Rovos Rail: The Namibia Journey
• Etosha National Park • Fish River Canyon • Garas Park • Sossusvlei • Walvis Bay
This journey takes the train from the savannahs of the Highveld to the Atlantic in the west. Departing from Pretoria, the first stop is Kimberley, centre of one of the world's famous diamond rushes where there is an opportunity to savour the 1870s atmosphere of the mining village. The train traverses the stark vistas of the Northern Cape to the Fish River Canyon and Garas Park with its quiver-tree forest. Continue across the untamed beauty of the Kalahari Desert to Namibia's capital for a tour; Windhoek is a lively, cosmopolitan city with a strong German flavour.
Then it's a short flight to Sossusvlei, a stunning pan in the Namib Desert, for an overnight stay followed by a night in the game-rich Etosha National Park. On the last morning, the train travels the Namib to the perfectly preserved 19th-century German Hansa town of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay - an unforgettable end to a remarkable journey.
The Train: Each train has accommodation carriages, dining cars, a lounge car, small gift shop, smoking lounge and observation car with open-air balcony. Maintaining the spirit of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board. There are three types of suites available which include a dedicated host available at all times and services the suites daily.
Pullman Suite: Used on short journeys, the cabins feature an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet and basin. During the day, the suites have a comfortable sofa-seat with a conversion to double or twin beds (side-by-side or upper and lower bunks) for the evening.
Deluxe Suite: Accommodates one or two passengers in double or twin beds with its own lounge area and en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet and basin. Includes a bar fridge filled with the on-board beverages of the passengers choice.
Royal Suite: Takes up half a carriage with its own private lounge area and en-suite bathroom with Victorian bath, separate shower, toilet and basin. Accommodates one or two passengers in double or twin beds and includes a bar fridge filled with the on-board beverages of the passengers choice.
Day 1: Pretoria Depart Rovos Rail Station in Pretoria and travel south towards the goldfields of the Witwatersrand. Guests may freshen up in their suites before joining fellow travellers in the lounge car or observation car at the rear of the train. Lunch is served in the dining cars followed up by afternoon tea and dinner.
Day 2: Kimberley > The Karoo Arrive in Kimberley and visit the Big Hole and the Diamond Museum. Capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is well known for the discovery of diamonds that led to its establishment in 1871. Return to the train for lunch where the observation car will be leading the train until after tea. Travel through the Karoos, a vast semi-desert region that was once an enormous inland sea. Over million of years, volcanic matter was ground down and deposited as silt upon the seabed to form what geologists call the Karoo system.
Day 3: Upington After breakfast disembark the train for an optional two-hour walking tour of Upington before returning to the train for lunch. Attorney General of the Cape, Sir Thomas Upington was principally responsible for liquidating the business activities of all the Orange River pirates and capturing their leader, Klaas Lucas. When the desperadoes were finally chased away in 1884, the town was founded on the banks of the Orange River and named in his honour. Tea is served in the lounge and observation car before dinner en route to Holoog.
Day 4: Fish River Canyon & Garas Park Breakfast is served in the dining cars before boarding vehicles for the one-hour drive to the Fish River Canyon. The Fish River rises in the centre of the country before flowing south into the Orange River on Namibia's border with South Africa. It has formed the great Fish River Canyon - the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere and probably only second to Arizona's Grand Canyon in terms of size. The vast rocky landscape breaks up into a series of spectacular cliffs. Its size is impressive 161km long, up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest.
Return to the train and enjoy lunch as the train travels along the southern reaches of the Kalahari Basin. Enjoy a visit to Garas Park (Quiver Trees), home to roughly 300 specimens of the Aloe dichotomy. The prehistoric trees have forked branches that reach up to 5m making for great photographic opportunities. Return to the train for afternoon tea and dinner as the train travels north through the Kalahari to Mariental.
Day 5: Sossusvlei After breakfast transfer to the airstrip and depart in a light aircraft for a one-hour flight to Sossusvlei. Check in at the lodge before enjoying lunch followed by a desert drive and bush dinner after sunset. The dunes of the Namib were created by sand carried by the wind from the coast. The sand here is over 5-million years old and is red due to its iron-oxide content. As the light changes during the day so does the appearance of the dunes' characteristic colour allowing for interesting photographs at any time. The wind in the Sossusvlei area blows from all directions causing the sand to form a star shape with multiple arms, hence the name 'star dunes'.
Day 6: Sossusvlei > Windhoek An early wake-up call with tea and coffee before enjoying a desert drive with breakfast in the vlei. Return to the lodge, check out and transfer to the airstrip for a one-hour light aircraft flight to Windhoek. On arrival enjoy lunch and a visit to the Transport Museum. Situated in Namibia's central highlands, Windhoek is an attractive city surrounded by clusters of hills and the impressive Auas and Eros Mountains.The Trans-Namib Transport Museum outlines Namibian transport history, particularly that of the railway. The Independence Memorial Museum focuses on the anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle of Namibia. Board the train where dinner is served in the dining cars as the train travels en route to Kranzberg.
Day 7: Cheetah Conservation Project Visit a cheetah conservation project in Otjiwarongo. Founded in Namibia in 1990, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) is dedicated to saving the cheetah in the wild. Dinner is served en route to Otavi.
Day 8: Etosha National Park After breakfast transfer to Mokuti Lodge in Etosha National Park. After lunch enjoy an afternoon game drive followed by dinner at the lodge. Etosha National Park (22270km2) offers great game viewing. It gets its name from the Etosha pan (4760km2), a large salt pan forming part of the Kalahari Basin. Etosha means 'Great White Place'.
Day 9: Etosha National Park After an early wake-up call with tea and coffee, enjoy a game drive in the Etosha National Park before returning to the lodge for breakfast. Check out and transfer to the train at Tsumeb Station where lunch is served in the dining cars. Dinner is served as the train travels southwest towards the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 10: Walvis Bay As the train traverses the Namib Desert towards Walvis Bay the observation car will be at the front of the train for the last stretch - different perspective that rail enthusiasts enjoy. The Namib Desert stretches for more than 2000km along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. The name is of Khoekhoegowab origin and means 'vast place'. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for roughly 55-80 million years, the Namib may be the oldest desert in the world. The geology consists of sand seas near the coast while gravel plains and scattered mountain outcrops occur further inland. Arrive at journey's end in Walvis Bay Namibia.
*Itinerary operates in reverse
• Accommodation • All meals • All beverages on board • Room service • Limited laundry • Excursions with a qualified guide (where applicable) • Entrance fees as per itinerary • Government tax • Flights to/from Sossusvlei; overnight bag • Sossusvlei accommodation; meals, water, tea/coffee and breakfast juices.
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Pretoria to Walvis Bay
5, 27 Apr
Walvis Bay to Pretoria 16 Apr
Pretoria to Walvis Bay
5, 27 Apr