Departure City: Johannesburg
Start Date: Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Arrival City: Victoria Falls
End Date: Thursday, June 19, 2014
This 16-day journey encompasses six countries on a route that is carefully crafted to deliver stunning experiences each and every day. The train travels between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, stopping at carefully selected locations in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. As the tracks unfurl a rare insight is offered into the cultural and geographical cocktail that makes Southern Africa so vibrant and exciting.
PRE-DAY – JOHANNESBURG
You will be met upon arrival at O.R Tambo International Airport and transferred to the train. Having a pre-day allows guests to acclimatise and unpack prior to the first day of touring. A pre-night on board will include dinner, bed and breakfast.a
1. The Cradle of Humankind: Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves
NB: This Tour departs the train at 09h30 (MIN 4 PAX).
The Cradle of Humankind development combines the Maropeng Visitor Centre and Sterkfontein Caves. Our visit will start at Maropeng (a Setswana word for “returning to the place of origin”), the visitor centre at the Cradle of Humankind. An exciting 4-billion-year old journey through the elemental forces of water and ice, air, fire and earth is simulated on an underground lake. Visitors emerge at the beginning of the world after dipping through waterfalls and icebergs, into the eye of a storm, past erupting volcanoes and through the depths of the earth. The journey continues through an experience that highlights the history of our world and humankind as a species. Many original fossils are on display here. We continue with a visit to the Sterkfontein Caves, 10 km away and most famous for two world-renowned hominid finds, namely Mrs Ples in 1947 and Little Foot in 1997. Since excavations at the site first began, hundreds of hominid fossils as well as stone tools have been found here. The excavation of Little Foot and other fossils is an ongoing process at this still active fossil dig. The scientific exhibition here includes lifelike models of hominids as well as specific finds such as Mrs Ples, the Taung Child and Little Foot.
2. Lesedi Cultural Village
NB: This Tour departs the train at 09h30 (MIN 4 PAX).
We visit this multi-cultural African Village set among pristine bushveld and rocky hills. Experience the culture of five of South Africa’s major indigenous tribes: the Xhosa, Zulu, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele. Lunch will be included.
3. Gold Reef City, Apartheid Museum & The World of Beer
NB: This Tour departs the train at 11h00 (MIN 4 PAX).
Situated on the previous Crown Mine which closed in the 1970’s, Gold Reef City is an entertainment centre showing Johannesburg as it was at the time of the Gold Rush in the mid 1800’s. In addition to the different activities, guests will have the option of going down a gold mine (for guests’ own account) and visiting the Apartheid Museum exhibiting a variety of photos, videos and other media dating back to the political regime in South Africa until 1994. The World of Beer situated in the heart of central Johannesburg makes a great lunch stop with a guided tour & beer tasting. Lunch is for guests’ own account.
The option includes transfers, entrance fees to Gold Reef City, The Apartheid Museum & The World of Beer with a tasting.
4. East Rand Mall or Emperors Palace
NB: This shuttle departs the train every hour on the hour & returns every half hour, departing from the train at 12h00 with the last bus departing the centre at 15h30 back to the train.
Emperors Palace is a mini Las Vegas here in Africa. The East Rand mall is a modern shopping centre offering many shops and services including banking and ATMs. The centre also has a good selection of restaurants for lunch.
A pre-night on board will include dinner, bed & breakfast.
The train remains stationary in Germiston Reef Steamers Yard – Johannesburg for the night.
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 08h00 at the airport in order to be able to participate in the days 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 is a Sotho word meaning “Place of Gold”, which is very suitable since much of the wealth of Gauteng has derived from this precious metal.
Pretoria and Soweto
We will spend the morning in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. We visit the Union Buildings designed by the famous colonial English architect, Sir Herbert Baker and completed in 1913 and which now house the offices of the President and Ministers. 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, at the centre of the city. Before leaving the capital behind, we visit the Voortrekker Monument which commemorates the Great Trek of the 1830s. In the afternoon we travel to Soweto to visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after the first student to lose his life in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 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, ethnocentric setting. Rosebank showcases the mix of first and third world cultures and 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 laws of Apartheid. We pass the Chris Hani Baragwanath 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 the first student to lose his life in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 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 kilometres, making it the second smallest country in Africa.
1. Tour through Swaziland
PLEASE NOTE THAT GUESTS WILL NEED THEIR PASSPORT FOR THIS EXCURSION.
Guests enter Swaziland by road from South Africa and will be able to enjoy amazing views of the Ezulwini Valley and the Komati River en route. This trip into Swaziland will introduce you to everyday life in Africa’s smallest kingdom. The Swazi Market is a bustling hive of activity and displays a wide variety of skilfully crafted woodcarvings, colourful textiles and superb basketwork for which Swazis are renowned.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 400 km)
Guests leave the train in Nelspruit and will meet it again at Mpaka Station in Swaziland.
The train departs in the evening to Maputo.
DAY 03 – MAPUTO (MOZAMBIQUE)
Maputo, the capital of Mozambique is a city of contrasts and offers an exciting mix of cultures. The city swings along to a beat that is like no other in Africa and offers true African hospitality. 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.
1. At the Beach
Guests are transferred to the port for a ferry ride to a beach resort where you 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. A late afternoon stroll along the beach will see local fishermen land their catches.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 160 km)
2. At the Beach on the Marginal
Guests are transferred to Costa Da Sol “Coast of the Sun”. En route to this famous landmark hotel & restaurant your Shongololo Guide will give you an orientation on your surroundings and outline what activities you will be able to do during leisure time today. A shuttle service will be available at certain times and locations which will be pointed out by your guide. Along the colourful Marginal (palm lined beach front) you will find many cafés and restaurants which specialise in Indian Ocean cuisine with its emphasis on the freshest seafood dishes prepared in traditional African-Portuguese ways. Guests can enjoy an ice cold local 2M or Laurentina beer in one of the charming bars. While you stroll along the beach, you will be able to watch local fishermen cast their nets, manoeuvre their light dhows in the breeze, watch or even join in a game of beach volley ball or football, or simply take in the hustle and bustle of beach lifestyle in this up and coming city.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 40 km)
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
Today’s tour offers guests 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 Eiffel’s Iron House (Casa do Ferro). The Polana Hotel, built in the 1920s, with its striking white exterior and stunning décor, is the best-known landmark in the city and from its gardens one can see Xefina Island. Next we visit an art gallery where furniture and sculptures are crafted 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 alternatively in one of the other restaurants 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 travelled: ± 60 km)
The train departs from Maputo at around 15h00 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 second to none. Its 2 million hectares are unrivalled in diversity of life forms and the park is a world leader in advanced environmental manage-ment 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.
2. Protea Kruger Gate Lodge
Depart from the train at 06h00 and travel through the Kruger National Park in open 4×4 game viewing vehicles arriving at approximately midday to check into the Kruger Gate Protea Lodge, which is situated along the Sabi River at the Paul Kruger Gate. Check into your rooms, relax and enjoy the lodge’s facilities. After lunch (guests’ own account) and a siesta depart at 16h00 for the late afternoon game drive, returning to the lodge just after sunset. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. The next morning at 06h00 depart on an early morning game drive, returning to the Lodge for brunch (guests’ own account). After checking out guests will be picked up by a Shongololo vehicle and guide. (Bookings subject to availability)
3. Private Game Reserve
After joining the group for morning game drives in Shongololo vehicles, you will be transferred at around 11h00 to a luxury lodge, situated in a private game reserve on the banks of the Sabi River, where lunch awaits you. After a siesta, followed by coffee and cake, you will depart on a sunset safari in search of the Big Five. Encounters with all spheres of the eco-system, from the smallest insect to the mighty African elephant are possible. After sundowner drinks in the bush you will return to the lodge for a delicious dinner. Early the next morning just before sunrise you will be woken to take an open vehicle game drive to experience the African fauna at its most active. A mouth-watering breakfast will round off your experience, after which you will be taken to join the rest of the group inside the Kruger National Park. Game viewing will be done en route to rejoin the train. (Bookings subject to availability)
Guests rejoin the train in Komatipoort where it will remain over night.
DAY 06 – MPUMALANGA
Mpumalanga, meaning “Land of the Rising Sun” is a province of extraordinary natural beauty.
1. Kruger National Park
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience second to none. 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 travelled: ± 220 km)
Nelspruit is considered the gateway to Mpumalanga Province. The city’s sub-tropical climate, abundant sunshine and fertile soil provide perfect conditions for the cultivation of citrus and tropical fruits (mango, banana, avocado, macadamia and pecan nuts) resulting in the city becoming a trading centre for the outlying fruit growing area. 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 travelled: ± 130 km)
Guests rejoin the train in Nelspruit and stable for the night.
DAY 07 – PANORAMA ROUTE
Guests depart the train this morning from Nelspruit.
In 1873 gold was discovered in the area around the quaint town of Pilgrim’s Rest, now a living museum and National Monument. The find attracted 1500 diggers and today, many of the restored miner’s houses serve as shops. Further along the escarpment we find the great Blyde River Canyon, a gorge 26 km in length and 800 m deep, carved from the face of the escarpment. The Three Rondavels, three huge rock spirals rising out of the far wall of the canyon and resembling African huts present an unforgettable sight. 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 the sweeping landscape of the Lowveld, where subtle fragrances of the lower region rise to merge with the crisp winds of the Highveld.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 280 km)
The train departs this evening for the Zimbabwe Border.
DAY 08 – DAY ON THE RAILS TO ZIMBABWE
On the rails
Guests spend the day relaxing on the train as it travels through the countryside of Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces. We cross the border into Zimbabwe at Beit Bridge and head onto Rutenga Station where guests spend the night, departing for Great Zimbabwe the following morning.
Lunch will be served on the train and our guides will host informative talks in the lounges.
DAY 09 – GREAT ZIMBABWE
Largest Monument in Africa south of the Pyramids
We travel from Rutenga through attractive granite hill country to Great Zimbabwe, a hugely impressive monument situated on the south-eastern edge of the central plateau and the largest pre-colonial 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. The tour is followed by lunch at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel (guests’ own account), before rejoining the train.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 300 km)
Guests rejoin the train at Rutenga and travel to Somabhula over night.
DAY 10 – ANTELOPE PARK, GWERU
Antelope Park – Walk with lions and lion cub viewing
Antelope Park’s long-term project aim is to reintroduce the offspring of captive bred lions into the wild. But today there is one highlight and that is a walk with some of the lions – approximately 90 minutes accompanying lions varying in age from 3months to 15months. No leashes, no collars – the lions roam free with you through the African bush for an amazing photo opportunity. You may even be fortunate enough to experience a lion stalking some of the wildlife species which are abound in Antelope Park. Back at the camp, for about 20 minutes, you will also have the opinion to view and interact with younger lion cubs.
Gweru Military Museum and Aviation Display
After lunch (guest’s own account) 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 of the local primary school. After a touching show prepared for us by children and teachers, there is a great opportunity to interact with them. Donations such as stationery and clothes as well as financial donations are always most welcome at this exceptional school.
(Full day. Distance travelled ± 50 km)
1. Overnight at Antelope Park & night encounter with lions
Guests will spend the day at Antelope Park to enjoy the activities listed below. Guests can also choose to overnight at Antelope Park to observe the lions’ nocturnal activity!. Enjoy the African sunset before dinner, following which the “Night Encounter” will commence. Guests board an open safari vehicle & follow the lions on their hunt. THIS ENCOUNTER HAS NO GUARANTEES as the action could be over in a relatively short time or could take hours before the lions have any luck…….or maybe not!
Next morning wake up to the sounds of the bush. Depart for Bulawayo after breakfast.
Please note that you will only arrive in Bulawayo by lunch time so this activity will clash with the morning visit to Matobo National Park.
2. Canoe Hire
During our stay at Antelope Park, you will be able to take a canoe and paddle on your own on the river
and observe the birdlife.
3. Game Drives
Take an open vehicle safari vehicle in a one hour game drive through the park.
4. Horseback Game Viewing
For experienced riders only. Enjoy one and a half hours on horse back through the park on a guided ride.
5. Elephant Riding
Two up on Africa’s largest mammal for a 30 minute ride through the park.
6. Lion Breeding Project
“Alert” is the name of the project. The objective of this project is for the new generation of lions to be released into the wild.
7. Birdwatching Boat Cruise
Enjoy 45 minutes of bird watching on the river in an open ten- seater boat.
Guests rejoin the train at Somabhula and depart early evening to Bulawayo.
DAY 11 – 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 the country its previous name of Rhodesia. Afterwards, we will go and visit one of the more accessible bushman caves, of which there are many hidden amongst the hills. There will be time for lunch (guests’ own account) before joining a tour of 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 travelled: ± 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 the country its previous name of Rhodesia. Afterwards, we will go and visit one of the more accessible bushman caves, of which there are many hidden amongst the hills. There will be time for lunch (guests’ own account) before joining a tour of the Natural History Museum, which is one of the best of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. For rail enthusiasts, the art gallery visit is replaced with a tour of the railway museum.
(Full day. Distance travelled: ± 150 km)
A visit to this famous wildlife orphanage gives insight into the plight of some of these abandoned animals.
2. Rhino Tracking in Matobo National Park
After the morning tour of the recreational part of the National Park, join a ranger for lunch and set off on a walking safari through the bushveld searching for the trail of one of the Big 5, the rhino!! With some luck you could see or even get very, very close to this fascinating and endangered animal.
The train travels to Dete Station over night.
DAY 12 – HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
Hwange National Park
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, but is most well known for its prolific lion population. 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 travelled: ± 120 km)
Overnight at Sikumi Tree Lodge
Guests have the opportunity to spend a night in a rustic lodge in Hwange National Park. You will depart from Dete Station in open 4×4 safari vehicles for a series of game drives. The package includes game drives, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast. The following day, you will be driven to Victoria Falls in our Shongololo vehicles, visiting the Falls in the afternoon while the rest of the group is in Zambia. You will have the opportunity to visit Livingstone on Day 15.
The train departs for Victoria Falls in the evening.