The Shongololo Express: African Trilogy
• Kruger National Park • Swaziland • Fish River Canyon • Namib Desert • Etosha National Park
The Shongololo Express provides a high quality, yet affordable, rail safari experience for visitors to Southern Africa. This exciting panoramic 15 day sojourn winds its way across Southern Africa from the Indian Ocean in the east to the Atlantic coast in the west.
Starting in Pretoria, descend the escarpment to world-famous Kruger National Park for a game drive. Explore the Kingdom of eSwatini followed by a game drive in Hluhluwe wildlife reserve, and tour Durban and its botanical gardens. Continue through the semi-desert region of the Karoo to Upington and Fish River Canyon. Cross the untamed beauty of the Kalahari Desert to the see the Quiver trees at Garas Park before taking a short flight to Sossusvlei for a lodge stay. Visit Namibia's lively capital, Windhoek, and a cheetah conservation project before overnighting in game-rich Etosha National Park. Leave the stillness of the Namib Desert for the wild Atlantic coast and journeys end, Walvis Bay.
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 service is discreet and friendly with an enthusiastic team of chefs ensuring guests' every need is catered for.
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 Depart from Rovos Rail Station, Pretoria. Guests may freshen up in their cabin before joining fellow travellers in the lounge car or observation car. Lunch is served in the dining cars with tea in the lounge and observation cars as the train descends the spectacular Drakensberg Mountain escarpment. Dinner is served in the dining cars enroute to Malelane.
Day 2: Kruger National Park Breakfast is served in the dining cars until departure followed by a game drive in the Kruger National Park with tea and lunch. The famous Kruger Park has 2-million hectares of unrivalled diversity of life forms. It is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and home to an impressive number of species, eg. 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.
Day 3: Eswatini After breakfast border formalities are completed with eSwatini before disembarking at Mpaka. Visit Swazi Candles and Mantenga Cultural Village with lunch at Mantenga Lodge. The tiny Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland) covers only 17,000 square km, most of which is mountainous. For such a small country, it is surprising that it sustains two capital cities: Mbabane is the administrative capital and Lobamba is the royal and legislative capital. In Apri l2018, Swaziland changed its name to the Kingdom of eSwatini (meaning "place of the Swazi") and is an absolute monarchy. It is landlocked and borders South Africa and Mozambique. At Swazi Candles, guests are invited to interact with artisans as they make a variety of candles. Woodcarvings, colourful textiles and superb basketwork are also on display. Mantenga Lodge is nested in the mountains overlooking 'Execution Rock'. The village is a living museum of old traditions that represents a classic Swazi lifestyle during the 1850s.
Once back onboard the train tea is served in the lounge and observation cars with dinner served in the dining cars.
Day 4: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Continental breakfast is served in the dining cars before transferring to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park for a game drive. Return to the train for lunch before traveling towards Empangeni. Dinner is served in the dining cars en route to Durban.
Day 5: Durban Breakfast is served before enjoying a tour of Durban and the botanical gardens. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and enjoys great importance due to its industry and very large port. Drive along the 'Golden Mile' promenade where numerous hotels and restaurants are situated. Transfer to Umhlanga for lunch before returning to the train. Traverse the Valley of a Thousand Hills towards Ladysmith as tea is served in the lounge and observation cars.
Day 6: At leisure onboard Traverse the Drakensberg Mountains, first named by the Voortrekkers who thought the unbroken chain of heavily weathered peaks reminded them of the spines on a dragon's back, hence the name 'Dragon Mountain' or Drakensberg in Afrikaans. Pass some of the highest peaks at 3450m.
Day 7: Kimberley Breakfast is served in the dining cars until departure for Kimberley's Diamond Mine Museum and the Big Hole. Capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberly is well known for the discovery of diamonds that led to its establishment in 1871. Lunch is served in the dining cars as you travel through the Karoo, a vast semi-desert region that was once an enormous inland sea. Over millions of years, volcanic matter was ground down an deposited as silt upon the seabed to form what geologists call the Karoo system. Tea is served in the lounge car and observation car at the front of the train with dinner served in the dining cars.
Day 8: Upington Breakfast is served in the dining car before disembarking the train for an option two-hour walking tour of Upington. Attorney General of the Cape, Sir Thomas Upington was principally responsible for liquidating the business activities of the all the Orange River pirates and capturing their leader, Klass Lucas. When the desperadoes were finally chased away in 1884, the town was founded on the banks of the Orange River and name in his honour. Dinner is served in the dining cars enroute to Holoog.
Day 9: 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. Lunch is served in the dining cars as the train travel along the southern reaches of the Kalahari Basin. Visits 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. Dinner is served in the dining cars as the train travel north through the Kalahari to Mariental.
Day 10: Sossusvlei Transfer to the airstrip after breakfast and depart in a light aircraft for a one-hour flight to Sossusvlei. The dunes of the Namib Desert were created by sand carried by the wine from the coast of Namibia. The sand here is over five million years old and is red in colour due to its rion-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 sane to form a star shape with multiple arms, hence the name "star dunes". After check-in enjoy lunch at the lodge followed by an afternoon desert drive and bush dinner after sunset. Overnight at the lodge (please pack a small overnight bag for the stay in Sossusvlei. Tog bags have been placed in your cabin for your convenience).
Day 11: 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 to use the facilities, check-out and transfer to the airstrip for one-hour flight on light aircraft to Windhoek. 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. Enjoy lunch and visit the Transport Museum before departing for Otjiwarongo.
Day 12: 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 in the dining cars en route to Otavi.
Day 13: Etosha National Park Transfer (60 min) to Mokuti Lodge in Etosha National Park for overnight stay. Check-in and enjoy lunch followed by a game drive in Etosha National Park which offers great game viewing. It gets its name from the Etosha Pan - a large salt pan forming part of the Kalahari Basin. Etosha means 'Great White Place'. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. (Please pack a small overnight bag for the stay in Etosha).
Day 14: Etosha National Park An early wake-up call with tea and coffee before enjoying a game drive in Etosha National Park. Return to the lodge for breakfast and check-out before transferring to the train at Tsumeb Station. Lunch is served in the dining car followed by tea in the lounge and observation cars. Dinner is served as the train travels southwest to wards the Atlantic Ocean.
Day 15: Walvis Bay Breakfast is served in the dining cars 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 - a different aspect our 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 millions years, the Namib may be the oldest desert in the world. the geology consists of sand seas near the coast while gravel plans and scattered mountain outcrops occur further inland. Arrive at journeys end at Walvis Bay Station.
• Accommodation • All meals • All beverages on board • Room service • 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
Booking conditions • 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.
• 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.