ROVOS Rail: The Most Luxurious Train in the World

Posted: March 1, 2012

Step back into the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era

and travel with Rovos Rail – the most luxurious train in the world.

Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail for those of you who want to discover Africa in the woodpanelled, gleaming five-star luxury of a bygone era

The exquisite train make-up of Rovos Rail in Southern Africa includes the locomotive, generator car, staff car, guest sleepers, a non-smoking lounge car (26 guests), two non-smoking 42-seat dining cars, kitchen car, guest sleepers, smoking lounge and a observation car at the tail.

We would like to specify the frequently asked questions to you.


How long does a journey take?
Rovos Rail offers a variety of journeys from 48 hours to 28 days.

Where do the journeys go?
Rovos Rail covers the sub-continent of Africa with a variety of journeys.
- between Cape Town and Pretoria – 2 nights;
- between Pretoria and Durban – 2 nights; and  between Pretoria and Victoria Falls – 2 nights;
- between Pretoria and Namibia – 7 days;
- African Golf Collage between Pretoria, Kruger Park Durban and Cape Town – 9 days;
- Golf Safari – 9 days;
- Southern Africa Air Charter – 13 days;
- between Cape Town and Dar es Salaam – 14 days;
- between Cape Town and Cairo – 34 days

Do I have to do the full journey?
Yes we prefer our guests enjoy the full journey experience.

Can I combine some of the Rovos Rail journeys?
Yes, the following journeys can be combined:
- northbound Cape Town and Victoria Falls and vice versa;
- northbound Durban and Victoria Falls;
- the Namibia and Collage journey.

Does Rovos Rail run year round?
Yes we do although some of our short journeys do not run during our winter months.

Is the train pulled by steam locomotives?
Use of steam has become increasingly difficult over the past years, as more and more water and coaling facilities have been scrapped. Where facilities no longer exist, diesel or electric locomotives will be used.

Is it safe to travel through Zimbabwe?


Rovos Rail

In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board and the use of mobile phones and laptops are confined to the privacy of the suites only.


Are there different levels of accommodation on board?
Yes there are three levels of accommodation available:
1. Royal Suites (±16 sqm/±172 sqft) each take up half a carriage, are spacious and elegant. Each has its own private lounge area and full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower.
2. Deluxe Suites (±11 sqm/±118 sqft) also accommodate two passengers in either twin or double beds and have a lounge area and en-suite bathroom with shower.
3. Pullman Suites (±7 sqm/±76 sqft) has the identical bathroom to that of the Deluxe Suites, the bedroom is smaller with a one-up one-down bed for twin requirements or a double bed for couples. During the day this can be converted into a comfortable couch.

What size are the beds?
1. Royal Suites: Double 189cm long x 189cm wide Twin 189cm long x 94cm wide – this is achieved by making up the side-by-side twin mattresses with single-bed linen.
2. Deluxe Suites: Double lengthways 189cm long x 189cm wide Double crosswise 189cm long x 160cm wide Twin 189cm long x 94cm wide – this is achieved by making up the side-by-side twin mattresses with single-bed linen. L-Twin 189cm long x 90cm wide.
3. Pullman Suites: Double crosswise 189cm long x 150cm wide Twin lower bunk 189cm long x 90cm wide Twin upper bunk 189cm long x 60cm wide.

Do you have sittings for meals?
Meals are served in one sitting only. Breakfast is between 07h00 and 10h00, lunch is at 13h00 and a formal dinner at 19h30. All meals are served at these times unless otherwise stated in your timetable. A gong heralds lunch and dinner. High tea is also served at 16h00 in the Lounge and Observation Cars.

Can you cater for special dietary requirements?
We will do our best to cater for dietary requirements (vegetarians, vegans, diabetics etc.) provided a detailed request has been made on the Reservation Form. If a special request has not been made, the chefs will endeavour to prepare suitable meals with the ingredients available on board. We regret that we are unable to provide meals requiring strict religious observance in the preparation.

Are all meals, drinks and excursions included in the price?
Yes. Only off-train beverages are excluded.

What is the dress code on board Rovos Rail?
For days on the train dress is smart casual. Evening attire is more formal – for the gentlemen a jacket and tie is a minimum requirement while for ladies we suggest cocktail/evening dresses or suits. Please include warm clothing for cold mornings and evenings. With regard to off-train excursions, we strongly recommend comfortable walking shoes, suntan lotion and hats as well as warm clothing for the game drives, which are on open vehicles and can get very cold.

What service can I expect on board?
A dedicated host/ess is available for full 24-hour room service. He/she can be called from the telephone in your suite. The Train Manager and Deputy Train Manager are on hand throughout the journey to help with any queries.

What languages do the staff speak on board the train?
Mainly English with some German, Spanish and French.

Do I need to leave a gratuity for the Rovos Rail Staff?
Gratuities for the staff are at your discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation in this manner, there is a suitably marked envelope in your suite that you can hand directly to the Train Manager who will distribute any amounts on a pro-rata basis amongst the staff on board. An amount of between US$10 and US$20 per person is suggested.

What currency do I need?
- South Africa: Rands only. We accept all major credit cards on the train.
- Outside of South Africa: Any off-train expenses or excursions booked while on the train are to be paid with US Dollars. Hotels and major dealers accept credit cards except in Sudan.
- Ensure all US$ are printed after the year 2000 or they will not be accepted. Low denominations recommended for shopping/gratuities and larger denominations for exchanging money to local currency (especially in Tanzania) as you get a better rate. The Gift Shop might exchange money if currency is available – it is not normally catered for.

Does Rovos Rail take children?
Rovos Rail does accommodate children but we ask parents to be mindful of the sophisticated and adult atmosphere we endeavour to maintain on board. This is particularly pertinent to our long journeys. There are no child-minding facilities on the train and no on-board activities for children.

Can disabled people travel on Rovos Rail?
We regret that the dimensions of the passages and layout of the train are not suitable for wheelchair-bound passengers. We are able to accommodate passengers with slight walking difficulties although we recommend that an able-bodied passenger accompany them. Should you have any special requirements please inform your travel agent or the Rovos Rail office at the time of booking.

Can I smoke on board Rovos Rail?
You may smoke in the privacy of your suites or in the Club Lounge situated towards the rear of the train. Smoking is strictly forbidden in all other parts of the train.

Can I buy memorabilia on the train?
There is an on-board Gift Shop situated in the Lounge Car/Royal Suite coach. Due to fluctuating exchange rates we prefer Rands or credit cards for any purchases. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners Club.

Are there games on the train?
There are board games, playing cards and a card table (most journeys).

Is there room in my suite for my luggage?
Yes there is enough space for six large suitcases. These can be stored on the overhead luggage rack or under the bed.

Are there showers on board Rovos Rail?
All the suites have an en-suite shower and Royal Suites have a shower and separate Victorian bath.

Is there an on-board safe?
An electronic safe is provided in the cupboard in each suite.

Is there a laundry service on the train?
There is a limited laundry service on board comprising household washers, dryers and steam irons.
The turnaround is 48 hours so we are not able to handle a week’s worth of washing.
Please note that while we are providing a complimentary service we cannot be held responsible for items that may be damaged or lost in the process. There are no dry-cleaning facilities en route or on board the train.

Do you provide dressing gowns on board?
We provide a comfortable waffle weave one-size-fits-all gown plus slippers for each guest.

How is the temperature controlled on the train?
All public cars are fitted with gas-filled air-conditioning systems. Each suite has an individual air-conditioner with individual temperature controls that can also be set to heat mode. Fresh-air intake is solved by opening a window. Windows should be closed while operating the air-conditioning unit. Electric under-blankets are fitted on the bed.

What is the electricity voltage on the train?
220V AC 50Hz, 3-point round pronged wall plugs. International adaptors are also available on board.

Are there shaving plugs?
There are 110V/220V 2-pin plugs for shavers.

Is there a TV on the train?
In keeping with the bygone era of the train there are no televisions, radios or Internet access.

Is there mobile reception?
In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board and the use of mobile phones and laptops are confined to the privacy of your suites only. The reception is poor while the train is moving. It is advised to contact your service provider to ensure the correct settings for network services are activated. Internet is available at Cape Town Lounge, Rovos Rail Station, Tau Game Lodge and Victoria Falls Hotel.

Does the train have security?
When on board we encourage guests to close shutters or preferably shutters and windows in the suites. If left open the temptation provided for anyone standing on the platform might be too great. Safes are provided in your suite for valuables. The train doors in the passages are all locked from the inside. Your suite door can also lock from the inside.

Can I take my pet on the train?
We have no facilities for pets.

Is there secure parking at Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria?
Yes there is but Rovos Rail cannot be held liable for the safety of your vehicles or any possessions left in the vehicles.


Rovos Rail - Lounge Car

The lounge cars are used as lecture rooms on the annual Dar es Salaam journeys and also house a small, discreet gift shop


Will I require visas for my trip on board Rovos Rail?
The onus is upon the client to ensure that passports and visas, as may be required, are valid. We travel through South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, the Sudan and Egypt on the various trips. Passengers travelling to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania can have their visas taken care of by Rovos Rail given that full passport information is provided on the booking form. Only single entry visas can be issued on the train. Required application forms will be provided. Please note that only cash US Dollars are accepted for payment at ports of entry. Please check with the relevant embassies or consulates in good time.

Current rates for single entry visas are / subject to change:
Zimbabwe – US$30pp (UK & Canada pay $55pp); Zambia – US$50pp; Tanzania – US$50pp (USA pay US$100).

Will I need insurance for my trip?
Cancellation insurance is compulsory as our terms and conditions will be strictly adhered to and cancellation fees, where applicable, will not be waived. We offer insurance to South African residents. For international guests we suggest you contact your local travel agent or credit card service provider for assistance. Please bring a copy of your travel insurance policy stating clearly the company, policy number and 24-hour medical emergency telephone number.

Is there a luggage-weight restriction with respect to the aircraft?
Yes, 15kgs per person. A soft bag is preferable.

Do I need to take anti-malaria medication?
Anti-malarial precautions are recommended. Malaria areas include Swaziland, Kruger Park, Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Please consult your medical practitioner.

Do I need any vaccinations?
- Although all the countries travelled through do not require Yellow Fever vaccinations, the countries guests return to after the journey often require them.
- Recommended immunisations (not required): Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus and Cholera (low risk).
- Please consult your local travel clinic or doctor for latest advice.

Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail - The Pride of Africa


For more detailed information about Tours in South Africa including Rovos Rail train journeys, please click here: Tours in South Africa.

For queries, quotes and bookings, please do not hesitate to contact us:

South African Tourism Company
Tel:    +27 (0)21 794 9050
Mobile: +27 (0)827 823 142
Fax:    +27 (0)21 794 9995


Rovos Rail on YouTubeRovos Rail on YouTube 


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