TransNamib is experiencing a revival of the rail tourism sector after the massive impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector. The sector was heavily impacted by the pandemic, with less tourists visiting Namibia as well as the initial restriction of movement playing a major role in influencing TransNamib’s ability to run tourist rail passenger services.
Rovos Rail recently embarked on its first ten-day bi-annual Namibian safari roundtrip through the country since 2019. The vintage train with 18 coaches is considered as the pride of Africa on wheels. The Society of International Railway Travellers (IRT) has consistently rated Rovos amongst the top five luxury trains in the world. It is owned by Rohan Vos and its headquarters is at the Capital Park Station in Pretoria, South Africa. That is where the ten-day journey starts.
According to TransNamib’s Acting Manager: Operations, Gideon Eiseb; “Upon arrival in Namibia, TransNamib’s locomotive hauls the train from the Ariamsvlei border in the south into the rest of the country. In addition, we render services such as providing fuel, refill of water tanks, train operating inspection, platform arrangement, safety, and security advice”.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rovos Rail came to Namibia for its safari round trips five-six times a year, bringing in revenue for TransNamib as well as creating immense value for the Namibian tourism sector. Rovos Rail customers are typically from foreign countries, and have a high LSM ranking, thus driving the revenue generated by the tourism industry in Namibia with their visits. In essence, the safari excursion benefits rail transportation and the tourism industry at the same time.
Rovos Rail travels to most areas of Namibia where there is rail. With COVID-19 having impacted their ability to conduct tours in the past, they are now looking at sending four more trains to Namibia this year. With its remarkable natural attractions, Namibia is a highly popular tourist destination and with the Namibian tourism industry fighting for survival after the impact of COVID-19, the arrival of Rovos Rail in Namibia and its further planned visits will bring some relief to the tourism industry.
There is no radio or television on board. The purpose is to unplug from the rat race for the duration of the trip. All accommodations, meals, alcohol (onboard), and off-train excursions are included. The slow gentle pace of the Rovos Rail is intended to give its passengers a sense of calm and relaxation with no distraction from the outside world – just plain old fashion travel.
The ten-day Namibian Safari covers towns such as; Lüderitz, Keetmanshoop, Windhoek, Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb, and Swakopmund: The highlights of the trip amongst others are;
Visit the Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon in the United States. Diaz Point, the tip of the Lüderitz Peninsula and part of the area’s nature reserve. Tour of Windhoek iconic places including Museums and craft centers. Game drives and overnight at Mokuti Lodge, the game-rich Etosha National Park Overnight stay at the world-famous Sossusvlei On the last morning, the train goes back through Kranzberg to Swakopmund – ending its first part of the Namibian journey. Here a new group of tourists to Ariamsvlei gets on board.
Source: Railways Africa