The Good Hope Adventure
This 15-day rail adventure aboard the famed Shongololo Express traverses great stretches of southern Africa, incorporating virtually every internationally renowned see sight and highlight.
This grand 15-day journey offers a golfing and non-golfing itinerary with an amazing insight into virtually every well-known destination in South Africa. Starting in Cape Town with a city tour, guests board the train and traverse the winelands to Ashton. Travel by road over scenic mountain passes to Hermanus, once a renowned whaling station, followed by a spectacular meander along the Garden Route to the natural paradise of Knysna where guests enjoy a lagoon ferry ride to Featherbed Nature Reserve. Crossing the Outeniqua Mountains, guests arrive in Oudtshoorn to visit an ostrich farm and the incredible Cango Caves. After tours around the historic town of Graaff Reinet, Kimberley’s Diamond Museum and Bloemfontein, the train arrives at Ladysmith for a battlefields tour. Day nine sees the train arriving in Durban where guests can feel the rythm of Africa at PheZulu Safari Village before visiting the world-heritage site, St Lucia Wetland Park. Then it’s on to explore Hluhluwe wildlife reserve and the Kingdom of Swaziland after which this magnificent sojourn takes guests through the Drakensberg Mountains to the Kruger Park and the historical areas of Pilgrim's Rest, Bourke's Luck Potholes and God's Window. The final day sees the train pulling into Rovos Rail Station where guests continue on a tour of Pretoria and Soweto.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Accommodation on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis
- Hotel Accommodations while off train
- Meals at lodges/hotels/clubs/resorts
- Excursions accompanied by a qualified tour guide
- Entrance fees as per itinerary
- Government tax
Tour options available at an additional charge: pre-tour arrival accommodations and meals, as well as optional excursions throughout.
Day 1 - Cape Town Tour & Train Departure
Your 15-day South Africa rail adventure begins in Cape Town, where full day excursions will envelop you in the city's natural surroundings as well its culture. Our city tour commences with a walk through the Company Gardens, followed by a visit to the Bo-Kaap Museum. On our way to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, we will stop at Diamond Works, where you will follow a tour of the diamond cutting studio, a jewellery manufacturing workshop, a jewellery design studio as well as a gemmological laboratory. Our lunch stop will be at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a development that has brought new life to the old harbour of the Dutch East India Company in Table Bay. The complex offers shops, craft markets, restaurants, taverns, cinemas, theatres as well as great views over the harbour. In the afternoon we will drive through District Six, named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, the process of removals and marginalisation had begun. The first to be forced out were Black South Africans who were displaced from the District in 1901. As the more prosperous moved away to the suburbs, the area became a neglected ward of the city. On 11 February 1966 it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. More than 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers. The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, works with the memories of the District Six experience and with that of forced removals more generally. We end our city tour with a visit to the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest surviving building in South Africa. This pentagonal fortification replaced a small clay and timber fort built by Commander Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 as a maritime replenishment station for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. The stone walls between the bastions are 150m long and 12m high. (B, D)
Day 2 - Drive To Hermanus Over Scenic Mountain Passes
We travel over the Rooihoogte and Floorshoogte passes via the Overberg towns of Villiersdorp and Botrivier to Hermanus, once a renowned fish market and whaling station. The whale hunts were stopped by international treaty in 1935. The WWF includes Hermanus in its list of 12 best whale-viewing sites in the world, but it tops the list when it comes to land-based whale watching from the town’s natural cliffs and in season (normally between July and November) whales can be seen from as close as 5 metres away. (B, D)
Day 3 - Knysna Visit & Fancourt Dinner / Play At Ernie Els Oubaai
Drive along the coast from George, situated in the heart of the Garden Route. The town itself sits on a 10km plateau between the majestic Outeniqua Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south. We drive along the scenic Old Passes Route to Knysna, winding through the primeval forest of the Homtini, lying between lush forests and a peaceful lagoon. The Knysna Heads – two sandstone cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon connecting the estuary with the sea – is a dramatic viewpoint. Enjoy a lagoon ferry ride to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Optional shopping at leisure. (B, D)
Day 4 - Cango Caves & Ostrich Farm Visit / Play at Fancourt Golf Estate
Surrounded by the natural beauty of this semi-desert region, Oudtshoorn is situated at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountain Range. Many rivers, streams and falls have their origins in the Swartberg, Outeniqua and Kammanassie mountains that surround the town. Oudtshoorn is regarded as the centre of the Klein Karoo and is world-renowned for its Cango Caves and the breeding of ostriches. The great natural wonder of the Cango Caves has a series of colourful underground chambers with breathtaking limestone formations. Oudtshoorn is famous for feathering the world in the time of the boa and grand hats. The ostrich boom of the early 20th century turned out many millionaires who, in turn, created elaborate lifestyles in this remote part of Africa. (B, D)
Day 5 - Graaff Reinet Walking Tour
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. (B, D)
Day 6 - Kimberly Tour / Play at Kimberley Golf Club
Capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is well known for the discovery of diamonds which led to its establishment in 1893. Highlights of the day include a visit to the Big Hole Diamond Mine Museum, followed by a lunch break at one of the restaurants in the city. After lunch we visit the William Humphreys Art Gallery and the McGregor House Museum. (B, D)
Day 7 - Bloemfontein Tour
Bloemfontein is the seat of the South African judicial system. At the end of the 19th century it was also the capital of the old Boer Republic of The Orange Free State. Visit the Women’s Memorial at the Anglo Boer War Museum. This monument is a reminder of life in the concentration camps and commemorates the 27 000 women and children who died in these camps. The Museum itself is a graphic depiction of the hardship endured by all during the war and relates the history of South Africa from 1652. We then take an orientation drive through Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State Province and also known as the Rose City. Our lunch stop is at the Loch Logan Waterfront, next to the city’s newly renovated stadium, one of the venues during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In the afternoon we drive up to Naval Hill which presents several beautiful panoramic views of the city. We end the day at the former State President’s residence “Olivenhuis”, which now houses an extensive collection of South African art. The gardens offer a relaxing atmosphere to round off the day before returning to the train.(B, D)
Day 8 - Battlefields Tour / Play at Champagne Sports Resort
Trace the course of the Anglo Boer Wars at the Siege Museum in Ladysmith. Wagon Hill is where both the South Africans and British suffered heavy losses and was subsequently declared a National Monument in 1938. Britain marched into the South African war in the spring of 1899, confident that it “would all be over by Christmas!” The war lasted three years and was to become the most costly Britain had ever fought. (B, D)
Day 9 - Durban Tour / Play At Durban Golf Course
Durban is the third largest city of South Africa and enjoys great importance due to its industry and its very large port. Thanks to the subtropical climate and the long stretches of beautiful beaches, large numbers of inlanders retreat to Durban in winter. An orientation tour of the city will allow you to see a very good mix of old and new, East and West with a touch of Africa. Visit PheZulu Safari Village and feel the rhythm of Africa. Enjoy uShaka Marine World, Africa’s largest marine theme park, where you can have lunch and spend your afternoon. (B, D)
Day 10 - St. Lucia Wetland Park Visit
iSimangaliso Wetland Park covers over 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, the park covers a mosaic of landforms that have created a vast array of biomes to support a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. The park boasts the highest bird count in all of Africa, the southern-most breeding spots for turtles in Africa, Africa’s tallest forested dunes, the largest remaining stands of sand forest and the biggest peat beds in the Southern Hemisphere. (B, D)
Day 11 - Hluhluwe Game Drives
As the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe consists 960km² (96 000ha) of hilly topography 280km 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 occur. Due to conservation efforts, the park now has the largest population of white rhino in the world. It is also one of the world’s top spots for viewing Nyala and is a prime birding destination for 340 species. (B, D)
Day 12 - Swaziland Tour / 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 day’s tour will commence from Mpaka, driving through the Ezulwini Valley passing the Ludzidzini Royal residence, stopping at Swazi Candles and Manzini where guests experience the Swazi market: a hive of activity displaying a wide variety of skilfully crafted woodcarvings, colourful textiles and superb basketwork for which Swazis are renowned. After a visit to the capital city Mbabane enjoy a lunch stop at Mantenga Lodge with an afternoon visit to the Ngwenya Glass Complex. (B, D)
Day 13 - Kruger Park Game Drive / Play at Leopard Creek, Nelspruit or White River
The world-renowned Kruger National Park has 2-million hectares of unrivalled in diversity of life forms. It is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and home to an impressive number of species, e.g. 336 species of trees, 49 species of fish, 34 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles, 507 species of birds and 147 species of mammals including the Big Five. (B, D)
Day 14 - Panorama Route
Today we visit the village of Pilgrim’s Rest, a living museum and declared a National Monument. Gold was discovered in this area in 1873, attracting 1500 prospectors. Today, many of the restored miner’s houses serve as shops and restaurants. After lunch we visit Bourke’s Luck Potholes, which are strange deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and floodwater. God’s Window is one of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve’s most spectacular viewpoints, with astonishing views over South Africa’s Lowveld (so-named because it is much lower than the high escarpment along which the Panorama Route runs). At God’s Window, majestic cliffs plunge down 700m and, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see over the famous Kruger National Park towards the Lebombo Mountains on South Africa’s border. (B, D)
Day 15 – Arrival in Pretoria with a Tour of Soweto & Pretoria
Soweto comprises one-million people and was made famous by the Apartheid laws. We pass the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (the largest hospital in the Southern Hemisphere) and also drive past the only street in Africa that once housed two Nobel Peace laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. We visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after one of the first students to be killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government. We spend the afternoon in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, visiting the Union Buildings. Designed by the famous colonial English architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and completed in 1913, the Union Buildings house the offices of the President and Ministers. Before leaving the capital behind, we visit the Voortrekker Monument that commemorates the ‘Great Trek’ of the 1830s.
Extend Your Holiday
Extend your holiday with additional hotel nights, comprehensive sightseeing or new city stay packages, all of which can be added to the start or end of your rail holiday. Look for the Extend Your Holiday icon to identify those rail holidays with exciting pre- and post-holidays extensions.
Ask your rail specialist for details.
Train and Hotel Accommodations
72 guests are accommodated in two categories of comfortable en-suite cabins with double or twin beds. Two historically appointed dining cars set the scene for meals, which are taken in one sitting. Modern and traditional local cuisine is on offer with a selection of distinguished South African wines available. Guests can also relax in the bar car, small smoking lounge or the observation car with an open-air balcony situated at the back of the train.
The journeys offer a variety of off-train excursions that are undertaken in our air-conditioned vehicles. On occasion we will employ the expertise of local service providers who are better positioned to arrange our transport requirements. Come and join us on one of our captivating tours and allow us to provide the friendly and efficient service for which we are renowned.
Shongololo Express Accommodation
Gold cabins include twin or double beds with private bathroom, air-conditioning and safe as well as shelf space under bunks for storage. (+/-7sqm)
Emerald cabins feature twin or double beds with a private bathroom, small lounge area, air-conditioning, safe and hair dryer. (+/-10sqm)
Dates & Prices
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Prices are land-only, per person in GBP and include all taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change and are based on a currency conversion from South African Rand as of 11/5/17.
Pre-night accommodations are required. Ask a Holidays by Rail representative for details. Reverse itinerary available upon request.
Travel insurance is required and quotes are available through your rail specialist.
A valid passport is required for this vacation. Visa requirements may also apply. Please inquire at time of booking.
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