Dinner is an elaborate affair when everyone dresses up …
There’s nothing quite like travelling on a train through Africa. My parents who established Rovos Rail in 1989 have since created a series of bespoke journeys ranging from 48 hours to 14 nights. Every trip with us is unique whether you’re on a 3-night sojourn to Cape Town or our two-week epic journey to Dar es Salaam from Cape Town travelling through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. For those with time on their hands it really is an indulgent African adventure. We’re proud to have a group of ‘repeat offenders,’ as we call our guests who just keep coming back time and time again for this very reason.
The interior design is not an insignificant part of the appeal. Rovos have probably the largest suites, luggage space and beds than on any other train in the world. My father created a special observation car at the back of every train each with a lovely mahogany bar where you can sit and drink in the rolling scenery. There’s a lounge car where you can play board games and read handpicked literature either on the subject of Africa or by an African author. Then of course we have our 1920s dining cars with gorgeous mahogany pillars, and 30s-style cars with beautiful leather banquette-style seating.
We ring a gong just before dinner, the main event when everyone dresses up for a multi-course elaborate affair. My favourite is the classic prawn cocktail but other dishes include fantastic kudu loin and rooibos infused milk tart. Whatever the diet, our chefs are used to rolling with all your needs. We also serve an extensive menu of local wine since we’re spoiled in South Africa. My mum just said, ‘let’s represent South Africa in its best light,’ and I think it’s worked well encouraging people to try something different rather than just sticking to their favourite Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. We have sommeliers as well as our wonderful dining car staff. The staff are a very special bunch – they’re really the stars of the show.
Do I have a certain person in mind when thinking about the Rovos Rail guest? If I had my choice, I would have to say Meryl Streep. She just seems to carry herself in an open, kind and refined manner. That’s what we’re hoping for. Somebody who’ll let us take care of them but also who will just go with the flow of Africa which isn’t like Europe, America or Australia. Africa beats to its own drum in every single way.
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Laura, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.
Freephone an expert 01306 744 656