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South Africa Safari

The Blue Train - Routes

Pretoria, South Africa

The Blue Train: Luxury Travel in South Africa
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The 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 scenery.

PRETORIA - CAPE TOWN - PRETORIA  (1 day & 1 night)

The Blue Train en route from Pretoria to Cape TownBoard 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 an alluvial-diamond diggers, try your luck at panning and possibly finding a diamond of your very own!

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.

Blue Train Deluxe Double-Bed suite by dayThe 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.

Board 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.


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.
The Blue Train at Victoria FallsYour 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.

Fine Dining on The Blue TrainThe Blue Train then journeys towards the thundering Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria by British explorer David 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 liters 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 regions.

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.

(Pretoria - Hoedspruit - Pretoria:  1 night)

There is no scheduled service for this route. Only charter service operates on this route.

Blue Train Observation CarThe 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 sites.

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 Tula Bush 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.

This is the shortest Blue Train route offering a discerning tourist an identical experience on both legs.

(Cape Town - Port Elizabeth- Cape Town:  1 day & 2 nights)

Steel bridge on the Garden RouteFrom 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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