You may roll your eyes when grandpa gears up for one of his many “things were better back when I was your age” stories, even though they feature uphill adventures sans shoes, but when it comes to travel, the old man was right. Sure, it may've taken ten times as long to get from A to B, but it was a more dignified experience from start to finish. Thankfully, Rovos Rail brings the luxury and decadence of the olden days back to train travel. So bring your finest dueling gloves and get ready for a ride to remember -- with butler service, gourmet meals, and authentic cabooses nicer than any hotel you’ve ever visited.
You can choose from an array of African adventures, though we recommend the incredible 14-day journey from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam, so you can tick South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania off your bucket list with minimal re-packing along the way.
Some of the highlights? Tour the vineyards of Klein and Great Karoo, explore Cape Town, Pretoria, and Dar es Salaam, get up close and personal with wild animals at the Selous Game Reserve
, spend two nights at the luxurious Madikwe Game Reserves
’ lodge, walk along the edge of Victoria Falls, and take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi, to name a few.
Since this is a trip into pre-war opulence, just pretend the exchange rate is pre-war too, and splurge on one of the Royal suites. The 172-sqft cabins have a mini bar, full A/C, a private lounge area, and an en-suite bathroom with shower and Victorian tub. The cost? Only $18,900. Just like Monopoly!
Now that's a tub with a view.
Mingle with others who have more time and money than sense in the Observation Car, which is at the back of each train and features bigger windows as well as open-air balconies.
Meals -- all made from fresh, local ingredients (and local game) -- are served in restored Victorian Dining Cars, and obviously come with a boatload of South African wines. OBVIOUSLY a gong heralds lunch and dinner, which in turn heralds a really intense Pavolvian effect because all you're doing on that train is waiting for food anyway.
Don't laugh at this fancypants couple -- formal attire is required for dinner; a jacket and tie are the minimum for men.
Ah, men, just being men. In the Smoker's lounge.
Ah, the endless, rugged African landscape, the train ch-ch-chooing along, its relaxing rumble lulling you to sleep/ into a 14-day coma. Well, we hope this looks relaxing to you, cuz "in maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board". Yup. Smartphones and iPads are banned from public areas, too. Snoozefest!
Try to forget about the mandatory digital detox, LOOK how pretty!
For more information check out Rovos Rail
Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's associate travel editor, and "dressing for dinner" normally involves putting on a hoodie in her world. Follow her @Sohostyle.