Earlier in 2019, the Blue Train – a luxury locomotive that rumbles between Cape Town and Pretoria – decided to extend its journey from one night to two, a nod to the rising popularity of slow travel. Here’s what it’s like to travel 994 miles across South Africa by luxury train.
The first thing to learn about travelling by train is that you have to slow down. Instead of flying across the country in two hours, you are on the move for two days. But the advantages are that you get to see parts of the country you would otherwise have missed: the winelands of Paarl that gradually morph into the dusty Karoo semi-desert that makes up 40% of the country. Embrace this style of travel and kick back, watch the scenery go by, read a book or make friends in the bar car. It’s the perfect opportunity to digitally switch off and relax.
The Blue Train is everything you’d expect of a luxury train. Inside the shiny blue carriages, you’ll find polished-wood hallways lined with individual cabins. The cabins have pull-down beds that can be kept down during the day if you’d like to snooze after lunch; each cabin has a butler who is your main point of call for any requests. There’s a bar and a dining car, plus a club car for smokers. At one end of the train is an observation car, which has high, wraparound windows for admiring the passing scenery.
Food and drinks
It’s quite incredible what the Blue Train kitchen can conjure up. Enjoy four-course dinners of crusted camembert and butternut soup, salmon and sweet potato, fillet steak or vegetable ratatouille, and hot fudge pudding to finish off. All diets are catered for, from vegan to celiac. There is a breakfast buffet with hot options, a la carte lunch and afternoon tea and cake. There’s a wide wine selection and the bar can conjure up any cocktails or mocktails you like. The staff in the observation car will keep you topped up with G&Ts as the sun sets over the Karoo.
The Blue Train makes a stop at Kimberly on the second day on board. This is a great chance to stretch your legs. Kimberly is famous for being the centre of the diamond industry in South Africa; it’s where De Beers was founded by Cecil John Rhodes. There’s a diamond museum and a chance to see the famous Big Hole – a hand-dug hole with a surface area of 17 hectares or 42 acres, now partially filled with water.
The new two-night itinerary gives you the opportunity to adjust to the pace of travel. One night just isn’t enough and it means that both days you are either arriving or departing; the additional night gives you one full day on board. As our lives get ever more hectic, the ability to briefly slow down is the real luxury offered by the Blue Train.
Enquire: contact us to find out more about travelling by luxury train across Africa.