationist and soldier F C Selous).Selous’ life story was so compelling that he inspired the main character in King Solomon’s Mines, and further fueled our interest in game drives. We were fortunate enough to see wild dog again, although this time they were more playful than predatory.Although the bustling city of Dar es Salaam was the end point of our luxury train safari, our African journey would not there. After saying goodbye to the ‘abode of peace’ that was our royal suite, we planned to continue to Zanzibar where we’d exchange train whistles for dolphin vocalisations. We were also looking forward to cruising on another historic form of transport – a dhow – and diving the local reefs.

Our luxury train safari cut diagonally across Africa and was a safari in the original sense of the word: a journey. A journey that at times was almost mesmerising, between the scenes passing by the windows of our royal suite, and the onomatopoeic clicketyclack of the wheels on the track.

We soon settled into life on board, and the little rituals that reinforced the sense that not only were we journeying towards new highlights each day, but also that we were travelling back in time.

The juxtaposition between our cosseted experience as passengers, and the untamed wilderness unfolding on each side of us, was brought home to us when we disembarked from the train to spend two nights at Tau Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve.

As it transpired, we would also see game later on our journey, as we skirted the hem of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, but in Madikwe we were on a mission to see the painted dogs.

Undertaking this train safari in the green season meant that not only were many of the landscapes we passed through refreshingly green, but Madikwe was rustling and bustling with new life.

The flipside of that coin was death, however, and we witnessed some compelling but slightly grisly scenes as a pack of wild dog got among a nursery of impala lambs, dispatching several of them in just a few minutes.

As with any journey, our travelling companions also added to the experience. After the rush of seeing Victoria Falls in spate (a single sheet of white water, throwing up clouds of spray that drenched us but couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for taking cascade selfies), we enjoyed a quiet day back on the train getting to know some new friends.

Attending a lecture as our iron-and-velvet centipede wriggled northwards through Zambia, we learned about the history of the Tazara line. Built by Tanzania and Zambia (hence the name) with Chinese assistance, it was also known as the Great Uhuru (‘freedom’) Railway, as it provided alternative ocean access to crossing then-apartheid South Africa.

We then enjoyed sundowners together in the observation carriage, inviting the historian to join us, and soon found ourselves in a friendly debate as to which country had given us the best sunsets so far. My favourite had been in Zimbabwe, but then watching it from a boat cruising along the Zambezi as hippos grunted and ice cubes shifted probably helped!

More history of every kind awaited us in Selous Game Reserve (at 50,000 square kilometres, larger than Denmark or the Netherlands and named after the explorer, conservationist and soldier F C Selous).

Selous’ life story was so compelling that he inspired the main character in King Solomon’s Mines, and further fueled our interest in game drives. We were fortunate enough to see wild dog again, although this time they were more playful than predatory.

Although the bustling city of Dar es Salaam was the end point of our luxury train safari, our African journey would not there. After saying goodbye to the ‘abode of peace’ that was our royal suite, we planned to continue to Zanzibar where we’d exchange train whistles for dolphin vocalisations. We were also looking forward to cruising on another historic form of transport – a dhow – and diving the local reefs.

What sets it apart

Our 15-day Rovos Rail trip from South Africa to Tanzania, via Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, was most noticeable for the sheer scale of the undertaking. It was a marvellous journey of epic grandeur, as only Africa can afford travellers who have tired of bite-sized experiences.The sense of expanded horizons struck us the moment we stepped inside our royal suite on the Pride of Africa. It wasn’t simply a case of having room to swing the proverbial cat; an entire feline playground could easily have been accommodated in the space occupied by our double bed, lounge area and vintage-style bathroom (with both shower and bath!).Beginning in Cape Town, we felt as though we had the entire continent laid out before us, inviting exploration. The thin red line on the map of our route showed no shortcuts, and we saw that this was also the approach taken by the train’s crew. No detail was so small that it was overlooked, and the impeccable service and enjoyable experience of being cocooned in our carriage (when we wanted to be) only added to our appreciation of the vast swathes of Africa we watched pass by.The overnight stays in a luxury safari lodge and a historic hotel, the game drives and the lectures from the onboard historian all helped broaden our horizons, and deepened the experience. Spending most of our nights on the train, we became just two more sleepers among many thousands, but at every stage of our luxury train safari we were made to feel special.

Our 15-day Rovos Rail trip from South Africa to Tanzania, via Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia, was most noticeable for the sheer scale of the undertaking. It was a marvellous journey of epic grandeur, as only Africa can afford travellers who have tired of bite-sized experiences.

The sense of expanded horizons struck us the moment we stepped inside our royal suite on the Pride of Africa. It wasn’t simply a case of having room to swing the proverbial cat; an entire feline playground could easily have been accommodated in the space occupied by our double bed, lounge area and vintage-style bathroom (with both shower and bath!).

Beginning in Cape Town, we felt as though we had the entire continent laid out before us, inviting exploration. The thin red line on the map of our route showed no shortcuts, and we saw that this was also the approach taken by the train’s crew. No detail was so small that it was overlooked, and the impeccable service and enjoyable experience of being cocooned in our carriage (when we wanted to be) only added to our appreciation of the vast swathes of Africa we watched pass by.

The overnight stays in a luxury safari lodge and a historic hotel, the game drives and the lectures from the onboard historian all helped broaden our horizons, and deepened the experience. Spending most of our nights on the train, we became just two more sleepers among many thousands, but at every stage of our luxury train safari we were made to feel special.

DAY 1

End your journey in the magnificent Cape Town.

11am: Depart Cape Town Station on the Pride of Africa.
6pm: Stop in Matjiesfontein and explore the village.

DAY 2

Take your safari underground with a Kimberley mine tour. © Rovos Rail

2pm: Stop in Kimberley and tour the Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum, then continue on up to the Highveld.

DAY 3

10am: Arrive at Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria for a walking tour of the station and locomotive workshops (weather permitting), followed by a walking tour of the city after lunch.
6pm: Depart for Zeerust.

DAY 4

You might end up following a lion on your game drive from Tau Pan. © Kwando Safaris

11am: Disembark at Zeerust and transfer by coach to Madikwe Game Reserve for a two-night stay at Tau Game Lodge.
Afternoon: Game drive in the reserve.

DAY 5

Disembark for a game drive in Hwange during your train safari. © The Hide

Early morning: Game drive.
Afternoon: Game drive.

DAY 6

Hwange is home to cheetah. © The Hide

Early morning: Game drive.
10.30am: Return to the train and cross the Botswana border en route to Gaborone.
1.30pm: Depart Gaborone and travel to Plumtree for Zimbabwe border formalities.

DAY 7

Enjoy fine wines with Rovos Rail. © Rovos Rail

Day at leisure on board en route to Thomson Junction via the fringes of Hwange National Park, with optional historical lectures.

DAY 8

You'll overnight at the elegant Victoria Falls Hotel during this luxury train safari. © Victoria Falls Hotel

12pm: Arrive at Victoria Falls and walk across to the hotel.
4pm: Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

DAY 9

You'll never forget seeing Victoria Falls from The Pride of Africa. © Rovos Rail

Day at leisure for Victoria Falls activities.
4pm: Depart Victoria Falls and cross the bridge to Livingstone, Zambia.

DAY 10

The observation car is designed to maximise your views. © Rovos Rail

Day at leisure on board the train, en route to the start of the Tazara line, with optional historical lectures.

DAY 11

Tea in the lounge car will be a daily ritual with Rovos Rail. © Rovos Rail

Day at leisure on board the train as the journey continues to Kasama, via Serenje and Mpika.

DAY 12

You'll stop and explore Chishimba Falls during this trip. © Rovos Rail

8am: Disembark for an excursion to Chisimba Falls.
11am: Depart Kasama for the Tanzanian border.

DAY 13

Get some fresh air in the observation car. © Rovos Rail

9am: Arrive at Makambako and stroll through town (time permitting).
10h30: Descend by train into the Great Rift Valley and traverse the Udzungwa Mountains.

DAY 14

You'll get to see elephant in the Selous.

During the day: Game drive in Selous Game Reserve (time permitting).
Later: Continue towards Gwata for overnight stop.

DAY 15

End your train journey at lovely Dar es Salaam.

6.30am: Depart Gwata and travel east towards the coast.
10am: Arrive at journey’s end in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

  • 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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