Category : Journeys

Women’s Month: Renolda Motha

Written by Linda Sparks

Caring, responsible and a go-getter. I couldn’t agree more with the three words chosen by Rovos Rail train manager, Renolda Motha, when asking how she would describe herself.

Her accomplishment of rising through the ranks from her first job with the company as a room hostess, to one of the top jobs as train manager in her 14 years with Rovos Rail is testament to her go-getter drive. 

Her incredibly demanding position requires Renolda to be quick thinking and creative in looking after her passengers and staff, resolving problems, and finding solutions. She is on call 24/7, overseeing all aspects of the successful management of the train both in terms of transport logistics, as well as hospitality which entails taking care of her guests’ every need and supporting her staff.

Humility is an important value to Renolda, and she takes her inspiration from Rovos Rail’s founder and owner Rohan Vos whom she talks about with great admiration – from the way he conducts himself whilst travelling on the train to how he acknowledges and interacts with all staff members.

Renolda believes that dealing with people from different cultures and spheres of life has taught her to be humble. Interacting and exchanging information with a diverse range of personalities has broadened her knowledge and increased her skills. 

Communication is an integral part of Renolda’s job, and she appreciates the upskilling that the company invests in their staff. A recent communications course she feels has enhanced her management style, improved her communication skills, and developed her conflict resolution abilities. Her role requires her to communicate constantly – both staff and guests rely on her to provide ongoing updates to plans and schedules.

Renolda has hosted a wide range of international celebrities who’ve travelled on Rovos Rail – they include politicians, royalty, musicians and multi billionaires. One that stood out due to her humility was Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zinzi. But it’s also the ordinary guests who have saved their money to tick a Rovos Rail trip off their bucket list that are inspiring to her.

Her favourite Rovos destination is Victoria Falls. One of the reasons is because as soon as the train crosses the border into Zimbabwe, they are able to use their own locomotives and train drivers which normally ensures seamless travel and a guarantee that they keep to their time schedules.  Renolda also enjoys the excursions offered on this journey which range from walks in the unique Matobo Hills to safaris in Hwange National Park where guests are almost always fortunate enough to see the Big Five.

On being asked to share something that people might not know about her, Renolda chuckled and told me that she likes the finer things in life such as sports cars and motorbikes! And that she has a fear of snakes which has created some tricky situations during her travels around Southern Africa.

When she’s not working and travelling Africa on the train, Renolda prioritises spending time with family and loves treating them to travel opportunities that she has been fortunate to experience. In her free time, she enjoys reading non-fiction educational type books, watching documentaries and cooking.

In keeping with her go-getter persona, Renolda has set her sights on achieving her LLB degree, something that she has already begun, in order to improve her business skills. Her long-term dream is to graduate, and ultimately start her own business, a travel agency or events company.

She is passionate about Rovos Rail, she says it’s a family, not only because it’s a family-owned business, but also because everyone works so closely together for long periods of time, the relationships formed are close, supportive, and transparent. She would not hesitate to recommend Rovos Rail to anyone considering a career in hospitality.

Renolda is a true example of what she describes as the biggest life lesson she has learned during her time with Rovos Rail, that being humble and working hard can secure a great future.

On every Rovos Rail trip Renolda sets herself the challenge of giving guests the very best African experience that they could possibly imagine – it’s the highlight of her job to see this come to fruition.  And it’s a privilege for Rovos Rail guests to have Renolda in charge of their train journey ensuring that their Rovos adventure is just that – the best.

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Women’s Month: Melody Maishman

By Linda Sparks

Melody Maishman, our dynamic Train Operations Manager, is the next megastar staff member to be highlighted for August Women’s month. The role Melody plays within the Rovos Rail family is to ensure that the company upholds the standards and values that the Rovos brand has come to be known for.

Her responsibility for the operational portfolio entails the planning and co-ordination of the train configuration and supply for each of the regular routes as well as the customised charters, dinner-runs and the many different annual journeys. Stores, staffing, training, and numerous other maintenance duties for the train fall under her direct responsibility.

Melody has been with Rovos for 28 years.  She applied for a hotel job that she spotted in a newspaper ad, only to discover during the interview that it was for a train position.  She was offered the job and has enjoyed working on the trains ever since.

She began her “journey” with Rovos Rail as hostess, gaining experience in various train departments, and through on the job training she gradually climbed the ranks to reach a management position.

In answer to the question about what she enjoys most about her job, Melody described the rush of adrenaline, the constant busyness and the immense pressure that comes with finding solutions to unexpected obstacles. She enjoys the incredible learning and growth opportunities which she is exposed to every day.  She values the feeling of being cherished and essential within the Rovos family which makes her job all the more rewarding.

Melody believes that through her job experiences she has learnt the value of patience and grasped that unanticipated events are a part of the logistics despite meticulous planning. These challenges have taught her to be adaptable and to think creatively on the spot. Interacting with diverse individuals, both guests and staff, from various cultural backgrounds has provided her with valuable insights into the essence of humanity.

One of the aspects of her work that fills Melody with pride is the many repeat guests that choose Rovos Rail for their holidays time and again. It is a sign of the success of Melody and her team, that they are delivering on the experience that they offer.  The commitment of the staff members who work in operations ensures that Rovos journeys become memorable trips for guests. And with the many challenges that come with our rail system every small victory adds up.

Melody’s favourite Rovos destination is Namibia. She describes how it stands out because the train track traverses a part of the desert, providing a unique and picturesque experience during the journey. The stunning desert landscapes and the sense of adventure make Swakopmund a popular choice among passengers.

In response to what three words she would use to describe herself, Melody picked “energetic”, “agile” and “committed”.

These characteristics are endorsed by Melody’s colleagues who have been known to describe her as “superhuman” and one of the most hard-working people in the company – her light is always the last to go off and she’s usually first in at the office. Working in such a close-knit environment for 28 years her colleagues know her well – they have witnessed all aspects of her first hand in a multitude of different circumstances.

Melody is known for her passion for animals and has rescued many that now live at the Rovos Rail offices. When not working Melody loves spending time with her animals and getting together with friends or family. She uses her leave time to unwind, recharge, and fully immerse herself in the things she loves doing the most.

Her goals include taking care of the well-being of her family, continuing to enjoy her work and to keep learning and growing in her experience with Rovos Rail.

Melody could write a book about all the interesting stories she has been a part of during her Rovos Rail adventures. But the one that stands out most for her is the Rovos story itself. How a man with a dream and a vision, through many, many, difficult situations can still triumph thanks to the buy-in and support of those around him in order to realise this vision.

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Travelling Teddy Bears

By Linda Sparks

We had no idea that our travelling teddy bears would draw such a crowd or that the travelling teddy bear “scene” had the sweet and very dedicated fanbase that it does.

I had a delightful chat with Sonja Peters from HiBearNation to get some insight into the heart-warming story behind the travelling teddy bears.

Max, an 80cm tall beautiful Steiff teddy bear seated beside Sonja joined us for part of the interview!

The Rovos limited-edition teddy bears came into being 25 years ago, and these adorable collectors’ items have been available for sale to guests ever since, in either the train gift shop or at the Rovos Rail Station.

Bev Duncan was the original creator of the Rovos teddy bears after Anthea Vos discovered her work in a small barrow at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. A 17-year friendship transpired in which time Bev produced 20 collections of 50 customised, handmade Rovos teddies as well as 600 kiddies’ bears. Very sadly, Bev took ill and passed away in 2015, Sonja and her husband Björn took over production the following year.

Sonja’s love for teddy bears was sparked on a visit to a character filled teddy bear shop in Knysna over 20 years ago. Soon after she attended a Teddy Bear Fair at Buitenverwachting, a Cape Town wine farm, where she purchased another special bear to add to her collection. Wanting a partner for this bear and being unable to find anything suitable, Sonja decided to create one herself.

Little did she realise that this would mark the beginning of a rewarding and successful teddy bear business which has seen her lovingly made creations find homes across the globe.

Sonja’s first big step (and leap of faith!) in this venture was her attendance as an exhibitor at the same Teddy Bear Fair that had inspired her first creation. With over 100 of her own handmade bears of different shapes and sizes the fair turned out to be a great success for Sonja and it was here that she met Anthea Vos and her association with Rovos Rail began.

In keeping with Rovos Rail’s reputation for luxury and excellence, Sonja’s bears are all handmade with the best workmanship and the finest quality materials. The use of natural substances is a priority, and this includes mohair, cotton, seed paper and recycled matter. Attention to detail is paramount with each bear having embroidered footpads, double stitched seams and the cutest miniature accessories from binoculars and spectacles to pocket watches and covered buttons, all handmade locally or sourced and imported from abroad. The intricate items of clothing that adorn each bear are painstakingly designed and made by Sonja.

Mohair is the perfect fibre for the Rovos teddy bears – often called the “noble fibre” or the “diamond fibre” – it is soft, durable, luxurious, and warm to the touch and the mohair story is a fascinating one in itself. A product of the Angora goat originating in Asia and imported to South Africa in the mid-19th century, there were over four million Angora goats in South Africa by the early 20th century and we are currently the largest producer of mohair in the world. The South African Responsible Mohair Standard ensures best practice of farmers including both land management and respect for the goats.

Sonja receives the mohair in large rolls, and after stencilling the pattern pieces on the back of the fur the pieces are cut with small scissors one-by-one by hand and then each pattern piece is sealed around the edges to prevent fraying – no mean feat considering that each bear has an average of 23 pieces!  The pieces are then pinned together, and each seam is double stitched with a sewing machine. Once sewn together the pieces are kept separately in what Sonja calls her “incubator” before each bear is jointed and stuffed. After the stuffing process every opening on every arm, leg and body is closed by hand with ladder stitching. All Rovos Rail bears are branded with their embroidered suede footpads, which are cut out and sewn into the leg pieces. The teddies are jointed with a selection of wooden discs and nuts, bolts and washers which allow their arms, legs, and head to move.

The aspect of her work that Sonja enjoys the most is when she gets her creative juices flowing in the idea and design stage of creating new pieces. Much research and planning goes into the conception and production of each bear, followed by the sourcing of materials and finishes to make her ideas come to life.

An exciting step in the process for Sonja is when the bears get their eyes as that’s when they come alive – she says it gives meaning to the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul!

Sonja has created 22 collections of 20 bears for Rovos Rail as well as 50 ShweShwe fabric bears for Shongololo Express. These sets include the popular Engineer (which has taken its inspiration from Rohan Vos!) and Golfer (with a miniature driver handmade by Björn), to teddy bears named after Vos family members all personalised to each one of them.

One of the most popular Rovos bears is the Safari bear with its sleeveless bush jacket and camouflage safari hat. Even the safari fabric was painted and printed by Sonja by hand to create a miniature camo pattern. Artist Manda Theart in Pretoria constructs the tiny camera and binoculars out of polymer clay which is baked in an oven.

Rovos Rail bear collectors can look forward to an enchanting new range of bears to be launched towards the end of this year, one of the new designs is a gorgeous Coal Stoker bear. A practical new touch now comes with every bear purchase – a hemp drawstring bag with the Rovos Rail crest, in which to keep the bear protected during travel.

Sonja’s passion for her teddy bears is contagious, and her talents ranging from imaginative and artistic to resourceful and practical, are inspiring. Proud owners of a Rovos teddy bear can appreciate the time, love, thought and expertise that goes into creating these unique collectors’ pieces. Those who are not yet Rovos bear owners will no doubt agree with the words of much-loved teddy bear Winnie the Pooh: “I know I don’t need one, but I’d like one very, very much, please.”

The Rovos limited-edition teddy bears are available for sale to guests, in either the train gift shop or at the Rovos Rail Station.

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Water-saving toilets

We’ve spoken a bit about our efforts to be as earth friendly as possible, which included revising our toilet systems; a process we began in 2018.

During the pandemic, the eco warriors at Rovos Rail undertook the task of overhauling our toilet facilities on board with the goal of saving water.

We can at times have as many as 100 guests and staff on board, with each person flushing 10 litres approximately five times a day. This equates to five kilolitres of water per day so 25 tons for a five-day journey, which has to be pumped when required.

Starting out, we knew what we didn’t want which was a replica of the toilets they have on airlines. We did not want the same bowl and we needed something which did not use a strong-smelling disinfectant to flush the toilet clean.

We had already succeeded in finding forest-friendly toilet paper, which spoke about on our blog here. We have been working with Güdco for a few years, with their two-ply sugarcane rolls being used on board the trains and at our two guesthouses in Cape Town.

But now we needed a toilet system to work with our new loo rolls!

It took us a fair amount of time to research various companies who provide comprehensive solutions for sustainable sanitary requirements. We did our due diligence and the blush-inducing conversations we first had when starting out quickly faded as we dived deep into the world of efficient ablution facilities!

We finally found a local company who brings in equipment from an organisation in Sweden called JETS and these have now been installed. All South African trains have fail-safe vacuum brake systems and when the flush button is pushed, the vacuum in the system empties the bowl into a tank under the carriage (similar to the systems on airplanes).

Vacuum toilets use air instead of water to transport sewage. This advantage significantly reduces water usage, while the airflow vents away odours and dramatically reduces the risk of spreading airborne and waterborne pathogens.

The new system has reduced our water consumption by 90%. This feels like a great accomplishment especially given that on our three-night Cape Town journey or the 15-day sojourn between Tanzania and Angola, there are either water restrictions or very few facilities on route where we are able to fill the train.

Not a company to rest on its laurels, we will keep our fingers on the pulse of any new water-saving innovations so this much needed resource is not wasted.

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Women’s Month: Daphne Mabala

Written by Linda Sparks

In celebration of Women’s Month in August, Rovos Rail is honouring three of our amazing female staff members.

First up is Daphne Mabala, described by colleagues as “Superwoman” who is one of six of Rovos Rail’s hard working and passionate train managers.

It’s a fitting month to pay tribute to Daphne as August also marks her 30-year anniversary of employment with Rovos Rail – a testament to her job satisfaction and loyalty to the Rovos family. 

After qualifying with a Diploma in Hotel Management, Daphne began her career with Rovos Rail in 1993 working as a waitress at the Victoria Hotel in Pretoria which was then on lease to Rovos Rail as their dedicated overnight offering for passengers.

In 2000 Daphne’s application for a train position as a hostess was successful and she has remained on the trains ever since. She worked through the ranks of admin and deputy manager before progressing to the challenging role of train manager in 2008.

When asked what she likes about her job Daphne responded that she doesn’t like her job she loves it!

She liked her role of welcoming guests into her home and ensuring that all aspects of hosting them is done correctly and in a professional way.

The role of train manager on Rovos Rail is a demanding one, being on call 24/7, and it requires a diverse range of skills and experience. This includes overseeing the staff on board, interacting with guests, and ensuring that all their needs are met, being proactive to prevent problems occurring, and dealing with the multiple technical and logistical challenges that come with travelling across countries and dealing with different railways around southern Africa.

As a train manager Daphne ensures that she is always one step ahead, she makes it her mission to get to know all of her staff in order to lead and support them well. She places a high value on education in all aspects of hospitality to ensure that she and her staff are able to deliver service excellence. This requires keeping abreast with international and local travel developments, being up to date with bar and culinary trends, and having a good knowledge of guests’ cultures and countries. 

This ethos sees Daphne doing research before guests arrive in order to understand their nationalities, customs, likes and dislikes. Meeting and interacting with people from around the world is one of the highlights of her job, she enjoys learning about other countries and how people live. 

As a manager of Rovos Rail trains it’s necessary to think out of the box and to be able to make an alternative plan when things don’t turn out as expected. Just one example of the many quick solutions that Daphne has had to find was when a trip had to be improvised due to a train derailment that obstructed the journey. Passengers were offered a variety of alternative options, one of them being to remain on the train waiting for the track to re-open, and this turned out to be a bonus for guests who ended up getting additional nights on the train that they hadn’t expected.

In response to my asking her to list three words that she feels describe her, Daphne came up with “ambitious,” “professional” and “organised”.

Her ambition is clearly evident in how far she has come from humble beginnings in a 4-roomed house in a township near Polokwane. Daphne always wanted to succeed in her career, and it is because she enjoys working with people that she chose to pursue a career in hospitality, she realised that succeeding in life is not based on a person’s background but rather hard work and determination

One of the hallmarks of Rovos Rail is the attention to detail that is applied to every aspect of the company. This is something that Daphne is proud to have learnt from Rohan Vos himself when he was hands on in running the trains.

Daphne loves travelling across Africa and visiting different destinations which all have their own beauty and appeal. One of her favourites is the Namibia Safari due its remoteness and the unique landscape of the sand dunes.

Daphne’s achievements in successfully managing Rovos Rail trains for the past 15 years have taught her the importance of hard work, making sacrifices in order to get results and that it is possible to start at the bottom and grow from there.

When she’s not working Daphne likes to spend her holidays visiting family and pursuing her hobbies of hiking, swimming, reading, and researching. One of her future goals is to eventually own a safe place to accommodate the elderly and disabled.

Daphne’s passion for her work and her pride for Rovos Rail is palpable. Guests travelling on a train with Daphne at the helm are privileged to be taken care of by someone who clearly gives her job her all whilst most importantly loving doing it.

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Rovos Rail completes Copper Trail

To Angola and beyond!

Two trains travelling to Angola, via the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the same time, is beyond anything we could have ever imagined completing. In our 33 years, we at Rovos Rail have managed to pull off some pretty crazy things but this could possibly top the list!

The first journey to depart Pretoria was Trail of Two Oceans, which left Rovos Rail Station on the 28th of June. It travelled six separate journeys with six different groups of guests:

  • Pretoria to Cape Town
  • Cape Town to Dar es Salaam
  • Dar es Salaam to Lobito
  • Lobito to Dar es Salaam
  • Dar es Salaam to Cape Town
  • Cape Town to Pretoria

With manager, Hennie, at its helm, the train travelled about 23 400kms (14 540 miles). It was gone so long that at times we forgot it was out but Hennie and his team returned safely back to Pretoria on Friday, 9 September after 73 days travelling through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC and Angola.

The Copper Trail train departed Pretoria on the 29th of June for Victoria Falls after which train manager, Lawrence, and his team had a few days to make their train sparkle before welcoming guests on July 7th for the maiden voyage of the Copper Trail.

The train travelled four separate trips with four different groups of guests:

  1. Pretoria to Victoria Falls
  2. Victoria Falls to Lobito (Angola)
  3. Lobito to Victoria Falls
  4. Victoria Falls to Pretoria

About 9 000kms was travelled with the team being out for 39 days. They returned safely on August, 15th to a warm welcome and many guys from all of us.

Neither journey came without challenges which included the Chambeshi bridge closure, unexpected mining debris left on the railway line causing minor derailments, unforeseen and costly Covid-19 testing enforced by over-zealous border control authorities, visa acquisition as well as water supply.

One of the ways we tried to alleviate the stress of the water issue was to sponsor three 10,000L tanks on six-metre stands right next to the existing water supply infrastructure in Kolwezi, DRC. Things did not go as planned as only one 5,000L tank was installed so we had to purchase a bigger volume pump in Kolwezi to fill the train faster.

One has to make a decision when travelling through countries such as the DRC and to some extent, Angola, because a culture exists of greasing palms in order to get anything done. We chose not to participate in this because we do not want to be part of what perpetuates this cycle but it made our planning and operational objectives a great deal more difficult and things moved extremely slowly. This was by far the most stressful aspect of coordinating these two journeys and we would like to say a big thank you to our operations manager, Joe Mathala, for flying back-and-forth between Angola, the DRC and South Africa to keep things moving along. We feel the process might have aged Joe by hundreds of years but as always, he got the job done and on time so we are deeply grateful for his hustle!

Our intrepid band of travellers hailed from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

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Rovos Rail welcomes an award-winning rum

South African Rum Awards Facebook

Die Warm Rasta Rum

Rovos Rail welcomes an award-winning rum. Die Warm Rasta Rum is now part of our already extensive range of spirits. Die Warm Rasta Rum is produced at De Vry Distillery situated in the Free State. This distillery is an authentic South African distillery producing premium local spirits made from natural, home-grown ingredients.

Rasta1
De Vry Distillery

Who makes it?

The rum was founded by the Du Plooy brothers, who believe their authentic distillery should be all about producing 100% farm-grown spirits. They were inspired to establish a fine local spirits company by a love for country, a passion for farming, South African tourism, and the creative freedom offered by a new generation.

Rasta2
De Vry Distillery

How is it made?

The process of creating the rum starts with the finest imported molasses. The fermentation process is then enabled by specific yeast cultures in combination with a blend of Borehole and RO water, ensuring that there is no harmful effects on the environment. 

What does it taste like?

Die Warm Rasta Rum has a distinctive flavour as a result of the charred barrels used for culturing. Barrels are selected at the optimum ageing time; the rum is then blended, filtered and bottled. The tasting notes of this rum is full-bodied with upfront notes of cigar smoke and oak. You will also find subtle sweet American oak tannins and a sweet finish. 

Rovos Rail proudly welcomes this award-winning rum. You can enjoy Die Warm Rusta Rum all Rovos Rail journeys.

Check out our Rovos Rail specials.

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Rovos Rail introduces distinctly African vodka

Awaken your spirit with our new addition, Vusa Vodka

Rovos Rail added a distinctly African vodka to our already extensive range of spirits. Vusa Vodka is a multi-award winning premium vodka from Africa. They are changing the narrative on what a vodka can be. Vusa puts the best of African quality, style and flavour into each bottle. In addition, their belief is to make the best tasting vodka. To achieve this, you need the best ingredients together with an optimal environment to grow them in. Vusa makes use of homegrown sugar-cane from the heart of the sub-tropical climate of KwaZulu-Natal. This makes Vusa Vodka a little bit sweet and authentically Africa.

Rovos Rail Vusa Vodka
Vusa Vodka Instagram

How it is produced

Part of the distinctly African process is to distill the vodka in small batches using copper pot stills named “kaisgo”. This gives the spirit a silky smooth finish. To ensure exceptional quality, Vusa uses the purest water of the Lions River in the hills of the KwaZulu-Natal national park to blend the vodka. The next step is to filter the vodka through the shells of local baobab fruit. This step guarantees a super crisp and clean finish. The patterns and unique typeface on the bottle is inspired by Zulu art. Furthermore, it is specifically chosen to express a renewed natural energy and distinctiveness when on a South African tour.

Rovos Rail Vusa Vodka
Vusa Vodka Instagram

The Vusa Foundation

Vusa is on a mission to change lives and the world of spirits. They achieve this through the liquid, the ingredients, and their commitment to the local community from which the spirit hails. They have established the Vusa Foundation, through which they commit to donate a proportion of their profits to support the Khulisani Foundation. The Khulisani Foudation is a South African organisation that supports urban farming and drives positive change in South African communities.

Rovos Rail Vusa Vodka
Vusa Vodka Instagram

Lastly, this is only the start of the Vusa Vodka journey. In addition, they are also planning on travelling through Africa with a mobile distillery while producing amazing spirits from the countries they visit.

You can find Vusa Vodka all Rovos Rail journeys where guests can enjoy a flavourful vodka while sharing different stories.

Please note that items on our wine list and bar menus are subject to availability and not always in stock and available on board.

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Rovos Rail gives your lips Msulwa Life

We have mentioned a few times that Rovos Rail has overhauled many of the products available on board so that they are earth-friendlier. We’ve spoken about Katavi and Fortis X and now we would like to introduce your lips to Msulwa Life.

Msulwa is an African isiZulu word meaning Pure, Innocent and Clean. Based in Kwa Zulu Natal, the company’s focus is living life with more natural biological products, choosing anti-cruelty, chemical-free, plant-based ingredients as well as vegan, non-animal based materials.

It was a challenge finding a local business who produced an earth-friendly lip balm in recyclable packaging. When guests board our trains, in each of their suites is an amenities bag stocked full of natural goodies including lip balm so we require high volumes of product and want none of it to be wasteful.

In addition to their commitment to the environment, the company created a non-profit called Msulwa Life’s Giving Back Foundation by supporting small and local NGO’s across South Africa that are dedicated to selflessly caring for animals, humanity and the planet.

There are thousands of small projects started by everyday people who work tirelessly to give huge amounts of their resources to help animals and other charitable groups in need. These small organisations are often overlooked, mostly having to rely on their own pockets to take on financial and community burdens in order to help a cause.

Msulwa Life’s Giving Back Foundation shows its appreciation to these local heroes by supporting them with donations whether they be financial, food parcels or any other much needed supplies.

We are so thrilled to be working with this mindful and lovely company and look forward to them creating beautiful, earth-friendly magic.

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Rovos Rail, we’re back on track

Rovos Rail founder and CEO, Rohan Vos,
with his daughter and COO, Tiffany Vos-Thane

February 2022 was an important month for us at Rovos Rail. The first of the month marked 677 days since South Africa went into hard lockdown and it also marked the day we were officially back on track.

With the ever-moving goal posts of the Covid-19 pandemic we found ourselves holding on a little tighter with each announcement from our own government, politicians overseas and from the WHO. It felt like every few weeks we were postponing our contingency plans until at last we were able to say that February would realistically be when we could let our industry partners know that we were back on track and fully operational. It was indeed a relief and also a very happy month!

We have operated numerous journeys since February, including exceptional private charters which have been lovely successes. Our first advertised Cape Town to Dar es Salaam trip departed on 2 July with train manager, Hennie, at its helm. Despite one or two unforeseen challenges, guests and staff enjoyed a fabulous trip with the team receiving the highest of compliments! Thank you to our wonderful group of guests for their joviality and positivity.

Hennie’s and his team had a few days off in Dar es Salaam before the train, carrying a new band of intrepid travellers, set off on our second ever Trail of Two Oceans sojourn which will take guests from the Tanzanian capital through Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with journey’s end in Angola. The sojourn was certainly an adventure and the train arrived safely into Lobito on 3 August.

The maiden voyage of our 15-day Copper Trail trip also departed in July and the first leg of the journey was a lovely success with guests thoroughly enjoying themselves and giving us constructive feedback so that we can further improve the itinerary. Train manager, Lawrence, and his team travelled through parts of Africa none of us have ever seen and sent through some funny, heartwarming and wild stories!

In amongst these two long trips, we have also operated shorter journeys to Durban, Cape Town and Victoria Falls so it is safe to say we are back on track! Our train teams are busy, Rovos Rail Station is once again a busting hive of activity and our inboxes are full.

To celebrate our restart and in many ways a new beginning, we put together a photo and video shoot with new faces, new coaches and new energy!

We would like to sincerely thank Simone Dominique Shapiro from The Safari Gals for being our lady of the day, Jonathan Boynton-Lee for being our dapper gentleman, Ross Hillier for his phenomenal photographic talent and Dylan Hohls from Motionworx for capturing it all on video. You were a dream team and we hope to be able to work with you all again one day soon.

We are delighted to be able to share our video with you and will be releasing our new photographic content soon.

It feels so good to be back on track and we can’t wait to welcome you on board one of our journeys soon.

Rovos Rail is back on track
Oh, the places you’ll go!
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