It is now some twenty years passed that I first met Rohan Vos. The occasion was his inaugural promotional tour in California. I was one of many in the travel business who were invited to dinner for a first hand presentation of the newly christened “Pride of Africa,” commonly known as the Rovos Rail. Rohan was an impressive figure, a tall stately sort of fellow that had the warmest of smiles and a genuine shake of the hand that made you feel satisfied that his promises would be guaranteed on that hand shake alone.
The presentation led me to book passage for departure within the year and I can state, unequivocally, that all promises were met. The embarkation began with a cocktail hour at a fine hotel within Pretoria, followed by transit to the train station and a gala send off on the platform with a most delicious tasting champagne. Rohan was not only visible on site; he was remarkably engaged with each and every guest. We departed the station and made a brief stop in Johannesburg, where it was time to bid farewell to our esteemed host and begin to luxuriate within the comfort of our appointed suites. The wise traveler, soon thereafter, found their way to the parlor car, situated at the very end as the last car passing, where for however long one might enjoy, to relish in the delight of its surroundings and pass tales of safari adventures, be they real, created or imagined.
The Rovos passage, in days passed, took two days to Cape Town with touring stops at the historic village of Matiesfontein, usually at breakfast where the Scottish bangers are remembered to this very day, as well as a stop at Kimberley, which included a city tour and a visit to the Diamond Mine Museum, near the site of the world’s largest man-made excavation, the Big Hole.
Passage on the Rovos is as much an emotional pleasure as it is a transit. No doubt there is a twist and a turn with the ol’ rail cars, however, the ambiance is pure delight and the appointed suites as fine a cabin as can be found. Safari in Africa cannot be compared, particularly if one chooses the proper environs, away from the hordes of travelers and into country that truly has “wild” animal; the passage by rail on the Rovos embellishes that journey to an extent that is simply immeasurable. A pure delight.
No doubt that most will travel to Africa on safari, if at all, but once in their lifetime. Does it not make sense to spend time considering where would be the finest of locations offering the most genuine of experiences. Those destinations do exist and should be sought after when considering an itinerary.