Despite being one of the oldest and sometimes slowest means of transportation in Africa, riding the rails still holds a special place for those ardent travellers who still prefer to crisscross the rough terrains of Africa’s magnificent landscapes.
Railway transport is synonymous with colonial times when most African countries were under European rule but train culture has stayed strong in the hearts of many, both locals and tourists, not only because many have been refurbished luxury travel but also because they can offer a relaxing and adventurous journey.
Below, SleepOut highlights 5 train services that you must try courtesy of mgafrica.com.
The Nairobi-Mombasa train has historical significance to Kenya and the towns in between. The train runs partly on what used to be the Kenya-Uganda Railway although it was also known as the “Lunatic Express” – a project aimed at expanding British colonial domination in the area running between the port of Mombasa all the way to the western end of Uganda.
Construction began in 1896 and was done by 32,000 labourers from British India. The railway line in Kenya is currently undergoing an upgrade with the commissioning of a new Standard Gauge Railway which is aimed at making transport faster between Mombasa, Nairobi, and other East African major transport hubs.
Victoria Falls Steam Train
The Victoria Falls Steam Train was established in 1996 after a joint agreement between Zambia Railways and National Railways of Zimbabwe that allowed a private operator to run historical excursions for tourists between Victoria Falls and Livingstone.
The journey takes visitors across the historical Victoria Falls Bridge, the brainchild of Cecil Rhodes as part of his Cape to Cairo railway scheme.
This is considered one of the most luxurious railways in the world offering the epitome of opulence whilst travelling throughout Southern and East Africa’s stunning landscapes. The trip generally begins in South Africa and continues onwards to Namibia, ultimately ending in Tanzania.
The society of International Railway Travellers has named Rovos Rail one of the World Top 25 Trains because of its high-quality accommodation, communal spaces, services, dining and off-train sightseeing.
El Watania Sleeper Train
The El Watania sleeper train is not a classic rail journey but still offers an incredible experience to those visiting Egypt. The “deluxe” sleeper train is the best way to travel between Cairo and Luxor or Aswana, a fast service with relative comfort.
The train features air conditioned sleeping-cars with secure berth rooms and a bar lounge with the food served on airline-style trays. It also offers a great means of joining Upper and Lower Egypt without incurring the expenses that come with internal flights and extra hotel nights.
La Gazelle was introduced in 2012 and operated by the Congo-Ocean Railways. The train connects Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire at the Atlantic Ocean. The train is equipped with new comfortable air-conditioned carriages and a bar and restaurant. The journey involves traversing the jungles of the western Congo, passing villages, wildlife and dense forests from Brazzaville to the ocean.
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