Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cape to Cairo with Rovos Rail

Picture: Society of Inter-
national Railway Travellers

The journey begins in Cape Town. Four nights on the train, the Pride of Africa, and the traveller arrives at Victoria Falls.

Here the luxurious rail portion of the journey ends, and the traveller flies to Zanzibar, then on to Tanzania to see the Ngorongoro Crater.

The remainder of the journey includes a visit to chimpanzees (Entebbe and Ngamba Island, Uganda), Khartoum, Lake Nasser, Abu Simbel, Luxor, The Valley of Kings and Queens, the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the Grand Egyptian Musuem in Cairo.

The Cape to Cairo railway idea and project began at the end of the nineteenth century, when rail was rapidly expanding. The originator of the vision was, of course, none other than Cecil Rhodes. He was joined in his dream by Sir Charles Metcalfe.

The railway project began in Cape Town in 1857 and the line reached Worcester (120 m away) in 1876, where it paused for four years because the next section required a tunnel through a mountain. A British engineer named George Pauling built this first tunnel in 1880, and in 1885 the first train arrived in Kimberley from Cape Town.

Like the Rovos Rail tourists of today, the railway builders at first got only as far as the Zambesi River. But the work continued and by 1910, branch line builders Pauling and Company had laid almost 2500 k of track, and had reached Elisabethville (Limbubashi), practically in the centre of the continent. However, the original Cape to Cairo railway plan was never completed.

1 comment:

  1. Somewhere on your journey don't forget to turn around and enjoy the view