AFRICAN TRAIN JOURNEYS
- The Blue Train, South Africa
- Rovos Rail, South & East Africa (Itineraries)
- Shongololo Express, Southern Africa
- Country Quickfacts
- Things to know before you go
- Best Time to Go
- Arrival Guide
- South African Trivia
- Phrases and Words in 4 of the official languages
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Cape Town, 4 days
- Johannesburg, 3 days
- Beautiful Knysna, 3 days
- Sun City, 3 days
- Durban, 3 days
- Cape Winelands, 3 days
INDEPENDENT TRAVEL IDEAS
- Cape Town and Kruger, 12 days
- Cape Highlights and Safari First Class Option
- Panoramas Best, 3 days
- Winelands and Wildlife, 10 days
- Kruger Park Adventure, 3 days
- Savanna Style, 10 days
INDEPENDENT LUXURY TRAVEL
- Cape Gourmet, 8 days
- Cape Highlights and Safari Deluxe Option
- Route of the African Sun, 9 days
- Ultimate South Africa, 12 days
- Zululand Spectacular
- Splendours of the Cape, 9 days
- Cape Town to Kenya, 41 days
- Cape Desert Safari, Northbound, 11 days
- Cape Desert Safari, Southbound, 11 days
- Great Kruger Walking Trek, 5 days
- Transkalahari Adventure, 21 days
- World in one Adventure Lodge Safari, 19 days
- South West Safari, 19 days
- Zanzibar, Victoria Falls and Kruger, 22 days
FAMILY FRIENDLY HOLIDAYS
UNIQUE SMALL ESCORTED GROUPS
HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME
- Magic of Africa, 20 days
EXCLUSIVE GAME LODGES
- Kruger Area
- Eastern Cape Area
- Northern Cape Area
- Kwa Zulu Natal, 3 days
- North West Province
- Limpopo Province
- Project Rhino Kwa-Zulu Natal
- Mpumalanga Excursions
- Car Rental
- Eastern Cape Beach Safari, 9 days
- Garden Route, Winelands & Whales, 7 days
- Kwa-zulu Natal, Beach & Bush, 7 days
- Scenery, Culture & Game, 7 days
AFRICA STAYS OF DISTINCTION
- 15 on Orange, South Africa
- Alfajiri Villas, Kenya
- Billa Lodge, Tanzania
- Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai
- Cape Grace, Cape Town
- Chedi Muscat, Oman
- Chobe Chilwero, Botswana
- Desroches Island, Seychelles
- Fairmont Zimbali, South Africa
- Feynan Eco-Lodge, Jordan
- Franschhoek Country House and Villas, South Africa
- Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
- Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
- Kempinksi Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
- Little Kulala, Namibia
- Little Ongava, Namibia
- Makololo Plains, Zimbabwe
- Maradiva Villas, Maurtius
- Matemwe, Tanzania
- Medjumbe Private Island, Mozambique
- Melrose Arch, South Africa
- Mount Kenya Safari Club, Kenya
- Oberoi Mena House, Cairo
- One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai
- Oyster Box, South Africa
- The Palace of the Lost City, Sun City
- Pezula, South Africa
- Royal Livingstone, Zambia
- Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania
- Six Senses Evason Ma'ln Hot Springs, Jordan
- Table Bay, Cape Town
- Taj Hotel, Cape Town
- Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe
- Westcliff, South Africa
South Africa Rail Experience
- FACILITIES &
When the indigenous people of the southern continent observed the first trains in Africa the lines of rolling stock passing on the distant horizons recalled the profile and sinuous movement of a creature, they called "Shongololo" - "the millipede".
Shongololo Express began operations in 1995 to provide a very special touring experience for visitors to Southern Africa.
Just as the ocean cruise, this very special rail cruises take care of our guests' every need. For duration on board all your requirements for a superb holiday are provided: transport, accommodation, meals, recreation, sightseeing and - what a pleasure - you need to unpack and only pack once.
The trains travel comfortably and securely during the night to the next stop on the itinerary and you awake each morning to a fresh vista on Africa and the anticipation of new and exciting adventures. In this way Shongololo guests can make the most of every precious holiday hour.
FULL SERVICE TRAVELLING HOTEL
Shongololo Express offers one of the most interesting, unusual and value packed ways to explore Africa. aboard a fully serviced travelling hotel train. You'll meet like-minded people from all over the world. Socialize, tour or relax as much as you want to and be rocked gently through the night to the rhythm of the tracks. By travelling at night, you awake each dawn to a different, exciting destination and have the whole day to explore the sights and sounds of a new environment.
Unique to Shongololo is that they also carry their own fleet of mini vans for guided sightseeing touring during the day. There is a variety of things to do, so you can pick and choose from the detailed daily tour options.
Daily breakfast and dinner is also included. Each night you will dine on uniquely African cuisine from Cape Dutch and Malay to authentic African dishes.
Your home aboard the train is a simple yet comfortable twin bedded compartment. You'll find a shower and bathroom just down the corridor and there's more than enough storage. Life aboard is informal and more importantly, no packing and unpacking as your hotel travels with you.
- The total seating capacity on all Shongololo Express trains is forty. This means that there will be two meal sittings each day.
- Meal times largely depend on the activities planned for the day, but meals are generally served at the following times:
- Breakfast from 06h00 to 08h00 (breakfast offers both a traditional English and Continental breakfast selection).
- Dinner from 18h30 to 21h30
- The chefs offer South African menus that include Cape Malay recipes as well as authentic Central, West and Southern African specialties. Meals are complemented by a selection of delightful and distinguished South African wines. It is the aim and the pleasure of every staff member on board to provide you with friendly and efficient service.
Please inform your travel agent of any special dietary requirements so they can inform Shongololo Express.
As Shongololo Express is a licensed establishment, a corkage fee of ZAR50.00 per bottle for wine, and ZAR20.00 per can/bottle for minerals and water will apply accordingly.
- Lounge / bar carriages on the Shongololo Express trains have the following features:
- Accommodates approximately forty guests
- Fully licensed
- All are non-smoking areas
- The dress code is casual
The bar will be open daily from early in the morning until late at night.
- All vehicles are fitted with a Public Address system
- Vehicles are carried on board the Train, which makes Shongololo Express a unique concept worldwide
- Specially adapted, fully air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinters are used.
- English, German, Dutch or French speaking guides, other languages on request.
- Local guides are sometimes used to help with local knowledge, Shongololo Express guides travel with the train.
- Guides and vehicles will be rotated on a daily basis. Language groups will be considered. Please feel free to discuss questions or queries with your Guide or Train Manager at any time.
- Tailor make itinerary from daily choice of up to 4 excursions.
- Majority rule applies in the event that there are not enough passengers to operate any one excursion.
- All optional extra tours must be requested at least 48 hours in advance. All daytime excursions set out in the itinerary are included in the tour price.
- All evening options are excluded from the price, but transfers and guides for these excursions are included.
- Daily excursions will be entered onto the white board, which is located in the lounge area. Please indicate your choice of activity in the space provided. The Train Manager will add a vehicle number next to your name for easy reference for the next days touring.
- Daily departure times depend on the nature of the activity. Most activities depart at 08h00, while others may depart earlier. Please check the information board to confirm.
- In the event that various inclusive options are offered and only a small number of passengers choose a specific tour, that particular activity may have to be cancelled at the Train Manager's discretion. Alternative options will be given.
- As many specialized off-rail activities are subcontracted to Tour Operators, certain options may not be available from time to time and are subject to availability and price adjustments.
- Kindly advise the Train Manager as soon as possible if you would like to book any of the specialized off-rail activities available on a particular day.
Clients will be requested to sign for on-board purchases throughout the trip. This includes signing for drinks, additional excursions, purchases of a personal nature, etc. All accounts are to be settled on the evening before departure. Please note that drinks purchased on the last night of the trip will be settled by way of a "cash bar" basis. Accounts may be settled by means of:
- South African Rand
- Major foreign currencies
- Travellers Cheques
- Credit Cards
- Regrettably debit cards are not accepted
Kindly note that credit card payments will be converted into ZAR at the exchange rate of the day.
A minimal cash advance facility can be made available while on board and debited to your account. The amount advanced will carry a 10% surcharge.
Banks can be found in most of the towns we travel through. Therefore, should you prefer to go into a bank or foreign exchange provider, arrangements can be made two days prior to the touring day. A nominal transportation fee will be levied.
For your convenience, it can be arranged that an American Express Foreign Exchange Representative meets you on board at the beginning or at the end of the trip. This service is dependent on passenger demand and requires full details of your exchange requirements prior to the arrival of the Representative. This service is not available in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The electric current on board is 220 volt. Each compartment is fitted with a round pin socket (South African style). Adapter plugs and extension cables are available from the train management assistants. Power is supplied by a generator. Please treat sockets as live at all times.
Although first-aid equipment is carried on board, limited medical facilities are available in some areas. We therefore request that the Train Manager be immediately advised of any possible medical requirements, should you require medical assistance.
Game Drives in open 4x4 safari vehicles can be arranged as an optional excursion in certain areas. As the early mornings and evenings can become rather chilly, when one is sitting in an open vehicle, we recommend that warm clothing be brought along.
- In accordance with the southern African smoking act, designated smoking areas are provided.
- The train has a dedicated smoking area in part of the lounge which is in effect only when the train is moving.
- Smoking is not permitted in the public lounge, dining car, bathrooms, your cabin or touring vehicle.
- Smoking of pipes/cigars is not permitted in the designated smoking area.
A laundry service is offered on board. A laundry bag is provided in your compartment. Clean laundry will be returned within 24 to 48 hours - the return time is dependent on weather conditions.
Mail can be sent by using a post box, which is located in the lounge area. Items to be mailed can also be handed to the Train Manager. Wherever possible, mail is posted every day. If guests do not have stamps they only need put their cabin number where the stamp will be affixed.
Should you discover that something in your carriage or cabin does not work, please advise the Train Manager in order for it to be repaired / replaced as soon as possible.
Shongololo Express uses the railway tracks of the National Railways of multiple countries. Therefore the possibility exists that the trains will run late from time to time. Should any of the trains be delayed, land activities may have to be shortened, altered or cancelled - for which we don't accept responsibility - and cannot refund - since its out of our control and therefore unavoidable.
There is a small safe located in each cabin. The key will be handed to you by the Train Manager, together with the key to your compartment. Replacement of keys and the opening of the safe will be charged for, as determined by the locksmith.
As the railway environment can be dangerous, please take care when looking out of open windows.
In order to avoid accidents, we request that guests adhere to the following:
- Never open exterior doors while the Train is moving.
- Never jump off or onto the Train while it is moving.
- An emergency communications cord is located half way down each corridor. This cord is to be used only in the case of an emergency. If it is used in a non-emergency situation, the culprit will be fined ZAR10,000.
- Please ensure that all valuables, documents and cash are kept in a safe place.
- Management and staff will not accept responsibility for any loss of personal property or cash if it's not safely put away.
- Do not stray from well-frequented areas after dark.
- Change foreign currency at an authorized dealer only.
Sheets are changed every third day and towels are changed every second day. Extra pillows and blankets are available on request.
Showers & Toilets:
The water used on the Trains is carried in tanks under each coach. These tanks are filled every day, but they cannot be topped up while the Trains are en-route. Please assist us by using water responsibly. Please note that water from the faucets is not suitable for drinking.
Due to poor reception in some areas, we do not have a telephone service on board. Should you however need to contact your Train Manager urgently while on tour, you will be provided with their mobile numbers upon check-in.
This is entirely at the guest's discretion. Tips will be divided equally between members of staff. Our recommended gratuity for the full trip is between R700.00 and R750.00 per guest. Gratuities may be added to the final account or can be handed to the Train Manager. Please do not tip staff members individually.
Please feel free to ask the Train Manager for assistance with regards to items that may have been forgotten.
We strongly advise against drinking the water in the cabins or bathrooms as it is not suitable for drinking. Bottled water is recommended and can be purchased from the bar or off the train at a local store/market.
The Shongololo Express trains carry a capacity of 72 sharing passengers. Each train has its own bar, dining and accommodation carriages. As in any hotel, bedding and towels are provided and cabins are serviced daily. Cabins have some storage space and closets are equipped with both hangers and shelving. All passenger compartments have hand basins and running water. Power is 220v AC and European plug adaptors are provided. In addition, there is an onboard laundry service.
As a relaxed atmosphere prevails on board, comfortable clothing is recommended. Winter in South Africa can be very cold and it is therefore advisable to bring along warm clothing for early mornings and evenings.
Shongololo Cabin Descriptions:
Ivory Cabin: Single bed or Twin beds with fan, safe and hand basin. Shared facilities which comprise 2 toilets and 1 shower per Ivory carriage.
Gold Cabin: Twin beds with en-suite toilet, hand basin and shower, air-conditioning, heating and safe.
Commodore Cabin: Twin beds with en-suite toilet, hand basin and shower, air-conditioning, heating and safe.
Emerald Cabin: Double bed or twin beds with en-suite toilet, hand basin and shower, air-conditioning, heating, safe and lounge area.
Air-conditioning (where available) will be operational while the generator is running (usually from 05h00 to 09h00 and 16h30 to 24h00). Dining carriages are air-conditioned.
Compartment and safe keys will be handed to you by the Train Manager upon checking in. In the event that your keys are lost, or not handed back, a replacement fee of ZAR250.00 will be charged.