Photo Credit: Goway

Kick back in comfort on this South African rail tour with Goway.

It’s late afternoon and you’re recapping the day you just spent exploring Cape Town while sipping tea in a train observation car, complete with an open-air balcony. In just a few hours, your home on the rails will travel through the South African countryside to the town of Worcester, the jumping-off point for another eventful day.

This is life aboard the Shongololo Express—one of the most relaxing ways to experience all of the history, culture, and wildlife that South Africa is known for. It’s a country that offers buzzy urban centers, gorgeous coastline, dramatic mountains, rustic game parks, and much more. Seeing it all by rail not only takes you from destination to destination, but also offers gorgeous scenery in between.

Photo Credit: Goway

The Company
This 15-day Shongololo Good Hope train trip from Cape Town to Pretoria is available through Goway, a tour operator that runs a range of trips all over South Africa and beyond, from family-friendly getaways to beach escapes. Bruce Hodge, an Australian research economist, founded the company in Canada in 1970, and in the mid-1990s, he launched a special Africa division. (His wife also happens to hail from South Africa.)

 

Goway even offers other train trips through South Africa. But a ride on the Shongololo Express is an especially worthwhile option for visitors who want to cover a lot of ground without hopping from plane to plane. Plus, there’s something romantic about traveling by train. What better way to see the changing landscape than from the window of your wood-paneled cabin or while enjoying a freshly made breakfast from the elegant dining car?

Photo Credit: Goway

The Tour
The trip begins in Cape Town, a waterfront city on the southwestern coast, and makes a number of interesting stops before arriving in Pretoria in the north. (The journey is also available from north to south.) And the train is merely one mode of transportation. You’ll hit the road for various scenic drives, including a stunner along the coast to Hermanus, where the chance of spotting whales is especially high between July and November. In Knysna, a cruise boat will glide through a lagoon to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, and in two different wildlife areas—including famous Kruger National Park—you’ll ride along in a safari Jeep while a guide helps you spot animals in the wild.

 

But game drives aren’t the only way you’ll take in the great outdoors. The trip makes a stop at the 600,000-acre iSimangaliso Wetland Park, home to the highest volume of birds in Africa and the continent’s tallest forested dunes. You’ll also see natural wonders like the Three Rondavels—towering rock formations that look like African huts—and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where thousands of years of water erosion and floodwater have carved otherworldly cavities where two rivers meet.

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Photo Credit: Goway

For history buffs, there’s no shortage of inspiration, either; they can enjoy walking tours of destinations like Graaf-Reinet—the fourth-oldest settlement in South Africa (established in 1786)—and the battlefields of Wagon Hill, the site of the siege of Ladysmith, which began in November 1899 during the Great Boer War against the English. And if there’s a golfer in your group, he or she can opt to play rounds at any of seven-plus different golf clubs along the way.

There’s so much to see and do in South Africa, but if you’re looking for a vacation that shows off the country’s highlights—from big cities to small towns, from culture to nature—a train journey is an amazing way to go.

 

Check out even more South African tours you can take with Goway and book now!