Shongololo Express – Southern Cross Tour
$ 5,945 (PPS)
The Shongololo Express, based at Pretoria Railway Station, is the sister brand of Rovos Rail. It focuses on multi-day luxury train excursions at a more affordable 3+ star standard. The Southern Cross tour is an impressive panoramic 12-day journey between Pretoria and Victoria Falls. It stops at carefully selected locations in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Starting in Pretoria, this magnificent sojourn spends the first few days taking guests east through the imposing Drakensberg Mountains to the Kruger National Park for game-viewing and the historical area of Pilgrim’s Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window. On day 4 you tour Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, before moving on to explore the mountainous Kingdom of Swaziland. Next you head out for a game drive in the famous wildlife reserve of Kapama. Then followed by a relaxing day on the train as it heads for the Great Zimbabwe Ruins for a visit.
Next you visit Antelope Park, set in 3 000 acres of open savannah grassland, as well as Matobo National Park and site of Cecil John Rhodes’ grave. Then travel alonside Hwange National Park before stopping for another safari. Finally on the last day the train arrives in Victoria Falls where guests enjoy a walking tour of the village. And the undoubtedly majestic thunderous Falls with an afternoon sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River.
Accommodation on Shongololo Express
72 guests are accommodated in 2 categories of en-suite cabins, each with double or twin beds: Gold Class and the slightly larger Emerald Class. Two dining cars set the scene for meals. Modern and traditional local cuisine is on offer with a selection of distinguished South African wines available. You can also opt to relax in the bar car, smoking lounge or the observation car with its open-air balcony at the back of the train.
Each train has its own observation, bar, dining and accommodation carriages. As in any hotel, bedding and towels are provided and cabins are serviced daily. The en-suite double or twin cabins have adequate storage and the small closets are equipped with hangers and shelves. You have 2 options of accommodation:
The Emerald Cabins: has a double bed with small lounge area & en-suite bathroom with a shower, toilet and basin. The cabin is 10 sqm and the bed 190 long x 150 cm wide (double bed size).
The Gold Cabins: it has a double bed and en-suite bathroom with a shower, toilet and basin. The cabin is 7 sqm and the bed 190 x 190 cm (King sized bed). Both the Emerald and Gold cabins have a Twin option as well.
Available in reverse
Pre- and Post train tours: Individually tailored packages are available upon request. Included in the rates is the accommodation off the train.
Options around Johannesburg include the Cradle of Humankind, Lesedi Cultural Village, the Apartheid Museum and the World of Beer, for example.
Shongololo Express – Southern Cross Tour at a glance
Enjoy a full day tour of Pretoria and Soweto before you have a transfer back to Rovos Rail Station in the Capital Park in Pretoria.
SOuth WEstern TOwnship – Soweto is the largest black residential area in South Africa. Enjoy this guided tour during which you see the contrast with the richer suburbs of Rosebank and Sandton in the north. This sprawling ‘city within a city’ is home to approximately 2 million people. This tour includes the major points of interest. Such as Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Baragwanath taxi rank, Freedom Square, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Nelson Mandela’s former home.
The Train departs at 16h00 for Nelspruit where you will over night.
A Full-day panorama tour of Pilgrim’s Rest, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and God’s Window, one of the Blyde River Canyon’s most spectacular viewpoints.
A 17h00 transfer back to the Nelspruit to depart for Malelane
A full-day game viewing in the Kruger Park, unrivaled in diversity of life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques.
The Kruger National Park is one of the finest game reserves in Africa. It offers a vast wilderness of thorn trees, prolific game and sub-tropical heat. It stretches some 400 km from north to south along the border between South Africa and Mozambique. Thus making it the largest game reserve in South Africa. It is home to the Big Seven – elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, cheetah and wild dog. It is also home to an abundance of smaller, equally fascinating animals and birds.
A 18h00 transfer to the train in Malelane and depart for Mozambique.
Today you do a tour of Maputo in Mozambique. A city of contrast and a mix of cultures with an architectural blend of African, Portuguese and colonial traditions.
Mozambique is the land of smiles is synonymous with long sandy beaches, warm tropical water, a relaxed atmosphere and delicious Portuguese cuisine. With its white, palm-fringed beaches and coral reefs, the easy vibe of this country appeals to all.
A early return to the train at 15h30 fro afternoon tea. After border formalities the train heads for Mpaka in Swaziland.
Depart in vehicles from Mpaka, Swaziland. Drive through the Ezulwini Valley, pass the Ludzidizini Royal Residence and stop briefly at Swazi Candles before heading east to Manzini to experience the Swazi market. Continue north to visit Ngwenys Glass then travel through the Komati River Valley to the border.
After border formalities with South Africa at Tjanei, rejoin the train in Kaapmuiden. Depart for Klaserei, south of Hoedspruit.
Enjoy a morning game drive in Kapama Reserve, home to over 40 different mammal species, followed by a visit to the Wild Dog and Cheetah Project.
Kapama Private Game Reserve sweeping across 13 000 hectares of savannah and riverine forest, Kapama represents a piece of Africa as it used to be. With the mighty Drakensberg mountains in the distance and iconic Kruger National Park to the east, Kapama has distilled the finest wildlife safari offerings for the enjoyment of guests. As part of the greater Kruger area, vast herds of buffalo, elephant and antelope are resident on Kapama, along with plentiful predators. The reserve is a slice of wilderness paradise far from the madding crowd; a place of renewal and reconnection with the natural world. The iconic and most dangerous wild animals of Africa – the Big Five – are at home on Kapama, but so too are over 40 other mammal species and 350 different types of birds.
The Wild Dog and Cheetah Project at Hoedspruit Centre for Endangered Species. Here cheetah, wild dog, serval, caracal and various other species are rehabilitated and can be safely viewed from close range. Rare king cheetah can also be seen here.
Return to the train for lunch. Depart for Tzaneen with a overnight stop at Louis Trichardt.
Day at leisure on board as you travel to Rutenga in Zimbabwe, where you will clear customs and immigration at Beitbridge
Do a transfer to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins – the largest precolonial monument south of the Egyptian pyramids – for a tour.
The Great Zimbabwe ruins are the largest collection of ruins in Africa south of the Sahara. Located in the heart of southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, they are testament to a culture of great wealth and great architectural skill. Built between the 11th and 15th centuries, Great Zimbabwe was home to a cattle-herding people who also became adept at metal-working. The ruins are the largest of their kind on the Zimbabwe Plateau, but they are by no means unique.
Return to the train at 17h00 in Bannockburn and depart for Somabhula for our overnight stay.
Known as one of Southern Africa’s Most Intriguing Destinations, winners of the 2016 World Travel Award for ‘Zimbabwe’s Best Private Game Reserve’, Antelope Park is a unique and diverse destination. Dedicated both to giving guests an unparalleled experience and to the preservation of our environment. Set in over 3000 acres of open savannah grassland, Antelope Park is a unique game reserve and a haven of tranquillity set in the African bush. Walk with lions, ride through the wilderness on elephant or horseback, view the abundance of wildlife in the Park or canoe on the scenic lake. Optional extras include canoeing, game drive, horseback game viewing, elephant-back riding or bird-watching cruise.
Return to the train for a departure for Bulawayo.
Today you tour the magnificent Matobo National park. Visit the grave of Cecil John Rhodes as well as bushmen caves
Matobo National Park occupies a total area of 44 500 hectares. Established in 1953, the Park was awarded Unesco World Heritage Status in June 2003. Matobo meaning ‘bald heads’ was the name chosen for the area by the great Ndebele King, Mzilikazi. He is buried in the Matobo Hills just a short distance from the park.
The Park is also the site of the grave of Cecil John Rhodes. He is buried at the summit of Malindidzimu -‘ hill of benevolent spirits’. He referred to this hill as having a ‘View of the World’. A short walk from the parking lot will lead the visitor to his grave, which is carved out of the solid granite hill and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of massive boulders. The Matobo area has great spiritual and cultural significance to the local people and there are many sites within the park where important ceremonies still take place.
A Transfer back to the Shongololo for a 16h00 departure for Dete.
Full-day game viewing in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The nation’s largest wildlife area well-known for its sizable elephant population.
Hwange National Park is Zimbabwe’s largest and oldest game park ranging over an area of 14,600 km². Its sheer size means that it includes a range of vegetation and a resulting diversity of game, from the dry southern acacia bush bordering the Kalahari Desert to the northern mopane woodlands, valleys and granite hills characteristic of the north. Hwange is big game country with massive herds of elephants, especially visible at the end of the dry season in September, as well as lion, buffalo, hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest sable, roan and other antelope.
Game-viewing in Hwange Park is made easier by the shallow salt pans throughout the park. These natural salt pans offer the perfect cooling mud bath for elephants. Ultimately the pans develop into small waterholes. However because of the Kalahari sands, these waterholes do dry up as the dry season progresses.
The train departs for Thompson’s Junction at 19h00
The last morning of the tour you will arrive at Victoria Falls Train Station. Check out is at 10h00, where you will walk across to the Victoria Falls Hotel. where your luggage will be stored. Here you will meet a guide that will take you on a walking tour of the village and a tour of the Vic Falls.
The Victoria Falls is a truly awe-inspiring experience – the sights, sounds and, smell of nature’s supreme force. No photograph can begin to depict the reality… and nothing prepares you for your first sight. The Falls is the only waterfall in the world with a length of more than a kilometer and a height of more than hundred meters. It is also considered to be the largest fall in the world. The noise can be heard from a distance of 40 kilometers, while the spray and mist from the falling water is rising to a height of over 400 meters and can be seen from a distance of 50 kilometers. No wonder that the local tribes used to call the waterfall Mosi-o-Tunya “The smoke that thunders”.
16h00 you will set of for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.
Africa Travel Specialist
An idea of price
All our itineraries are merely samples of what we can arrange. Virtually every trip is tailor-made for you. The exact price of our sample itineraries depends on the time of year and accommodation used. This is merely a guideline.
It excludes regional flights to the start and end of the itinerary (as these may vary depending on where you fly into Africa). But it includes an estimate of any flights WITHIN the itinerary. Contact us for a quote including any regional flights needed.
Accommodation on a dinner, B&B basis, excursions with a qualified tour guide, entrance fee as per itinerary, government tax
Lunches off the train, All beverages, Laundry, Gratuities, Visas, Travel Insurance.