Seeing South Africa by train

Instead of a sea cruise take a land cruise:  The Shongololo Express

Guests from Australia who stayed recently at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse had been around South Africa on the Shongololo Express.

Shongololo is a colloquial South African word for a millipede.  These creatures have hard segmented exteriors and coil themselves into a spiral when threatened – hence their name which comes from the Zulu ukusongo meaning ‘roll up’. Is the train named after a millipede because its carriages resemble the segments on a millipide? Or is it because it moves at a leisurely pace? Or maybe not? Like an ‘inland cruise’, travellers on the Shongololo have the advantage of seeing different parts of the country without the stress of having to pack and unpack at different destinations.  There is very little information available on the Shongololo Express –  I had never heard of it and googling it yields very little information although I found one relatively recent review on Tripadvisor.

John and Judy had taken a 13 day Good Hope tour  from the Cape up to Johannesburg  via the Overberg , through the Free State  and KwaZulu Natal.  Traveling overnight, the train stopped along the way for differing lengths of time depending on the sites and attractions to be visited.  At each of the destinations there were different excursions to choose from, so travellers could tailor-make their own journeys.   Multi-lingual guides in touring vehicles, transported with the train, were on hand to take the guests off daily to see the local sites.

In Johannesburg, after spending a night on the train, they visited Constitution Hill and spent an afternoon in Pretoria and time in Soweto. Choosing to spend a couple of nights away from the train at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse, they were collected at the end of their stay with us to join the train again on its way up to Kruger Park. Other train tours go  through Botswana and  Zimbabwe; and through Namibia. Further details can be found on their website. It sounds an ideal way to get a taste of a large country like South Africa and our guests John and Judy certainly spoke highly of their experience.

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