Southern-Cross
PRE-DAY – JOHANNESBURG

You will be met upon arrival at Johannesburg International Airport and transferred to the train. Having a pre-day means that one is able to acclimatise and unpack prior to the first day of touring. Tour add-ons that could be undertaken, include the following:

DAY 01 – PRETORIA / JOHANNESBURG / SOWETO

Should you only arrive at Johannesburg International Airport today, you will be met upon arrival and transferred to the train. Please note that you should arrive no later than 08:00 at the airport in order to participate in the day’s excursions.

Gauteng is the economic powerhouse of the Southern African region and home to some of Africa’s greatest cities. The name of the province derives from the Sotho word meaning “Place of Gold”, which is very suitable since much of the wealth of Gauteng has come from this precious metal.

1. PRETORIA AND SOWETO

We will spend the morning in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. We visit the Union Buildings, housing the offices of the President and Ministers, designed by the famous colonial English architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and completed in 1913. The buildings overlook the city towards the once fortified hills to the south. A grand bronze statue of “Oom Paul (Kruger)”, the patriarch president of the ZAR or old Transvaal Republic, surrounded by his Boer fighters, dominates Church Square, central point of the city. Before leaving the capital behind, we visit the Voortrekker Monument that commemorates the “Great Trek” of the 1830s. In the afternoon we travel to Soweto to visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after one of the first students to be killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 200 km).

2. JOHANNESBURG AND SOWETO

Our day starts at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein in the centre of Johannesburg. This is the new home of the Constitutional Court and the site of Johannesburg’s notorious Old Fort Prison Complex, where many of South Africa’s leading political activists were detained. We then head onto the Newtown precinct to visit Museum Africa previously known as the market of Johannesburg. This is all part of the history of the “City of Gold”. This is followed by a lunch break (guests’ own account) in the suburb of Rosebank, where you can experience the multi-cultural “Rainbow Nation” in a modern, yet ethnocentric setting. Rosebank shows you the mix of first and third world cultures and showcases arts and crafts from all over the African continent. In the afternoon, we travel to Soweto to experience the heartbeat of this township, comprising one million people and made famous by the Apartheid laws. We pass the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital (the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere) and also drive past the only street in Africa that once housed two Nobel Peace Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after one of the first students to be killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 150 km).

The train departs in the evening from Johannesburg to Nelspruit.

DAY 02 – SWAZILAND

The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland covers only 17 000 square kilometers, making it the second smallest country in Africa.

TOUR THROUGH SWAZILAND

PLEASE NOTE THAT GUESTS WILL NEED THEIR PASSPORT FOR THIS EXCURSION.

Guests will enter Swaziland by road from South Africa. The drive will present amazing view of the Ezulwini Valley and the Komati River. This day in Swaziland will introduce you to everyday life in Africa’s smallest kingdom. The Swazi Market is a hive of activity and displays a wide variety of skillfully crafted woodcarvings, colourful textiles and superb basketwork for which Swazi’s are renowned. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 400 km).

DAY 03 – MAPUTO (MOZAMBIQUE)

Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, offers an exciting mix of culture and buildings reminiscent of trends set by African, Portuguese and early Colonial traditions. The city swings along to a beat that is like no other in Africa. It enables you to experience true African hospitality. Old Catholic churches rest side-by-side with Mosques and Fortresses, Victorian Mansions and other buildings from a bygone era. It’s a city of contrasts and excitement that provides an ideal meeting point for social and business ventures.

1. AT THE BEACH

Guests are transferred to the ferry port for a ferry ride to a beach resort. On the beach, one can relax in the sun or go for a swim. Lunch (guests’ own account) can be taken at a restaurant specialising in Indian Ocean cuisine with an emphasis on the freshest seafood dishes prepared in traditional African-Portuguese ways. Should you take a late afternoon stroll along the beach, you would be able to watch local fishermen net their catches. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 160 km).

2. AT THE BEACH ON THE MARIGNAL

Guests are transferred to Costa Da Sol “Coast of the Sun”. On route to this famous landmark hotel & restaurant your Shongololo Guide will be giving you an orientation on your surroundings and what activities you will be able to do on your own time this day. A shuttle service will be available at certain times and locations as pointed out by your guide. The colourful Marignal (Palm lined beach front) with its many cafe’s, restaurants specialising in Indian Ocean cuisine with an emphasis on the freshest seafood dishes prepared in traditional African-Portuguese ways and bars with local beer 2M or Laurentina available ice cold on tap.

While you stroll along the beach, you would be able to watch local fishermen cast their nets, maneuver their light dhows in the breeze, watch or even join in on a game of beach volley ball or football. As you stroll along on the shores of the Indian Ocean you may find yourself being swept away by the hustle and bustle of beach lifestyle in this up and coming city. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 100 km).

Evening Activity

Dinner will be enjoyed at a local seafood restaurant.

The train remains stationary at Maputo Station over night.

DAY 04 – MAPUTO (MOZAMBIQUE)

TOUR OF MAPUTO

Guests will get a good impression of the character of the city. A visit to the municipal market is followed by a stop at the old Fortaleza, which dates back to 1769. Other interesting city sites include the Catholic Cathedral, the Civic Centre, Louis Trichardt Trek Memorial, Samora Machel Statue, the Jardim Tunduru (Botanical Gardens) and the Iron House (Casa do Ferro). The Polana Hotel, built in the 1920s, with its striking white exterior and stunning decor, is the best-known landmark in the city. From the garden one can see Xefina Island. Next we visit an art gallery where furniture and sculptures are made out of old AK47 weapons. A drive along the marginal takes us to Costa do Sol. At Costa do Sol there is an opportunity to relax while having a cold drink. Lunch (guests’ own account) will be at Mundos restaurant or in one of the other restaurant or hotels in town. After lunch we head back to the train. An afternoon high tea will be served on board while we rock’n roll through the countryside. (Half day; distance traveled: ± 60 km).
The train departs from Maputo at around 15:00 and travels to Komatipoort where we will over night.

DAY 05 – KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that equals the best anywhere. Its 2 million hectares are unrivalled in diversity of life forms and the park is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques. The park is 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. Game drives will be conducted in our air-conditioned vehicles. (Full day; departure time depends on the season, as gates open and close with sunrise and sunset; distance traveled: ± 220 km).

DAY 06 – MPUMALANGA

Mpumalanga means “Land of the Rising Sun”. It is a province of extraordinary natural beauty.

1. KRUGER NATIONAL PARK

The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that equals the best anywhere. Its 2 million hectares are unrivalled in diversity of life forms and the park is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques. The park is 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. Game drives will be conducted in our air-conditioned vehicles. (Full day; departure time depends on the season, as gates open and close with sunrise and sunset; distance traveled: ± 220 km).

2. NELSPRUIT

Nelspruit is considered the gateway to the Mpumalanga Province. With its sub-tropical climate and abundant sunshine the town forms an ideal base from where to explore. It is also the trading centre for the surrounding fruit growing area. The fertile soil and subtropical climate provide perfect conditions for the production of citrus and tropical fruits (mainly mango, banana, avocado, macadamia and pecan nuts). The Lowveld Botanical Gardens just outside the town have a rare collection of plant species and the first man-made rain forest. Lunchtime will be spent at the Riverside Mall. In the afternoon you will head to the nearby Sudwala Caves and Dinosaur Park. A guided tour in the caves will expose your senses to primitive Africa. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 130 km).
Guests re-join the train in Nelspruit and stable for the night.

PANORAMA ROUTE

We visit the village of Pilgrim’s Rest, a living museum and declared National Monument. Gold was discovered in this area in 1873, attracting 1500 diggers. Today, many of the restored miner’s houses serve as shops. Further along the escarpment we find the great Blyde River Canyon, a gorge of 26 km long and 800 m deep, carved from the face of the escarpment. The Three Rondavels present an unforgettable view of three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon, looking like African huts. Bourke’s Luck Potholes are strange deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and floodwater. From the vantage point of God’s Window we gaze across sweeps of the Lowveld, where subtle fragrances of the lower region rise to merge with the crisp winds of the Highveld. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 280 km).

DAY ON THE RAILS TO ZIMBABWE

Guests spend the day relaxing on the train through the countryside of the different provinces – Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo Province. We cross the border into Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge and head onto Rutenga Station where guests spend the night and depart for Great Zimbabwe the next morning. Lunch will be served on the train this day. There will be informative talks held by the guides on the train

ANTELOPE PARK, GWERU

Today there is one highlight:- Walk with Lions in Antelope Park. This activity takes approximately one and a half hours and offers an amazing photo opportunity. The long-term project here aims to reintroduce the offspring of captive bred lions into the wild. The lions accompanying you on walks average between 3 and 15 months of age. No leashes, no collars – the lions roam free with you through the African bush. You may even be fortunate enough to experience a lion stalking some of the wildlife species which abound in Antelope Park. Back to the camp, you will also have the opportunity for about 20 min to view and interact with lion cubs. Gweru Military Museum and Aviation Display After lunch in Antelope Park, guests who are interested in military and aviation hardware will board a Shongololo bus and drive to the town of Gweru to visit the Military Museum. Somabhula Primary School Late afternoon after Antelope Park and the Military Museum, guests will head back to Somabhula for a visit to the primary school. Here, the teachers and students have prepared a show for us. This is a great opportunity to interact with the kids and teachers and make donations. (Full day: ± 50 km).

BULAWAYO AND MATOBO NATIONAL PARK

1. Matobo Hills and an Art Gallery Matobo means “bald headed ones” and aptly describes the dramatic hills and granite rocks of this area. Highlights include a visit to the burial place of Cecil John Rhodes, who gave his name to Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was previously known, and an inspection of a Bushman cave. There will be time for lunch (guests’ own account) before visiting the Natural History Museum, which is one of the best of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Lastly, we take a drive through the city and visit an Art Gallery. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 150 km). 2. Matobo Hills and the Railway Museum Matobo means “bald headed ones” and aptly describes the dramatic hills and granite rocks of this area. Highlights include a visit to the burial place of Cecil John Rhodes, who gave his name to Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was previously known, and an inspection of a Bushman cave. There will be time for lunch (guests’ own account) before visiting the Natural History Museum, which is one of the best of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Lastly, we take a drive through the city and visit the Railway Museum. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 150 km).

HWANGE NATIONAL PARK

Zimbabwe’s premier National Park is known for its Lion population. Situated in the north-west corner of Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park is the nation’s largest wildlife area and contains a variety of animals and bird species. Covering 1 462 000 hectares, Hwange is roughly the same size as Belgium. An early morning game drive in the park is followed by breakfast at the Sable Valley Lodge. After a morning of game viewing, lunch (guests’ own account) will be at the Sikumi Tree Lodge. There will be an opportunity to relax at the pool for a while before we resume our game viewing later in the afternoon. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 120 km).

LIVINGSTONE (ZAMBIA)

Across the Falls and into Livingstone Guests will walk across the Zambezi River over the famous Rail/road Bridge. Our first stop is on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls before continuing to the town of Livingstone, named after David Livingstone, the Scottish visionary, who had an insatiable appetite for exploration and a desire to open Africa to the world. The existence of the Falls had of course been known to local tribes people. Livingstone, upon hearing stories about “Mosi oa Tunya” (the smoke that thunders), arranged to be taken there by dugout canoe. On November 16, 1855 he came to the northern end of what is now Livingstone Island and from there crawled to the edge of the precipice and beheld the spectacle of the waterfall for the first time. We visit the Livingstone Museum before heading to the Waterfront Lodge for lunch. Our last visit in the afternoon will be at the Fifth Gorge for a spectacular view of the Zambezi River. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 70 km).

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK (BOTSWANA)

Chobe National Park A 70-kilometre ride brings us to the Botswana border, where we cross into the famous Chobe National Park. There is a great array of wildlife and the Chobe Elephants are well respected, as are the Hippos in the river. Highlights include a game drive in 4×4 vehicles and a river cruise on the Chobe River. Lunch (guests’ own account) will be taken at a waterfront lodge where there is a swimming pool. (Full day; distance traveled: ± 200 km). The train remains stationary at Victoria Falls Station over night.

VICTORIA FALLS

The Falls form the largest single “curtain” of falling water on earth measuring 1708 m wide. On average the curtain is 92 m deep. The spray plume can rise to 500 m and can be seen from as far as 70 km away. In full flood, over 550 million litres of water per minute cascade over the brink. Because the Falls are so wide, there are numerous safe vantage points provided, from where you will be able to get various views of the Falls and the roiling water as it crashes into the gorge and the constant plume of spray that maintains the Rain Forest. The forest is an attraction on its own and many of the trees are marked to help identification. They include Fig, Mahogany, Date Palm, Milkwood and Ebony. The bird life is also prolific and species that may be seen include the colourful Sunbird and large Trumpeter Hornbill. The sound of the water can be heard from kilometers away and up close this muted ‘thunder’ becomes a roar. Craft and curio shops abound with enough variety for everyone to find something to take home as a souvenir. (Morning; distance traveled: ± 15 km). The afternoon is spent at leisure.

TRANSFER DAY

If guests are transferring to a hotel, this will be arranged for them in the morning. If guests are flying out of Victoria Falls, their flight may only be in the afternoon. In this case optional tours may be undertaken.

 

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