Offering some of the best escorted rail tours in the world, it is hardly surprising that travelling by train in South Africa has increased in popularity in recent years. Rail passage to game reserves, through winelands, to historic sites and across the wide-open countryside of the Karoo region, creates an out-of-the-ordinary travel experience.

Incorporating a great train journey into your travel itinerary adds a unique perspective to your holiday - train travel is truly in a league of its own. Trains not only transport you from point A to point B, but they do so in style and give you the freedom to do nothing but relax and enjoy the ride.

Rovos Rail is one of the 3 top luxury trains in South Africa

Enhance your South African holiday by including a night or two on a luxury train. A popular way of integrating a train journey into your South African itinerary is to use rail to traverse the sector between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Not only do you cover most of the length of the country in comfort, but you get to see diverse countryside that so many visitors to South Africa miss out on when travelling by airline for this leg. As an added bonus – you will arrive at your destination well-rested on this comfortable overnight journey.

Below are three of African Travel Gateway’s best options for luxury train travel in South Africa. We can assist you in planning your entire trip by train or to incorporate sections by rail into your itinerary.


Hailed as the most luxurious trains in the world, the Rovos Rail carriages are the epitome of grandeur and sophistication. Their fleet of vintage coaches, restored with utmost attention to detail, make up one of the biggest private collections in the world. With reconditioned wood-panelling, these coaches recapture the romance of days of yore.

You’ll be tempted to while away the afternoons in the observation and lounge cars, with their custom-built wingback chairs and deep sofas. In the evening, return to your suite to dress for dinner, a fine-dining experience with first-class cuisine served in the charming pre-1940s dining cars.

The Shongololo Express offers three first-class rail journeys - from 12-15 days in duration - that traverse South Africa and head into Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Scheduled stops for off-train excursions ensure that you experience incredible locations along the way. More casual than Rovos Rail and The Blue Train, you can lounge in comfortable casual clothing and only need to smarten up slightly for dinner.

A truly luxurious experience on the Rovos Rail

A five-star ‘hotel-on-wheels’, The Blue Train offers spectacular luxury between Pretoria and Cape Town. Elegant lounges, luxury suites and their ‘Cordon Blue’ dining - replete with signature dishes presented in delicate crystal or on fine china., With a personal butler at your call, personal service is guaranteed.

These three great train companies offer a variety of packages and journey options of exceptional comfort. Book a train journey through South Africa and sit back with a glass of your favourite to enjoy South Africa’s breathtaking scenery in the lap of luxury.