Road Scholar : Home
Southern Africa Safari and Train Adventure: From Cape Town to Victoria Falls

Program Number: 21423RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/15/2014 - 9/30/2014; 9/17/2015 - 10/2/2015; 2/25/2016 - 3/11/2016; 3/10/2016 - 3/25/2016; 8/18/2016 - 9/2/2016; 9/15/2016 - 9/30/2016;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: South Africa/Zimbabwe/Botswana
Price starting at: $8,192.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks
Meals: 36; 12 Breakfasts, 1 Brunch, 11 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Explore Southern Africa in the romantic style of the past on this safari-and-train adventure. Start your journey by experiencing Cape Town's complex history and dramatic natural beauty. Then board Rovos Rail for an evocative train trek to Victoria Falls, making stops along the way to search for magnificent wildlife. In Zimbabwe, witness elephants and Cape buffalo quenching their thirst from the Zambezi River and follow in the footsteps of Dr. Livingstone to marvel at Victoria Falls.


• Journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls on Rovos Rail, a luxurious private train recalling the romance of Victorian era railroad travel.
• Encounter African wildlife during boat excursions on the Zambezi River and safari game drives in national parks and on a private reserve.
• Explore Cape Town's colorful and historic sites including District Six, where a local resident speaks about the forced removals experienced during the apartheid era.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day on uneven terrain. Game drives in open-air safari vehicles can be bumpy and dusty; stamina and flexibility are required.

Due to the special nature of the program, we regret that we are unable to match solo participants with roommates.

Date Specific Information


This departure date is run in reverse, starting with safari at the Upper Zambezi River, Zimbabwe and ending in Cape Town, South Africa. The Rovos Rail runs from Victoria Falls to Cape Town, and does not have an overnight in Pretoria, although a city tour of Pretoria is still included.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Cape Town (South Africa), 3 nights; board Rovos Rail, 2 nights; detrain in Pretoria, 1 night; board Rovos Rail, 3 nights; detrain in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), 1 night; coach to Upper Zambezi River, 3 nights; fly Victoria Falls to Johannesburg for departure.

Overnight flight from U.S.
1 night
Arrival Cape Town (South Africa)
3 nights

Explore the colorful Bo Kaap and other historic sites in the Mother City, and learn about the impact of Apartheid on the local residents in District Six. Journey into the lovely Cape Winelands to visit a vineyard and admire Cape Dutch architecture. Take a cable car to the top of iconic Table Mountain to absorb splendid views then continue to the dramatic Cape of Good Hope. Encounter the colony of African Penguins that calls Boulders Beach home.

Board Rovos Rail
2 nights
Detrain in Pretoria 1 night
Board Rovos Rail 3 nights
Detrain in Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)
1 night

Board the Rovos Rail train for an unforgettable journey to Victoria Falls. View spectacular environments from the arid Great Karoo to the soaring mountains of South Africa through huge picture windows; take part in expert presentations on topics like the colonial era and Apartheid; and enjoy outstanding cuisine including customary high tea. Off-train field trips bring you to Kimberley, the historic diamond mining boomtown; Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital; and Hwange National Park, one of the best places in Africa to spot big cats. In Zimbabwe, marvel at Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from various viewpoints and learn the story of the explorer David Livingstone.

Coach to Upper Zambezi River
3 nights
Fly Victoria Falls to Johannesburg for departure
Overnight flight to U.S.
1 night

Drive to a safari lodge on a private 5,000-acre reserve beside the mighty Zambezi River. Explore the reserve during game drives and boat excursions on the Zambezi, searching for the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo) and more. Cross the nearby border into Botswana for a field trip to Chobe National Park, noted for its thriving elephant population.

Luxurious suites with private baths on train. Cape Town: Stylish boutique hotel in historic building. Pretoria: Hotel near train station. Victoria Falls: Riverfront lodge with lovely gardens. Upper Zambezi River: Small, charming safari lodge on private reserve.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Mervyn Sparks

A dual citizen of England and South Africa, Mervyn Sparks left the field of financial management in 1995 to devote himself full time to helping visitors explore his adopted home of Cape Town. Since then, Mervyn has gained extensive experience of South Africa’s diverse peoples and environments during a period of historic transformation. He enjoys giving Road Scholar participants a thorough picture of modern-day life in Cape Town and the history behind it.
Lisa Reed

Lisa Reed was born in Zimbabwe, spent her school years in South Africa, and now lives in Botswana. She has worked or visited most Southern and East African safari destinations, and has managed safari camps on her own and with others since being in Botswana. Lisa has a natural affinity with adults and children, and enjoys passing on her years of experience and knowledge to the next generation. She has been leading safaris for Road Scholar for more than 15 years.
Meals and Lodgings
   Melrose Place Guest Lodge
  Johannesburg, South Africa 1 night
   Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
  Upper Zambezi River, Zimbabwe 3 nights
   A'Zambezi River Lodge
  Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 1 night
   Rovos Rail
  Rovos Rail, South Africa 5 nights
   The Three Boutique Hotel
  Cape Town, South Africa 3 nights
 Melrose Place Guest Lodge
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: Melrose Place Guest Lodge is an owner-operated, boutique hotel that is conveniently located in the Melrose district of Johannesburg. The lodge’s lush, tranquil gardens are a haven for a wide variety of birdlife, and make for a relaxing and charming environment. The guest lodge is conveniently located near Rosebank center, within walking distance of many shops and restaurants. Melrose Place prides itself in personalized service and attention to detail. This property is truly an oasis in the city.
  Contact info: 12A North Street
Johannesburg,   South Africa
phone: +27 (0)11 442 5231
  Room amenities: Each of the 30 individually decorated en-suite rooms are generously sized and offer very comfortable bedding. Rooms feature their own entrances and patios with secluded views of the shady picturesque gardens. Coffee and tea is offered daily at no additional cost. Rooms feature satellite television as well as a wall safe and a hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Melrose Place includes a large swimming pool as well as complimentary access to a large, modern fitness center open 24 hours a day. Lunch and dinner are prepared by the resident cook and are available upon request. Onsite laundry and dry cleaning services are also available. Free wireless internet is available in all guest rooms.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Please phone EXPLORE, Inc. Please phone EXPLORE, Inc. at 888-596-6377 for more information and exact pricing.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge is a beautiful thatched lodge resting by the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe. Due to its border with the Chobe Forest Reserve, Imbabala is a regular stop for elephant herds. The lodge features a lounge, dining room, and bar area but meals are often served outside by a hospitable staff. Rooms are stone and thatch mini-lodges with breathtaking views of the Zambezi River and a watering hole where animals often congregate. During the day guests can take advantage of morning and afternoon game drives, river safaris, walking safaris, fishing safaris, and more. Imbabala has an excellent location for those exploring Southern Africa: the lodge is approximately 30 minutes to Chobe National Park (Botswana), 90 minutes to Livingstone (Zambia) Airport, and 60 minutes to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) Airport.
  Contact info: N/A
Imbabala Private Concession,   Zimbabwe
phone: +263 (0)13 44571
  Room amenities: Each free standing thatched chalet possesses a front patio looking towards the Zambezi River with a screened front entrance, opening to the bed area (beds include mosquito nets.) Behind the bed area you find a dividing wall with access to your private bathroom as well as an outside shower located at the farthest end of the chalet. All bathrooms are equipped with hair dryers. Electricity is provided in the rooms; recharging of batteries is possible.
  Facility amenities: The lodge includes a tiled swimming pool, open air lounge, bar area, dining room, and an outside dining area. Laundry service is included free of charge. Wireless is available in the common areas free of charge. Simply ask for the password from management and use on your personal device.
  Smoking allowed: No

 A'Zambezi River Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Located in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the A’Zambezi River Lodge is the only hotel in Victoria Falls with a river frontage and jetty site. The imaginative architecture, with its sweeping curve of grass thatch, blends well with the lush green lawns. A'Zambezi is the perfect retreat to relax and unwind in the quiet ambience of the African wildlife and nature, while enjoying renowned service. The majority of the rooms have balconies facing the river and swimming pool whilst the rest face the national park and the gardens.
  Contact info: 308 Parkway Drive
Victoria Falls,   Zimbabwe
phone: +263 4 757 098
  Room amenities: Each well appointed room has air conditioning and most have balconies facing the Zambezi River. All rooms also have satellite television and direct dial phones. Guests can also enjoy the minibar as well as coffee and tea. Each room has a hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include an award-winning restaurant situated at the front of the hotel with a wrap-around deck just feet away from the Zambezi River. There are lush tropical gardens that surround the hotel. There is also a reading room where you can immerse yourself in a book, check out friends and family on the internet or catch up with the latest news stories. You can also relax under the glorious African sun, next to the stunning outdoor swimming pool where waiters will serve you the all day snack menu and an array of cocktails and drinks. The A'Zambezi River Lodge features free wifi.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Rovos Rail
Type: Train
  Description: Rovos Rail hosts a maximum of 72 passengers in the most spacious and luxurious train suites in the world. It is elegantly furnished in period decor that gives a wonderful sense of grandeur throughout. Both the Pullman Suites and the Deluxe Suites offer passengers the opportunity to travel in privacy, comfort and luxury. All rooms are equipped with a writing surface and a personal safe for valuables. There is also a bar fridge filled with beverages of the passengers’ choice and room service is available 24 hours a day.
  Contact info: Cape Town to Victoria Falls. Train
South Africa,   South Africa
phone: +27 (0)12 315 8242
  Room amenities: The Deluxe Suites measure 118 sq feet and can accommodate two passengers in either twin or double beds. The Deluxe Suites all have a lounge area and en-suite bathroom with shower and hair dryers. The wood-paneled, rebuilt sleeper coaches have been remodeled and refurbished to mint condition and offer every modern convenience and comfort. The en-suite bathrooms offer original fittings combined with the modern conveniences of hot showers and hairdryers. The spacious suites offer passengers the opportunity to travel in privacy, comfort and luxury. The Pullman Suites are equipped with a comfortable sofa-seat during the day with a conversion to double or twin beds for the evening, and also have an en-suite bathroom with shower and hair dryers. At 76 sq feet they are considerably smaller than the Deluxe Suites. We advise all participants to consider upgrading to a Deluxe Suite if concerned about space. Each suite has an individual air-conditioner with its own temperature controls. Windows open allowing for fresh air if desired. Beds are fitted with electric under blankets should temperatures be chilly. Each suite has an electric safe for valuables.
  Facility amenities: General make-up of the train: locomotive, generator car, staff car, guest sleepers, a non-smoking lounge car (26 guest capacity), two non-smoking 42-seat dining cars (if required, plenty of space for the maximum of 72 guests carried), kitchen car, guest sleepers, smoking lounge and Observation Car (32 guests) at the tail. There is an internal telephone system on board; numbers are listed on the guest list. Meals are served in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the dining cars and are complemented by a selection of fine South African wines. An enthusiastic team of chefs is responsible for overseeing the very important task of ensuring guests’ every need is catered for. There’s an accent on fresh local ingredients and traditional dishes such as game are a specialty. Limited laundry service is available; turnaround time is normally 48 hours. In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board. The use of mobile phones, laptops and essentially anything that has the ability to disturb other passengers is confined to the privacy of the suites only; the reception is poor while the train is moving. There is a small gift shop on the train and at Capital Park Station. Due to the varying exchange rates, credit cards are preferred. The host/ess on duty has a basic First Aid Kit and personal essentials (toothbrushes, razors, earplugs etc.). Stamps are available for sale and postcards may be posted in the post box at the entrance to the Observation Car onboard or at Capital Park Station. For days on the train dress is smart casual. Evening attire is more formal – for the gentlemen a jacket and tie is a minimum requirement while for ladies we suggest cocktail/evening dresses or suits. Please include warm clothing for cold mornings and evenings. There are board games, playing cards, a card table (dependent), books and magazines available for your use in the Lounge and Observation Cars whilst on board the train.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 The Three Boutique Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of the city, the Three Boutique Hotel’s central location provides easy access to all of Cape Town’s attractions. The hotel is housed in a 275-year old national monument, and new renovations have brought a modern touch to the historic building. Ideally sized with only 15 rooms, the hotel provides personalized service in a trendy part of Cape Town. The hotel’s lovely rooftop sundeck offers unsurpassed, panoramic views of Table Mountain and the city, while the swimming pool and surrounding patio provide a great location to soak in the sun.
  Contact info: 3 Flower Street
Cape Town,  8001 South Africa
phone: +27 (0)83 672 5363
  Room amenities: Each modern and comfortable room boasts king size beds (that can be converted into two twin beds), en-suite bathroom facilities with showers, air conditioning and heating, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, hairdryer, tea/coffee facilities, writing desk and bathrobes. Rooms also have universal electrical outlets that accept US plugs, and electronic safes.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a breakfast dining area complete with coffee and full bar (operated on an honesty basis), rooftop deck with stunning 360 degree views, swimming pool and patio, and is within easy walking distance to several local restaurants. There is free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: Contact Program Provider Contact Explore, Inc at 888-596-6377 for pricing and more information.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program begins with dinner at 7pm at the lodge in Johannesburg, South Africa. You will be staying at Melrose Place Guest Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends mid-day with transfers to the Cape Town airport for departing flights; no activities are scheduled the last morning. Please see transportation info for more on departure transfers You will be staying at The Three Boutique Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. US passports need a minimum of five blank visa pages (not amendment/endorsement pages at the back) given the number of border crossings and country requirements. A visa for Zimbabwe will be purchased for you at the border (included in program cost); Canadian citizens please bring US $105 extra for Zimbabwean visa as the visa is $150 and only $45 has been included. No visa needed for South Africa or Botswana. Signed liability waivers required for safari lodge and Program Provider (Explore, Inc).
  Parking availability:
no parking needed
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Johannesburg
  Nearest city or town:  Johannesburg
  Nearest highway: R21
  Nearest airport:  Johannesburg International Airport
  Transportation to site: Arrival transfers from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo airport to the lodge in Johannesburg are provided by hired coach for participants who booked their flight through Road Scholar; transfer time is approximately 30 minutes. Typically there are only two scheduled group transfers for arrival in Johannesburg: a transfer following South African Air #208 from Washington, DC-Dulles, and a transfer following South African Air #204 from New York-JFK.
  From End of Program
  Location:  At Home
  Transportation from site: Departure transfers from the hotel to Cape Town International Airport are provided by hired coach for participants who booked their flights through Road Scholar; transfer time is approximately 30 minutes. Transfers will be scheduled to coincide with flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg that connect with international flights South African Air #207 to Washington, DC-Dulles and South African Air #203 to New York-JFK, which depart out of Johannesburg.
Elevation Note: Pretoria is at 4100 feet; the Victoria Falls area is approx. 3300 feet

Equipment Requirements: Suggested: Binoculars, camera, flashlight
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Monday, September 15)
 In Transit Overnight: Depart on an overnight flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Day 2: Arrive Johannesburg
(Tuesday, September 16)
 Afternoon: Arrive Johannesburg where you clear Customs and are met and transferred 30 minutes to Melrose Place Guest Lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner with the group in the lodge's dining room.
 Evening: Orientation session and group introductions following dinner.
Accommodations: Melrose Place Guest Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Fly to Zimbabwe / Safari
(Wednesday, September 17)
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Transfer to the Johannesburg airport where you board a commercial flight to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
 Lunch: On board the flight.
 Afternoon: Arrive Victoria Falls in the early afternoon, where you clear Zimbabwean customs/immigration, and transfer to Imbabala Lodge. You have a chance to settle in and enjoy the riverfront scenery before your group leader gives an overview of Zimbabwe. Afterward, embark on a late afternoon game drive in the private reserve surrounding the lodge. The 5,000 acre national park concession has nearly nine miles of private Zambezi River frontage, and it borders the Chobe Forest Reserve which is renowned for its massive elephant population. Game drives here are taken in open-air safari vehicles in the early morning and late afternoons into evening, moving through the plains searching for predators and other game.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
Accommodations: Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Safari Activities / Elephant Behavior
(Thursday, September 18)
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Morning game drive in the lodge's private reserve.
 Lunch: At the lodge.
 Afternoon: Your group leader gives a lecture on elephant social structure, behavior and culling issues. Following tea, you embark on a game viewing boat cruise on the Zambezi River. Here you may have the chance to spot wildlife coming to drink and bathe in the river, as well as observe the multitude of birds that gather on the river’s banks.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
Accommodations: Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Chobe National Park, Botswana
(Friday, September 19)
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: A short transfer takes you over the border into Botswana and Chobe National Park, where you head out on a game drive within the park. Chobe National Park remains one of Africa’s prime game-viewing areas. Here one finds all of the “Big Five,” except for rhino. This is elephant country, home to the largest population of elephants in the world…many of these great grey giants can be seen at this time of year. (Note that seasonality makes a big difference in how much game you will see. If it’s dry you will see larger herds; if it has recently rained the animals will be more dispersed.) The park forms part of Botswana’s northern-most border and is a contrast of desert aridity and flood plains. The Chobe region is best known for its vast magnificent river and floodplains filled with grazing herds of big game. Buffalo, sable, lion, leopard, hippo, hyena, and many species of antelope find safety in this huge national park. Chobe is one of Africa’s most pristine ecosystems and greatest wildlife refuges.
 Lunch: At a local lodge near Chobe National Park.
 Afternoon: After lunch, embark on a game-viewing boat cruise on the Chobe River. You explore the Chobe River by motorboat where you may come face to face with the elephant, buffalo and other wildlife that gather on the banks of the river to drink and bathe. Immerse yourself in the unique environment viewing numerous birds including sacred ibis, blue heron, goliath heron, saddle-billed storks, marabou storks and little egrets. After the cruise, you are driven back across the border to Imbabala Lodge. Your group leader gives a lecture on lion social structure and behavior.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
Accommodations: Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Victoria Falls / David Livingstone's Explorations
(Saturday, September 20)

Note: In order to see all viewpoints at the Falls, approximate length of walk is two miles. It is possible to walk less and see some, but not all, viewpoints. Paths may be slick from mist, but are mostly flat.

 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Embark on one last game drive in search of wildlife that may have eluded you thus far. In the late morning you are transferred to the town of Victoria Falls.
 Lunch: At the hotel in Victoria Falls.
 Afternoon: Following lunch, a noted local historian discusses the story of Scottish explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who first visited Victoria Falls over 150 years ago, and whose journeys laid the ground work for the Colonial era that followed. Following the lecture, a short vehicle transfer takes you to the magnificent Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Here you see how through the millennia the forces of nature have created this marvelous spectacle, Africa’s greatest waterfall. You view the Falls today from the Zimbabwean side.
 Dinner: At the lodge.
Accommodations: A'Zambezi River Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Free Time / Local Village Visit / Board the Rovos Rail
(Sunday, September 21)
 Breakfast: At the lodge.
 Morning: Free time with a variety of local activities from which to choose.
 Lunch: At the hotel.
 Afternoon: After lunch transfer to Intabayengwe Village, a nearby traditional village. Here you have the chance to meet members of the community and see how they live. You help the local women prepare a traditional meal and see what role women play in the village. You also visit a local, illegal “moonshiner’s” distillation facility and learn about this underground industry. Visits to some of the homes and the local pre-school round out the visit. Afterward, transfer to the Victoria Falls train station for a welcome and orientation by the Rovos Rail staff. Check-in and board the train for a 5:00pm departure.
 Dinner: The dinner sitting on board the train is at 7:30pm each evening, and can be taken in either of the two Victorian-era dining cars. The delicious food is complemented by an array of fine South African wines.
Accommodations: Rovos Rail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Hwange National Park / Cross into Botswana
(Monday, September 22)
 Morning: An early morning, off-train excursion takes you into Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's premier safari destination, for a game drive. Hwange is legendary for its wonderful array of wildlife, particularly the massive herds of elephant and buffalo. There are a number of shallow pans spread throughout the park, around which wildlife congregates, making for excellent and reliable game viewing. Elephant, Cape buffalo, sable, roan, southern giraffe, blue wildebeest, impala and sometimes even gemsbok (oryx) can be seen here. This park is one of the best for predators - lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah are regularly sighted, along with the smaller African wildcat, serval, honey badger, civet and spotted hyena. Bird life in the area is also prolific, with more than 400 species found; the birdlife is incredibly varied, with species that frequent teak woodlands as well as those more typical of the drier Kalahari being present. The train departs around 10:00am, but continues to travel through the park for awhile; animals may be seen from the train.
 Brunch: A hearty brunch is served on board the train, following the safari excursion.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the scenery as the train travels through the Zimbabwean countryside, passing by Bulawayo before heading towards the Botswana border. All of the cars on the train have expansive windows, allowing for great viewing, and there is an observation car at the end of the train that is partially open-air. Your group leader gives an overview of Botswana in one of the lounge cars. High tea is served at 4:00pm each afternoon.
 Dinner: On the train.
 Evening: The train arrives at Plumtree in the evening for border formalities before crossing into Botswana.
Accommodations: Rovos Rail
Meals Included: Brunch, Dinner

Day 9: Botswana / Cross into South Africa
(Tuesday, September 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served between 7:00-10:00am each morning.
 Morning: The train meanders through the countryside in Botswana, passing by the capital city of Gaborone, before arriving mid-day at the South African border near Mafikeng.
 Lunch: The lunch sitting is at 1:00pm each day.
 Afternoon: After stopping for border formalities, the train continues the journey towards Pretoria. Your group leader gives an overview on South Africa and Apartheid. High tea is served.
 Dinner: On the train.
Accommodations: Rovos Rail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Pretoria
(Wednesday, September 24)
 Breakfast: On the train.
 Morning: The train arrives at the Capital Park Station in Pretoria at 10:00am. Upon disembarking, you are shown around the private train station. Once the bustling hub of steam locomotion in the old Transvaal, the colonial-style railway station now serves as the headquarters for Rovos Rail. The eyes of rail enthusiasts are drawn to the vast carriage and locomotive sheds, where teams of dedicated personnel keep the rolling stock in perfect order. This roofed workshop of 10,000 square meters (107,640 square feet) straddles 15 railway lines with concrete inspection pits below, and is the ultimate repair and maintenance facility for any train operation. Following the station visit, you have a chance to explore Pretoria. Although Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital, lies only 36 miles north of Johannesburg, it provides a complete contrast to the City of Gold. Pretoria was founded in 1855 and named after the Voortrekker leader, Andries Pretorius. It is often referred to as the “Jacaranda City,” a nickname which derives from the thousands of trees lining the streets, their purple blossoms heralding the approach of summer each October. You visit the Voortrekker Monument, a striking memorial built to honor the early pioneers. Then, continue to Church Square in the center of the city, where the statue of Paul Kruger looks down on the passersby. The imposing Union Building, which houses the office of the State President, provides an impressive view over the city. You are able to explore the beautiful gardens here before being transferred back to the Capital Park Station.
 Lunch: Packed lunch provided.
 Afternoon: Re-board the train, which starts the journey toward Cape Town at 3:00pm. Once back on board, your group leader gives a lecture on Kimberley and diamond mining, in preparation for tomorrow morning's off-train excursion. High tea is served.
 Dinner: On the train.
Accommodations: Rovos Rail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Kimberley & Diamond Mine
(Thursday, September 25)
 Breakfast: On the train.
 Morning: In the mid-morning you arrive in Kimberley, where you have a chance to see the Big Hole and Diamond Mine Museum, as well as a short city tour. Kimberley serves as the capital of the Northern Cape Province, and has considerable historic significance due to the siege during the Second Boer War and its diamond mining past. The roots of the De Beers company can be traced to the early days of the mining town.
 Lunch: On the train.
 Afternoon: As the train travels through the barren moonscape of the Great Karoo, your group leader gives a lecture on the significant colonial influences in the early development of South Africa. High tea is served.
 Dinner: Savor your last dinner aboard the Rovos Rail.
Accommodations: Rovos Rail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Matjiesfontein / Arrival in Cape Town
(Friday, September 26)
 Breakfast: On the train.
 Morning: Right after breakfast, the train pulls into Matjiesfontein for a stop of approximately one hour. Here you have a chance to explore the small, historic village on your own before the train starts the last leg of the journey to Cape Town.
 Lunch: On the train.
 Afternoon: Watch the scenery change from the Great Karoo to the majestic mountains and vineyards of the Cape Winelands. In preparation for tomorrow afternoon's activity, your group leader gives a lecture on the history, architecture and viniculture of the Winelands. High tea is served. The train arrives in Cape Town at 6:00pm, at which point you are transferred to your hotel in the heart of the city.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: The Three Boutique Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Robben Island / Cape Winelands
(Saturday, September 27)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: You are transferred to the V&A Waterfront to board the Robben Island ferry. Robben Island, just seven miles off the Cape Town coast, was for nearly 400 years a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here that rulers sent those they regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society. During apartheid years, Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran the island and its prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. This is where Nelson Mandela spent most of his 27 years in prison. From the island, enjoy spectacular views of the Cape. Following the end of the tour, you are transferred out to the Cape Winelands.
 Lunch: At Bread & Wine, located on the Moreson wine estate near Franschhoek. Bread & Wine exudes an old world charm, and is a character-filled, rustic restaurant that has won numerous accolades for its honest food. The menu changes seasonally and is inspired by the variety of ingredients available locally.
 Afternoon: Spend the afternoon touring the Cape Winelands. The wine-producing region around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is not only the most important wine growing region in South Africa, but Stellenbosch is one of the oldest, most beautiful and well-preserved towns in South Africa. The vineyards form a patchwork in the fertile valleys and seem to be overshadowed by dramatic mountains. There is an almost European atmosphere with beautiful Cape Dutch architecture seen everywhere. You partake in a vineyard, cellar tour, and wine tasting.
 Dinner: On your own to explore local fare.
Accommodations: The Three Boutique Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 14: Table Mountain / Cape Peninsula / Boulders Beach
(Sunday, September 28)

Note: At the Cape of Good Hope, you have the option of walking up steep steps to get to the lighthouse at the very top; however, great views can be enjoyed without climbing the steps. At Boulders Beach, the coach must park in a parking lot that requires about a 15-20 minute walk to get to the entrance to Boulders; the walk is on flat, paved surfaces.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast, head to Table Mountain where you take a cable car ride up the steep granite slopes (weather permitting) to see the splendid views of the city and peninsula; it is perhaps one of the most magnificent views in the southern hemisphere. Afterwards, depart toward Cape Point via the coastal route passing through Camps Bay (South Africa’s world famous beach resort), past the Twelve Apostle Range, through Hout Bay and along Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most spectacular coastal roads to be found in Africa. Arrive at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Cape Point, where the cold Benguela current and the warm Agulhas current meet, is one of the world’s most beautiful places – a stretch of rocky mountain jutting southward into the sea. Here you find a myriad of pristine beaches, sheltered bays and coves, as well as a rich array of indigenous flora. The fynbos reserve (a unique vegetation type of the Cape Floral Kingdom) is home to a variety of wildlife and bird species. Whales (dependant on season), penguins and seals may be spotted from this point. Lecture: Biodiversity of the Cape.
 Lunch: A picnic lunch is taken at a scenic spot.
 Afternoon: Stop off at Boulders Beach to view the resident African penguin colony. Nestled in a sheltered cove between Simon's Town and Cape Point, Boulders has become world famous for its thriving colony of African penguins and magnificent wind-sheltered beaches. Boulders is one of the few sites where this vulnerable bird (Spheniscus demersus) can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected environment.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant specializing in Cape Malay cuisine.
Accommodations: The Three Boutique Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Departure
(Monday, September 29)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: You have the morning free to pack or fit in any last minute activities before the scheduled group transfer departs for the airport in the late morning, for departure flights.
 In Transit Overnight: All international flight choices back to North America are overnight flights.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 16: Arrivals
(Tuesday, September 30)
 Morning: Early morning arrivals back in the USA and Canada.

Free Time Opportunities
  Victoria Falls Elephant Back Safari
Ride atop elephants on a unique safari through Victoria Falls National Park. The trail leads through the pristine bush and valley of the Masuwe River, which is home to numerous species of wildlife; here it is possible to see elephant, kudu, buffalo, impala and leopard. There is also excellent birding with over 50 species to be sighted. Each elephant is under the charge of a handler. If you are interested, please contact the Program Provider for more information and advance booking help. Advanced booking is recommended as space is limited. For additional information, visit
  Helicopter Flight
See Victoria Falls from a bird's eye view in a 12 or 25 minute helicopter flight. If you are interested, please contact the Program Provider for more information and advance booking help. Bookings can be made on site, too. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A History of South Africa

Author: Leonard Thompson

Description: A succint history of South Africa.

Adventuring in Southern Afica

Author: Allen Bechky

Description: This comprehensive guide to game parks throughout Southern Africa includes an overview of the region, tips on watching wildlife and good descriptive information on each park or nature reserve.

Birds of Southern Africa: The Complete Photographic Guide

Author: Ian Sinclair

Description: This brand new photographic field guide to the birds of southern Africa presents more than 2,500 images showing a wide selection of age and sex plumage variations, perched and in-flight birds, and color morphs where relevant, making it the most comprehensive collection of bird photographs of the region ever produced in a single volume. Accompanying text focuses on identification, call, status, breeding details and diet. Also included for each species is a distribution map and a calendar bar indicating occurrence and breeding months. About the author: IAN SINCLAIR is renowned in African birding circles for his field knowledge and expertise in identifying the region's many bird species. His vast experience has been gained in expeditions to every corner of Africa, as well as to the Himalayas, Antarctica and Marion Island. He has authored or co-authored several successful bird books, including the hugely successful Field Guide to Birds of SA and the equally successful Birds of Southern Africa.

Cape Town, A Lonely Planet City Guide

Author: John A. Murray

Description: A practical guide to the city and surroundings, featuring suggested walks, excursions and attractions. This surprisingly complete book also includes color photographs and a map.

Cape Winelands, A Touring Guide

Author: Theresa Morrison/Lanz von Horsten

Description: An informative, visual tour of 40 favorite wineries, all close to Cape Town. With fold-out maps, color photographs and information on restaurants.


Author: J.M. Coetzee

Description: Set in Cape Town and on a remote farm in the Eastern Cape, Coetzee's Booker Prize-winning novel explores the devastating realities of racial politics in post-apartheid South Africa.

Exploration of Africa, From Cairo to the Cape

Author: Ann Hugon

Description: This jewel of a book chronicles 19th century exploration of Africa with hundreds of contemporary paintings and prints, brief chapters on the expeditions and a very useful chronology.

Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa

Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart

Description: Omitting the smaller, seldom-seen mammals, the book provides details on the larger, more common mammals. It will make an invaluable contribution to any collection of books on nature. It is made especially user-friendly with color-coding and habitat symbols, color photographs and maps.

Long Walk to Freedom

Author: Nelson Mandela

Description: An unpretentious tale of an extraordinary life. Mandela recounts the circumstances of his imprisonment and ultimately his successful drive to end Apartheid.

Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage

Author: Richard Stengel

Description: A firsthand account of Nelson Mandela's wisdom from Richard Stengel, a close friend of Mandela and the editor of Time magazine.

Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa

Author: Kenneth Newman

Description: This classic field guide features hundreds of color plates, a comprehensive checklist – and information on habitat and distribution.


Author: Wilbur A. Smith

Description: Smith mixes romance, politics, and history in this page-turner set in Apartheid-era South Africa.

Silent Thunder, In the Presence of Elephants

Author: Katy Payne

Description: In this memoir, Katy Payne relates stories of research, discovery and conservation in Africa. An acoustic biologist, Payne has worked on communication among elephant populations at Amboseli National Park, Etosha and Sengwa.

Southern Africa Wildlife, A Visitor's Guide

Author: Mike Unwin

Description: A popular, photographic guide to the mammals, birds, reptiles and habitats south of the Zambezi. With 300 color photographs and illuminating text.

Southern, Central, and East African Mammals

Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart

Description: A compact guide to 152 mammals.

The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates

Author: Richard D. Estes

Description: The Behavior Guide to African Mammals is as different from a conventional field guide as motion pictures are from a snapshot. Whether we are able to look at them face to face, on television, or in the hundreds of illustrations provided here by Daniel Otte, this guide allows us to understand what animals do and what their behavior means. Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork and on the research of many other scientists, Richard Estes describes and explains the behavior of four major groups of mammals. Estes's remarkably informative guide is as up-to-date for the zoologist as it is accessible for the interested onlooker.

The Collector of Treasures

Author: Bessie Head

Description: Bessie Head produced a number of beautifully drawn novels and stories before her death in 1986. In this collection, she writes eloquently of village life in Botswana.

The Eye of the Elephant

Author: Mark Owens, Delia Owens

Description: Mark and Delia Owens, having set up camp in the Luangwa River Valley in northern Zambia among the elephants, are drawn into an ugly struggle with the local people.

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals

Author: Jonathan Kingdon

Description: The most complete African mammal guide available.

The Myth of Wild Africa

Author: Jonathan Adams, Thomas McShane

Description: A no-holds-barred attack on old-style conservation in Africa, provocative and dead-on. The authors explore the fallacy of an untouched continent where animals roam freely in sanctuaries.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Description: McCall Smith’s detective, Mma Ramotswe, makes her debut. A pleasure in every respect, this novel – not really a mystery – evokes the cultures, customs and diverse landscapes of Botswana.

The Safari Companion

Author: Richard Estes

Description: An encyclopedic guide to the behavior of Africa’s mammals by a noted scientist.

The Scramble for Africa

Author: Thomas Pakenham

Description: A well-written, meticulously researched history of the Victorian land grab in Africa. The book includes especially good portraits of the egomaniacal personalities who overran the continent.

The Ukimwi Road, From Kenya to Zimbabwe

Author: Dervla Murphy

Description: An Irish grandmother and award-winning travel writer, Murphy journeys from Kenya to Zimbabwe, including a sojourn in Zambia.

Time Out Cape Town

Author: Time Out

Description: Travelers will appreciate this lively, informative guide for where to go and what to do in Cape Town.

Tomorrow is Another Country, The Inside Story of South Africa's Road to Change

Author: Allister Sparks

Description: Essential to understanding South Africa today, this comprehensive account shows the extraordinary developments that led to multiracial democracy in South Africa.

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