The Blue Train - Pretoria to Cape Town
What an amazing way to travel from Pretoria to Cape Town on board the Blue train!
From the moment you arrive at the station in Pretoria (just 45 min drive from Johannesburg) and are greeted by the staff at the kerb, to the luxurious station lounge, you know this is going to be an amazing experience.
The cabins are in the period style of the Orient Express with some modernisations. The room is not huge but once you unpack you realise it's not that small. The butler and all the staff are super friendly and there to make your journey a great experience.
The layout of the train is great, we loved the lounging cars of which there is three to choose from so plenty of places to chill out. The train leaves Pretoria around 8.30am one day and arrives at around 4pm next day at Cape Town, so it's about a 32 hour overnight trip.
Our favourite lounge was the observation car at the end of the train with over sized windows to watch the beautiful landscape pass by and one huge window that is the back of the train that you can become mesmerised looking out of.
There was one stop at Kimberley late on the first day of travel, which was great to get off the train and stretch our legs. However, it includes a trip to the world famous Kimberley Diamond Mine, which is claimed to be the biggest hand dug hole on earth (there are other, larger, mine excavations, but these were created using earth-moving equipment rather than manual labour). It's called The Big Hole. By 1914, when over 22 million tons of earth had been excavated, yielding 3,000 kilograms (14,504,566 carats) of diamonds, work on the mine ceased. These days it's a world class tourist attraction.
After an hour or so, with no sign of any diamonds lying around as we walked around the museum it was back to the train to dress for dinner. Men must wear a dinner jacket. The food onboard was first class considering you were on a train, the chefs did an incredible job serving four course lunch and dinners accompanied with excellent South African wines.
The train then rattled it's way down towards Cape Town overnight as we slept (in seperate single beds that fold down from the walls and the butler makes them up while you're at dinner). We woke up nice and fresh for breakfast next morning. Each cabin has its own ensuite with shower so that you can be nice and fresh the morning after the night before.
The downside was breakdown 1 hour out of Cape Town at the end of our journey (so close...but so far) when the power lines were cut. The handling of the 3 hour delay, when it became obvious that the crew knew some time prior to that, that there was going to be an issue, but didn't plan ahead and get busses there to move us through to Cape Town with a minimum of fuss was appalling. It wasn't a great way to finish an expensive and great journey. If all had gone smoothly we would be highly recommending The Blue Train - even with it high price tag.