Posted on Oct 12, 2016 by Rick
Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa is a restored 1920s vintage Edwardian train complete with original dining and observation cars. From the observation car complete with a viewing deck, to the dining car with linen-covered tables set with fine china and crystal, to each well-appointed stateroom with its private bath, the Rovos Rail is a study in elegance. Add an attentive staff and all the elements are in place for travel on what many consider the most luxurious train in the world.
The Rovos Rail shooting safaris have been in operation since the early 1990s. The concept has been wildly successful—combine luxury train travel that includes exquisite cuisine, the best wines and spirits, and a full program for the ladies with world-class hunting, and you have the ultimate field sports vacation.
Each journey offers two options. One is for driven bird shooting: driven guinea fowl and francolin, decoyed pigeons, and high-volume dove and waterfowl action. The second option is for plains game: kudu, impala, blesbok, hartebeest, nyala, eland and springbok are just a few of the species available.
When the time comes to board, a red carpet shows the way and champagne cocktails are served while the luggage is whisked away to your stateroom. Your journey takes you from Pretoria to the bushveldt and farmlands of the North West province, the diamond fields of the Northern Cape, and the rich game lands of the Free State before finally returning you to the Pretoria Station.
The first shooting day starts with a sumptuous breakfast and rich Kenyan coffee before disembarkment. Your local host is waiting, and after boarding the Land Rovers, it’s a 30-minute drive to the first shoot. Not far from Mafikeng, the highway is left behind as you enter a mixture of verdant farmland, open grasslands and acacia woodlands. This is wild country where game birds share the bushveldt with kudu, bushbuck and bushpigs, and agricultural lands coexist with native habitats.
The first two days are devoted to guinea fowl shooting. Guineas are strong-flying game birds that are at their best when driven by 60–100 beaters towards a waiting line of guns. Generally, there are four drives before the midday lunch break, then two or three in the afternoon. Typically, eight guns account for 200+ guinea fowl and a few francolin. Now that’s world-class driven shooting, especially when considering that the birds are all wild.
In addition to the driven days, there are two days of dove and pigeon action. The shooting is near Bloemfontein, an agricultural region where sunflower, soybeans, corn and wheat are the primary crops. As a result, huge concentrations of rock pigeons and doves (Cape turtle, laughing and red-eye) descend on the area to take advantage of the abundant waste grain. The shooting peaks in May and June when the sunflower crop is harvested. The shooting is often hot-barreled and it’s easy to shoot 500 or more rounds in a day. The pigeons are hunted over decoys and the doves are flighted.
The Luxury Big Game Hunting option offers visits to three or four properties during the course of the eight-day trip. Clients are met at the train by a professional hunter and transported to the hunting area. The guiding is on a 1X1 basis. One of the largest properties is the Wintershoek Game Reserve, about a 30-minute drive from Kimberley. Wintershoek covers more than 132,000 acres of land characteristic of the region, including flat, open thornveldt, savanna, semiarid desert, mountains and rocky hills, and both mopane and miombo woodlands. The plains game hunters can harvest a dozen species including sable, kudu, impala, nyala, red hartebeest, eland, warthog, springbok, blue wildebeest, black wildebeest and blesbok.
Each day, the non-shooters have their own guided program that includes visits to Boer War battlefields, art museums, spa visits, shopping and game drives. The non-shooters join the guns in the field for a half day of shooting and the midday meal while everyone on board spends a day touring the Diamond Mine Museum and Big Hole in Kimberley. The trip is designed with both shooters and non-shooters in mind, with outstanding programs for both.
Rovos Rail truly provides the finest safaris available. With fast-paced hunts, unforgettable destinations, and incredible accommodations aboard the most luxurious train in the world, they are something you must experience firsthand.
Contact Dick Kennerknecht at 888-850-4868, Extension 700 for details and booking information.
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