South Africa is train-travel country. It has not only one of the world’s best luxury trains, but two – Rovos Rail (pictured above) and the Blue Train. As we reported yesterday, now there’s a third train that is almost luxury, the Shongololo Express, which has been taken over by Rovos. What’s more, all three trains offer something few others in the world do – a full two weeks on board travelling.
But many train lovers complain that the prices are exorbitant (R52,000 per person for two weeks on Shongologo, R182,000 for Rovos). We decided to compare these prices to other great train trips around the world and see how they stacked up. Pretty well, actually.
Clearly luxury train travel is only for the very rich, although South Africa’s three trains do offer (comparatively) better prices.
The British Telegraph newspaper recently ran an article on the top 10 luxury luxury train suites in the world, so we are using that as a starting point. At the top of the 10 was Rovos Rail. The prices given here are an average, and clearly each train trip offers better/worse scenery (we think the Southern African routes are probably the best – but we are biased!), better/worse service, but the prices give you an idea. All prices are per person sharing.
1. Rovos Rail A three-day safari trip on Rovos between Pretoria and Durban in the cheapest cabin, a Pullman, costs R17,400 per person. The exclusive 15-day trip from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, which is priced in dollars, costs $11,850 (R182,000).
(That works out at R5,900 per day for the Durban trip; R12,100 per day for the Dar trip.)
- Shongololo Express. This “three-star” option offered by Rovos has three two-week routes. The Southern Cross, which goes from Pretoria to Maputo and then Victoria Falls, takes 12 days and is R52,000.)
(R4,300 per day.)
2. The Venice Simplon Orient Express. The famous train’s traditional London-Venice route takes two days and one night. £2,210 (R47,600).
(R24,000 per day.)
3. The Ghan in Australia. The Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin ride is 3 days and 2 nights. It costs Aus$3,600 (R39,600).
(R13,000 per day.)
4. Eastern and Oriental Express. Bangkok to Singapore, 4 days and 3 nights, from £1,950 (R42,000).
(R10,000 per day.)
5. The Canadian. On the 4 day/3 night Toronto to Vancouver route, Prestige Sleeper Class is CAN$3,270 (R36,400).
(R9,000 per day.)
6. The Blue Train Pretoria to Cape Town is R17,000 per person in low season.
(R8,500 per day.)
7. The Danube Express. A 14-night tour goes from Budapest to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey to Iran. Prices are rom £8,695 (R187,000).
(R14,400 per day.)
8. The Maharajas’ Express, India. An 8 day/7 night Indian Splendour itinerary starts at $5,980 (R91,100).
(R11,400 per day.)
9. The Royal Scotsman. The Classic is 4 nights and 5 days. The route goes from Edinburgh to Fort Willaim and, Isle of Bute, back to Edinburgh. £4,700 (R101,250).
(R20,200 per day.)
10. Tsar’s Gold Private Train. The 16-day trip from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia costs from £3,590 (R77,300) per person (based on two people sharing a standard four-berth cabin). A two-berth cabin costs an extra £8,405 (R181,000) per couple.
(R10,400 per day.)