Going on a holiday or a vacation is one of the best things that you can give yourself and or your family and friends. No matter the destination, you are guaranteed to meet new people, see new places, learn new things, and taste different food.
All of these you get from your destination; however, it’s not just the destination that can be quite entertaining, fun and educative. The journey is can be rich with activities too.
I have heard some travellers say it’s the journey, not the destination that matters, whether you agree or not, the journey in itself is also a crucial part of your holiday or vacation thus you should plan for it accordingly.
In order to appreciate the beauty of the journey, you have to be up close and personal with your surroundings.
In this day and age, planes are the default mode of transport for travellers; they are fast, convenient, efficient and comfortable. However, for a true adventure journey, you do not need a fast and sometimes comfortable transport.
What you need is a slow moving train, one that brings you closer to your surroundings, the jungles, the plains, the meandering rivers, the incredible falls, the hanging cliffs, and the beautiful wildlife.
Though not totally side lining comfortability, a slow-moving train has it’s own form of cosiness that brings out an aura of faded bygone glamour.
One of the best places on earth to enjoy this hotel on the rails is in Tanzania. Tanzania is mostly known for the Rovos Rail, a hotel on rails train whose destination is Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam also acts as a train excursion station for the Rovos Rail twice a year when the Rovos Rail makes its bi-annual 28 day Cape to Cairo journey.
Your day on-board Rovos Rail
Imagine waking up every day to the sight of baboons, elephants, and all kinds of wildlife wandering around.
Well, Rovos Rail changes that imagination into reality the minute you step inside. Your day on-board the Rovos Rail will be punctuated by gazing through the window to the wildlife galloping across the window, sightseeing Africa’s beautiful scenery and tasting African dishes from Africa’s top chefs while sipping exotic wines.
Your night on-board Rovos Rail
Whether you decide to board the Rovos Rail in the summer (August to April in Southern Africa) or in winter (May to July), the Rovos Rail will be cosy. In winter, the close-knit rooms give you the warmth you need while in the summer, open your windows to let the cool night breeze give you a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Though this is not your typical five-star hotel, expect the silkiest bed linens. The gold fittings in the rooms, bathrooms, the dining room and the conference room (for late night meetings or conference calls) will keep you reminded that you are in the land of gold.
Rovos Rail route
The Rovos Rail sojourn begins in Cape Town, South Africa traversing through Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia before reaching the Dar es Salaam destination in Tanzania. In all, the journey takes 14 days. The journey does have breaks albeit they are short breaks put in place for you to see and get to know Africa a little bit more. It’s important to keep this in mind, you probably won’t get much time to travel around for shopping but you are able to acquire souvenirs from nearby retailers, craftsmen, and vendors if you want.
In South Africa, there are four breaks, three short and one long. The first three are short, the first one is the historic village of Matjiesfontein, the second stop is in the diamond town of Kimberly and the third stop is in the administrative capital, Pretoria. The last stop is the longest at the Madikwe Game Reserve where you spend two nights.
You then proceed to Botswana where there are no stopovers. While in motion, the speed allows you to view the beautiful plains of Botswana that lead to the Kalahari Desert before entering into Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe provides you with one break in Victoria Falls. Here, you spend your night at the Victoria Falls Hotel. You have a few hours to spend in Zimbabwe and get to go and see the majestic Victoria Falls the following day.
From Zimbabwe, Zambia is the next destination where you start by viewing the Victoria Falls from a different angle before you proceed to your next stop at the Chishimba Falls. While at the Chishimba Falls, you can choose from a range of activities including touring the falls, swimming or enjoying a bush walk among others.
From Zambia, your trek in the Great Rift Valley begins as the train starts to negotiate tunnels, escarpments, and switchbacks. In Tanzania, you first make a stop at the Selous Game Reserve for a day. This is the largest game reserve on the continent.
It is at this game reserve that Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in partnership with the Tanzania Wildlife Authority is constructing a new tourist train station and an information centre. In addition to targeting the Rovos Rail, the new train station will aim to capitalise on opportunities linked to domestic train travellers.
Rovos Rail’s final destination is a few kilometres further in Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam from the proposed new train station at Selous Game Reserve is in the Northern Zone. However, Dar es Salaam will be another stop if you are on the bi-annual 28 day Cape to Cairo Rovos Rail trip.