In January 2016 the South African luxury railway Rovos Rail purchased the Shongololo Express, a three-star train that it plans to upgrade and incorporate into the Rovos family.
“Operating a three-star train had always been at the back of my mind,” said Rohan Vos, owner and CEO of the Rovos Rail Group, in a press release. “When I learned that the Shongololo Express was on offer, the timing seemed serendipitous and so an opportunity not to be missed.”
Shongololo’s 19-coach train has been repainted by Rovos in green and cream, and an additional dining car plus an observation car have been added. The accommodation of six Emerald suites (± 10sqm) and 30 Gold cabins (± 7sqm) will remain as is.
The train’s three itineraries in southern Africa will also remain more or less the same, with minor modifications. The Southern Cross (Pretoria to Victoria Falls, 12 days), Dune Express (Pretoria to Swakopmund, 12 days), and Good-Hope (Pretoria to Cape Town, 15 days) trips have been revamped with more stationary time at night, and less road time spent on the excursions.
Golf has been introduced to the Good-Hope trip, renamed Good-Hope Golf, with courses such as the Arabella Golf Estate, Ernie Els Oubaai, Fancourt, Champagne Sports Resort, Durban Country Club, Zimbali, Royal Swazi and Leopard Creek being available to guests.
All journeys are available in reverse and, as before, guests can purchase optional extras that include visits to cultural, historical or heritage sites and overnight stays at safari lodges. The rates do not include most lunches, beverages and laundry.
“A three-star product offering will be different for us and I’m sure there will be a few initial teething problems, but we’ve been doing this for 28 years so I think we will be able to manage this exciting new adventure,” commented Rohan.
Rovos plans to employ all Shongololo’s existing personnel.
Rovos Rail has been offering luxe trans-African train experiences since 1989. Game drives, wine tasting, cultural excursions, golf, and city tours are combined with exquisite food, matchless service and old-world ambiance that’s meant to evoke a bygone era. They offer seven journeys throughout southern Africa, covering South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.
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