Indulge in delicious meals and silver service
Travel through breath-taking countryside
Opulent suites and marble bathrooms
Enjoy high-tea in the lounge carriage
Shop in the boutique for African gems
Year-round destination. The summers are generally warm and dry, while winters tend to be wet and cool, the rains brought on by fierce north westerly gales. Neither season experiences extremes of temperature, thanks to prevailing winds. Summer (Nov-Mar) is the hottest with temperatures 20-40°C. Mid season (Apr, May, Sep, Oct) temps between 10-30°C. Winter (from June- Aug) is the low season with temps 0-25°C.
Relax in luxurious surroundings as South Africa's beautiful scenery passes by.
Relax in luxurious surroundings as South Africa's beautiful scenery passes by.
The Blue Train offers a novel way to travel through some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery in South Africa between Cape Town and Pretoria. It comprises of two luxurious trains, elegantly appointed to ensure maximum comfort and personal service.
The Blue Train has an aura of mystique about it. This magnificent moving five-star hotel dates back to the 1920s. Its very name has become synonymous with the ultimate in luxury and personal service and presidents and kings have travelled aboard the Blue Train.
The routes of The Blue Train - both scheduled and chartered - take guests through some of the most breathtaking countryside to be found anywhere in the world.
Two luxurious trains make the 27-hour (994 mile) journey between Pretoria and Cape Town, sleeping up to 82 guests in 41 suites. Each suite has its own bathroom with either a shower or bath. There are two Luxury Coaches which have three suites each with bathrooms fitted with baths. The Deluxe Coaches have four suites per coach. One of the four suites has a bathroom with a bath, while the other three have showers. The beds have been custom-designed for The Blue Train - your butler will pull them out, already made, from a space in the suite wall, converting the lounge into a comfortable bedroom. White cotton sheets and down duvets are the standard linen throughout the train. 10 of the suites feature double beds on the first train, while there are nine on the second. The luxury suites have hi-fi, audio CD and VHS video systems.
The dining car provides seating for 42 people. There are two sittings for lunch and dinner. Lunch is smart-casual, dinner is jacket and tie for the men and elegant wear for the ladies, while breakfast is casual. Each of the trains has two lounges: the main lounge car in which high tea is served each afternoon, and the club car where guests can relax over a post-prandial cognac. The club car is the only public area available for smoking.
There are two trains, the first train accommodates 74 guests in 37 suites. The second accommodates 58 guests in 29 suites and features a conference or observation car at the back of the train.
Each suite has its own bathroom with either a shower or bath. There are two luxury coaches which both have three suites with bathrooms fitted with tubs. The other nine De Luxe coaches have four suites per coach. One of the four suites has a bathroom with a bath, while the other three have showers.
The beds have been custom-designed for The Blue Train. A butler pulls them out, already made, from a space in the suite wall, converting the lounge into a comfortable bedroom. White cotton sheets and down duvets are the standard linen throughout the train
There are no specific child care facilities available but children of all ages are most welcome on board the Blue Train.
Each coach has a butler on call to attend to guests' every need. The butlers serve a maximum of four suites and are there to ensure that your experience is as memorable and comfortable as possible.
The train manager is also on call at all times. Guests can contact him whenever they require assistance or if they would like information pertaining to their journey.
Facilities on board include a dining car and two lounges. There is a camera mounted on the front of both trains giving guests a driver's-eye-view of the scenery ahead. The unfolding journey is shown on a TV screen in the club car and on one of the TV channels so guests can view it in their suites.
Each suite is also equipped with a cellular communication telephone which can be used for phone calls and to reach train staff.
The Blue Train has a jewellery boutique selling lovely African gems.
I awake with a start. In complete darkness. The luminous hands on my watch tell me its after seven. Yet, there is no morning light. With an equal start, I realise I am travelling through the Hex River Tunnel. I am on the Blue Train. In South Africa. The Hexton is a 13,400m single track rail tunnel in the Western Cape Province, the longest in South Africa. Bored through solid rock, work began on it originally in 1945 but was abandoned three years later due to a lack of funds. The tunnel was eventually opened on November 27, 1989.
I peruse the little library in the smoking lounge. The titles on the well-worn covers tell tales of days long gone. Forever Africa, Wildest Africa, The Paradise Coast, extraordinary Railway Journey. The gentle rolling steps up a pace or two and we top 85kph. The lounge is filling up. Everyone seems to be here. A couple move to the settee beside me. They are Sotho. Travelling the Blue Train is out of reach of most South Africans, whatever colour. The only other black passenger on the train, Garrick, is a charming young man, but he is from Alabama.
I return to my suite to wallow in its opulence. The comfortable bed is a settee by day, everything is rich mahogany, the taps in the bathroom pure gold. A channel on the TV is dedicated to the journey, using a camera on the front of the engine, to record our klipklopping along the line of the 36-hour trip to Cape Town. Maria, my valet everyone is assigned a valet looks after my every whim, down to turning down the bed at night. In my suite I am lost in a perpetual silence, stretched out languidly and watching the world go by, mesmerised by the landscapes ever-changing and exquisite beauty. Before dressing for dinner after a long champagne-fuelled soak in the antiquated porcelain bath, the Blue Train stops at the historic town of Kimberley to visit the Big Hole the largest hole in the world excavated by hand. The ghost town has considerable historical significance due its diamond-mining past and siege during the Second Boer War. Cecil John Rhodes made his fortune here, and the roots of the De Beers Corporation can also be traced to the early days of the mining town. Dinner that evening is a civilised affair with gentlemen in ties and frocks for the ladies. My choice of Zuppa Del Casale Romano, a soup of Parma ham and garden vegetables is followed by Chicken Florentina, the breast stuffed with spinach and mozzarella, garlic and a basil cream sauce. A good Viognier, this one an intriguing and rare Rhne variety of which South Africa has minute plantings, accompanies my meal that is topped off with a healthy portion of chocolate tarte with a white chocolate sauce.
Conversation continues late into the evening and is, naturally, of politics and the new South Africas standing in the world. And, of course, the forthcoming World Cup. And so back to my rude awakening on day two, as we continue our southbound journey into the heartland of the Great Karoo. Vineyards and orchards greet us as we as descend through mysterious and beautiful valleys and mountains, such as Drakenstein, Slanghoek and Elandskloof and on towards Cape Town's imposing and instantly recognisable Table Mountain, sentinel and gateway to the African continent.
For decades one of the worlds most renowned passenger trains, the Blue Train combines the creature comforts of a more leisurely way of travelling, including a personal butler service, with gourmet dining to tempt modern travellers. Suites are elegantly furnished with the walls featuring Anigr veneer panelling framed by solid birch, with intricate marquetry inlays. Gold leaf and brass wall sconces complement bathroom floors inlaid with Gialo Royale Italian marble. All the fittings are plated in 24-carat gold. The retro look was created for a new train to run between Cape Town and Pretoria and on to the Victoria Falls in 1997. The following year a second identical train came into service, allowing more destinations to be added to the routes. The observation car at the back offers a panoramic view of the passing countryside, the small industrial estates of panel beaters, granite contractors and electrical outlets on the edge of Cape Town giving way to fields of melons lying low on the ground like giant eggs dropped by an alien spaceship. Workers in blue overalls were busy in the vineyards around Stellenbosch, waving as they glimpsed the train gliding past. We stopped off for a glass of sherry at Matjiesfontein, to view the Victorian splendours of a former centre of British operations during the Boer War, before taking dinner in the dining car which seats 42 passengers at each of the two sittings. A choice of Karoo lamb, snoek fish, oysters and crayfish soon eroded my determination not to over-eat. A wonderful wine cellar and accommodating waiters made abstinence impossible, an experience apparently shared by my fellow passengers. Come morning, I was watching the African bush roll past through the bathroom window as I soaked in a bubble-filled tub.With a top speed of 68mph, the soothing rhythm of the train was reassuring as we made our peaceful progress north.
Bay Harbour Market is situated on the water’s edge in an old fish factory in Hout Bay Harbour. The market boasts more than 100 stalls selling a huge variety of local produce from arts and crafts to fashion, jewellery and authentic South African food.
What better way to experience the varied landscapes of the Cape Peninsula than by bike? Bike and Saddle has six routes ranging from a three hour tour around Cape Town, to a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula, there is something to suit everyone.
Table Mountain, at 1086 metres above sea level, forms the impressive backdrop to Cape Town. An impressive natural landmark with a 3km flat plateau at the summit, a cable car trip to the top is the best way to experience its breathtaking views.
This guided day out is perfect for the whole family with treasure hunts in Kirstenbosch Gardens, fishing in Kalk Bay, stand up paddle boarding with penguins and game viewing in the Cape peninsula reserve.
Hire a classic car for the day and cruise the beautiful winding coastal roads of the cape.
La Colombe has relocated to the Silvermist Organic Wine Estate at the top of Constantia Nek. Enjoy sweeping views of the Constantia Valley and Hout Bay, and feast on head chef Scot Kirton's creations. Commonly called the best restaurant in Constantia.
Peter Tempelhoff, executive chef at The Greenhouse, stays on the cutting-edge of South African cuisine with ever-changing seasonal menus, showcasing contemporary cooking techniques and culinary styles.
Explore the City Bowl area of Cape Town along the streets of Long and Kloof. Kloof Street runs downhill from the lower slopes of Table Mountain to merge with Long Street and descend to the Waterfront area.
On the first Thursday of every month explore the art galleries of Cape Town until late. Museums and cultural attractions open their doors and allow visitors to spend the evening discovering the rich culture of the city.
Discover the tumultuous history of South Africa with a guided walking tour around Cape Town, and meet some of the residents, with a chance to learn about how they come together to create a strong community in the city's townships.
Your driver will collect you and drive you down the west coast of the Cape Peninsula. He will introduce you to the geography and cultural history, culminating at the Cape itself. You will drive back via Boulders Beach to see the penguins.
Great white shark cage diving is an experience like no other. To get up close to the ocean's number one predator in its natural environment is a humbling experience you will never forget.
Is there a cooler way to explore the Cape and wider South Africa than hiring a Harley-Davidson and winding your way along the coastal roads or through the mountainous Winelands?
Afternoon tea at The Mount Nelson hotel is a must do whilst staying in Cape Town. The Mount Nelson Hotel serves tea from 14.30 onwards, book for a vast variety of sandwiches, pastries, and loose-leaf teas.
Why not do something a bit different during your stay in Cape Town, get outdoors and experience some of the best climbing and hiking in the world? Take a hike or rock climbing trip up Table Mountain whilst taking in the breathtaking views all around you.
For a unique day out in Cape Town, take a horseback ride along the five-mile long, picturesque Noordhoek Beach. Noordhoek is the longest beach in Cape Town and has spectacular views of Table Mountain and the Chapman's Peak.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, and thought by many to be the most beautiful garden in Africa. Don't miss out on a visit to this magical treasure of Cape Town.
For the adrenaline junky, paragliding over Cape Town is the ultimate way to witness incredible views of the city. Take off from Lions Head or Signal Hill and let your instructor do the flying while you sit back and simply take it all in.
There are few places on earth where you can enjoy an experience quite like this. Get up close to the breeding colony of penguins, share their little sandy beach and even paddle into the sea to swim with them.
A short ferry ride from the V and A Waterfront in Cape Town is the famous Robben Island, a cultural must-do when staying in Cape Town, this trip gives an insight into South Africa's difficult history, as well as brilliant views across Cape Towns harbour.
Seal Island, is a small island, around 200 meters in length and a 15-minute boat ride from Hout Bay. The island has become a breeding colony for around 6000 Cape Fur Seals and several operators offer daily trips to the island.
The V&A waterfront in Cape Town houses over 226 shops and is an excellent place to visit for evening entertainment, shopping, cafés, and al-fresco dining.
Take the opportunity to explore the wonderful acres of Babylonstoren's gardens. Team up with the gardeners for a fun and interactive experience.
Uthando South Africa is an award winning, international and innovative Non Profit and Fair Trade certified organisation which raises funds for community development projects in Cape Town and South Africa.
The stunning cliff scenery surrounding Cape Town is part of the dramatic South African coastline. Visit the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Agulhas for the beautiful views across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, that meet at the most southern tip of Africa.
Set in the City Bowl area of Cape Town, a walk around the Company's Garden is an introduction to the very origins of the city itself. Originally established in 1647, the Dutch East India Company used this garden to re-supply its ships passing the Cape.
Southern right whales visit the Western Cape from about June to December every year. These beautiful gentle giants congregate to the shores of Hermanus all the way along the coast line towards Plettenberg Bay.
South Africa is well known for its exquisite Winelands and Constantia was one of the first wine-producing areas in the western cape, dating back to the 1600s, spend a day visiting the areas famous vineyards as you take in the beautiful scenery.
From artisan coffee and craft beer to traditional food, chocolate and cheese, taste your way around the city as you explore the backstreets and secrets alleys where the locals like to go.
The trains runs from Pretoria to Cape Town and vice versa. The route between Pretoria and Cape Town is a 27-hour journey of 1 600 kilometres (994 miles), through some of the most diverse and spectacular scenery offered by the African sub-continent.
On the Southbound trip, the train departs from Pretoria main train station at 8:50 and arrives in Cape Town train station at 12:00 the following day.
On the Northbound journey, the train leaves Cape Town at 08:50 and arrives in Pretoria at 12:30, in time for high tea the following day. It stops at Matjiesfontein for an off-the-train excursion.
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