Travelling by train in South Africa

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At, we firmly believe it’s not just about where you lay your head at night- but the experience you had getting there. When you think of Africa, you probably picture long, hot days and teeming wildlife spotted from the back of a rickety jeep. Either that, or fast air travel between your destinations. There’s another way to experience the rolling vistas, however- one packed with nostalgia, delectable comforts and a little old-world sparkle.

The Blue Train is probably the most famous of tourist train lines in South Africa. In fact, it’s widely regarded as one of the best luxury train experiences in the world, running between must-see Cape Town and the political capital of Pretoria. This is a dedicated luxury tourist train, offering the very best of food, drink and comfort at a slightly steep price. Rovos Rail, a 5-star cruise train encompassing Cape Town, Pretoria and Vic Falls, and the 3-star Shongololo Express which operates a wider variety of lines finish off the top-notch Southern African cruise trains open to you. These are best viewed as a tourist experience in themselves, rather than day-to-day transport, and offer you the perfect chance to relax, unwind and enjoy the journey with a touch of luxury.

If you’re looking to be a little more practical, and simply want a fast and cheap way to get from A-B, it’s important to understand that day-to-day rail travel in South Africa is not as typical as it is in some overseas destinations. International train travel, barring a few specialised tourist trains, does not exist, with road and air routes remaining top of the list. Fortunately, several top-class long-distance trains for intra-South African travel are still available. The spectacular Shosholoza Meyl line offers their ‘Tourist’ and ‘Premier’ class carriage services between major tourism cities in South Africa. Within the Gauteng Province surrounding Johannesburg and Pretoria, there’s also limited lines available on the subway- equivalent, tourist friendly and safe Gautrain lines.

The standard metro trains, however, do not fare so well for international travellers. While you can make use of the Metro services surrounding the Cape Town area with reasonable safety, consider the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban Metro trains out of bounds for travel as a visitor.

Commuter rail travel in South Africa may not be as established as in some overseas locales, but safe and secure options do exist for the smart tourist. also strongly suggests you consider incorporating one of the spectacular cruise train options into your holiday itself, allowing you some time off to relax in old-world style, with every need met with a touch of class.

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