Blue Train

The Blue Train has been hailed as the most luxurious train in the world. Characterized by its carriages of rich gold, deep blue and warm wood paneling, the train has been described as the equivalent of a five-star hotel on wheels. Deluxe and Luxury compartments are elegantly decorated and have single or double beds, lounge chairs, a writing desk, individual air conditioning control, internal telephones and remote controlled television. En-suite bathrooms with either a bath or shower are decorated in Italian marble. Other amenities include an on board laundry service, 24 hour room service and a discreet professional butler.

Lunch on board the train is elegantly casual while dinner is more formal and is served on fine bone china with silver cutlery and cut-crystal glasses. High tea is served in the Lounge Car while in the Club Car - complete with card tables, reading chairs and a fully equipped bar - passengers can contemplate the track ahead from the locomotive driver's point of view. This is uniquely captured by a front of train camera and depicted on a large screen. Short films about the areas through which the train passes are also shown.

The Blue Train from Cape Town to Pretoria is a one night journey and departs from Cape Town Station at 1100. The train travels through Paarl, framed by the purple Drakenstein Mountains and dotted with beautiful old Cape Dutch buildings. It then makes its way through Worcester, gateway to the Hex River Valley, where most of South Africa's export grapes are grown, then onwards to De Doorn and Touws Valley.

The next town of interest is Matjiesfontein, which was once the headquarters of the British forces. Beaufort West and the Karoo that covers approximately two thirds of South Africa are next. The Karoo derives its name from the Hottentot language and means "thirstland". The train travels though De Aar, the second largest railway junction in South Africa before reaching Kimberley, famous for its diamonds and the largest hand-excavated hole in the world - The Big Hole. As sunlight breaks, the train begins to follow the "golden arc", a 500 km river of gold stretching from the Welkom gold fields of the Free State to Evander in Mpumalanga and then Klerksdorp and Gauteng, before pulling into Pretoria Station where the journey comes to an end at 12h40.

Between Pretoria and Victoria Falls, grassy plains dotted with precariously balancing granite castle outcrops roll into dense bush as the Blue Train journeys deeper into the heart of the African bush. Stopping in Bulawayo for a few hours, guests spend time exploring this old colonial town on the banks of the Matsheumlope river, one of the mighty Zambezi tributaries.

From Matsheumlope River, the Blue Train journeys towards the mysterious hills of the Matobo. The train then journeys alongside the game rich Hwange National Park towards the thundering Victoria Falls, named after Queen Victoria by British Explorer David Livingstone in 1855.

From Pretoria to Cape Town....

In the morning will be transferred to Pretoria Station where you board the Blue Train which departs at 0850 on a one night journey to Cape Town. From the Jacaranda City, The Blue Train glides past the gold fields of the Witwatersrand, the grain, fruit and sunflower farms of the northern Cape, on to Kimberley, seat of South Africa's original diamond rush. Kimberley is where Cecil John Rhodes established De Beers, today the biggest diamond mining concern in the world.

The journey, heading smoothly and silently towards the heart of South Africa's finest Winelands and one of the fairest cities on earth: Cape Town, covers 1 600km (994 miles).

Scan the desolately beautiful Karoo thirstlands where ancient fossils attest to its history as a primeval swamp, where ostriches run wild, where the skies erupt into dramatic sunsets and from which Olive Schreiner, author of the classic South African novel, Story of an African Farm, drew much of her inspiration.

Imbibe the emerald green Eden of the Hex River Valley, where most of South Africa's export grapes are grown. Late autumn produces one of the world's most extravagant natural sights when the barlinka vines transform into blazing crimson. The Hex River is also famous for one of South Africa's most romantic and ghostly legends about a beautiful young girl, Eliza Meiring who, in 1768, went mad after her beloved fell to his death in the forbidding Matroosberg Mountains.

Crossing the Hex River mountain range was a daunting task for surveyors in 1876 who had to plot the course the tracks should follow. The 16.3km (10.13-mile) Hex River Tunnel system, the fourth longest in the world, is a monument to advanced engineering skills.

Head to the town of Paarl, set in a wide, fertile valley surrounded by majestic, purple-hued mountains. Established in 1720 by French Huguenot settlers, the oak-lined streets are distinguished by beautiful old Cape Dutch buildings.

Finally, the distinctive shape of Table Mountain appears in the distance as The Blue Train approaches Cape Town. In 1652 the Dutch East India Company established a settlement here to replenish the busy spice trade ships with fresh produce. Now a magnificent cosmopolitan city, Cape Town is one of the cultural centers of South Africa with fine art, architecture, music and, of course, wine.

On arrival into Cape Town Station at 1200 you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

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