Blue Train - Routes
Pretoria, South Africa
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THE BLUE TRAIN ROUTES
Blue Train operates a total of four routes. Offering
the biggest attractions are, Pretoria to Cape Town
or vice versa (1,600 kilometers
or 994 miles), with guests spending one night on the train. Pretoria
to Victoria Falls or vice versa (1,596km or 991 miles) offers a discerning
traveler a glimpse of some of Southern Africa's natural beauties such
as the great plains of the South West and Victoria Falls. During this
trip, guests get to spend two nights on board The Blue Train.
Off-the-train excursions are undertaken
on the Cape Town, Garden Route and Victoria Falls routes. All four
journeys offer travelers
a unique opportunity to enjoy some of Southern Africa's most breathtaking
- CAPE TOWN - PRETORIA (1 day & 1 night)
Board The Blue Train in the jacaranda city of Pretoria
- the administrative capital of South Africa - and travel south through
farmlands and along the 'golden arc'; visible only by the mining shafts
in the distance.
En-route to Cape Town, stop in Kimberly
for an off-the-train excursion. Kimberly, once the epicenter of a worldwide
diamond rush. This city's
checkered history is inextricably linked with the romance of those rare
and beautiful stones. Here The Blue Train guests are cordially invited
to disembark, take a tour through the streets of modern day Kimberly
to visit the Kimberly
Mine Museum and the 'Big Hole'. The Blue Train luxury coach is used to
transport guests, alternatively they can be taken on a historic electric
tram when it is available.
Step back into a world of pioneers
and adventurers-circa 1880. Marvel at the sheer magnitude of the "Big Hole",
the largest hole in the world excavated by hand. At a replica of
try your luck at panning and possibly finding a diamond of your very
Board The Blue Train once more and continue
on to a south-bound journey into the heartland of the Great Karoo.
Awaken to the sight of vineyards
and orchards as you descend through mysterious and beautiful valleys
and mountains, such as Drakenstein, Slanghoek and Elandskloof - towards
Cape Town's imposing and instantly recognizable Table Mountain, sentinel
and gateway to the African continent.
The city of Cape Town has a lot to offer
a discerning tourist, among places of interest, you can visit pearl-white
beaches washed by the Indian
and Atlantic Oceans, watch colorful, old-style fishing boats in Kalk
Bay, explore the old Malay slave quarters, enjoy the finest seafood in
the world, wander through Greenmarket Square's famous flea market and
enjoy a sundowner at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
On the return leg, follow on the northbound tracks of Cecil John Rhodes,
who dreamed of a railroad from Cape to Cairo.
Pass through the wine lands of the fertile
Hex River valley, in the shadow of imposing mountains, up and inland
to the endless sweeping landscapes
of the Karoo. Here, between high-road and rail-road, is the tiny hamlet
of Matjiesfontein. The Blue Train guests are invited for a short ride
back in time, on a historical London double decker bus. Stop a while
and savour the vastness and the silence of the surrounding plains. The
Victorian buildings and original nineteenth century London lamp posts
impart to the traveler, the uncanny sense of entering a colonial time
warp - an oasis suspended in a different age.
Stretch your legs, breathe in the dry clear air and walk in the footsteps
of those who over the years have been enchanted by this place. Among
them, Lord Randolph Churchill, Cecil Rhodes, Olive Schriener and the
Sultan of Zanzibar. Sip a drink at the renowned Lord Milner Hotel - refurbished
in the 1970's by the visionary hotelier and designer David Rawdon, who
bought the entire village.
The Blue Train once more for the journey northward into the interior.
Before you drift to sleep, glance through the window at a sky filled
with a trillion stars. And when you awake, you will be approaching the
mining centers on the Gold Reef, and will soon end your journey in the
jacaranda city - Pretoria.
PRETORIA - VICTORIA FALLS
- PRETORIA (2 days & 2 nights)
Please note that until further notice, all scheduled journeys
on this route have been suspended due to circumstances beyond our
control. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Your journey begins in Pretoria - home of The Blue Train, and site
of the historic presidential inauguration of South Africa's best loved
national hero, Nelson Mandela. Follow in the footsteps of missionary-explorer, Dr. David Livingstone,
as you journey deep into the African continent in quest of the greatest
curtain of falling water on earth - the Victoria Falls.
Travel west to Mafikeng and across the border into Botswana before turning
north through the capital, Gaborone, and onward over the undulating expanses
of the Savannah. These are the enduring African plains of thorn bush
and grass - unchanged for millions of years.
Stop in Kwa Bulawayo for an off-the-train excursion and visit the unique
landscape of the Matobo Hills National Park. These hills were given their
name (Matobo - 'bald-headed') by Mzilikazi - a Zulu warlord and founder
of the Ndebele nation. The hills were inhabited by Mzilikazi, who fled
Zululand to escape Shaka's bloodlust early in the 19th century. They
are most commonly and accurately described as a 'moonscape of endless
granite humpbacks', and they cover a 2 000sq km area south of Kwa Bulawayo.
The most spectacular sections of the
Matobo Hills are landscapes, dams, and wild life, caves of bushmen
paintings and world's view grave of Cecil
John Rhodes. The massive granite dome at in the Park marks the highest
point of the hills, and that is where Rhodes is buried.
Not far from Rhodes' grave is the large and imposing Memorial to the
Shangaan Patrol, a tribute to the twenty men who engaged in the battle
with 30 000 Zulu warriors during the Matebele Wars of 1893. In essence,
Matobo hills are packed with history and myth of Shona dynasties, and
the countless battles fought between Ndebele armies and British colonists.
The Blue Train then journeys towards
the thundering Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria by British
Livingstone in 1855. "Scenes
so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight",
exclaimed Dr. Livingstone, when he first saw the falls.
Known in Zimbabwe as 'Mosi-oa-Thunya'
- the smoke that thunders, the Falls are believed to be one and a half
times as wide and twice as high
as Niagara Falls. The water plunges almost 450 meters (1 476ft) in a
sheer drop. This magnificent seasonal waterfall carries 500 million
of water a minute, when in full flood - creating a permanent rain forest
and a cloud of spray that rises high into the sky, which, in good rainfall
periods, may be seen from as far as 80 kilometers (50 miles) away.
A tour of the valley including a visit to Kwa Bulawayo museum - an original
home of royal citadel of Lobengula, mighty King of the Matebele, makes
this journey truly memorable.
On the return trip from Victoria Falls, stopover on an excursion to
Hwange National Park. An area approximately the size of Belgium, the
Park is home to more than a 100 species of mammals and is one of Africa's
last great elephant sanctuaries. An open 4x4 vehicle will take you on
a spectacular game viewing drive in one of Africa's most abundant wildlife
Predators include lion, cheetah, hyena,
black-backed jackal and wild dog. Rarer animals include leopard, gemsbok,
tsessebe and pangolin. In
the dry season, most of the animals move down to the water holes. During
and immediately after the rains, wildlife is more dispersed and the vegetation
is correspondingly higher and greener.
Bird life is stunning with over 400 species - including one of the most
lovely of African birds - the lilac-breasted roller.
VALLEY OF THE OLIFANTS
(Pretoria - Hoedspruit - Pretoria: 1
There is no scheduled service for this route. Only charter
service operates on this route.
The Blue Train traverses along the historic "Eastern Delagoa Bay Railway
Line" as it was known towards the latter-part of the last century. Leaving
Pretoria the train covers the vastness of Mpumalanga Province via the colliery
town of Witbank, atop South Africa's major coal deposits through Middleburg
and Machadodorp. Waterval-Boven 'above the waterfall' is where the highveld
of Mpumalanga comes to a spectacular and abrupt end. Here the line drops 228
metres at a gradient of up to 1 in 20 to Waterval-Onder 'below the waterfall',
into the valley of the Elands River and on to Nelspruit, situated in the fertile
Crocodile River valley.
At Kaapmuiden the train leaves the Maputo line and proceeds along the
western border of the Kruger National Park on to its final destination
of Hoedspruit - coined the Valley of the Olifants. This is part of the
world renowned safari land of South Africa.
The Kruger National Park offers superb big game viewing including the
big five. Apart from superb game viewing, this region offers other attractions
such as the Drakensberg escarpment, Blyde River Canyon, several championship
golf courses, excellent fly fishing, historical, cultural and archeological
The region displays a considerable variety of eco-zones each with its
own distinct combination of geology, land-shape and rainfall giving rise
to different patterns of vegetation and wildlife, with life-giving rivers
like the Olifants, Letaba and further south the Sabie proceeding ever-eastward.
The Lowveld has a greater variety of wildlife than Kenya and so diverse
are its habitats that one has an excellent chance of observing the 'big
five' - elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.
In this region you will meet different
tribes, majority of whom are Tsongas (commonly known as Shangaans).
Their beliefs and customs add
richness to the experience, and their story is a colorful one. They
are descendants of the abeNguni clans who, in the 15th century, migrated
southward from Central Africa's Great lakes. Their language is close
to that of the Zulus with whom they shared a common past until 1819.
The Blue Train guests might like to master the following Zulu words:
'Sawubona' meaning hello; 'Kunjani', how are you?; 'Ngiyabonga' - thank
you and 'Sala kahle' - good bye.
Geographically and ecologically linked
to the adjoining Kruger National Park, is the Sabi Sand Game Reserve,
which MalaMala Ranch is part of.
A private association of nearly fifty neighboring land owners lies to
the west of the Kruger's central and southern region. This stretches
from north where one finds Manyeleti and Timbavati, in which Tanda
Camp is situated. From western extreme is Kapama, where you find Kapama
Private Game Reserve and Thornybush Private Game Reserve. Part of the
western flank is Klaserie Private Nature
Reserve and Umbabat, in which
Motswari Private Game Reserve is situated. Collectively, these private
game reserves are bigger than California's Yosemite National Park and
represent the largest aggregation of privately-owned wildlife reserves
in the world.
is the shortest Blue Train route offering a discerning tourist
an identical experience on both legs.
THE GARDEN ROUTE
(Cape Town - Port Elizabeth- Cape Town: 1 day & 2 nights)
From Cape Town, follow the line North to the picturesque
town of Worcester, from whence your journey branches in an Easterly
direction - through the Langeberg mountains and the fruit and
wine regions of Robertson and Swellendam - towards the spectacular
Eastern seaboard, and the Garden Route, renowned for its dramatic
views of the Indian Ocean.
Break your journey in the beautiful Karoo
town of Oudtshoorn with an excursion. Travel by bus and head south
to the Cango Ostrich Show Farm
where you can learn about these big, flightless birds commonly referred
to as 'the dinosaurs of the Little Karoo'. You may even ride on one of
the ostriches, if you are brave enough. Here, the guests get to indulge
in every aspect of this fascinating industry, the large nests, the plucking
pens and the subsequent processing of the feathers. Leave the ostrich
behind and head back to central Oudtshoorn to enjoy a sumptuous lunch
at a local restaurant serving traditional South African dishes.
Depart to the world's famous Cango Caves
where a one-hour tour of this spectacular underground world will be
taken. The world famous Cango Caves
are considered to be the finest and best decorated show caves in Africa
due to the size and volume of their calcite drip stone formations. Situated
30 km north of Oudtshoorn, the caves were carved out of a limestone belt,
situated at the foothills of the great Swartberg mountain range. The
Blue Train Guests will experience the enormous caverns of the Van Zyl
and Botha halls, 22 meters high and 90 meters long while the entire cave
is illuminated with white lights to enhance the natural colors. Cango
in the San tongue means 'a place of water between hills'.
Embark The Blue Train at Oudtshoorn station, from where the train departs
for the last section of the journey through the Kammanassie mountains
and crosses into the Eastern Cape near Willowmore through the Grootrivier
mountains. Now, you are on your way to the friendly city of Port Elizabeth
- a historic landing place of the British settlers of 1820.
This important seaport and tourist destination is set along the shores
of Algoa Bay. Within less than an hour by motorway, are two major wildlife
attractions Shamwari Game Reserve and the Addo Elephant National Park.
Algoa Bay boasts 40km of magnificent beaches, sailing and other water
sport. Port Elizabeth and environs bears the rich legacy of a city which
saw the first meetings of British, Dutch, German and Xhosa people.
On a return leg, re-visit an Ostrich farm in Oudsthoorn before continuing
with your journey to the Mother City, Cape Town.
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