Luxury Trains-Viv`s Travel Bug 1300 815 512

Viv`s Travel Bug 1300 815 512

Luxury Trains

SHONGOLOLO CHOO CHOO                       

“PARDEN ME BOY... is that the Shongololo Choo Choo?”....... This is no ordinary train!! I have found in recent years that my clients are looking for something different, an experience that is still exciting and yet will take in the many wonders of that country.  On this ADVENTURE they can unpack and for sixteen days they can experience another world, they can taste the distinctive foods and drink the heavenly wines  and usually be lucky enough to sight the big five!

 This is a unique touring train with three completely different itineraries to seven different countries. They all initiate their journeys from Pretoria. One Shongololo ventures North through  to Zimbabwe and the Victoria Falls, taking in no less than five National Parks and is probably the most popular of these itineraries. One can visit a beautiful country under your own steam as it were!!  Zimbabwe is making a recovery and its tourist facilities are fast returning to the good old days despite Mugabe’s presence.  The second Shongololo goes west to Namibia.  So named by the San peoples who believed this was the “land that God made in anger”.  This is a dry and rugged land of wide horizons and seemingly endless beaches, of sand dunes like no others in the world and spectacular wild life areas filled with exotic animals.  The third is the South African route that takes one through Kruger National Park and south to Durban then on to Cape Town through the beautiful “garden route”.

 It’s also affordable!  It starts at $3450 for the 12 days to Namibia. The train travels at night to its next siding and whilst one sleeps the Mercedes 4WD are being off loaded for the safari that will take place that day.  Just as in the old days the African gong will be sounded up and down the corridors for breakfast and then one will be off loaded for an adventurous day of sight- seeing.  Back to the train for lunch or dinner and then the clickity-clack to the next stop!

“Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer” coos the crooner and that’s exactly right!  The on-board  menu has been selected to give guests a taste of Africa and the chefs are capable of tempting one to Dutch Malay, spicy Mocambique and a touch of Germanic fare.  The wine list has a selection of delightful South African wines.  Freshly baked breads and pastries, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are served up to fortify the guests for their hectic days. 

Each train has its own bar/ lounge, dining carriage. The accommodation has four categories: the highest being Emerald, a double bed facing the windows, small lounge area and a bathroom with shower. The Gold and Commodore also have their own bathrooms and Ivory a very comfortable 2 berth with the ablutions at the end of each carriage. Each cabin has a basin with running water and in addition there is an onboard laundry service.

ROVOS RAILis the Pride of Africa.  “This is it – the mother of all rail safaris in Africa!”  This service has earned an international reputation of being one of the finest 5-star travel experiences in wood panelled, gleaming luxury of a bygone Edwardian era. The itinerary to sway the ambitious would be a 14-day Cape Town to Dar es Salaam.  Can you think of a more pampered and perfect way of seeing such a vast expanse of Africa in such a luxurious manner?   One can add-on a trip to Cairo from Zanzibar seeing highlights like the Serengeti plains and Ngorongoro Crator and Ngama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda with Rovos Air.  Please call for itinerary and prices.

MAHARAJAS EXPRESS

One cannot enthuse about train travel without mentioning India. This has to be without doubt the most luxurious train I have ever seen.

 A small army of staff roll out the red carpet sprinkled with rose petals for the arrival of passengers. One pretty girl in a lovely sari welcomes us with a chilled flute of champagne whilst another festoons us in a garland of fragrance and dabs a red tikka onto our foreheads. Our fingers are washed with rose water and then we are whisked away by our valet to be shown our accommodation. Unfortunately whilst I experienced this heavenly treatment I was actually on a different train...an amazing experience... but another story!

I was shown around the train before it left on its wondrous journey of six nights visiting the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho  {Kama Sutra temples}, Bandhavgarh {tiger country}, and Varanasi  before heading back to Delhi.

This trip starts at about $6300 in a deluxe cabin. There are three other categories of which the presidential suite is top of the range. This takes up one full carriage and has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sumptuous lounge area. “Lovejoy” a sparky, happy and knowledgeable young man will be your valet for the duration!!

This Maharaja’s palace will enthral any lover of train travel. The two dining rooms are exquisite.  Dining in “The Rang Mahal”, beneath a hand- painted ceiling, with gold edge Limoge plates, the finest crystal glasses and silver service monogrammed with an “M”, can only be described as opulent.   An entire carriage is set aside for the kitchen which is packed with chefs and the freshest supplies from which the two restaurants serve a most daunting range of cuisine.

At the end of the journey one must sadly leave on the red carpet, just as one arrived. This is, I’m sure, far more than a just a luxurious experience.  More a way of life with personalised hospitality.