The African continent was tamed by rail: vast sections of track built across the African bush at the cost of blood, sweat and tears. Even now, Africa's railway network provides a unique way to see the countryside, with many old carriages restored to their colonial glory, and others setting new standards of luxury for a new age of train travel.
The options are most extensive in South Africa, where the leading luxury option is the Blue Train, running routes from Pretoria across the country to Cape Town, up to the Kruger National Park, and heading as far north as Victoria Falls. This is the ultimate in luxury travel, with an observation bar, gourmet restaurant and luxurious sleeping compartments with adjacent facilities. Fast and very comfortable, the Blue Train covers its routes quickly, and on most routes you'll only spend one night on board.
For longer journeys that mix travel by rail with the very best sightseeing in Southern Africa, Rovos Rail operates restored colonial-era trains to run a selection of themed safaris lasting for days or even weeks. Their trains cover great distances at a relaxed pace, and stop often to use minivans to visit sites of interest along the way. Each night, however, you return to your comfortable sleeping compartment, a traveling "hotel on rails."
There are other train journeys you can consider in Africa. A new service has started running along the ancient tracks that stretch down through Tanzania, from Dar es Salaam on the coast to the Selous Game Reserve, while the crumbling 'Lunatic Line' across Kenya still runs a sleeper service from Mombasa on the coast to the capital, Nairobi.
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