ARRIVE IN ZAMBEZI
Stand on your private balcony, gazing at ripples on a watering hole fringed by pink earth and green brush. Moments ago, you were on a plane, landing in Victoria Falls Airport. Now, a short ride later, you’re in the untouched wilderness of the Zambezi National Park. This afternoon, take a boat along the wide Zambezi River, where elephants drink and hippos swim. As night closes in, sit around a flickering fire under the stars to eat braai, a traditional barbecue in southern Africa. What a welcome to Zimbabwe.
Gigantic plumes of spray, shimmering light, and the relentless roar of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. You’re standing over the largest waterfall on Earth, Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, or the Smoke that Thunders. In the long afternoon shadows, you step into the wood-paneled comfort and old-world charm of your private train, the African Explorer. Night approaches, and your car rolls south into Africa’s largest game reserve.
HWANGE NATIONAL PARK
As the sun rises over the savannah, you drive deep into the park and have breakfast at a water hole. Gazing into the wilderness with the dawn light spreading through the scrub, you seek out elephants, giraffes, lions and antelopes. Then it’s time for an optional lunch in a safari lodge, and the chance to explore Africa’s largest game reserve in an open vehicle with a professional ranger. After a full day of experiencing the natural beauty of Africa, you retreat to the comfort of your private train. Next stop: Bulawayo.
MATOBO NATIONAL PARK
Under a bright morning sun, you visit Matobo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From a distance, natural granite sculptures crown its rolling hills, each crafted by the elements over two billion years. Up-close, you see man-made art nestling among the monoliths — intricate rock paintings, thousands of years old. You stop at the grave of Cecil Rhodes to take in the view. A spectacular vista across a stunning landscape. In the afternoon, you take a tour of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, and choose whether to visit the extraordinary collections of its Natural History Museum or the relics in the Railroad Museum, including the personal rail car of Rhodes himself. Back on the African Explorer, you enjoy dinner and set off on your journey south.
Vast ruins loom above the forest trees. Walls 36-feet (11 meters) high surround you, built from thousands of interlocking granite blocks. These are the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Africa’s largest pre-colonial monument south of the Sahara, and the city that gave modern Zimbabwe its name.
ACROSS THE LIMPOPO BY TRAIN
Beneath you, the steady beat of the wheels, while outside the train window, wild landscapes scroll by. An unending visual feast as your private train winds through the red rock mountains and emerald forests of the Soutpansberg range. It’s a day to relax to the rhythm of the railroad, before crossing the wide, churning waters of the Limpopo River at the border town of Breit bridge. You’ve arrived in South Africa. Welcome!
MEETING CHEETAHS AND THE BIG FIVE
Look out at vast herds of antelope, grazing on the plains of the 13,000-hectare private Kapama Game Reserve. All of Africa’s Big Five live here, including leopards, elephants and rhino, and you watch them on your morning’s safari through the park. Later, touch cheetahs and rare African wild dogs at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, where animals are prepared for their release into the wild.
THE DRAKENSBERG MOUNTAINS
A bus takes you along the legendary Drakensberg escarpment, taking a panoramic route through the mountain range. Look down and see the sheer drop through the forest, levelling into the green plains of the Lowveld 3,000 feet below. More exquisite natural beauty awaits at the Blyde River Canyon, where gentle slopes curve around towering rock formations. As the sun sets, you relax with a cold drink on the terrace of a safari lodge in Kruger National Park, and watch elephants, hippos and crocodiles interact on the banks of Crocodile River. The lodge is your accommodation for the night and you’re traveling light, your luggage securely stowed aboard the African Explorer. As night falls, climb into an open Jeep for a thrilling night safari before enjoying a bush dinner under the African night skies. A day that will leave you exhilarated just at the memory.
ON SAFARI IN KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
A full day to explore one of the world’s largest game reserves. Board your bus and head out into the wild, where zebra and giraffe roam and lion prides rest from the night’s adventures. In the afternoon, return to the African Explorer and the comfort of your compartment. Under the warm red glow of a setting sun, you continue on to Mozambique.
MAPUTO AND THE SHORES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN
Overnight, you cross a border, and when morning arrives, you awake at Maputo railroad station, a domed, century-old masterpiece of elegant wrought iron. Welcome to the capital of Mozambique. On a tour of this singular city, with its mix of crumbling colonial Portuguese buildings and socialist apartment blocks, you take in the truly unique architecture of the Catholic Cathedral and the Casa do Ferro. After visiting tranquil botanical gardens, energetic markets, national landmarks, and enjoying a fresh lunch on a palm-lined beach, you return to the station and your train.
THE KINGDOM OF SWAZILAND
In an air-conditioned bus, you enter the tiny kingdom of Swaziland. After witnessing the gentle, green, pastoral beauty of the Ezulwini valley, you tour the capital Mbabane and the small town Piggs Peak. You browse hand-carved wooden artefacts and fine raffia items at the markets. As shadows lengthen into the late afternoon, your train journeys into South Africa, where your private train awaits. Time for a last dinner in the dining car, and your last night on board, as the African Explorer carries you to Pretoria where your train journey comes to an end.
In the glorious gardens of the Union Buildings, you look up at the magnificent symmetry of South Africa’s parliament. Before it, arms outstretched, stands a huge statue of a smiling Nelson Mandela. You feel a strong sense of how far the country has come. In the charming green gardens of your lodge, you relax and prepare for your last evening in Africa. Then, a farewell dinner, and a chance to reminisce with your companions, remembering spectacular scenery and the wildlife you’ve seen.
DEPART FOR HOME
Au revoir, Africa! A transfer takes you to the airport. Memories of Africa, the people, their history, the wilderness and the wildlife will stay with you forever.