Our Rovos Rail Experience – A Decadent Expedition From Pretoria To Victoria Falls

Nicola Du Plessis and I recently embarked on a mesmerizing journey on the Rovos Rail from Pretoria to Victoria Falls. This opulent adventure whisked us through captivating landscapes, gourmet dining experiences, and thrilling wildlife encounters – all while being enveloped in a cocoon of luxury. This was my third journey on the Rovos Rail – and each time I am reminded why this is one of Southern Africa’s great travel adventures.

Rovos Rail epitomizes luxury rail travel in Southern Africa. This journey, like each previous one, was a symphony of old-world elegance and modern-day experiences. Each day aboard this magnificent train felt like being in a timeless bubble, away from the daily grind, and surrounded by the vast beauty of Southern Africa. There is something truly old-worldly about luxury rail that can’t really be described and rail just needs to be experienced.

The lack of connectivity (once outside of South Africa, there is no cell phone reception and there is no WIFI on board) is always a little jarring at first – especially for us, who work on content for a living, but eventually, the ability to disconnect completely is especially magical.

Starting our journey in Pretoria, the historical essence of the city set the mood for our decadent voyage. As we embarked on this expedition, we were taken by the meticulous attention to detail of Rovos Rail’s vintage-style carriages. These carriages, resplendent in their meticulous restoration, transported us to a time when elegance and sophistication were paramount. And amidst this luxury, the pièce de resistance was undoubtedly the culinary experience.

Each meal was a spectacle, paired meticulously with the finest South African wines. I’ve been into the kitchen and it’s a testimony to the skill of the chefs that such wonderful food is able to be produced in such a tiny space. The wine list is a thing of beauty and the ability to sample such a wonderful collection of some of South Africa’s finest and rarest wines is a serious privilege.

The dining car was always abuzz with conversations about each dish’s perfection and the exquisite wine that enhanced its flavors. The dedication of the staff and their impeccable service, like always made us feel cherished and catered for, in every possible way. Rovos really gets service right.

Matobo National Park was one of our unforgettable stops. Not only did we revel in the ancient rock art of the San people, but we were also incredibly fortunate to experience rhinos on foot. The sheer proximity and rawness of this encounter left us in a little in awe. Another moment, less special but maybe more poignant was when our guide found a snare between some trees.

These terrible tools of torture are such a blunt reminder of the horrors of poaching and the terrible pain that animals have to endure because of our cruelty. At the ‘hill of the spirits’, Malindidzimu, we felt the weight of history and spirituality as we stood by Cecil Rhodes’ burial site, connecting deeply with Zimbabwe’s rich tapestry of the past. This remains one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and it certainly deserves to be called View of the World.

Further into our journey, Hwange National Park welcomed us with open arms. Beyond its reputation as Zimbabwe’s premier wildlife destination, our game drives there were truly exhilarating. Lions, elephants, and the magnificent tableau of Africa’s iconic wildlife left us enthralled. I love Hwange and the gave drives there are always spectacular.

The crescendo of our journey was the last evening aboard the Rovos Rail. Everyone was dressed to the nines, the air filled with excitement and a hint of nostalgia. Guests congregated at the back of the train, toasting to the incredible journey, recounting memories, and dancing the night away. The spirit of camaraderie was palpable, and the scene was reminiscent of glamorous bygone-era parties. I love dressing up and I love a party, so this is always right up my alley.

Our transition from the historical ambiance of Pretoria to the roaring might of Victoria Falls aboard the Rovos Rail was not just a journey, but an experience carved in the annals of our memories. The fusion of luxury, nature’s marvels, and enriching cultural experiences made this journey not just unique, but transformative. Nicola and I left with a profound appreciation for Southern Africa’s beauty and the luxurious embrace of Rovos Rail.

Written by Simone Dominique
Contributor @Khaki Bush Magazine
Image credit @The Safari gals and @Michail Shapiro

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