Train Through Africa

Summary: The train ride through Africa provides a unique experience to travel across the continent and witness its diverse cultures, landscapes, and wildlife. From the luxury trains to budget-friendly ones, there are plenty of options that cater to different preferences.

1. Luxury Train Rides

The luxury train rides through Africa provide an exceptional way of experiencing the continent’s natural wonders while enjoying all the comforts and amenities on board. One such train is the Rovos Rail, which offers multiple routes, including a Cape Town to Dar es Salaam journey. On the week-long trip, passengers can witness the Victoria Falls, go on a safari in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, and visit Zanzibar’s famous spice market. Apart from this, the train features lavish suites, exquisite dining, and elegant lounges for relaxation and socialization among fellow travellers.

Another luxurious train journey is the Blue Train of South Africa, which runs between Pretoria and Cape Town. On-board this classic train, passengers can enjoy stunning views of the South African countryside and its wildlife. The train has spacious suites, excellent dining options, and an observation car for panoramic views. The Blue Train also offers various excursion opportunities such as a visit to the historical Kimberley diamond mine and a tour of the Winelands.

If you are looking for a more intimate train journey, then the family-owned Shongololo Express might be an option. The train’s vast wooden-paneled suites feature en suite bathrooms and air-conditioning, making it a comfortable way of exploring Southern Africa. Shongololo has various tours ranging from 12 to 15 days and covers some prime destinations such as Kruger National Park, the Garden Route, and Victoria Falls.

2. Budget-Friendly Options

If you have a tight budget, then there are several affordable train trips that showcase Africa’s natural beauty and charm. One such train is the Desert Express, which operates between Windhoek, Namibia and Swakopmund, a coastal city. During the 20-hour train ride, passengers can witness breathtaking desert landscapes, enjoy sundowners, and stargaze at night. The train has comfortable cabins with en-suite showers and toilets, and well-prepared meals are served in the dining car.

The Gautrain in South Africa is another budget-friendly train that provides quick and convenient transportation between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The train has various ticket options, including first-class and economy class, and offers free Wi-Fi on board. Additionally, Gautrain has easy transfer options to O.R Tambo International Airport and the city’s bus rapid transit system.

For those interested in exploring North Africa, the Moroccan National Railways (ONCF) offers an affordable way of discovering the country’s landmarks such as the grand Hassan II Mosque, the medinas of Fez and Marrakech, and the Casablanca port. The ONCF has various train categories such as express, sleeper, and tourist trains, making it flexible and accessible for budget travellers.

3. Wildlife Views

Travelling through Africa by train, you’ll pass some of the most diverse wildlife habitats in the world. The Shongololo Express provides an exciting opportunity to visit Kruger National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves in Africa. Here, passengers will enjoy game drives to witness the ‘Big Five’ – lions, leopards, African elephants, rhinos, and buffalos. The Desert Express also offers an opportunity to see wild animals such as ostriches, oryx, and springbok.

If you want to travel through East Africa’s savanna, then the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) might be of interest. The train runs between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. Along the route, passengers pass by Mikumi National Park with a possibility of spotting wild animals. TAZARA also offers an option to visit Selous Game Reserve and witness Tanzania’s diverse wildlife. Additionally, the train passes through Selous and Lumimba Nature Reserves, which are famous for their elephant herds and bird species.

Another way to experience Africa’s wildlife is through the South African Shongololo Express, which also covers some of the continent’s best game reserves such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, home to the ‘Big Five’ and the Addo Elephant National Park, which is known for its elephant populations.

4. Cultural Encounters

With its diverse cultures and rich traditions, travelling by train through Africa offers an immersive experience into local societies. The Blue Train provides an opportunity to discover the Winelands region of South Africa, where passengers can taste some of the finest wines and cuisine while experiencing the Dutch heritage of the area. The train also has a stopover at the historical diamond mining town of Kimberley, which is significant for South Africa’s economic history.

The Rovos Rail offers a glimpse into Zimbabwe’s culture with a stopover at the granite mountain town of Matobo Hills, which holds significant cultural and spiritual significance for the local people. The train excursion includes a visit to Cecil John Rhodes’ grave and introduces passengers to the rock art, history, and traditions of the region.

If you want to delve deeper into Ethiopia’s culture, then the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway is an ideal way to explore this historically-rich country. The railway covers several cities and landmarks such as Addis Ababa and the city of Harar, known for its ancient walls, teeming markets, and vibrant cultural traditions.


Journeying through Africa by train offers a unique way to experience the continent’s natural beauty, cultural diversity, and wildlife. From the luxurious Rovos Rail to budget-friendly options like the Desert Express, there are multiple train journeys that cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you want to witness Africa’s diverse wildlife views, immerse yourself in cultural encounters, or relax in luxury while enjoying stunning scenery, the train journey can give you an unforgettable travel adventure.

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