You'll cross the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge on your train safari.

South Africa to Zimbabwe Train Safari | Big Game & Waterfalls | 3 Nights Pretoria & Victoria Falls

Having Victoria Falls as the destination for a luxury train safari makes the experience even more thrilling. There’s a timeless quality to travelling by train, and it’s enhanced on a journey from South Africa to Zimbabwe by the opportunity to spot wildlife from your carriage in the manner of the very first safaris.

  • Departing the stately city of Pretoria and heading into the wilds, bound for Victoria Falls. The untamed landscapes provide a wonderful contrast to the very civilised ambience that prevails aboard the Rovos Rail train.
  • Opportunity to cross the Tropic of Capricorn, view wildlife from the train and enjoy a game drive in Hwange National Park.
  • Enjoy the wooden panelling and classic styling of the pullman suite, which has an ensuite bathroom with shower and a comfortable daytime couch that converts to a double bed for the evening. As well as the deluxe 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 made our way across South Africa on our first day of travel, I was reminded that train journeys always feel somehow more significant. The names of towns we passed through all seemed to speak to me: Warmbaths was a hint that our ensuite shower was just a few steps away across our pullman suite.Donning more formal wear for dinner combined sophistication and just a little fantasy. As we ate our impressive first evening meal, rolling on smoothly towards the border with Zimbabwe, we thought about the sad, cramped aeroplane meals being served above us in the sky. Why fly, when you can glide?The border formalities the next morning were as smooth as the motion of the Pride of Africa. Afterwards, we went directly to the observation car at the very rear of the train, getting our first look at Zimbabwe. The country seemed a little wilder that South Africa, a little drier perhaps, but what struck me most were the towering, bulbous baobab trees.The place names were more exotic too, and I practiced saying them to myself. ‘Bulawayo’ was my favourite, and the syllables seemed to fit perfectly with the rhythm of the train on the tracks as we moved deeper into the second country on our luxury train safari.During lunch that day, the train travelled along what we were told was one of the longest unbroken stretches of straight railway in Africa – some 114km in total. I wondered at the engineers who’d had the confidence to determine that with a stroke of a pencil on a map. Then in the early afternoon, we pulled into Kennedy Siding (named for a former governor, not JFK) and disembarked for our Hwange game drive. We’d already seen buffalo from the train – now we could get much closer to them, while a mock charge from a bull elephant stopped us in our tracks!This was a journey that we never wanted to end, but on our third day I found my thoughts turning to what would come next, when we arrived in Victoria Falls. After the genteel pleasures of our luxury train safari, we’d planned activities with a higher adrenaline factor during our stay in Africa’s adventure-sports capital.We intended to view the mighty Zambezi from as many angles as possible: embarking on a canoe safari along it as well as flying over the falls in a microlight. From that angelic perspective, we might even spot our train beginning its return journey to Pretoria, before we landed again for our Zambezi sunset cruise. It was wonderful to think that as one journey ended, another would begin.

As we made our way across South Africa on our first day of travel, I was reminded that train journeys always feel somehow more significant. The names of towns we passed through all seemed to speak to me: Warmbaths was a hint that our ensuite shower was just a few steps away across our pullman suite.

Donning more formal wear for dinner combined sophistication and just a little fantasy. As we ate our impressive first evening meal, rolling on smoothly towards the border with Zimbabwe, we thought about the sad, cramped aeroplane meals being served above us in the sky. Why fly, when you can glide?

The border formalities the next morning were as smooth as the motion of the Pride of Africa. Afterwards, we went directly to the observation car at the very rear of the train, getting our first look at Zimbabwe. The country seemed a little wilder that South Africa, a little drier perhaps, but what struck me most were the towering, bulbous baobab trees.

The place names were more exotic too, and I practiced saying them to myself. ‘Bulawayo’ was my favourite, and the syllables seemed to fit perfectly with the rhythm of the train on the tracks as we moved deeper into the second country on our luxury train safari.

During lunch that day, the train travelled along what we were told was one of the longest unbroken stretches of straight railway in Africa – some 114km in total. I wondered at the engineers who’d had the confidence to determine that with a stroke of a pencil on a map. Then in the early afternoon, we pulled into Kennedy Siding (named for a former governor, not JFK) and disembarked for our Hwange game drive. We’d already seen buffalo from the train – now we could get much closer to them, while a mock charge from a bull elephant stopped us in our tracks!

This was a journey that we never wanted to end, but on our third day I found my thoughts turning to what would come next, when we arrived in Victoria Falls. After the genteel pleasures of our luxury train safari, we’d planned activities with a higher adrenaline factor during our stay in Africa’s adventure-sports capital.

We intended to view the mighty Zambezi from as many angles as possible: embarking on a canoe safari along it as well as flying over the falls in a microlight. From that angelic perspective, we might even spot our train beginning its return journey to Pretoria, before we landed again for our Zambezi sunset cruise. It was wonderful to think that as one journey ended, another would begin.

What sets it apart

Crossing an international border by train meant that we jumped the queues at Beitbridge, which was quite a coup and added to the sense that we were travelling in a more refined and elegant way.Scenes from great train movies flashed by my mind’s eye even as the patchwork landscapes of Africa rolled by the windows of our carriage. The fact that our couch could convert into a double bed was perfect – I knew I’d be drifting away in every sense when we went to bed after dinner.I loved the idea of exploring by train – a very civilised way to discover uncharted territory. One of the first small towns we passed through was named ‘Nylstroom’, meaning the source of the Nile. It’s not, of course, but finding it so easily threw the travails of Victorian explorers into even sharper relief.Our journey became an adventure as we entered Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and were able to spot game from the windows of the observation carriage like a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt. My partner, a train buff, and I were both in heaven: one of us absorbed in the shunting and hooting aspects of the journey, the other in the hunting (for sightings) and shooting (with a camera).The sleepy station in Victoria Falls was imbued with memories of the days when rail was the way to travel; we could of course have flown instead, but for us, Rovos Rail was the only way to go – the perfect platform from which to launch ourselves into Zimbabwe.

Crossing an international border by train meant that we jumped the queues at Beitbridge, which was quite a coup and added to the sense that we were travelling in a more refined and elegant way.

Scenes from great train movies flashed by my mind’s eye even as the patchwork landscapes of Africa rolled by the windows of our carriage. The fact that our couch could convert into a double bed was perfect – I knew I’d be drifting away in every sense when we went to bed after dinner.

I loved the idea of exploring by train – a very civilised way to discover uncharted territory. One of the first small towns we passed through was named ‘Nylstroom’, meaning the source of the Nile. It’s not, of course, but finding it so easily threw the travails of Victorian explorers into even sharper relief.

Our journey became an adventure as we entered Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and were able to spot game from the windows of the observation carriage like a modern-day Teddy Roosevelt. My partner, a train buff, and I were both in heaven: one of us absorbed in the shunting and hooting aspects of the journey, the other in the hunting (for sightings) and shooting (with a camera).

The sleepy station in Victoria Falls was imbued with memories of the days when rail was the way to travel; we could of course have flown instead, but for us, Rovos Rail was the only way to go – the perfect platform from which to launch ourselves into Zimbabwe.

DAY 1

9.30am: Depart Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria, South Africa, and travel north through Warmbaths and Nylstroom, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn. Continue on to Messina and the Zimbabwe border at Beitbridge.

DAY 2

The bed in the pullman suite converts to seating during the day. © Rovos Rail

Day at leisure as the train travels towards Bulawayo via Rutenga and Somabhula. Overnight stop on board at Mpopoma.

DAY 3

The excitement of travelling over bridges, like Kafue, never gets old. © Rovos Rail

7am: Depart Mpopoma, and travel along the eastern edge of Hwange National Park.
3pm: Arrive at Kennedy Siding for a game drive at The Hide.
7.30pm: Continue on to Thomson Junction for overnight stop.

DAY 4

The best time to visit Zimbabwe on safari | Art Of Safari

7am: Travel towards the Zambezi River.
10am: Arrive at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

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