The Shongololo Express: The Southern Cross
• Pretoria • Soweto • Kruger National Park • Swaziland • Hwange National Park
The Shongololo Express provides a high quality, yet affordable, rail safari experience for visitors to Southern Africa. This 12 day journey travels from South Africa through eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Mozambique to Zimbabwe with a variety of excursions along the way.
Travel across the Drakensberg Mountains to join the Panorama Route with game viewing in Kruger. Tour Maputo, capital of Mozambique, before exploring the mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland. Enjoy a game drive at Kapama and a visit to the Great Zimbabwe Monument. Tour Antelope Park and Matopos, site of Cecil John Rhodes' grave. Continue to Hwange for game viewing before arriving in Victoria Falls for a walking tour of the village and the thunderous falls. End with a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi.
The Train: Each train has accommodation carriages, dining cars, a lounge car, small gift shop, smoking lounge and observation car with open-air balcony.
The two types of cabins are refined and spacious offering passengers privacy and comfort with double or twin beds and fittings and facilities that are of the highest standard. There is adequate storage and all have en-suite bathrooms with shower, toilet and basin, tea-and-coffee facilities (Emeralds only), safes, air conditioning, linen and amenities and are serviced daily.
Day 1: Pretoria Check-in at Rovos Station where your luggage will be taken care of before enjoying a full day tour of Pretoria and Soweto. Soweto comprises one-million people and was made famous by the Apartheid laws. Pass the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere) and the only street in Africa that once housed two Nobel Peace laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after one of the first students to be killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government. Spend the afternoon in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, visiting the Union Buildings. Designed by the famous colonial English architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and completed in 1913, the Union Buildings house the offices of the President and Ministers. Before leaving the capital behind visit the Voortrekker Monument that commemorates the 'Great Trek' of the 1830s. Return to the train and depart for Waterval Boven.
Day 2: Panorama Route Breakfast is served in the dining cars before departing on a full day tour of historical areas Pilgrim's Rest, Bourke's Luck Potholes and Graskop. The Graskop viewing lift takes visitors 51m down the face of the gorge into the forest below where wooden walkways and suspension bridges meander along a 600m trail through the indigenous forest with an interactive exhibit (lift for own account). Pilgrim's Rest is a living museum and declared a National Monument. Gold was discovered here in 1873 attracting 1500 prospectors. Today many of the restored miner's houses serve as shops and restaurants. Bourke's Luck Potholes are strange deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and floodwater. Blyde River Canyon has astonishing views over South Africa's Lowveld (so-named because it is much lower than the high escarpment along which the Panorama runs). Return to the train in Nelspruit and Depart for Malelane where dinner is served in the dining cars.
Day 3: Kruger National Park After breakfast enjoy a full day safari in Kruger National Park. The world-renowned Kruger Park has 2-million hectares of an unrivalled diversity in life forms. It is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and home to an impressive number of species, e.g. 336 species of trees, 49 species of fish, 34 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles, 507 species of birds and 147 species of mammals including the Big Five. Return to the train and depart for Mozambique.
Day 4: Maputo Enjoy breakfast in the dining cars before departing on a city tour of Maputo with lunch. Capital of Mozambique, Maputo is a city of contrasts offering an exciting mix of cultures. 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. Return to the train for tea and after border formalities the train travels towards Mpaka in Swaziland.
Day 5: Swazilandi Breakfast served in the dining cars before disembarking for Mantenga Cultural Village. This tiny kingdom covers only 17 000m2 making it the second smallest country in Africa. Experience Swazi Candles: a hive of activity displaying decorative candles, skillfully crafted woodcarvings, colourful textiles and superb basketwork for which Swazis are renowned. Continue through the Ezulwini Valley passing the Ludzidzini Royal residence en route to Mantenga Cultural Village, a living museum of old traditions representing a classical Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s. Return to the train and depart for Hoedspruit.
Day 6: Kapama Reserve & Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre Continental breakfast is served in the dining cars followed by a game drive in Kapama Game Reserve and a visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Situated in South Africa's northernmost province of Limpopo, renowned for its prolific and diverse wildlife, Kapama Private Game Reserve is home to over 40 different mammal species including the Big Five, approximately 350 bird species and a myriad smaller species. The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is a unique African wildlife facility focusing on conservation and the sustainability of rare, vulnerable and threatened species. Founded on passion, the centre has adopted a holistic approach to its conservation activities such as the educating of surrounding communities, tourism, breeding, rehabilitation and anti-poaching, to name a few. Return to the train and depart for Tzaneen and Louis Trichardt.
Day 7: Limpopo Province Breakfast is served in the dining cars before enjoying a day on board the train travelling to Oreti in Zimbabwe. Clear customs and immigration at Beitbridge. Limpopo Province is located in the far north of South Africa and shares borders with three neighbouring countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. For this reason, the province is also known as the gateway to other African countries and also shares provincial borders with Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Northwest. The Limpopo landscape varies from one area to the other from tropical forests, bush and shrubs to semi-desert areas with small trees and bushes and mountains to flat land. Limpopo is divided into five regions, strategically located according to the cultural inhabitants. Capricorn is the central region predominantly occupied by the Bapedi people. Waterberg is the largest region with a majority of Tswana people. Vhembe in the far north is dominated by Vhavenda and Vatsonga. The Mopani region near the Kruger Park is Vatsonga whereas the Sekhukhuni region is dominated by Bapedi and Ndebele. Limpopo is the only province in South Africa with more than two cultural groups staying together in their original habitat in harmony. Other ethnic groups include English and Afrikaans people.
Day 8: Great Zimbabwe Transfer to the Great Zimbabwe Monument for a tour with lunch. Travel through attractive granite hill country to the Great Zimbabwe Monument, a hugely impressive monument situated on the southeastern edge of the central plateau and the largest precolonial monument south of the Egyptian pyramids. A celebrated achievement of the African people and a place where magical fables such as the story of King Solomon's Mines find their origins 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. Return to the train at Oreti Siding and depart for Somabhula.
Day 9: Antelope Park Depart for a full day at Antelope Park. Optional extras include canoeing, game drives, horseback game viewing, elephant interaction, bird-watching cruises etc. Set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland, Antelope Park is a unique game reserve and a haven of tranquility welcoming guests and volunteer eco-tourists alike. It is home to the world-famous African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) lion rehabilitation programme, which is a multiphase lion conservation initiative. It is Africa's first genuine programme working to ethically re-introduce the offspring of captive-bred African lions back into the wild. Return to the train and depart for Bulawayo.
Day 10: Matopos National Park Full day tour of Matopos National Park with lunch. Visit the grave of Cecil John Rhodes and the bushmen caves. Matopos, meaning 'bald heads', was the name chosen for the area by the Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matopos hills just a short distance from the park. It is an apt description of the dramatic hills and granite rocks of this area. The park is also the site of Cecil John Rhodes' grave at the summit of Malindidzimu - 'hill of benevolent spirits'. He referred to this hill as having a view of the world. His grave is carved out of solid granite and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of boulders. A visit can be made to one of the more accessible bushman caves, of which there are many hidden amongst the hills. Depart for Dete, with dinner served in the dining cars.
Day 11: Hwange National Park Enjoy full day game viewing in Hwange National Park with a packed lunch. Situated in the northwest corner of Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park covers 1 462 000 hectares making it the nation's largest wildlife area. It contains a variety of animals and bird species but is well-known for its prolific lion population. Return to the train and depart for Thompson's Junction.
Day 12: Victoria Falls Arrive at Victoria Falls Station where your luggage is stored while you have a guided tour of the mighty Victoria Falls. The little station of Victoria Falls was first reached by railway in June 1904. Old colonial buildings, bougainvillea and palm trees against the backdrop of the Victoria Falls Hotel form a charming oasis of soft sweetness after the rugged dryness of the landscape. The Victoria Falls is one of nature's great revelations on a par with the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest and an erupting volcano. It is believed that there have existed no less than seven different Victoria Falls over the past two million years. These cascades correspond to the lower gorges of the Zambezi. The present falls is wearing from Devil's Cataract northwards, eroding the softer material behind the present basalt base of the falls. When eventually all the soft matter has been removed, the Victoria Falls will move back, a fresh gorge will yawn and where the falls are now will become a new site for tourists. Although just over a mile long (1.7km), the falls are broken up by various small islands, including Livingstone Island. At their deepest, the falls are 108m deep at Rainbow Falls. This afternoon enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River and toast the end of your journey where the tour ends at the Victoria Falls Hotel.
*Itinerary operates in reverse
• Accommodation • Breakfast • Lunch (where stated) and dinner; • Excursions accompanied by a qualified tour guide • Entrance fees as per itinerary • Tea, coffee and bottled water on board • Government tax.
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Pretoria to Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls to Pretoria 20 Jan
Pretoria to Victoria Falls
Booking conditions • Itinerary operates in reverse
• Shongololo allow children aged 3+ on board, although these journeys are not recommended for children under 13 years. There are no child minding facilities or child's activities available on board.
• Itinerary operates in reverse • Shongololo allow children aged 3+ on board, although these journeys are not recommended for children under 13 years. There are no child minding facilities or child's activities available on board.