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A less expensive luxury train alternative to Rovos Rail and Blue Train...

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Jan 23rd, 2004, 03:43 PM
  #1
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A less expensive luxury train alternative to Rovos Rail and Blue Train...

While I considered the Blue Train and Rovos Rail in the past, I found the prices to be pretty outrageous (about $1,000+ USD per night). Now there seems to be a third choice offering prices at a fraction of the price.

Found this article on www.iol.co.za:

Shongololo Express, a domestic operator of train adventure tours in Southern Africa, has refurbished its rolling stock and launched an exciting range of getaways.

The train offers holiday-makers more reasonably priced alternatives to South Africa's two ultra-luxurious trains - Rovos Rail and the Blue Train - with rates ranging from R1 000 a person per night.

The Shongololo's three best-known "adventures" are 16-day train tours, the Good Hope, the Southern Cross and the Dune (to Namibia). These train tours, on three routes, have been running since 1995 and marketed primarily to attract overseas tourists.

Now seven to 12-day excursions and three to four-day getaways will become available, giving both local and international tourists the opportunity to experience Southern Africa.

Tours are also being built around events in South Africa
The new shorter tours include Route 62, another called Whale, Wine and West Coast and yet others to the Ukhulamba-Drakensberg National Park and Maputo. Each presents its own particular collection of beautiful places in the southern most part of Africa.

In some instances tours are being built around events in South Africa, such as the naturally occurring spring wildflower bloom in Namaqualand. Others are scheduled throughout the year to give guests a range of options. Special theme and event tours are also being added.

The Shongololo's sales and brand manager, Otto de Vries, says many would-be passengers have asked for shorter tours than the established 16-day
adventures.

Features that set the Shongololo experience apart and make them so enjoyable, remain in the new shorter routes.

The train's professional guides and specially adapted air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinters are carried on board, making it possible to provide passengers with a range of adventure opportunities beyond the confines of the rails.
Shorter routes set the Shongololo experience apart

The Shongololo experience is designed to offer a variety of optional activities, as well as tour add-ons on a daily basis.

Shongololo Express, a subsidiary of Tourism Investment Corporation (Tourvest) was given a 12-month refurbishment prior to the launch of the new routes.

According to Tourvest chief executive, Tommy Edmond, the rise in value of the rand has had a significant impact on inbound tourism revenues.

"It is now more important than ever that tour operators understand the value of South African tourists and treat them with as much respect as they offer international visitors to the region," he says.

He adds that Australian and New Zealand travellers are tending to divert through Southern Africa on the way to Europe rather than face problems of health and safety that have plagued Asian routes in recent months.

These factors have also played a part in the development of the new shorter Shongololo Express products.

For readers unfamiliar with existing Shongololo routes, here is a brief description of the three:



The Good Hope Adventure is a 16-day journey taking in 23 of the 25 "must do" sights of South Africa.


The Dune Adventure travels from Cape Town to Namibia.


The Southern Cross Adventure goes through six countries.

For more information phone the Shongololo Express at
011-781-4616 or visit the website on www.shongololo.com
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Jan 24th, 2004, 02:01 AM
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Roccco,

Now heres a case of some wonderful marketing spin placed on a shocking product and Rocccco you out of all surprise me that you have fallen for it.

Firstly the Shongololo Express is no new addition to the SA train scene. It has been going for years and caters for a specific type of market which believe me is close to backpack class. As I know your beloved "Scared to death" trust me my friend if you book yourelf onto this train you wont be on the train on the second day of your journey, you will be in a local divorce court.

In a nutshell the train is not what the writeups crank it up to be. Firstly the train is NOT airconditioned and believe me when you cross the Karroo and other parts of SA in a non airconditioned train you will be cursing all the way. The train is in a shabby state. The carriages are old and the cabins are smaller than matchboxes. The food ranges from average to below average. The staff are not that friendly and I can tell you from inside info that those wonderful airconditioned tourbuses on board are operated by a very frustrated and desperate part of the local tourguide community who work for slave wages. This results in the fact that the accompanying tours that you pay for, whether you like it or not, are not that hot. If you want me to I will send you names of visitors who travelled on the Shongololo whom I originally advised not to who now wished that they listened to me in the first place. One of them actually labeled the train as the "ride from hell"

I do agree when you say that Rovos and the Blue Train are rip offs because that they certainly are however they do provide a class act (and so they should at those prices) and nothing in SA even gets close to their product.

The majority of visitors who use the train are from the German and Dutch community. There seemingly is a love for this train within these groupings and why this is the case I dont know. I suspect that German and Dutch tour operators have struck a phenomenal deal with the Shongololo authorities meaning that they offer rates that are close to nothing. What I do know is that two groups of visitors who have travelled with me and who were English speaking told me that they felt rather out of things while on board the train.

So my dear Rocccco my suggestion is that you dont look at price, rather look at the product and then ask yourself if you are keen to go on 16 days hell ride.

Just my twopence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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