PLANET RAIL ADDS LUXURY TRAIN JOURNEYS ON TWO CONTINENTS
New for 2016, award-winning tailor-made rail operator Planet Rail is extending its reach beyond Europe with two exotic new journeys across the intriguing regions of southern Africa and India.
Rovos Rail, The Pride of Africa: Cape Town to Victoria Falls
Discover spectacular African scenery aboard Rovos Rail’s classically remodelled and meticulously restored wood-panelled coaches, travelling in style and recapturing the ambiance of yesteryear. The fleet of cream and green carriages, many acquired from the old Rhodesian and South African Railways, travel through the spectacular mountain ranges and scenic winelands of the Cape to the haunting barren landscapes of the Great Karoo. Carrying just 72 passengers in 36 luxurious, air-conditioned suites, all featuring hot showers (or a Victorian bath for those opting for a Royal Suite) - this is the ultimate way to tour across southern Africa.
Planet Rail’s adventure begins with two nights’ 5-star accommodation in Cape Town, before guests are welcomed aboard the luxury Pride of Africa to begin the first leg of the voyage. Travelling through the Hex River Valley to Worcester and onwards to Touws River, the train reaches a height of 959m, the perfect spot to soak up the views from the glass-panelled observation car of the vast expanse of grape-producing farms. Journey overnight to Kimberley to explore the Diamond Mine Museum and the colossal ‘Big Hole’; then continue past Kamfers Dam, a wetland which is home to some 23,000 Lesser Flamingos. Disembark to spend a night in Pretoria, set in the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains, with its mixture of colonial, art deco and South African architecture, before rejoining the train for the next leg of the tour which passes the goldfields and Witwatersrand. Next, head west to cross Botswana and the Tropic of Capricorn, through the Kalahari Desert, and enjoy a game drive in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. The culmination of this grand tour is the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls.
Price: from £2,350 per person based on 2 sharing, including 9 nights’ accommodation (4 nights’ B&B in 4/5-star hotel accommodation in Cape Town, Pretoria and Victoria Falls; and 5 nights’ full board accommodation with beverages onboard the Pride of Africa), scheduled excursions and transfers. International flights are extra.
The Palace on Wheels
No trip to India is complete without a train journey, and the Palace on Wheels allows guests to discover this fascinating country in the lap of luxury, travelling in the bygone style of the former Maharajas. Stay at the 5-star Claridges hotel in Delhi and enjoy a rickshaw ride through the colourful and scent-laden bazaars, before being transferred to Delhi’s Safdarjung Railway Station to step aboard the Palace on Wheels and begin the week-long passage across Rajasthan.
An overnight journey delivers passengers to the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur where there is the opportunity to explore the Palace of the Winds and the Royal Palace, and to see the Amber Fort by caparisoned elephant. A new day brings new destinations - Sawai Madhopur and the wildlife sanctuary of Ranthambore National Park, home to more than 300 species of birds as well as tiger, hyena, jackal and fox. Further highlights are: the stunning Lake City of Udaipur; a camel ride in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert; the grand palaces of Jodhpur; and a visit to the world-famous bird sanctuary at Keoladeo Ghana National Park. The fitting finale to this spectacular rail odyssey, however, is Agra to witness one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’, the Taj Mahal, and Agra Fort.
With weekly departures between September and June, the lavish train has just 14 fully air-conditioned deluxe saloons, all named after the former Rajput states with interiors that match their historic past. Each compartment has its own bathroom and there is even a rejuvenating spa available - tempting after a day’s excursion. On board a personal steward, or ‘Khidmatgar’, is at passengers’ beck and call and there are two lavish restaurants, The Maharaja and The Maharani, serving a choice of Rajasthani and international dishes, as well as a relaxing and well-stocked bar.
Price: from £2,350 per person based on 2 sharing, including 1 night B&B in a 5-star Delhi hotel, 7 nights’ full board on the Palace on Wheels, with all transfers and excursions. International flights are extra.
Also available in India is a 10-day Golden Triangle trip featuring trains, tigers and the Taj Mahal.