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Shongololo Express - The Good Hope Adventure

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This 15-day rail adventure aboard the famed Shongololo Express traverses great stretches of southern Africa, incorporating virtually every internationally regarded must-see sight and highlight.

15 days From $7,961 per person

2022 Tour code: SX-GHAS-22

About the tour

This grand 15-day journey offers a golfing and non-golfing itinerary with an amazing insight into virtually every well-known destination in South Africa. Starting in Cape Town with a city tour, board the train and traverse the winelands to Worcester. Travel by road over scenic mountain passes to Hermanus*, once a renowned whaling station, followed by a spectacular meander along the Garden Route to the natural paradise of Knysna* to enjoy a lagoon ferry ride to Featherbed Nature Reserve. Crossing the Outeniqua Mountains, arrive in Oudtshoorn to visit an ostrich farm and the incredible Cango Caves.

After tours around the historic town of Kimberley's Diamond Mine Museum* and Bloemfontein (the city of roses), the train arrives at Spionkop* for a battlefields tour. On day nine, arrive in Durban* and enjoy the markets or spiritual sites before visiting the world-heritage site, St Lucia Wetland Park. Next, explore Hluhluwe wildlife reserve and the Kingdom of Swaziland*, followed by a trip through the Drakensberg Mountains to the Kruger Park* and the historical areas of Pilgrim's Rest, Bourke's Luck Potholes and God's Window.

On the final day, arrive at Rovos Rail Station and continue on a tour of Pretoria or Johannesburg and Soweto.

*Golf Courses (optional): Arabella Golf Estate, Ernie Els Oubaai, Fancourt, Kimberley Golf Club, Champagne Sports Resort, Durban Country Club, Zimbali, Nkonyeni Golf Nelspruit/Leopard Creek/White River.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Cape Town Tour and Train Departure

The city tour of Cape Town begins with a walk through the Company Gardens, followed by a visit to the Bo-Kaap Museum. Centuries ago, Islamic people moved into the area known today as the Bo-Kaap, building mosques with picturesque minarets and their own Georgian-style houses with Dutch influence. One of the oldest Cape Town buildings houses the museum, which is furnished as a Muslim house of the 19th century and documents the history of the Cape Malays.

Head toward the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and stop at Diamond Works for a tour of the diamond cutting studio, a jewelry manufacturing workshop, a jewelry design studio as well as a gemological laboratory.

Lunch at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Table Bay, which offers shops, craft markets, restaurants, taverns, cinemas, and theatres as well as great views over the harbor. In the afternoon, drive through District Six, established in 1867 as a diverse community, but later destroyed by apartheid and forced removals.

End the city tour with a visit to the Castle of Good Hope, the oldest surviving building in South Africa. This pentagonal fortification replaced a small clay and timber fort built by Commander Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 as a maritime replenishment station for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. 

Day 2 - Drive to Hermanus Over Scenic Mountain Passes

Travel over the Rooihoogte and Floorshoogte passes via the Overberg towns of Villiersdorp and Botrivier to Hermanus, once a renowned fish market and whaling station. The whale hunts were stopped by international treaty in 1935, and the WWF now includes Hermanus in its list of 12 best whale-viewing sites in the world.

Optional: Golfers can play at Arabella.

Day 3 - Knysna Visit and Fancourt Dinner/Play at Ernie Els Oubaai

Drive along the coast from George, situated in the heart of the Garden Route. Drive along the scenic Old Passes Route to Knysna, winding through the primeval forest of the Homtini, lying between lush forests and a peaceful lagoon. The Knysna Heads - two sandstone cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon connecting the estuary with the sea - is a dramatic viewpoint. Enjoy a lagoon ferry ride to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Optional shopping at leisure. 

Optional: Golfers transfer to Ernie Els Oubaai Golf Club for tee off. Return to train in the late afternoon. 6:30 Dinner at Fancourt Golf Estate.

Day 4 - Cango Caves and Ostrich Farm Visit / Play at Fancourt Golf Estate

Surrounded by the natural beauty of this semi-desert region, Oudtshoorn is situated at the foot of the majestic Swartberg Mountain Range. Oudtshoorn is regarded as the center of the Klein Karoo and is world-renowned for its Cango Caves and the breeding of ostriches. The great natural wonder of the Cango Caves has a series of colorful underground chambers with breathtaking limestone formations.

Optional: Golfers tee off at Fancourt Golf Estate. 2:00 Drive the Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn. 3:30 Board train in Oudtshoorn

Day 5 - Day at Leisure on Board

Enjoy a day at leisure on board as the train travels to Kimberley. All meals enjoyed on board.

Day 6 - Kimberley Tour / Play at Kimberley Golf Club

Capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley is well known for the discovery of diamonds, which led to its establishment in 1893. Highlights of the day include a visit to the Big Hole Diamond Mine Museum, followed by a lunch break at one of the city restaurants. After lunch, visit the William Humphreys Art Gallery and the McGregor House Museum. 

Optional: Golfers tee off at Kimberley Golf Club. 5:00 Return to train and depart for Bloemfontein for the overnight stop.

Day 7 - Bloemfontein Tour

Bloemfontein is the seat of the South African judicial system. Visit the Women's Memorial at the Anglo Boer War Museum. This monument is a reminder of life in the concentration camps and commemorates the 27,000 women and children who died there.

Then take an orientation drive through Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State Province, also known as the Rose City. Stop for lunch at the Loch Logan Waterfront, next to the city's newly renovated stadium, one of the venues during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. In the afternoon, drive up to Naval Hill, for beautiful panoramic views of the city. Then visit the former State President's residence "Olivenhuis", which now houses an extensive collection of South African art.

Day 8 - Battlefields Tour / Play at Champagne Sports Resort

Trace the course of the Anglo Boer Wars at the Siege Museum in Ladysmith. Wagon Hill is where both the South Africans and British suffered heavy losses and was subsequently declared a National Monument in 1938. Visit Spionkop and walk in the footsteps of three great leaders, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and General Louis Botha. 

Optional: Golfers transfer from Ladysmith Station to Champagne Sports Resort for tee off. 3:00 Return to train and depart for Durban.

Day 9 - Durban Tour / Play at Durban Golf Course

Durban is the third largest city of South Africa, significant for its industry and very large port. Thanks to the subtropical climate and the long stretches of beautiful beaches, large numbers of inlanders retreat to Durban in winter. An orientation tour of the city provides a good mix of old and new, East and West with a touch of Africa. Drive along the Golden Mile promenade and visit the Victoria Market. Enjoy the botanical gardens or uShaka Marine World, to enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon.

Visit Mariannhill Monastery for a tour in this beautiful, tranquil setting followed by a short visit to the Hare Krishna Temple of Understanding. Visit Phoenix, the spiritual settlement created by Mahatma Gandhi, before returning to Durban, the center of Indian culture in South Africa. See the Juma Musjid, the largest mosque in South Africa, and the most opulent Hindu structure in the Southern Hemisphere, the Kendra Hindu Temple and Community Centre. 

Optional: Golfers transfer to Durban Country Club for tee off.3:00 Return to train. 4:30 Depart for Empangeni.

Day 10 - St Lucia Wetland Park Visit and Dumazula Village Tour

Isamangalisol Wetland Park covers over 600,000 acres. Declared a World Heritage site in 1999, the diverse park supports a wide variety of animals, plants and birds. It has the highest bird count in all of Africa, the southern-most breeding spots for turtles in Africa, Africa's tallest forested dunes, the largest remaining stands of sand forest and the biggest peat beds in the Southern Hemisphere.

Visit Bushlands and DumaZulu Cultural Village situated in the heart of Zululand, near Hluhluwe. "Thundering Zulu", the direct translation of DumaZulu, is an appropriate name for a place rich in African culture.

Optional: Golfers can play at Zimbali.

Day 11 - Hluhluwe Game Drives

As the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa, hilly Hluhluwe is known for its rich wildlife and conservation efforts. It is the only state-run park in KwaZulu-Natal where all the Big Five game animals live. Due to conservation efforts, the park now has the largest population of white rhino in the world. It is also one of the world's top spots for viewing Nyala and is a prime birding destination for 340 species.

Day 12 - Swaziland Tour / Play at Nkonyeni Golf Estate

The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland is the second smallest country in Africa. The day's tour begins from Mpaka, driving through the Ezulwini Valley, passing the Ludzidzini Royal residence, stopping at Swazi Candles and Manzini to experience the Swazi market. After a visit to the capital city Mbabane, enjoy a lunch stop at Mantenga Lodge with an afternoon visit to the Ngwenya Glass Complex. 

Optional: Golfers transfer one-hour to Nkonyeni Golf Estate for tee off. After border formalities at Jeppes Reef, rejoin the train in Malelane.

Day 13 - Kruger Park Game Drive / Play at Leopard Creek, Nelsruit or White River

The world-renowned Kruger National Park is unrivalled in diversity of life forms. It is a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and home to an impressive number of species: 336 species of trees, 49 species of fish, 34 species of amphibians, 114 species of reptiles, 507 species of birds and 147 species of mammals including the Big Five. 

Optional: Golfers tee off at Leopard Creek, Nelspruit or White River. Rejoin train in Malelane. Depart for Nelspruit.

Day 14 - Panorama Route

Visit the village of Pilgrim's Rest, a living museum and a National Monument. Gold was discovered in this area in 1873, attracting 1,500 prospectors. Today, many of the restored miner's houses serve as shops and restaurants. After lunch, visit Bourke's Luck Potholes, which are strange deep cylindrical cavities formed by river erosion and floodwater. God's Window is one of the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve's most spectacular viewpoints, with astonishing views over South Africa's Lowveld. At God's Window, majestic cliffs plunge down 700m and, on a clear day, visitors can see over the famous Kruger National Park towards the Lebombo Mountains on South Africa's border. 

Optional: Golfers tee off at Leopard Creek, Nelspruit or White River. 4:30 Rejoin train and depart for Witbank.

Day 15 - Arrival in Pretoria with a Tour of Soweto and Pretoria

Soweto has a population of one million people and was made famous by the Apartheid laws. Pass the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and the only street in Africa that once housed two Nobel Peace laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. Visit the Hector Petersen Memorial, named after one of the first students to be killed in the 1976 uprising against the Apartheid government.

Spend the afternoon in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa, visiting the Union Buildings. Designed by the famous colonial English architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and completed in 1913, the Union Buildings house the offices of the President and Ministers. Then visit the Voortrekker Monument that commemorates the 'Great Trek' of the 1830s. Your journey through South Africa concludes this evening. 

 

Additional information

Please Note

Pre-night accommodations are required. Ask a Vacations By Rail representative for details. Reverse itinerary available upon request. Travel insurance is required and quotes are available through your rail specialist. A valid passport is required for this vacation. Visa and vaccination requirements may also apply. Please inquire at time of booking.

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

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Maurice K, Blue Jay, CA

5 stars

Submitted 11 Nov 2018

Service, food and staff were without peer. The sites seen were well worth the air travel required

Collected by Vacations By Rail

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