Shongololo Express Train is one of the highly ranked exotic experiences of train tours South Africa and the world. This is based on its management and ownership by Rovos Rails, a company that is known for its exemplary rail services. South African visitors get a lifetime experience of travelling across a total of seven southern African countries.
Apart from the long journeys, tourists also get to stop at different historical sites, enjoy the best of South African nature and experience the various exotic cultures that mama Africa has to offer.
Four facts on the history of the Shongololo train
1. Why is it called a Shongololo train?
You must be wondering why the train is called Shongololo? In most central, south, and eastern parts of Africa, “Shongololo” is a word used to refer to millipedes. So, what is Shongololo express? The name is derived from the word “ukushonga,” that refers to “rolling up.” The name Shongololo traces back to the early colonial period when the first African people saw the train and called it Shongololo in reference to a millipede.
2. Shongololo express history
The Shongololo South African express officially started its tourist tour services back in 1995 with a carriage that dates back to 1952. The train is currently owned by the Rovos Rail, a private railway firm based in Pretoria, South Africa. Apart from the train’s itineraries, Rovos also owns its lavish hotels that are found at different routes covered by the tourists boarding the train. A good example is the Shongololo Lodge. So, Why the Shongololo Express is considered a luxury train? This is based on the Rovos Rails international rankings as the leading best luxurious train services in Africa and across the world.
3. Rovos Rail-Official owners
On January 2006, Rovos Rail successfully finished the purchase of the Shongololo Express. It also refurbished a total of 19 coaches that form the Shongololo Express coaches. As the new owners, Rovos also maintained all the staff that worked previously in offering room service among other train services. According to the CEO of Rovos Rail Group, Rohan Vos, he quickly acted on purchasing the three-star train since it has always been his wish.
For the train to fit the Rovos Rail standards, the company had to repaint it to green and cream colours. The company also hired multilingual guides who speak English, French, Afrikaans, and even German. Besides, Rovos also added a dining car. For that thrilling open space experience, the company also added an observation car where tourists can enjoy the beautiful scenes in what seems like a balcony as the train moves.
4. Three Itineraries
Currently, Shongololo train trips offer three itineraries. The first is the Southern Cross. This is a 12 days travel journey that starts from Pretoria and ends at Victoria Falls. The second is the Dune Express that is also a 12 day’s journey from Pretoria to Swakopmund; The third is the Good Hope itinerary from Pretoria to Cape Town for an incredible 15 days journey
Did you know that both the 12 to 15 days train travels are a lifetime chance to travel to different South African countries? These include countries like South Africa, since the Rovos Station is based at Pretoria, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia.
One of the major themes in the Shongololo Express is the golfing experience. The train tours enable the guests to experience the different golf courses and participate in games at various stoppage points. The Good-Hope Trip is the latest to be added a golfing experience that led to its new itinerary name as "Good-Hope Golf." Golf enthusiasts can access any of the following golf courses: Arabella Golf Estate, Fancourt, Durban Country Club, Royal Swazi, among others. Non-golfers also have their days well planned-out.
On board the Shongololo Train
As the leading luxury train South Africa, the Shongololo boasts of some of the top class facilities that make the tourists experience thrilling. From its well-stocked bar, you are capable of enjoying your favorite drink and toast from the start to the end of the journey. Additionally, it also provides both dining and observation cars where you can busk from the sunlight rays while still on your journey. The Shongololo bathrooms and cabins are made to provide comfort as they meet the three-star rail services standards.
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You can also select the type of accommodation that best suits you. If you have a family, travelling alone, or with your spouse, the train provides you with four accommodation compartments of choice. In all chambers, the guests receive daily room service schedule. The cabins also contain adequate space and are fitted with closets that come with clothing hangers. You also get laundry services, while power and piped running water is always available at the hand basins. The four types of cabins to select your stay include the Emerald Cabin, Golden Cabin, the Ivory Cabin, and finally the Commodore Cabin.
Food and Beverages
You also get to experience the best food cuisines offered by the train's chefs. Guests onboard enjoy a selection of different breakfast combinations that give you the energy to start your day and based on the activities to experience in the course of the journey. These included English breakfast menus that range from cereals and whatever else you want.
When it comes to dinner menus, it only gets better. Guests are served with some of the most excellent African cuisines. These include mouthwatering themes from traditional African menus. You also get to experience cross-cultural dishes that range from South African plates, Morocco, and Madagascar, based on where you are. For wine lovers, South Africa is the world’s second largest fruit producer and one of the best wine producers. You will also get a chance to participate in wine tasting and the best that wine history has to offer. Guests can also pay for other luxury experiences such as the Shongololo lodge that has the Zebula golf estate.
Shongololo SA express routes
Are you interested in train tours in South Africa? As mentioned earlier, the train offers its guests three adventurous itineraries options to enjoy the best train trips in South Africa. These include the Good-Hope, Southern Cross, and Dune Express.
1. The Good-Hope adventure
In this journey, you get to enjoy 15 days of travel on the luxury machine. The Rovos Rail also offers the trip in the opposite direction. The first day includes a city tour of Cape Town, day two include mountain views an golfing, and on the last day, you will experience a Pilgrim’s Rest.
2. Southern Cross Adventure
This is an exciting 12-day trip that starts from Pretoria and ends at Zimbabwe’s cool scenes of Victoria Falls. You also get to travel across four different states of southern Africa. This begins from South Africa, and exclusive stops at Swaziland, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, where the guests get to experience the Zambezi River majesty. The journey involves excellent experiences of the rainbow nation’s cocktails and wines.
3. Dune Express
The Rovos train trips South Africa offer a 12-day long journey for that dune experience. You get to experience the great Namibia Desert as the train takes off from Pretoria, South Africa, that is in the East, and then moves to the Western country of Namibia. The Rovos Shongololo train also offers the reverse travel experience. You will have the opportunity to visit the center of diamond mining called Kimberley and quench your thirst by visiting the Bezalel Wine and Brandy Estate. The beautiful view of the Orange River and the breathtaking Northern Cape mountains will make your journey memorable. Upon reaching Namibia, you will have a chance to experience the Fish River Canyon, among other exceptional scenarios.
Shongololo Express Train, which is managed by the Rovos Rail, is a three-star one of a kind train that is popularly known for its luxurious cabins and high-quality passenger services. The train’s head station is based at Pretoria, South Africa. Tourists get to enjoy both long and breathtaking itinerates that include the Good-Hope, Southern Cross, and Dune express itineraries. These include 12 to 15 days of train travel experiences that cut across seven southern Africa countries including South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia.