South Africa's most luxurious train
Back in the 1890's at the time of the diamond and gold discoveries
in South Africa the Union Castle line placed adverts in newspapers
which read as follows:
England to Johannesburg 19 days; 17 days by ship and 2 days by train
travelling through South Africa's countryside.
The ships were most probably reasonably comfortable but the
trains must have been hell.
In those days the trains were pulled by steam locomotives
which belched coal dust, smoke and steam. Travellers were
expected to put up with the discomforts of heat and cold
to reach Kimberley and the Reef.
The need soon arose for more comfortable means of travel and
that need became the precursor of today's modern Blue Train.
Back at the beginning of the 20th century new modern trains
were introduced and they were then considered to be the
most luxurious in the world.
However, the modern era of the Blue Train began in 1946
and since then its name has been synonomous with luxury and elegance.
The Blue Train travels along a number of different routes.
The main route being between Pretoria and Cape Town normally
three times per week. This is an overnight journey of 1600 kilometres.
Other routes are Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (Overnight)
along the Garden route.
Pretoria to the Victoria Falls through the bushveld of
the northern province. (two nights)
Pretoria to Hoedspruit an overnight journey of 530 kilometres.
It seems impossible that one train can do so much travel in one week.
Well, we are a bit sneeky here in SA, we have two trains.
The first train has eleven passenger coaches and the second only ten.
They carry 82 and 74 passengers respectively.
“What does the train offer?” I hear you asking.
The answer to that question is
Let me explain!
Each suite has:
Its own air conditioning unit which regulates the temperature
between 18 and 24 degrees centigrade.
Its own fresh air intake which you can regulate.
Its own bathroom with either a bath or a shower. The floors are
tiled with marble tiles and have underfloor heating. There are
airconditioners to warm up the air.
Suites have customed designed beds which fold out of the wall
with cotton sheets and duvets.
Your personal butler pulls your bed down for you at night.
There is a choice of double or single beds.
Luxury suites are fitted with hi-fi, CD and video systems.
Each train has:
Either ten or eleven guest coaches depending which train you are on.
Two coaches which have three suites which are equipped with baths.
The other seven or eight coaches have four deluxe suites each,
three of which are fitted with showers, the fourth with a bath.
Each train has two lounges, the main lounge and a club car.
High tea is served in the main lounge.
The Dining Saloon provides seating for 42 people. There are two sittings
for lunch and dinner. Lunch is smart-casual, dinner is jacket and tie for
men and elegant for ladies, while breakfast is casual and free-flowing.
The menus on the train are superb, many of them created by the chefs on
the train. They include dishes which include venison, karoo lamb and
many others. (The food is to die for)
Only the best SA wines are served on the train and this gives visitors
to our country a chance to savour and get to know them and as they
are already paid for you can taste them all. (I dare you!!)
The train is run by a highly trained staff who are
there to look after your every need.
Once on the train everything is paid for. The only thing
you will pay for is gifts or branded items that are for sale on the train.
The Blue Train is still rated as the most luxurious train in
the world. For the overseas traveller who pays in dollars the
trip is highly affordable.
A journey on this train will take you through the Western Cape winelands,
through the Hottentots Holland mountains to Worcester and then into
the semi desert Karoo region.
Further north you will cross the great Orange River into the Free State
and then a couple of hours later the Vaal River which
is a tributary of the Orange River.
Once in Gauteng you travel through the highveld and as you near
Johannesburg come across the many mine dumps that have been dumped
there by the gold mines.
From Johannesburg you travel through suburbia, past many townships,
residential and industrial areas till you reach Pretoria.
Pretoria is a beautiful city where the streets are lined with
Jacaranda trees. Church Street is 19 miles long so there is plenty to explore
Visit Church Square which was the scene of much action
during the Apartheid era.
This train journey is not to be missed!
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Cape Town- Blue Train