When I was a kid and thought about trains I would always imagine that they had bunk beds and were super rattly and when you were onboard one it took you to amazing places in the county side. Now when I think of trains I think of Westworld and the wild wild West.
Shane and I have been married for just over 8 years and we got to celebrate our anniversary by joining the amazing folk at Rovos Rail for a luxury Safari Trip from Pretoria to Durban which spanned over 3 days. I’ve never been on an overnight train ride before, I’ve never eaten in a dining cart laced with wood paneling, crystal and silver and I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like the Rovos Rail again. This family run business started 20 years ago and is to this day the only privately owned railway fleet in the world. The owner Rohan Vos remains involved as much as possible, in fact when I was walking around the Rovos station work area where they refurbish old trains, some built as far back as the 1920’s, I landed up bumping into Mr. Voss himself.
The Rovos Rail is such a glorious throwback to the old days where cellphones were once a crazy man’s idea of the future in the year beyond 2000. The train is made up of a beautiful Dining Cart that requires it’s guests to dress in a suit and tie for dinner. When I walked in for the first time I felt like I was in an olden day movie, it was such an awesome but strange feeling as I took a photo on my 6D and sent it immediately to my phone, like magic. Oh and by the way they don’t allow electronic devices like cellphones and computers in any of the public areas, in your room you’re free to get lost in the land of the Internet, but anywhere else on the train they strictly prohibit it as not to detract from the simpleness of the way the world used to be before digital distraction. I did, however, manage to sneak some Insta-Stories in when no one was looking hehe.
The train also has a Smoking Room (which is completely bizarre and for some reason reminded me of Dallas) and a Bar Area where drinks and snacks flowed like Kanye West on a Twitter rampage. Sorry, I’m making some bizarre references here but I was on a train when writing this and my hands were doing all the talking while my mind was wondering around.
Oh yes back to the Bar, look I’m not going to lie every time an ice cold G&T passed me I felt a little pang of jealousy, but the silver platters of homemade crisps, biltong and almond nuts made up for it. I went through two!
Shane and I stayed in a Deluxe cabin, which was really nice. Now as I’m sure you might have guessed cabins on trains are not huge, but there is something to be said about being surrounded by antique wood paneling, a row of windows looking out onto some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen and a huge bed that takes up half the room. Shane and I played Scrabble and drank pretend champagne i.e. lemonade out of flutes while we watched the world literally pass us by, it was awesome.
In case you were wondering you don’t just stay on the train for the full three days, it does stop so that you can explore the outdoors, which includes a couple of game drives through the Nambiti Conservancy and Spionkop Lodge, a visit to the battlegrounds of Spionekop, as well a trip to one of the most interesting ceramic manufacturers in the world called Ardmore Ceramics.
We ate a lot, we high-tea-ed, we dressed up for supper, we played board games, I wrote a couple of postcards with my actual hand and a pen! We were romanced by amazing views and for a while we forgot the world and it’s all its technical ways, which is sometimes exactly what one needs!
Travelling on the Rovos Rail was a trip like no other and I’m so happy I got to experience it.