The best luxury train travel South Africa
Join the best luxury train travel South Africa with a twist when you embark the Blue Train, Pretoria to Hoedspruit and a “Big 5” Safari experience
There’s many ways to experience South Africa – but if you aspire to push boundaries and do it in style, you will be hard-pressed to beat this ideal combination. From start to finish, The Blue Train experience is like stepping back in time to a slower-paced and refined bygone era.
Previously, The Blue Train offered a one-way, overnight journey from Pretoria to Hoedspruit leaving guests to check into one of the Sabi Sands/Greater Kruger Lodges for a few nights. The challenge, however, was finding availability for 70 – 80 guests.
As a result the train offers its safari departure as a return round-trip to the Greater Kruger National Park by extending it to a 2-night “slow travel” experience. The complete makeover includes: sunrise & sunset, “Super 7” game drives, a boma (ethnic outdoor dining) dinner under the stars, plus traditional cultural dancing!
Along this journey guests surrender to the luxury of “slow”. What guests can expect from the “safari twist” experience:
- About The Blue Train
- Itinerary schedule
- The Slow experience
- The Safari experience
- Pretoria experience
About The Blue Train
Africa’s Leading Luxury Train for 10 consecutive years, the train combines 5 star accommodation with charm and romance. The Blue Train continues reinventing itself and is parallel to some of the world’s finest 5 star hotels in the world. And your own personalised butler service accentuates the luxury element of the train.
Suites on the train are a distinguished affair, with comfortable couches perfectly placed for maximum enjoyment showcasing the views outside, a table for dining or drinks, a wardrobe and private, en-suite bathroom.
On board chefs prepare their signature dishes using the freshest of local ingredients. There is a menu for every taste and dietary type including: Kosher, Halaal meals, gluten-free and vegan options.
The Blue Train runs between Cape Town and Pretoria in both directions throughout the year and also does trips between Pretoria and Hoedspruit (in either direction).
Itinerary / Schedule
Not much can beat the anticipation of the lucky few who are welcomed into the pre-departure lounge to board the luxurious Blue Train to Cape Town.
The return round trip departure to the Kruger schedule:
Day 1: Depart Pretoria 1pm
Day 2: Arrive Kruger Park at 5am. Enjoy a full day guided safari, including both sunrise & sunset. Depart at 10pm to head back to Pretoria,
Day 3: Arriving Pretoria around noon on.
The Slow experience:
After boarding, guests will enjoy a five-course gourmet lunch, followed by high tea at 4pm and then dinner before heading off to bed to be lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the train. The next morning it’s an early start as the train arrives at Kruger’s Numbi Gate at 5am.
Following a complete safari experience, guests return to the train at 10pm and the train slowly makes its way back to Pretoria arriving before noon, after a decadent breakfast. Dress code will be a bit more relaxed throughout with smart casual or safari wear recommended in the private suites, lounge/bar, club car, dining car and observation car.
Wine & Dine
Guests sip the best South African wines and bubbles and enjoy freshly prepared, mouth- watering meals throughout the journey, as some of South Africa’s most spectacular scenery glides past. There are two sittings for each meal in the dining carriage, with high tea served mid-afternoon.
The Safari Experience
Open grassland, mostly blue skies, running antelope and the “Super 7” (safari animals, namely the elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo wild dog and cheetah) attract tourists from around the world to the South African bushveld.
On arrival at the gate, safari vehicles with guides will be waiting to take guests off on a sunrise game drive, followed by an incredible bush breakfast at an exclusive, unfenced location inside the iconic Kruger Park.
Guests return to the train around noon and a rest/freshen up for a decadent 5-course lunch. At 4pm guests head back out on safari, this time in a private 11,0000-hectare concession finishing off with a spectacular boma dinner under the stars at Nkambeni Safari Camp, complete with cultural dancing.
The Pretoria Experience
Your adventure starts and ends in Pretoria which is a 30-mile drive away from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. Pretoria is one of South Africa’s three capital cities (legislative capital) and is affectionately known as the “Jacaranda city” thanks to the beautiful streets lined with purple flowers between September and November.
The union buildings, built in 1913, are South Africa’s official seat of power and it’s where all new presidents, including Nelson Mandela in 1994, are sworn into office. The 9m high bronze statue of Madiba in the gardens is the tallest statue of Mandela in the world and a very popular “selfie” spot. The statue of him opening his arms to embrace the Rainbow Nation was unveiled on the Day of Reconciliation (16 December), bringing the official 10-day mourning period of Mandela’s death to a close in 2013.
Other tourist spots include the National Zoological Gardens, Church Square, Freedom Park Heritage Site and Museum, the Botanical gardens and many historical sites and museums. Blue Train guests tend to spend the night before travel in either Pretoria or Johannesburg but thanks to the new 2019 late afternoon departure time, a night is Gauteng is not essential, unless you wish to explore this buzzing city.
Pretoria railway station is located between the CBD and Salvokop, in a 1910 building designed by Herbert Baker. The Station, with its iconic clock tower, sees over 70 000 passengers pass through its beautiful arch ways every day – consisting mostly of commuters heading to or from work. The high-speed Gautrain, launched in 2010, stops here too, providing an easy connection to the airport.
Investigate The Blue Train departures, more info and bookings
- Africa’s Leading Luxury Train 2018 World Travel Awards (winner for 10th consecutive year).
- World’s Leading Luxury Train 2011 World Travel Awards (the eighth time it has won).
- Gold in 2010 and silver in 2012 in the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards in the Favourite Specialist Train category.
The Blue Train currently has a 4 out of 5 star TripAdvisor review rating from over 350 reviews.