The Rovos Rail Diary 2014

Sep 11 2014

Blyth & Gerry’s Rovos Trip from Pretoria to Durban in March 2014


Friday 28th March 2014

7.06 Early morning Gautrain from Midrand to Pretoria then taxi to Capital Park, Pretoria – The Rovos Station.

8.30 Met by Edward Mitchell, General Manager – tour of railway coaches etc.

Blyth Gerry and Edward


9.00 Other guests arrive. Coffee, drinks etc in Rovos Lounge before departure. Our first, (of many) champagnes of the trip. Welcome briefing by Brenda Vos, Rohan Vos’ daughter.

9.45 Porters take us to our suite onboard the train – luggage already there. Bottle of Gin, bottle of Jack Daniels on table, wine and sparkling wine in fridge.

10.00 Train departs pulled by SA Class 35 steam engine but only for 1 kilometre. Diesel engines then take over by SA railway drivers because Rovos cannot use their engines or drivers on SA owned track. After departure all passengers meet in the lounge coach for drinks (more champagne) and nibbles. Train skirts Pretoria and moves southward towards Johannesburg.



13.00 Meet in Dining car for lunch.

  • Fresh bread rolls, Prawn & avocado mousse garnished with bacon shards served with Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique Chardonnay. (NB All wines served were South African).
  • Potato galette with fresh ribbon vegetables of baby marrow, carrot parsnip and butternut served with Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2012.
  • Roydons camembert served with water biscuits, fresh fruit and rocket drizzled with olive oil.
  • Eton mess of berries, meringues, fresh cream and berry coulis served with Joostenberg Chenin Blanc Noble late harvest 2013 dessert wine.
  • Coffee

Onward journey through Germiston Station, Johannesburg towards the Drakensberg mountains. Fabulous cosmos flowers at the side of the railway for most of the route.

Evening Meal


16.00 Afternoon tea in the Observation car. Sandwiches, cake, fruit, chocolate etc. (It’s only 90 minutes since we finished lunch!).

Onward journey through the sunset, through Newcastle towards Elandslaagte.

19.30 Meet in the pillared Dining car for dinner – smart dress.

  • Fresh bread rolls, Pears cooked in red wine and black pepper with a sweet wine reduction served with Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon 2009.
  • Pan fried linefish (yellowtail) on a bed of spinach tagliolini with a vegetable ragout of capers, black olives, sundried tomato and basil served with Laurensford Viognier 2011.
  • Mature cheddar truckle and ciabatta and a small salad of fruit and nuts.
  • Chocolate mousse accompanied by a vanilla macaroon served with Allesverloren Cape Ruby (Port).
  • Coffee

Blyth and Gerry


Retired afterwards to our suite for Whisky’s

Deluxe Cabin
23.00 Arrive on a siding at Elandslaagte (middle of the country) where the train pulls in for the night. Due to the distance between Pretoria and Durban there were no pressures with time and no travelling through the night.

Saturday 29th March 2014

6.00 Early wake up call for continental breakfast in dining car.

7.00 Alight train at Elandslaagte for morning safari drive in the nearby Nambiti Reserve. Fantastic views over the countryside and distant Drakensberg mountains. Saw herd of Cape Buffalo (Big 5), eland, springbok, giraffe, black rhino, kudu, warthog and various birds including Secretary bird.

11.00 Arrive back at train for champagne welcome before boarding.

11.00 Brunch (buffet style – take what you want from list below) served in the Dining car with Pierre Jourdan Tranquille Rose wine.

  • Breakfast cereals, fruit and yoghurt platter.
  • Croissants, bran muffin and toast.
  • Cheese and cold meat platter (Black Forest Ham, pastrami and smoked turkey with a selection of cheddar, provolone and gruyere cheese).
  • Vegetarian quiche
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Prawn soup
  • Crayfish
  • Pizza
  • Strawberries with goats cheese infused with lavender oil
  • Apple strudel
  • Profiteroles
  • Tea or coffee



14.00 Train has moved down the line from Elandslaagte to Ladysmith. Passengers alight for excursion on mini buses. . We took the Spion Kop Battlefield tour. Excellent talk famous historian Raymond Heron (owner of Spion Kop lodge) about history of South Africa and the Boer / Zulu wars and the history of Spion Kop. Return to the lodge from the viewpoint for afternoon drinks and nibbles – whisky and G&T taken by the Johnsons.

18.30 Arrive back at Ladysmith Station where the train awaited – red carpet and another champagne welcome.

19.30 Dinner in the pillared Dining Car – smart dress where we were given buttonholes (Red roses for men and yellow roses for ladies).

  • Fresh bread rolls, Carrot and coconut soup served with Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Seared loin of springbok with a port and black cherry demi-glace set on stir fried vegetables and a creamy parmesan and sage polenta and roasted garlic served with Kanonkop Pinotage 2011.
  • Special duo of cheeses from goat’s milk infused with peppadew and biltong served with fresh grapes, pears, apples, figs and melba toast.
  • Amaretto flambéed bananas with roasted almonds, vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate served with Ross Gower Pinot Noir Brut.
  • Coffee



Retired afterwards to our suite for Whisky’s.

23.00 In observation car looking at stars and having cocktail from the bar. Train moved on and stopped at Estcourt for overnight.

Sunday 30th March 2014

8.00 Awoke in suite and made morning tea. Train moved away from Estcourt to Lions River.

9.00 Dining car for breakfast – cereals, toast, cooked breakfast etc.

Spectacular journey down from the escarpment meandering through the Valley of 1,000 HIills via Pietermaritzberg to Durban.

Observation Deck


10.00 Alight train for short mini bus trip to Ardmore Ceramics and Equestrian Centre. Tour of centre, viewed ceramics. Afterwards coffee on lawn with sandwiches, chocolates, etc available then return to train via mini bus.

12.50 Arrive back at train for another Champagne welcome.

13.00 Sunday lunch in Dining car.

  • Saute artichoke and mushroom selection with dill and celery curl served with Warwick Estate Chardonnay.
  • Roasted duck breast with basil pesto on a warm salad of tomatoes, onions, garlic, red kidney beans, green peas and fresh basil drizzled in a thyme jus served with Raka Sangiovese (dry red from Stanford).
  • Phantom Forest cheese served with a salad of spicy rocket and fig compote with diced apples, shelled walnuts and wholegrain bread.
  • Carpaccio of cinnamon flavoured pineapple with an almond tuille and lemon sorbet served with a Gran Marnier.
  • Coffee

Retired to our suite to pack and have whisky before departing train.

Rail and Road


16.30 Arrived in Durban Station – end of fantastic trip.

Each night the bed was turned down differently with Gerry’s teddy bears even getting a red rose.

Each time we left our suite the room was serviced with fresh towels, cleaned and even toilet roll folded over.

Staff were fantastic ensuring that all our requirements were met – food and drink was excessive but we now realise that Rovos is sheer indulgence.