16 January 2017
The luxurious Shongololo Express began operations in 1995 to provide a very special touring experience around Southern Africa. And on this stunning journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg you will sleep in comfortable en-suite cabins, enjoy sumptuous meals in historic dining cars and watch wildlife from an observation car with open-air balcony. The train carries a fleet of touring vehicles with professional guides on board to take you on the off-rail activities, including safaris, and if you are a golfer you will love the opportunities to play great courses.
Check out of your hotel for a full-day tour of Cape Town before being taken to Cape Town Station. The tour starts with a walk through the Company Gardens, followed by a visit to the Bo-Kaap Museum. You then make your way to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, stopping at Diamond Works to see the cutting studio. After lunch on the stylish waterfront you are driven through District Six, before ending with a visit to the Castle of Good Hope. Then settle in to your cabin on the Shongololo Express as you head for Worcester.
Today after arriving at Worcester, you drive the 100 mile scenic route to Hermanus, travelling over the Rooihoogte and Floorshoogte passes. Hermanus is included in the list of the12 best whale-viewing sites in the world, topping the list when it comes to land-based whale watching from the town's natural cliffs where whales can be seen from as close as five metres away. For golfers, there's the chance to play a round at Arabella Country Estate's beautiful course. Then return to the train and depart for Voorbaai..
After leaving the train this morning you are driven to Knysna for a lagoon ferry ride at Featherbed Nature Reserve or for shopping. Enjoy dinner at Fancourt Golf Estate. Golfers can go to the Ernie Els Oubaai Golf Club for tee off, returning to the train in the late afternoon. The drive from George to Knysna is along the coast and in the heart of the famed Garden Route. Along the scenic Old Passes Route to Knysna are lush forests and a peaceful lagoon.
Today you have the options of being driven over the Outeniqua Pass to visit the Cango Caves, playing golf and visiting an ostrich farm. You board the train in Oudtshoorn for the journey to Graaff Reinet. Surrounded by the natural beauty of this semi-desert region, Oudtshoorn is situated at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountain Range and is regarded as the centre of the Klein Karoo and is world-renowned for its Cango Caves and the breeding of ostriches.
Today after breakfast on the Shongololo Express enjoy a guided walking tour of Graaff Reinet before returning to the train for the journey to Kimberley. Tucked into the bend of the Sundays River, the Karoo town of Graaff Reinet was established in 1786 and is the fourth oldest settlement in South Africa. It's a stylish town with at least 200 historical buildings, restored pre-Victorian homes in almost every street and a collection of museums and galleries celebrating its past.
Today you visit Kimberley's Big Hole and Diamond Museum and in the afternoon the William Humphreys Art Gallery and McGregor Museum before the train leaves for Bloemfontein. Golfers can play at Kimberley Golf Club. The capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is well known for the discovery of diamonds which led to its establishment in 1893. After the visits to the mines you have lunch at one of the restaurants in the city before the afternoon museum visits.
A full-day tour of Bloemfontein including the Women's Memorial and Anglo Boer Museum. Bloemfontein is the seat of the South African judicial system and was also capital of the old Boer Republic of The Orange Free State. Take a drive through the capital of the Free State Province, also known as the Rose City. Lunch is at the Loch Logan Waterfront and in the afternoon drive up to Naval Hill for panoramic views. End the day at the Olivenhuis, which houses a big collection of local art. Then return to the train and depart for Ladysmith.
Today there's a full-day battlefields tour taking in the Siege Museum, Wagon Hill and Spionkop, while golfers can play at the Champagne Sports Resort. Trace the course of the Anglo Boer Wars at the Siege Museum in Ladysmith and Wagon Hill is where both the South Africans and British suffered heavy losses. Visit Spionkop and walk in the footsteps of three great leaders, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and General Louis Botha. Then return to the train and depart for Durban.
Today there's a full-day city tour of Durban including Victoria Market and Shaka Marine World or take a spiritual tour to Mariannhill Monastery and the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement. Golfers can play at Durban Country Club. Durban is the third largest city of South Africa and this tour will allow you to see a good mix of old and new, East and West with a touch of Africa. Enjoy the botanical gardens and Africa's largest marine theme park, where you can spend the afternoon. Then return to the train and leave for Empangeni.
Tour the world-heritage site of St Lucia Wetland Park with an afternoon visit to Dumazulu Cultural Village. The park covers more than 600,000 acres from St Lucia in the south to the Mozambique border in the north and has spectacular diversity. Declared a World Heritage site in 1999, it covers a mosaic of landforms that support a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. Then visit Bushlands and DumaZulu Cultural Village situated in the heart of Zululand, a place rich in African culture. Later board the train and depart for Hluhluwe.
Today you can enjoy game drives in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park before returning to the train for the journey to Mpaka, Swaziland, where border formalities take place. As the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe consists of a huge hilly area 250 miles north of Durban in central Zululand and is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. The park is the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal where all the Big Five game animals can be seen and has the largest population of white rhino in the world.
Leave in vehicles to visit Ngwenya Glass, Mbabane and Manzini while golfers can play at Nkonyeni Golf Estate. The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland covers only 17,000 square kilometres, making it the second smallest country in Africa. The tour begins with a drive through the Ezulwini Valley passing the Ludzidzini Royal residence and Manzini where you can shop at the Swazi market. After a visit to the capital city Mbabane, enjoy a lunch stop at Mantenga Lodge. Then rejoin the train at Mpaka and depart for Malelane.
A full day today on safari in the famous Kruger National Park with every chance of seeing all of the Big Five - lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and elephant. Today's golf options are at Leopard Creek, Nelspruit or White River. The world-renowned Kruger National Park has two million hectares unrivalled in diversity of life forms. It is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and home to an impressive number of species. After a memorable day here return to the Shongololo Express for the journey to Nelspruit.
A full-day tour of historical areas Pilgrim's Rest, Bourke's Luck Potholes and God's Window before rejoining the train for the journey to Witbank. Visit the village of Pilgrim's Rest, a living museum and a National Monument. Gold was discovered in this area in 1873 and today many of the restored miner's houses serve as shops and restaurants. After lunch visit Bourke's Luck Potholes, strange deep cavities formed by river erosion. God's Window is one of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve's most spectacular viewpoints.
You've travelled in comfort and style, seen lots of natural wonders and places of interest, and had the chance to play golf on some of South Africa's finest courses, but today your wonderful train tour comes to an end when the Shongololo Express arrives at Johannesburg. But after saying farewell to new found friends and train staff enjoy a full-day tour of Pretoria/Johannesburg and the nearby township of Soweto before heading to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home.
Gold Cabin fr £4845pp
Emerald Cabin fr £6137pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated