With travel being back on everyones agenda after a rough few years, we're loving seeing how people are choosing to honeymoon. For something a little out of the ordinary ZHENYA SWAN is taking us back in time for a 3-day unforgettable journey from Victoria Falls to Pretoria on the ROVOS RAIL. For couples seeking a unique and unforgettable travel experience, this overland adventure is the perfect choice. The luxury train journey through the heart of Southern Africa combines the thrill of adventure with the romance of a bygone era. From the moment you step into the elegant vintage interior, you will be transported back in time to the golden age of travel. Zhenya shares with us, "Being an experienced traveler through the African continent, it is not easy to wow me, and yet this journey left me with the most beautiful and unique memories shared with my partner. It felt like I was a character in a romance movie, and no, there was no murder on the train, however, we did experience some unexpected events
ROVOS RAIL was founded in 1989 by Rohan Vos, a passionate collector of vintage locomotives and rolling stock. Today, it is considered one of the most luxurious trains in the world, offering a range of journeys through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The train is meticulously restored to its former glory, with exquisite period furnishings and decor that evoke the glamour of the early 20th century. Interesting fact: you can witness this train and its interiors in the famous movie “A United Kingdom” which is dedicated to the romance between the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (current Botswana), Seretse Khama, and his wife Ruth Williams Khama (played by Rosamund Pike).
There are no radios or televisions on the train to maintain the spirit of traveling in an old-fashioned style. The use of mobile phones, laptops, and essentially anything that can disturb other passengers is confined to the privacy of the suits only. Frankly, you won’t even need to use them as there is no wifi on the train and no mobile connection for most of the route. It is a great opportunity to dive deeper into the experience, into your relationship, or rather reflect on your inner feelings which reveal themselves so vividly on this journey.
The ROVOS RAIL experience begins at the station, where guests are greeted by liveried porters and dancers from a local community, as well as being served a welcome drink. As you settle into your cabin, you will be charmed by the attention to detail and the luxurious amenities on offer. Each cabin is elegantly appointed with fine fabrics, polished wood walls, and private en-suite bathrooms. There are three classes of accommodation to choose from, ranging from the cozy Pullman Suites to the spacious Royal Suites with their private balconies. We stayed in a Deluxe Suite and I believe this played an essential role in the overall experience. Sleeping in a king-sized bed, journaling at the old wooden desk while the authentic African scenery passed by to the sounds of the wheels rattling against the rails - these were the priceless memories gained in the cabin.
As the train makes its way through the stunning landscapes of Southern Africa, you will have the opportunity to explore the region's rich cultural heritage and natural wonders. Depending on your itinerary, you may visit historic towns, national parks, or vineyards, and enjoy a choice of activities such as guided tours, game drives, and wine tastings. There are also plenty of opportunities for relaxation, with spa treatments and afternoon tea served on board.
The route we took from Victoria Falls to Pretoria is known to be one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world. This 1,600 km journey takes passengers through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Southern Africa and is filled with interesting facts and history. The journey starts with a stop at the iconic Victoria Falls Bridge, which was built in 1905. The bridge is 111 meters high and spans the Zambezi River, offering stunning views of Victoria Falls. The next morning the train passes through Hwange National Park, which is the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe. The park is home to over 100 species of mammals and 400 species of birds, including elephants, lions, and cheetahs. We made a stop at 5 am and embarked on a 4-5 hour game drive with a tea/coffee stop in the heart of the bush. As we continued the journey, we could spot more animals while having lunch, right from the window. As the train travels through national parks, it rides very slowly at the speed of 30-35 km an hour, so there are good chances to find wildlife right along the way.
Among other interesting sites that will be met on the way are the Matobo Hills (4-night journey only), the Karoo Desert, and the Limpopo River.
One of the highlights of the journey is the exquisite cuisine served on board. The train has a reputation for its exceptional dining experience, with meals prepared by expert chefs using the freshest local ingredients. Whether you prefer a hearty breakfast, a gourmet lunch, or a sumptuous five-course dinner, you will be treated to a feast for the senses. Guests are required to wear formal outfits for dinner (for men a suit with a tie is a minimum requirement) and this adds a special atmosphere to the evening as you sit surrounded by finely dressed ladies and gentlemen and also take your time to get dressed in a cabin for a special occasion. I couldn’t imagine I would need to bring elegant maxi dresses to Africa but ended up packing quite a few options. There is also a bar carriage, where you can enjoy a wide range of beverages (their pink G&T was my all-time favourite) while taking in stunning views.
For couples, the ROVOS RAIL journey is an especially romantic experience. Whether you are celebrating a special occasion, going on a honeymoon trip, or simply want to spend quality time together, the train offers a perfect setting for romance. Imagine sipping champagne as the sun sets over the African savannah, or enjoying a candlelit dinner under the stars. The train's intimate setting and attentive service create an atmosphere of romance and luxury that is hard to match. I remember one evening when we were sitting in the observation car, and a warm humid breeze was blowing in our faces, it was slightly raining outside and therefore a rainbow popped up in the sky and the Sun fought through the clouds. It was a lyrical moment to share.
In my opinion, a journey on ROVOS RAIL is an adventure that every couple should experience at least once in their lifetime. From the stunning landscapes to the exquisite cuisine and the luxurious amenities, this is a journey that will create memories to last a lifetime. Whether you are seeking adventure, romance, or simply a break from the routine of daily life, you will receive a unique and unforgettable experience that is sure to leave you enchanted.
P.S. Regarding the unexpected events that I mentioned… during the time we were there, the Limpopo region was severely flooded and it was all over the news. We had serious concerns that the last leg of the route could be discontinued, but luckily we just did a few emergency stops on the way to make sure the tracks were clean and safe to ride. Nevertheless, this made it an even more memorable experience, as I am sure there were not so many passengers before and after witnessing extreme weather conditions, and massive storms that formed into the most beautiful scenes of natural metamorphoses.