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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

The Blue Train & Big Five Safari

By Malcolm Holcroft
Africa Travel Expert for Alfred&

Explore the true meaning of luxury with an itinerary that brings together some of South Africa’s most iconic sights and experiences. Lap up the Table Mountain views in Cape Town, savour the gourmet delights of Stellenbosch’s Winelands and step back in time on the magnificent Blue Train, before capping off the adventure with three nights in a secluded game reserve that’s something of an insider secret.

Places

Length
11 days
Best months to go
January to May, September to December
Guide price range
£4,240 - £4,925pp
including international flights

Top Experiences
Itinerary Highlights

Madikwe Game Reserve

A day on safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve

The reserve hosts not just the Big Five but also Africa’s Secret Seven – rare species known for their shy nature...

Cape Town

The Victoria & Alfred Hotel: stay at the heart of Cape Town's historic waterfront

Guests tell us that they enjoy the freedom of being able to step out and explore the shops and scores of restaurants on the doorstep...

Cape Town

The Blue Train: a romantic and luxurious hotel on wheels

Every part of the train has picture windows and the views are diverse and spectacular...

Day by day
Itinerary in detail

1

Arrival in Cape Town

On arrival in Cape Town, you’ll be met by a local representative and transferred to your accommodation for the next two nights. With the hotel perfectly located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront District, there’s no shortage of things to do right on the doorstep. You could start with a panoramic view of the city from its ultra-modern observation wheel, before descending to ground level to check out galleries and museums devoted to everything from diamonds to contemporary African art. When it comes to eating, there’s a dizzyingly cosmopolitan culinary scene, from global gourmet snacks to upmarket seafood with an Asian twist. Overnight at Victoria & Alfred Hotel.

Things to do:

2

Cape Town

With a full day to explore Cape Town, there’s time to venture further afield under your own steam or on an array of optional tours. Walking via the original city centre, in 30-minutes you’ll land in the colourful Bo-Kaap quarter, for instance. Located at the foot of Signal Hill, it’s known for its pastel-painted houses, lively food and craft markets, and eateries serving Cape Malay-style food. If you prefer to let someone else do the legwork, the choices include being whisked off to see the dramatic scenery of the Cape Peninsula. Either way, be sure to return to the V&A Waterfront in time for an optional sunset cruise on a vintage sailboat. Overnight at Victoria & Alfred Hotel.

Things to do:

3

Cape Town & Stellenbosch

Wave farewell to Cape Town as you transfer to Stellenbosch, a 45-minute trip, where picturebook scenery provides a backdrop to acre upon acre of lovingly tended vineyards. In this paradise for food-and-drink lovers, it seems right that your accommodation for the next two nights is on a family-owned wine farm that can trace its history back 300 years. There’s so much to do on-site, from self-guided walks and bicycle rides to wine tastings and exhibitions of contemporary African art, that you may find it hard to tear yourself away to discover the appealing university town – and its artisanal food scene – in the heart of this celebrated wine region. Overnight at Spier Hotel.

Things to do:

4

Stellenbosch

The day is yours to fill as you choose, whether that means a leisurely farm breakfast, a picnic lunch in a secluded corner of the estate and a few hours by the pool and in the spa, or something more energetic. If you’re looking to spread your wings, cycling is an excellent option – particularly if your goal is stopping in at some of the area’s other wineries. For privileged access, opt for a gentle guided Vineyard Meander on two wheels where you’ll see places you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Round off your Stellenbosch stay with dinner at one of its highly regarded restaurants, whose tasting menus showcase seasonal flavours to perfection. Overnight at Spier Hotel.

Things to do:

5

The Blue Train

After breakfast, you’ll be whisked off to Cape Town station to board The Blue Train, your five-star hotel on wheels for the next two nights and 1,600 kilometres, for one of the world’s most iconic railway trips. The experience is all about, as they put it, ‘surrendering to the luxury of slow’, immersing yourself in the view from the picture windows as you travel through some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes. These provide a perfect backdrop to the onboard indulgences, from afternoon tea in the Lounge Car to post-dinner brandies in the Club Bar. Overnight on The Blue Train.

Things to do:

6

The Blue Train

Wake up to more fabulous vistas, including from your bath, as you continue on your way towards Pretoria. At Kimberley, time and weather permitting, the train will pause for a few hours to allow guests to tour the Open Mine Museum, dedicated to the Diamond Rush that began in the 1870s. As you continue north from Kimberley, keep an eye out for Kamfers Dam, home to a large population of lesser flamingoes, as you dress up for your second and final evening of fine food and elegant living. Overnight on The Blue Train.

Things to do:

7

Pretoria

The Blue Train rolls into Pretoria station at midday, where your butler will escort you to the Arrivals Lounge for your onward 20-minute transfer to your hotel. You have the afternoon at leisure to soak up the gentle charms of ‘the Jacaranda City’, a nickname it owes to the purple-flowered trees that line many of its streets, which is one of South Africa’s three capitals. There are botanical gardens and leafy parks, historical buildings and world-class museums, Africa’s largest shopping centre and a towering statue of Nelson Mandela waiting to be discovered. Overnight at Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel.

8

Pretoria & Madikwe Game Reserve

Today you leave the city behind and head north for the start of your safari adventure. You’ll spend the next three nights in Madikwe Game Reserve, a remote malaria-free wilderness 4-hours drive away on the border with Botswana, where you’ll stay in a tented camp overlooking a river where elephants come to bathe. You should arrive in time to settle in and have afternoon tea before your first game drive – and, hopefully, your first sighting of some of the Big Five – before returning to camp for a fabulous bush supper and some relaxed stargazing while listening to the sounds of the wild. Overnight at aha Thakadu River Camp.

Things to do:

9

Madikwe Game Reserve

After a reviving tea or coffee, head off into the 75,000-hectare reserve accompanied by skilled local rangers for an early-morning game drive. Established in 1991 on an area of depleted farmland, Madikwe is a conservation success story. As well as the Big Five, it’s now home to a thriving population of endangered African wild dogs, more than 340 species of birds and a plethora of mammals of all shapes and sizes from aardwolves to zebras. After a rest in the heat of the day, you’ll have a second chance to spot some of the park’s inhabitants as evening falls. Overnight at aha Thakadu River Camp.

Things to do:

10

Madikwe Game Reserve

Today offers more opportunities for memorable wildlife encounters on morning and evening game drives, or perhaps a guided bush walk – with its focus on the smaller mammals, insects and plant life – to ring the changes. A visit to Madikwe isn’t just about the diverse fauna, however; its varied landscapes are equally impressive. You’ll discover a range of habitats, from mountains and plateaux to seasonal wetlands, savanna and Kalahari veld, complete with their own distinct microclimates and vegetation. Between drives, there’s time to enjoy lunch and relax by the pool or on your private viewing deck. Overnight at aha Thakadu River Camp.

Things to do:

11

Madikwe Game Reserve & Departure

It’s time to bid farewell to Madikwe this morning as you make the 4.5-hour transfer to Johannesburg airport for your flight home or onward travel.

Holiday Budget
Guide price information

Low Season

01 May - 31 Aug

£4,240

Mid Season

01 Jan - 30 Apr, 16 Nov - 31 Dec

£4,580

High Season

01 Sep - 15 Nov

£4,925

Alfred & Malcolm Holcroft

Malcolm has spent over 25 years exploring the world. His passion for wildlife meant he always wanted to experience a true safari. And where better to do so than in Africa! Trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa have gained him specialist knowledge of the destinations, as well as the incredible wildlife residing there. A couple of standout memories are the tranquility of Ol Pejeta rhino sanctuary and the drama of witnessing a cheetah kill in the Mara.

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Andy, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656