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Rovos Rail: Pretoria to Swakopmund or vice versa

9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 5,125

Ride through the natural wonders of southern Africa on this luxury rail journey aboard Rovos Rail. As you pass from South Africa to Namibia, you'll explore diamond mines, hike through deep canyons and vast deserts, and head on safari game drives while enjoying the unmatched luxury of the classical trains of Rovos Rail.

This 9-day South Africa and Namibia rail tour takes you from the South African capital, Pretoria, through mining country, across the Namibian border to Sossuvlei and Etosha National Park, before ending in Swakopmund on the Atlantic Ocean. It's a journey that lets you experience some of the best landscapes of southern Africa without sacrificing comfort and luxury.

Your South African rail journey begins in Pretoria, South Africa's capital. Here, you'll board one of Rovos Rail's luxury trains, which transport globetrotters back to the golden age of train travel. Rovos Rail's trains have classically-designed sleeping cars, attentive staff, and gourmet restaurants that offer all the comforts of a 5-star hotel along with the romance of the golden age of steam locomotives. As each train only holds up to 72 passengers, you'll know that you'll get the intimate and attentive service that befits a luxury journey across southern Africa.

Once comfortably settled aboard, you'll head out for the Goldfields of Witwatersrand in Gauteng, where you'll find some of the deepest and most significant gold mines in the world. Continue along to Kimberley, where the Diamond Rush of 1871 transformed South Africa into the most important diamond centre in the world. Take an excursion to Big Hole and the Diamond Museum to learn about this period of South African history and admire the modern-day diamond operations run by De Beers. Continue along through the Great Karoo semi-desert plateau, which sits 1,220m high and is one of the driest parts of the country. You'll spot sheep grazing on the spare patches of vegetation as you head for Upington.

Close out the South African portion of your rail journey in Upington, a town known for its abundant produce and wine sitting on the banks of the Orange River. Enjoy a walking tour to learn how the city was founded after the governor defeated the Orange River Pirates. You'll also have a chance to taste some local wines before continuing across the Namibian border into Nakop.

On the Namibia portion of your journey aboard Rovos Rail, you'll visit Fish River Canyon, which is second only to the Grand Canyon in terms of size. Formed over 500 million years ago, the canyon runs 550m deep at points and up to 27km wide. Enjoy a hike along the trickling stream of Fish River and experience the majesty of this natural icon. Then pass through the famous Kalahari Desert on route to Keetmanshoop, where you'll head on a walking tour of this town known for its German colonial-style homes and extreme heat.

Afterwards, connect to Windhoek, where you'll fly to Sossusvlei, the top tourist attraction in Namibia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Sossuslvei Lodge, where you'll enjoy a traditional bush dinner and stay in gorgeous accommodations in the midst of the oldest desert in the world. The next day, head to the Vlei to see the spectacular salt and clay pan with its massive red sand dunes, some of which climb to 380m in height. If you happen to visit on a windy day, you'll see the dunes shifting and changing before your eyes, reshaping and showing off their wide range of colours due to the composition of the sand.

Fly back to Windhoek and continue along the rails to Etosha National Park, over 22,270 square kilometres of desert, savannah, and woodland. Staying at Mokuti Lodge, you'll enjoy game drives through this massive park. As you pass through the bush, you'll spot some of the 114 mammal and 340 bird species that inhabit the park, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, and the endangered black rhino. You're also likely to spot flamingos as there are several important breeding grounds within the park. After two days of Namibia safari drives through Etosha, continue along to Swakopmund, Namibia's adventure capital on the Atlantic Ocean, to end your journey across southern Africa. This journey can also be taken in the opposite direction, starting in Swakopmund and ending in Pretoria.

This African rail journey aboard Rovos Rail showcases the diverse landscapes and incredible natural wonders of southern Africa. It's a luxury journey combined with an unforgettable natural adventure.


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9 Days
Prices From:
US$ 5,125

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Depart from Pretoria

Today your journey starts in Pretoria and departs from the Rovos Rail Capital Station at 3.00pm to travel south towards the Goldfields of the Witwatersrand which is the Gauteng province. Gauteng (pronounced with a guttural 'G') is the smallest and richest of the nine regions formed. The gold-bearing main reef was first struck by an itinerant prospector named George Harrison when he stumbled across an outcrop edging above the surface of the land. From their infancy in the early days of 1886, the Witwatersrand goldfields, stretching along a gentle 120- kilometre curve from Benoni to Krugersdorp, proved themselves unique. The amount of gold in the ore was and still remains low, but the total reservoir of gold-bearing ore appears to be limitless. The deepest mines in the world, 4.7 kilometres below the surface of the earth, are found in South Africa and names like Anglo American, Anglo Vaal, JCI and Gold Fields dominate the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and perforce, the South African economy. The 600 tons of precious metal produced every year by the mining houses has paved the way, directly or indirectly, for the industrialisation and modernisation of a traditional African society.
You will have the opportunity to freshen up once on board and why not join your fellow travelers in the rear of the train which is the observation car. Dinner at 7.30pm in the dining car.

Meal Plan Dinner

Rovos Rail Suite Class

Duration8 Nights

Rovos Rail

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Location View map
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    Rovos Rail

    The golden age of luxury train travel has been renewed in the heart of the African bush. These beautifully restored trains consist of up to 20 coaches that can be drawn by steam, diesel or electric locomotives operating at various stages of the journey. The …

    The golden age of luxury train travel has been renewed in the heart of the African bush. These beautifully restored trains consist of up to 20 coaches that can be drawn by steam, diesel or electric locomotives operating at various stages of the journey. The sleeping cars as well as the observation and dining cars have been splendidly refurbished in the style of the period but with an eye for modern comfort. The train carries a maximum of 72 passengers who are attended by highly motivated members of staff, and provides a cuisine of superb standard. Rovos Rail offers unique rail safaris through some of the most spectacular scenery in Africa.

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Day 2

Kimberly and the Karoo

Breakfast will be served in the dining car between 7.00am-9.45am. You will arrive in Kimberley at 9.45am this morning. Around 9.30am this morning, which is 10 minutes prior to arriving in Kimberley there is a shallow lake on the right hand side where, on most occasions, there is a spectacular flock of flamingos. You will arrive in Kimberley at 9.45am and disembark for your first excursion to the Big Hole and diamond museum. Kimberley is one of South Africa's best-kept secrets. Somewhat off the beaten track, towards the arid northwest of the country, it does not receive the high volume of tourist traffic, which its history and commercial importance would presume. The story of Kimberley is the story of diamonds. Although diamonds had been discovered near Hopetown in 1867, it was the discovery in 1871 of a diamond 'pipe' where the Big Hole now yawns, which triggered the Diamond Rush. Literally thousands of claims were pegged as would-be miners from all corners of the world sought to make their fortunes. In the midst of this competitive chaos emerged two men, wildly different in background, education and temperament but with a similar vision. Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes stamped themselves forcefully upon early Kimberley. Barnato controlled the Kimberley Central Mine, whose diamond pipe lies immediately east of the railway station, and Rhodes controlled the De Beers Mine where the Big Hole is found. In 1888, after intense negotiations, De Beers bought out Barnato and promptly made him a Life Governor of the new De Beers Consolidated Diamond Mines.

The train will depart Kimberly for Upington and travel through the Karoo semi-desert at 12.30pm and lunch will be served in the dining car at 1.00pm. Covering the south-western reaches of the country’s interior plateau is the Great Karoo, a high (1220m/4003ft) and dry region that takes its name from a Khoi word meaning 'land of great thirst'. The vast herds of Springbok of 150 years ago have been replaced by sheep, one of the few animals able to survive on the low-lying scrub that is the common vegetation of the Karoo. Sheep farming has become the main economic activity of the area, often on large farms of thousands of acres. Dinner will be served at 7.30pm.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3

Upington to Namibia border

Breakfast will be served in the dining car between 6.00am-8.00am. An early morning start with a 2 hour walking tour departing at 8.00am, please wear non-slip walking shoes and comfortable clothes. It will be hot so sun tan lotion and hats are strongly recommended. Sir Thomas Upington, attorney general of the Cape, was the man principally responsible for liquidating the business activities of the Orange River pirates and capturing their leader, Klaas Lucas. When the desperadoes were finally chased away in 1884, the town was founded on the banks of the Orange River and named Upington in honour of Sir Thomas. The railway reaches the town by means of a bridge 1067 metres long, the second longest bridge in South Africa. Among the first pioneers were Oom Japie Lutz and the missionary Christiaan Schroder who, in 1890, erected a pump on the banks of the river and started a pontoon ferry. The town is the centre for considerable industry in the production of lucerne, sultanas, raisins, dried fruits, cotton, peas, karakul sheep, goats and cattle, as well as a thriving wine industry.
Lunch will be served at 1.00pm in the dining car and then the afternoon is time to relax as your journey continues onto the Namibian border, which you will cross around 1.30pm at Nakop. Dinner will be served at 7.30pm and the train arrives in Holoog at 11.00pm.

Please ensure the train manager is in possession of your passports before retiring to your suites.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4

Fish River Canyon, Kalahari and Keetmanshoop

Breakfast will be served from 6.00am until 8.00am in the dining car as you start another early morning. You will disembark at 8.00am with an hour transfer to the Fish River Canyon for your visit of this breath-taking site. Please wear non-slip walking shoes and comfortable clothes. It will be hot so sun tan lotion and hats are strongly recommended. Fish River Canyon, second only to the Grand Canyon in Arizona in geological importance and size, developed predominantly during the pluvial times, about 500 million years ago. However, it was not only created by water erosion but through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth's crust. With a depth of up to 550 metres and up to 27 kilometres wide, the enormous gorge meanders along a distance of approximately 160 kilometres through the fissured Koubis Massif all the way down to Ai-Ais. The Fish River is, at 65 kilometres, the longest river in Namibia. Its flow is now a puny trickle compared with the immense volume of water that poured down its length in ages past. It cuts deep into the plateau, which today is dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants such as succulents. The Fish River Canyon hiking trail is one of the most famous hikes in southern Africa. Due to the extreme temperatures, the five-day hike is permitted only during the winter months and covers a distance of 86 kilometres in the floor of the canyon. Only experienced and physically fit hikers attempt the trail and have to apply well in advance for a permit from Namibia Wildlife Resorts.

Back on the train, you will depart at 11.00am for Keetmanshoop while transversing the Kalahari Desert. You can enjoy lunch while the train goes through this open wide land at 1.00pm.

At 3.00pm you will disembark for a 2 hour walking tour of Keetmanshoop. In 1886, the wealthy German industrialist, Johan Keetman, provided funds for a mission station to serve the Nama Khoikhoi in the southern portion of what was then South West Africa. The mission was named Keetmanshoop ('the hope of Keetman') and in a region that was marked by local conflict, raids, rustling and bloody vendettas the small mission town managed to flourish. Many of the buildings were designed in the German colonial style with thick walls and ceilings to fend off the tremendous heat. After the Germans annexed South West Africa in 1884 a garrison was stationed here, first in a small fort and later in a castle-like building which now houses a police station and government offices. The environment of Keetmanshoop is harsh to the eye and relentlessly hot, but provides excellent grazing for karakul sheep and the production of karakul skins is the principle industry. Dinner will be served at 7.30pm.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 5

Windhoek and Sossusvlei

Please pack a small overnight bag. Tog bags have been placed in your suite for your convenience. Comfortable clothes and shoes for hot days and cool evenings are essential. Sun tan lotion and hats are strongly recommended. It can get very cold during the game drives so please take along warm clothing. Breakfast will be served from 7.00am - 9.00am and you will disembark at 9.00am to visit the train museum and a city tour. Once the tour is done you will be transferred to the Eros Airport for your 1 hour flight to Sossusvlei departing at 11.00am to arrive in time for lunch at the Sossusvlei Lodge. You will enjoy traditional bush dinner here and overnight. The lodge is situated adjacent to the oldest desert in the world and is shaded by camel thorn trees which allows, the lodge to blend in perfectly with the spectacular desert surrounds and bears testament to the ingenuity of an eco-friendly design. A dip in the sparkling pool or an ice cold drink under the shady trees in the Acacia garden makes for the best relaxation after an eventful day. The al fresco terrace offers magnificent views of the floodlit waterhole where you can watch the passing parade of oryx, springbok, jackal, ground squirrel and hyena, whilst enjoying exquisite food and wine. Each fully air-conditioned accommodation unit has a patio, en-suite bathroom with shower and a spacious bedroom under canvas with adobe-style plaster walls.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 6

Sossusvlei to Etosha

Today is a very early morning with a drive into the Vlei at 6.00am for a sunrise breakfast over the dunes, a truly spectacular site with all its landscape beauty. It's a photographer’s paradise! As a consequence of its fascinating and surrealistic landscapes, Sossusvlei is one the most photographed places in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sossusvlei area belongs to a wider region of southern Namib with homogeneous features (about 32.000 km2) extending between rivers Koichab and Kuiseb. This area is characterized by high sand dunes of vivid pink-to-orange color, a consequence of a high percentage of iron in the sand and consequent oxidation processes. The oldest dunes are those of a more intense reddish color. These dunes are among the highest in the world; many of them are above 200 metres, the highest being the one nicknamed Big Daddy, about 380 metres high. It mostly comprises small animals that can survive with little water, including a number of arthropods, small reptiles and small mammalians such as rodents or jackals); bigger animals include antelopes (mainly oryxes and springboks) and ostriches.

At 12.00pm you will be transferred back to the landing strip for your one hour flight back to Windhoek, once onboard, lunch will be served at 1.30pm as the train departs Windhoek, travelling north towards the game rich Etosha National Park via Tsumeb. Dinner will be served at 7.30pm.

Day 7

Etosha National Park

Today breakfast will be served in the dining car between 7.00am and 10.00am. Please pack a small overnight bag. Tog bags have been placed in your suite for your convenience. Comfortable clothes and shoes for hot days and cool evenings are essential. Sun tan lotion and hats are strongly recommended. It can get very cold during the game drives so please take along warm clothing. The train arrives at Tsumeb at 10.40am and you will then be transferred to Mokuti Lodge to arrive at 12.45pm. Lunch will be served at the lodge at 1.00pm. Your first game drive will be at 3.00pm this afternoon and return back to the lodge for some relaxation before dinner at 7.00pm.

The park consisting of 22 270 square kilometres of saline desert, savannah and woodlands, is one of the largest parks in Africa. Its definitive feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast, shallow depression of approximately 5000 square kilometres and for the greater part of the year the pan is a place of mirages. Seeing vast herds of game against this eerie backdrop makes the Etosha game-viewing experience unique. Of the 114 mammal species found in the park, several are rare and endangered such as black rhino and blackfaced impala. Other large animals represented in the park are blue wildebeest, mountain and plains zebra, giraffe, hyena, lion, cheetah and leopard. The short tusks of the elephants are a unique characteristic of Etosha. This is caused by some deficiency in the soil, which does not promote healthy growth of tusks. The beneficial effect is that elephants are not so heavily poached. About 340 bird species occur in the park, of which approximately one third are migratory including the European bee-eater and several species of waders. Etosha is one of the most important breeding grounds of Greater and Lesser flamingos in the Southern African region.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to railway line construction between Kranzbreg and Tsumeb, passengers will be transferred by coach from Otjiwaringo Station to Mokuti Lodge.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 8

Etosha National Park

Today you will have your second opportunity to tick some more animals off your list as you venture into the park for another game drive. After an early wake up call, please join your fellow travellers for light refreshments before leaving at 6.00am as that is the best time to catch the wildlife at its most active. On your return from the game drive, breakfast will be served around 9.45am. You will have time to freshen up before departing at 11.30am on the transfer back to the train stationed at Tsumeb and lunch will be served in the dining car at 1.00pm. The rest of the day is at your leisure as the train travels towards Swakopmund. Dinner will be served at 7.30pm.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to railway line construction between Kranzbreg and Tsumeb, passengers will be transferred by coach from Mokuti Lodge to Otjiwaringo Station.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 9


Breakfast will be served between 7.00am-10.00am and the train arrives in Swakopmund at 12.30pm. Swakopmund is a beautifully preserved 19th-century German Hansa town picked up from the Baltic and set down in the desert of Africa. Established by the Germans in 1892 as an alternative port to the British-owned port of Walvis Bay, a jetty was built out to sea to allow the ships to transfer their goods. Planned to be 640 metres long, it had reached 262 metres when war broke out in 1914 and there it still stands. Although the sea is inviting to look at, the temperature of the Benguela current racing up from Antarctica is approximately 13C. The original German railway station is particularly fine, built in 1901, but has now been turned into a hotel and casino. Often mistaken by visitors for a hotel is the Swakopmund Jail, which resembles a Bavarian villa with its ornamented exterior. To some extent the town is personified by the small but solid steam engine positioned on the left of the road when approaching the coastal town from the interior. Known as Martin Luther, the engine was an attempt to transport goods more efficiently than by customary ox wagon. The 'steam-ox' was imported from Germany in 1896, but unfortunately the project was doomed to failure as the steam tractor constantly became bogged down in the sand and required far too much water to operate. You will be assisted with disembarkation.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information


Pretoria to Swakopmund: Apr 8, 29; May 6
Swakopmund to Pretoria: Apr 18; May 9, 16


  • 8 night accommodation aboard train in choice of cabin category
  • All meals and beverages onboard the train
  • All sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Relevant entrance fees
  • 24 hour full room service aboard the train


  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees (if required)
  • Meals and beverages not specifically indicated in the itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature


Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please enquire.

6 May 2021
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