Shongololo Express: Southern Cross Journey

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Availability : Select Dates, All Year

Shongololo Express: Southern Cross Journey

Highlights Include:

  • Visiting Victoria Falls, the Hwange Game Reserve, Kapama Game Reserve, Kruger Park and more
  • Coasting across Africa in style, only unpacking once
  • Experiencing a variety of African landscapes, villages and wildlife
  • Off-train excursions led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide
  • Traveling comfortably by night and touring by day
Tour Details

From: $4,750 per person | Single supplement on request

12 days

2018 Departures: Select Dates
Pretoria to Victoria Falls: January 4, April 12, May 10, September 6
Victoria Falls to Pretoria: January 18, April 26, May 24, September 20

Welcome to the Shongololo Express (now operated by Rovos Rail)

When the indigenous people of the southern continent observed the first trains in Africa, the lines of rolling stock passing on the distant horizons recalled the profile and sinuous movement of a creature they called Shongololo – the millipede.

The Shongololo Express, based at Rovos Rail’s station in Pretoria, began operations in 1995 to provide a very special touring experience for visitors to Southern Africa. The three journeys of between 12 to 15 days offer tours that traverse South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. (Contact us for other journeys).

72 guests are accommodated in two categories of comfortable ensuite cabins with double or twin beds. Two historically appointed dining cars set the scene for meals, which are taken in one sitting. Modern and traditional local cuisine is on offer with a selection of distinguished South African wines available. Guests can also relax in the bar car, small smoking lounge or the observation car with an open-air balcony situated at the back of the train.

The journeys offer a variety of off-train excursions that are undertaken in our air-conditioned vehicles. On occasion we will employ the expertise of local service providers who are better positioned to arrange our transport requirements. Come and join us on one of our captivating tours and allow us to provide the friendly and efficient service for which we are renowned.

We look forward to welcoming you on board.

This is an escorted tour. Our Destination Specialists will work with you to customize any pre- or post-departure arrangements to your travel preferences.

Day 1Arrive Pretoria, South Africa and Embark | Meals: D

NOTE: this journey operates both directions; we have detailed the northbound journey.

The first day begins with a full-day tour of Pretoria and Soweto, and includes a visit to the Union Buildings that overlook the city, the Voortrekker Monument, and the Hector Petersen Memorial. At 4:00 p.m. the train departs for Nelspruit. Overnight on the train

Day 2Panorama Route | Meals: B D

09h00 Full-day panorama tour of Pilgrim’s Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, God’s Window.

17h00 Rejoin train in Nelspruit and depart for Malelane.

In 1873, gold was discovered in the area around the quaint town of Pilgrim’s Rest, now a living museum and national monument. The find attracted 1500 diggers and today, many of the restored miners’ houses serve as shops. Further along the escarpment we find the great Blyde River Canyon carved into the face of the escarpment. The Three Rondavels, three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon and resembling African huts, present an unforgettable sight. Bourke’s Luck Potholes are strange deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and floodwater. From the vantage point of God’s Window we gaze across the sweeping landscape of the Lowveld, where subtle fragrances of the lower region rise to merge with the crisp winds of the Highveld. Overnight on the train

Day 3Kruger Park Game Drive | Meals: B D

08h00 Full-day game viewing in the Kruger Park.

18h00 Return to the train in Malelane and depart for Mozambique.

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience second to none. Its 2 million hectares are unrivalled in diversity of life forms and the park is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques. The park is home to an impressive number of species: about 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 species of mammals. Game drives are conducted in our air-conditioned vehicles; open-air vehicles optional.Overnight on the train

Day 4City Tour of Maputo, Mozambique | Meals: B D

09h00 City tour of Maputo, Mozambique.

15h30 Return to the train for afternoon tea.

18h00 After border formalities the train heads for Mpaka in Swaziland.

Maputo, the capital of Mozambique is a city of contrasts and offers an exciting mix of cultures. The city swings along to a beat like no other in Africa offering true African hospitality. Its architecture is a blend of African, Portuguese and early Colonial traditions with old Catholic churches side-by-side with mosques, fortresses, Victorian mansions and other buildings from a bygone era. Along the colorful beachfront there are many cafés and restaurants that specialize in Indian Ocean cuisine with its emphasis on the freshest seafood dishes prepared in traditional African-Portuguese ways.Overnight on the train

Day 5Kingdom of Swaziland Tour | Meals: B D

08h30 Depart in vehicles from Mpaka. Visit Ngwenya Glass, Mbabane and Manzini.

18h45 After border formalities at Tjaneni, rejoin the train in Kaapmuiden. Depart for Klaserie near Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland covers only 17 000 square kilometers, making it the second smallest country in Africa. Travel to Manzini enjoying amazing views of the Ezulwini Valley and the Komati River enroute. This excursion into Swaziland will introduce you to everyday life in Africa’s smallest kingdom. The Swazi Market is a bustling hive of activity and displays a wide variety of skillfully crafted woodcarvings, colorful textiles and superb basketwork for which Swazis are renowned. Overnight on the train

Day 6Kapama Game Drive and Wild Dog & Cheetah Project | Meals: B L D

07h00 Morning game drive in Kapama Game Reserve followed by visit to the Wild Dog and Cheetah Project.

13h00 Return to the train for lunch. The train departs for Tzaneen with an overnight stop at Louis Trichardt Overnight on the train

Day 7Day On Board Enroute to Zimbabwe | Meals: B L D

Today is spent on board the train while you travel to Rutenge in Zimbabwe. Make sure to enjoy the open-air balcony car at the back of the train. Sit back, relax, and watch the beautiful African landscape go by. Overnight on train

Day 8Visit the Great Zimbabwe Ruins | Meals: B D

09h00 Board vehicles and drive to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

17h00 Rejoin train in Bannockburn.

Largest monument in Africa south of the Pyramids Great Zimbabwe, a hugely impressive monument situated on the south-eastern edge of the central plateau is the largest pre-colonial monument south of the Egyptian pyramids and is a celebrated achievement of the African people. Magical fables such as the story of King Solomon’s Mines find their origins here amongst the ruins of an ancient city built by the Rozwi people. Discover how these ancient people lived and mined gold and silver, which were ultimately taken out of Africa by Arabic and Portuguese traders. The tour is followed by lunch at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel (guests’ own account), after which we travel through attractive granite hill country to Rutenga. Overnight on train

Day 9Antelope Park Visit | Meals: B D

09h00 Full day at Antelope Park.

Optional extras include canoeing, game drive, horseback riding, elephant interaction or a bird-watching cruise.

17h30 Return to the train and depart for Bulawayo.

Known as one of Southern Africa’s most intriguing destinations, Antelope Park is home to the world famous African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) lion rehabilitation program, which is a multiphase lion conservation initiative. It is Africa’s first genuine program working to ethically re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild. Set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland, Antelope Park is a unique game reserve and a haven of tranquility set in the African bush, welcoming guests and volunteer eco-tourists alike to the charming and remarkable campsite. Overnight on train

Day 10Matobo National Park Visit | Meals: B D

09h00 Full-day tour of Matobo National Park. Visit the grave of Cecil John Rhodes as well as Bushmen caves.

18h00 Return to the train and depart for Dete.

“Matobo” means ‘bald headed ones’ and aptly describes the dramatic hills and granite rocks of this area. Highlights include a visit to the burial place of Cecil John Rhodes, who gave Zimbabwe its previous name of Rhodesia. Afterwards, we will go and visit one of the more accessible bushman caves, of which there are many hidden amongst the hills. Overnight on the train

Day 11Hwange Reserve Game Drive | Meals: B D

06h30 Full-day game viewing in Hwange Game Reserve.

19h00 Depart for Thompson’s Junction.

Situated in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park is the nation’s largest wildlife area and contains a variety of animals and bird species, but is most well-known for its prolific lion population. Hwange is roughly the same size as Belgium. Overnight on the train

Day 12Victoria Falls Tour and Depart Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe | Meals: B D

10h00 Arrive Victoria Falls Station. Check out of train and walk across to Victoria Falls Hotel (luggage will be stored here).

11h00 Meet for a walking tour of the village and Victoria Falls.

16h00 Meet at the hotel for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.

18h30 Transfer back to Victoria Falls Hotel. Tour ends. Borton will assist you with onward arrangements.

Forming the largest single curtain of falling water on earth (on average the curtain is 92m deep), the Victoria Falls’ 500m plume of spray can be seen from as far as 70km away. The sound of the water can also be heard from kilometers away and up close this muted ‘thunder’ becomes a roar. In full flood, over 550 million liters of water per minute cascade over the brink. The vast width of the Falls, extending 1 708m, allow for many safe vantage points from where you will be able to get different views of the roiling water as it crashes into the gorge and whose constant spray maintains the rain forest. The forest is an attraction on its own with many of the trees marked to help identification. These include fig, mahogany, date palm, milk wood and ebony. The bird life is prolific and species that may be seen include the colorful sunbird and large trumpeter hornbill. Craft and curio shops abound with enough variety for everyone to find something to take home as a souvenir.

  • Eleven nights’ accommodation on the train
  • Meals as indicated (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
  • Full Day Tours of the following places: Pretoria and Soweto, Panorama Route, Maputo, Kingdom of Swaziland, Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Matobo National Park
  • Game drives in Kruger Park and Hwange Game Reserve
  • Visit to Antelope Park
  • Tour of Victoria Falls
  • Sunset Cruise on Zambezi River
  • Park entrance fees and permits
Not Included
  • Flights to/from Africa and related taxes
  • Travel insurance (emergency medical & evacuation coverage required)
  • Fees for passports, visas or health vaccinations
  • Transfers, Sightseeing, Activities, Meals and Beverages not specified
  • Gratuities
  • Items of personal nature such as laundry, spa services, internet, phone, etc.
  • This journey also runs from Victoria Falls to Pretoria with the same itinerary except in reverse
  • Shongololo has many other options for train journeys – please inquire!
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