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SHONGOLOLO EXPRESS TRAIN

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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FAQS

SHONGOLOLO EXPRESS TRAIN FAQS

We know you have many questions regarding booking the Shongololo Express Rail Experience. Below are the most commonly asked questions and important information about trips. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have.

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO I NEED TO BOOK ?

This tour by train is a very exclusive one with only a few departures throughout the year. We strongly recommend that clients book their tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. This is especially true for higher-level cabins, which are in high demand.

CAN YOU OBTAIN & ADVISE ON THE VISAS FOR US ?

Visas can be very complicated so it is a good idea to use a specialist agent. We also recommend CIBT Visa Central, who provide a reliable service for all visas required for your trip. We provide all documentation that is required to support your application. It is the responsibility of the client to ensure that passports and visas are valid before departing for Africa. Passports should have at least five pages of blank visa pages. They must also be valid for at most six months after your return-home date.

We travel to South Africa, eSwatini and Namibia. Port-of-entry visas are available for some nationalities. You will have access to immigration forms at the airport. You should bring at least US$200 cash. You must obtain visas for Angola and DRC before you travel. When possible, we request that Tanzanian visas be obtained before you travel.

ARE YOUR TOURS FINANCIALLY PROTECTED ?

Yes. All of our trips include financial protection, whether it is through our ATOL for trips that include flights or insurances that comply with UK package travel regulations. Our ABTA membership requires us to adhere to their strict code.

CAN YOU BOOK INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FOR US ?

Absolutely! Our ATOL license means that we can book international or indeed internal flights. We get particularly good access to the best deals on British Airways as we are an appointed operator.

CAN YOU BOOK FURTHER TRAVEL FOR US ?

Yes! We can offer extensions to further explore the destinations at either end of the trip. Just ask us for details.

SCHEDULING TIMES, ROUTES & EXCURSIONS

Rovos Rail's sole reliance is on the traction or railway services provided in the countries where we travel. These services can fail for any number of reasons, including signals, overhead power-cable damage or theft, and/or vandalism. We also have to deal with issues with drivers, trains, and railway tracks. These national organisations can lead to delays. Rovos Rail can't be held responsible or liable for any delay or change in tour arrangements due to natural or other factors outside of its control. Rovos Rail has the right to change or cancel any of our tours or tour departure dates. We can also offer passengers alternative dates and excursions. Rovos Rail does not guarantee any excursions or arrival and departure times. We are bound to transport guests on time from departure to arrival points. However, we will make every effort to arrange excursions. We caution you against air travel the same day as departure or arrival due to possible delays.

POSTAGE

The Gift Shop offers stamps for sale. Postcards can be handed to Administration Deputy for postage.

GUEST INDEMNITY

Even though limited insurances have been provided, Rovos Rail Tours Ltd and/or Shongololo Express, collectively known as 'Rovos Rail,' are not responsible for the loss or damage of passengers' luggage and effects. If one of the tours includes a visit in a game reserve, and while wild animals attack are rare, neither Rovos Rail nor its servants or agents will be held responsible for any injuries or incidents to passengers' luggage or belongings. Rovos Rail and its servants agents, employees, sub-contractors, and employees are released from any liability that they may have for any kind of injury or loss (including without limiting what the generality of this a-foregoing might include consequential loss) that arises directly or indirectly from the tour. This waiver will be binding on the passengers executors. Passenger records that all services and facilities given to them were accepted by the passenger voluntarily, knowing that they could expose the passenger for injury, danger, and loss. The passenger declares that any representation, statement or information made to Rovos Rail by him/her shall not affect this waiver.

UPON CONFIRMATION OF A RESERVATION OUR T&C SHALL BE DEEMED ACCEPTED AND WILL BE STRONGLY ADHERE TO.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Rovos Rail reserves right to use any photograph/film taken by staff during the tour for general public relations purposes without payment.

CHILDREN

Rovos Rail is able to accommodate children. Shongololo Express also accepts children. We ask parents to be considerate of the adult nature of the train, and keep them respectful and quiet. There are not any child-minding activities or facilities onboard. No one under 13 is allowed to travel long distances. Children between the ages 0 and 2 are not allowed to travel. Children under 5 years old cannot travel in the lounge or dining rooms. Room service is also available. The chefs will prepare the best meals possible using the ingredients that are available. There is a limit of two guests per cabin/suite. Children under 5 years old are allowed to stay with 2 adults in Deluxe, Royal and Emerald categories. However, should there be a child over the age of five, he/she should have his/her own suite/cabin(conditional). One parent could share the room with the child if the parents don't feel comfortable with this option. Children 3-9 Years pay 75% per adult sharing rate. 10 years or older pay the full rate

ROVOS RAIL STATION TOUR & MUSEUM

The highlight of the trip for guests is a visit at the Capital Park station headquarters, Pretoria. Here, more than 400 employees work hard to maintain the trains. This busy hub houses a provisioning company that is world-class in efficiency and attention to detail. You will see the inside of the company. The museum also houses a collection from the past of train paraphernalia.

CHECK-IN

Please check in at least one hour prior to departure. Two hours notice is required to check-in if you want to visit the museum and take a tour of Rovos Rail Station Pretoria. We suggest that you defer your pick-up in Pretoria if this is your preferred arrival point. Passports will be required for check-in. No vouchers are needed. All luggage will have to be tagged, and then placed in the appropriate compartment onboard the train.

AMENITIES

You will find the following South African products in our complete amenity kit. It includes: conditioner shampoo (45ml), hair gel (45ml), soap 25g, body and hair lotion (45ml), and hand sanitizer (50ml), as well as insect spray (32ml). We also provide tissue and tissues. All products are natural and biodegradable. All bottles are 100% made from 100% recycled and reclaimed PET. After a trip, they are returned to their factory for recycling. Other products are wrapped with cardboard that is sustainably sourced. You can also find a plug-in hairdryer onboard, as well as your bathroom unit (if any)

PETS

We don't allow pets or emotional support animals to join us.

CURRENCY

South Africa only Rands. The train accepts all major credit cards. Rands can also be accepted in Namibia or eSwatini if you are not from South Africa. US dollars can be used in Zimbabwe, Tanzania (Dar es Salaam only), DRC, Angola and DRC. Cash is highly advised. Major dealers and hotels accept credit card payments. US Dollars printed after 2013 and those that have been worn are not accepted. It is best to shop/give thanks in low denominations. For exchanging money to local currency (especially Tanzania), it is better to use large denominations.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

Allergies to food can be accommodated if you make a request at the time of your booking. The chefs will make every effort to prepare meals that are suitable for your needs using only the ingredients on board. We regret that we are not able to prepare meals that strictly adhere to religious principles.

DINING

The meals served on board can be taken in one location only, in the dining cars. A selection of South African wines is also available. Breakfast: 07:00-10:00. Lunch: 13:00. Tea: 16:30. Formal dinner: 19:30. Bar service starts at 07:00-+01:00. Unless otherwise specified in the timetable all meals will be served at these times. A gong is used to signify lunch and dinner.

HOW DO I MAKE A BOOKING

Call our office on +44 020 8191 0620 or email enquiry@theluxurytraintravelcompany.com and speak to one of our consultants. Provisional reservations can be held for up to 7 days without payment. After this time confirmation is required or the cabin will be provisional reservation will be released. Upon receiving confirmation, an invoice will be issued and deposit payment is due upon receipt of this. The deposit payment secures your place on the tour.

IS THERE A CHARGE FOR USING A CREDIT CARD ?

All credit card transactions incur a 2% surcharge. There is no additional charge for debit card transactions.

WHEN IS THE DEPOSIT DUE ?

Once we have received your confirmation that you wish to travel we will issue your invoice and confirmation letter. The deposit is due upon receipt of the invoice. Deposit payments are non-refundable.

WHEN IS THE FINAL BALANCE DUE ?

The balance is due 90 days prior to departure. We will not issue a final balance so please make a note of the balance due date. Cancellations received within 90 days of departure are subject to full loss of payment.

ELECTRICITY

220V AC 50Hz 3-point, round-pronged wall outlets and 110V/220V 2-pin sockets for chargers and shavers. Each suite has USB ports. International adaptors available. Generators provide power. When servicing is necessary, certain power interruptions may be required.

DO YOU ISSUE A TRAIN TICKET ?

You do not need to have a train ticket in order to board our trains. You will not receive a ticket for the train or any travel vouchers.

GRATUITIES

You are free to give gratuities to the staff. To show appreciation, a suitable-marked envelope will be provided in your suite. This envelope can be handed to the Train Manager. He will divide any amount on a pro-rata (share) basis among all staff members. It is recommended that you tip between ZAR100-300 (+-10-20 US dollars) per person and per night, depending on the length of your trip. Tipping guides and staff at lodges is customary.

DRESS CODE

* All days onboard are casual. Evening attire is strictly smart casual.
* We enjoy theme nights - "AFRICA", or "1920s" on some of our journeys, where guests can dress up or wear smart casual. Check out the itineraries.
* Off-train excursions: We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes, sun lotion, and hats. You can also purchase rain caps and blankets if you need them.
* Game drives take place on open vehicles. Please dress appropriately: Mornings can be cold and then warm up significantly; afternoons can become warm and then cool down substantially. As a guide, please refer to the average temperatures.

DRESSING GOWNS

Each guest will receive a comfortable, one-size-fits most gown as well as slippers for use onboard the train. You can purchase one from the Gift Shop to take home.

GIFT SHOP / ADMINISTRATION

You can find a small gift shop at Rovos Rail Station Pretoria and on the train. Credit cards are preferable due to the fluctuations in exchange rates. The Administration Deputy on Duty has a basic First-Aid Kit and personal items (toothbrushes razors, earplugs, etc.). They will also assist you with administrative matters and help to make sure that your onward arrangements are in order.

LANGUAGES

The majority of the staff aboard speak English and local languages. Translated itineraries will be provided for long journeys.

LAUNDRY

The laundry service is limited to 10 items per day and includes dryers, washers, steam irons, and dryers. Our turnaround time is 48 hours. Dry-cleaning facilities are not available on board or on route. We cannot accept responsibility for items damaged or lost during the process.

LOCOMOTION

With the loss of more coaling and water resources, steam use has become less feasible over time. Steam is only used in the Rovos Rail Station area in Pretoria by electric or diesel locomotives.

LUGGAGE

It is possible to store luggage either under the bed or above your door on a luggage shelf. There is plenty of space for storage. You can bring two suitcases, but there is no limit on the luggage allowed. Rovos Rail bags are available for use on long trips. They can also be used as luggage on planes and overnight trips. It is recommended to use a soft bag for plane transfers when the luggage weight restriction is 15 kg.

MEDICAL

All guests are solely responsible for ensuring they are capable of undertaking the tours and activities.
• Please inform us at the time of your reservation if you have any medical conditions, physical disabilities or allergies.
• We have a doctor on board on the 15-day Malawi Meander.
• Anti-malarial precautions are recommended. Malaria areas: eSwatini, Kruger Park, Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe and Etosha.
• Recommended immunisations (not required): Hepatitis A + B, Polio, Tetanus, Cholera (low risk).
• A Yellow Fever/Medical Exemption Certificate is essential if travelling to/from DRC and Angola. Although all countries travelled through don’t require this, countries guests return to after the trip often require them.
• Please consult your clinic or doctor. TRAVEL DOCTOR AFRICA local 0861 300 911 or international +27 (0) 11 214 9030.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES

Every train comes with an oxygen mask, a standard medical kit and a wheelchair. Private healthcare hospitals are also available in an emergency. Private hospitals outside South Africa are not always available. However, we can arrange evacuation by road or plane to a medical facility if required (own account). All Train Managers have received First Aid training up to Level 3. They are also trained in emergency situations. We strongly recommend that you communicate your concerns to your travel insurer so that they can provide the required coverage.

MOBILITY

While we are able accommodate guests with walking disabilities, we recommend that they be accompanied by an able-bodied person. We regret that the train cannot be used by wheelchair-bound passengers. Should you have mobility impairments/restrictions or special requirements, we urge you to inform your travel agent or Rovos Rail at the time of booking. Mobility Info is available at rovos.com.

SECURITY

Each suite has an electronic safe in its cupboard. We ask guests to shut shutters, or at least shutters, when they are not in their suites. When passing through stations, please be especially careful. All train doors are locked from the inside. You can lock your suite door from the inside.

THE TRACK

The track on which we travel isn't always maintained. If you find yourself dreaming that the train is traveling at high speed when you wake up in the morning, it is because of the track condition. We limit speed to 60 km/h (37mph), and on sections that are not in good condition, we reduce speed to just 20km/h (12mph). Earplugs for those who find the train too noisy are available in your amenities bags and at our Gift Shop.

WATER

Water is stored in tanks underneath each coach. These tanks can be filled daily but they are not refillable while the train is moving. Please help us by responsibly using water. The water in the suites has been chlorinated and filtered. It is safe for use when you brush your teeth or bathe. Please drink only the bottled water.

MAGAZINES, MAPS & GAMES

In the lounge and observation cars, you will find board games, cards and a card table. Your suite contains a map, an itinerary, and Journeys magazine with articles related to your route. The Gift Shop offers a detailed map that can be customized if the supplied map is not sufficient.

MOBILE DEVICES & INTERNET

No radios or television sets are allowed onboard trains in order to maintain the train travel spirit. Your suites are the only place you can use mobile phones, laptops, or anything else that could disturb others guests. The train is moving and reception is poor. You should contact your service provider to verify that the network settings are correct. Wi-Fi is available in all of our lounges, including Pretoria and Cape Town. It's also available at most off-train accommodation. However, it's not always guaranteed.

SERVICE

An attentive host/ess will be available to assist you 24 hours a days. You can call them from your suite's telephone. You have a daily cleaning service and a nightly turndown service. For any queries, the Train Manager or Deputy Train Manager will be available to assist you throughout your journey. The Gift Shop hosts the Administration Deputy who can assist with administrative matters.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS

If you're celebrating an occasion, please let us know at the time of your booking.

TEMPERATURE & TIME ZONES

All public cars have gas-filled air-conditioning systems. Each suite comes with its own air conditioner, which can be adjusted to heat or cold mode. While the air-conditioning unit is in operation, windows should be closed. The bed is equipped with an electric under-blanket.

SMOKING

Smoking is not permitted aboard the train except in the smoking Club Lounge. Be aware, however, of other guests who don't smoke. The train is mostly made up of wood so please do not throw any flammable items off the train. Bush fires can be a serious danger in Africa. Please let us know at the time of booking if you are a smoker or non-smoker so we can request the right room at the hotels/lodges.

MAKE-UP OF THE TRAIN

Service cars, sleeper vehicles, lounges, kitchen and dining rooms are located at the front of the train. The number of travellers will affect the number and maximum number of coaches. There are up to 21 coaches. Guests will need to walk short distances from their suites to the public cars. Sometimes the track that we travel over can be incontiguously maintained. We limit the speed of the train to 60 km/h (37 mph) and reduce it to 20 km/h (12 mph) over the worst sections. The carriages were built in the 1920s or 1930s and contribute to the train's clickety-clack and rocking sound. It is difficult for most guests to walk while the train moves, but they soon become proficient.

IS INSURANCE INCLUDED & DO I NEED IT ?

Booking conditions stipulate that you must be fully protected for medical expenses incurred while traveling. If you are unable or unwilling to travel due to any reason, we recommend that you purchase cancellation insurance. Contact us for further information.

CABIN CLASSES

Full details on the cabin classes available on Shongololo Express train.
LEARN MORE

LIFE ON BOARD

Learn all about life on board the Shongololo Express Train.
LEARN MORE

VIEW TOURS

View all the Shongololo Express tours we offer to get your trip going.
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Gail & Cathy

★★★★★
"I can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the pre planning you helped us with. Thanks again for all you did for us."

Shakuntala

★★★★★
"We are back and throughly enjoyed all the arrangements you made on our behalf .Thanks for making our dreams come true."

Pauline & Brenda

★★★★★
"Thank you so much for organising our trip of a lifetime. Brenda and I loved every moment. Very best wishes to you."

CONTACT

CONTACT US ABOUT THE SHONGOLOLO EXPRESS

We look forward to hearing from you and are happy to answer any questions you have - just call us or use the form below.
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We hold ATOL license 10287 so booking with us gives you 100% financial protection. We are also members of the Association of British Travel Agents. ABTA has strict membership requirements and we are required to adhere to the associations high standards. Our ABTA number is Y1699.
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