The Blue Train
Did you know?
The Blue Train travels at a stately speed of 90km/h (58.2mph).
The Blue Train of South Africa can easily lay claim to being one of the top three luxury trains in the world, but a lot of its allure lies in its past history.
‘Aah, the Blue Train,' South Africans will sigh at the sight of this elegant five-star experience trundling across the landscape, its passengers enthralled by the world outside and utterly spoilt by the staff inside. It stands for excellence in South Africa and we're justifiably proud of this luxury train and its image.
Back in the early 1940s, the Union Limited-Union Express line had distinctive sapphire blue carriages. Thus people started referring to the South African luxury train as ‘those blue trains'.
And now, even in its third reincarnation, the luxury Blue Train of South Africa still speaks of Irish linen, quality silver in the dining car, marble floors, plush white towels and fluffy eiderdown duvets. You can watch your favourite TV show, then let your eyes drift out of the window at the landscapes outside.
The cuisine? Simply marvellous: classic Karoo lamb, Knysna oysters, snoek, crayfish and impala (vegetarian, Kosher and Halaal available on request).
Business services? One of the two Blue Trains has an extra lounge that can double up as a 22-seater conference venue. They can also turn this lounge into an observation car.
Onboard shopping? The Blue Train Boutique offers fine jewellery and all manner of Blue Train mementos.
The routes? Scheduled and chartered tours include: Pretoria to Victoria Falls; Pretoria to Cape Town; Pretoria to Hoedspruit and Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Depending on route, stops include Kimberley, Matjiesfontein, Durban, De Aar, Johannesburg, Rustenburg and Pietermaritzburg.
But it's the romance of the journey, the stunning views, the feeling of being part of the landscape that makes the experience so special.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Pretoria reservation office
Tel: +27 (0) 12 334 8459
Cape Town reservation office
Tel: +27 (0) 21 449 2672
How to get here
The Blue Train leaves from Pretoria and Cape Town stations. Cape Town has an international airport, and Pretoria is only 50km from Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Best time to visit
Almost any time is good, but in summer the scenery is particularly vivid.
What will it cost
There are high and low season costs, and varying degrees of luxury, but rates vary between R13 200 and R22 700 per person for a one-way trip.
What to pack
Bring along some elegant evening attire for dinners.
What to eat
Meals on the Blue Train are something of an event. You'll be eating the best of South African cuisine, including Karoo lamb and Knysna oysters, and the best of local wines.