We started our trip by catching the morning commuter train through to Cape Town. Once at the Cape Town station, we found the correct platform and sat in eager anticipation for our trip to begin.
The train left on time and we started the 26 hour trip to Johannesburg. We were lucky (shrewd) enough to make "friends" with the train manager and secured a 4 berth cabin for the entire trip. While I am sure there are many couples who wouldn't mind being in a 2 berth cabin, Keith and I have been married long enough to enjoy a little more space.
Travelling slowly through the suburbs of Cape Town and then heading out of town and through the wine country was amazing. The only problem was, that within 30 minutes of being aboard, my eye lids started to feel like lead! It turns out that train travel is the strongest sleeping pill known to man. You simply can not help being lulled into sleep, with the occasional bleary eyed glance out the window to inspect the passing stations and sidings.
Shosholoza Meyl offers dedicated safe passenger train travel services in South Africa on Tourist Class basic sleeper trains and Premier Classe deluxe sleeper trains.
During the day, sleeper compartments convert into suites with hot and cold water from a basin stowed underneath the fold-up table. Communal toilets and showers are available at the end of each coach. The toilets are cleaned regularly and the showers are spacious, I really enjoyed showering and looking out the window watching the sun setting over the Karoo.
Bedding can be purchased on board from the attendant at R40 p/person. Bringing your own bedding is advised. We did take our sleeping bags, but also opted for the bedding - which was very clean. They come at 6pm and make your bed.
The food on the train is acceptable, certainly not gourmet, but I could not fault it. Keith thoroughly enjoyed the beef curry with rice and sambles, which despite the low price (R30), was made from top quality slow cooked beef with no fat or gristle. I had the fried hake with chips and salads (R35). I have certainly had better, but would not hesitate to order it again and did in fact finished the entire generous portion.
Coffee and tea is brought to your cabin at 7am.
Security and service on the train is top class. Refuse bags are provided to each cabin and collected regularly. The staff are helpful, friendly and willing, we did not meet one staff member who did not seem to be enjoying their job.
Train travel is certainly not for those who have tight schedules, but if you're looking for a wonderfully relaxing way to travel around South Africa, with the added advantage of seeing the countryside I would highly recommend the Shosholoza Meyl.
The price is very reasonable, Cape Town - Johannesburg was R480 (on Tourist) per person and occasionally they offer special discounted rates. There is a Premier Class from Johannesburg - Cape Town but this is not always available and you will need to check before booking. We travelled Tourist class and as you can see from my account were more than happy with the accommodation and service.
Click here for more information on the Shosholoza Meyl.