Six of the best... train journeys

| February 5, 2019

Cox & Kings’ travel experts pick their favourite stay-on-board train journeys from around the world – discover something different on one of our top six rail adventures.

Deccan Odyssey

1. Rovos Rail, Africa

The Rovos Rail journey is a nature-lover’s dream. From the amethyst blossoms of Jacaranda City, to exhilarating safaris in Hwange National Park and the breathtaking scale and magnificence of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, you’ll fall in love with Africa as nature intended aboard the Victoria Falls rail tour. Amble through the soothing and incredibly beautiful scenery of South Africa, bathing in the aptly named Warmbaths, witnessing spectacular wildlife at Hwange and enjoying insights into local life on your way along one of Africa’s longest stretches of straight railway. You’ll cross the Tropic of Capricorn and travel to Bulawayo via West Nicholson, hugging the dramatic Zambezi River, all from the comfort of your carriage. 

Rovos Rail’s trains are sensitively restored, converted vintage coaches that have a truly timeless quality. You’ll feel like you’ve been whisked back in time as you sip champagne in the pillared, Victorian-style dining car, which offers a menu of traditional dishes made with fresh local ingredients, as well as a selection of exquisite South African wines. The observation car has a covered section and an open-air balcony for you to breathe in the fresh air of the plains, and the cabins feel just as spacious with their airy design and opulent decor.

The 3-day and 2-night Pretoria to Victoria Falls journey aboard Rovos Rail’s Pride of Africa is available from £1,585 per person, including all meals, drinks and activities.

Rovos Rail

Rovos Rail

2. Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru

Gliding past rugged Peruvian landscapes on board the Belmond Andean Explorer – South America’s first luxury sleeper train – will transport nature and history lovers alike. The astonishing Peruvian Highlands journey sets off from Cuzco, winding through La Raya and Puno before passing Lake Titicaca and arriving in historic Arequipa. On board, passengers can simultaneously enjoy luxurious comfort while still feeling truly connected with the nature outside. Each of the 24 spacious en suite cabins feature bathrooms made from local stone and you won’t miss a thing in the observation car, which is equipped with large windows and comfortable seats.

Dine on a specially selected menu of seasonal dishes made with local produce, or even be revitalised with an Incan-inspired spa treatment on board. Expert-guided excursions to ancient sites like the fascinating Sumbay Caves, home to more than 500 cave paintings over 6,000 years old, will captivate historians. Don’t miss the striking sunsets and sunrises over the La Raya Mountains, Lake Titicaca and Lake Saracocha, and a very special opportunity to interact with the local people who inhabit the islands of Lake Titicaca.

The 3-day and 2-night Peruvian Highlands journey aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer is available from £1,365 per person in a bunk-bed cabin (upgrades available).

Andes Mountains, Peru

Andes mountains, Peru

3. Deccan Odyssey, India

Showcasing northern India’s greatest sights and little-known gems, the Indian Odyssey rail journey is a luxurious and enchanting experience, encapsulating the unique magic of India’s cultural, historical, natural and spiritual charms. From Delhi to Ranthambore National Park, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Vadodara and Aurangabad, the Indian Odyssey is a wondrous adventure true to its name. Nature lovers should get up early if they are to catch a glimpse of tigers in Ranthambore National Park. Or enjoy some of India’s finest landscapes in Udaipur – the ‘Venice of the East’ – with stunning views over Lake Pichola.

Historians can marvel at the Unesco-listed Amber fort in Rajasthan, and the iconic architecture of the Taj Mahal in Agra. Your appreciation will be heightened by expert guides, as you learn about the stunning forts, palaces and temples, including Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Udaipur’s City and Jagmandir palaces, and the Ellora caves. Inspired by the imperial carriages of Maharajas, the Deccan Odyssey offers elegance and comfort. The train has two multi-cuisine restaurants that offer dishes to reflect the regional cuisine of each destination. The lounge and bar areas are the perfect place for you to share your adventures with other passengers, or you can relax in the spa with a selection of traditional Ayurvedic treatments.

The 11-day and 9-night Indian Odyssey journey aboard the Deccan Odyssey is available from £4,685 per person. Price includes international flights, 7 nights’ full board accommodation on the Deccan Odyssey train, 1 pre-tour night in Delhi and 1 post-tour night in Mumbai.

Deccan Odyssey welcome

Deccan Odyssey welcome

4. Ghan Expedition, Australia

The Ghan Expedition offers a totally unique experience, perfect for the more adventurous and curious explorers. Travel aboard The Ghan on a route inspired by the brave cameleers who ventured across the unexplored Australian outback in the 19th century. The Ghan Expedition journey offers the chance to take an off-train excursion every day, and opportunities to experience some of the most remote areas of Australia. Enjoy luxury combined with the rugged lands of adventure just outside your window. The restaurant serves a variety of fresh, local dishes, while the spacious, stylish cabins and Explorer Lounge are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the views.

You’ll be humbled by the beauty and expanse of the natural landscapes en route from Darwin, through Katherine, Alice Springs and Manguri, to Adelaide. Stunning sunrises and sunsets across the outback, and a barbecue under an impossibly clear night sky are just some of the treats in store. You can become an explorer and discover over 200 desert animals and 400 species of plants in Alice Springs, take a guided boat tour of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge’s ancient rock art, and unleash your inner Jack- or Jillaroo on the Katherine Outback Experience. You may even find your fortune in the intriguing opal mining town of Coober Pedy, where more than half of the residents live underground to escape the scorching heat above.

The 4-day and 3-night Ghan Expedition journey from Darwin to Adelaide is available from £2,095 per person. April to October 2019 only; price excludes international flights.

The Ghan

The Ghan

5. Eastern & Oriental Express, Far East

Watch as lush jungles, tiny villages, ancient temples and modern cities glide past on your way from Bangkok, through Kanchanaburi and Kuala Kangsar to your final destination, Singapore. Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express offers the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation, and activities cater to all interests – from a bike ride through sweeping rice paddies to a hill trek with an expert naturalist guide. In Kanchanaburi, foodies can sample the distinct regional cuisine at the colourful wet market or take a raft cruise with a cooking class. Historians will be struck by the architecture of River Kwai bridge and reflect on the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway.

This is the ultimate luxury train journey. If fine dining and classic glamour are what you’re after, you’ll thrive in the old-world elegance of Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express train. Decorated with exquisite Asian design details, this train comes fully equipped with several different cabin sizes, a restaurant serving regional and continental dishes cooked by internationally renowned chefs, a stunning observation carriage with covered and open-air areas, a cosy saloon car with a library, and a bar carriage where you can enjoy a jazz club atmosphere with music and conversations about the day’s adventures floating on the air around you.

The 10-day and 7-night Bangkok to Singapore journey, including international flights and 3 nights aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express, is available from £4,725 per person.

Bridge on the River Kwai-Thailand

Bridge on the River Kwai, Thailand

6. Orient Silk Road Express, Middle East

You will roll headlong into One Thousand and One Nights on the Orient Silk Road Express as you explore a route of extraordinary historical significance brimming with beautiful architecture, fascinating stories and unique cultures. You will be given the royal tour of seven Unesco world heritage sites in 14 days, making your way along ancient trade routes aboard timeless and intricately decorated carriages. Savour the immersive experience and insights into everyday life as you watch the mesmerizing processes of local silk and carpet weavers.

Historians can marvel at the sight of ancient fortresses, mausoleums, mosques and temples that show the power and beauty of bygone eras and lost civilisations. Man-made beauty is not the only kind you will encounter on this trip, you will also be whisked through the spectacular nature of the Karakum and Kyzylkum deserts and the awe-inspiring Tian Shan mountains. The culture outside the train undeniably permeates within, as you sample the best of local cuisine in the intricately decorated dining car and enjoy the beauty of traditional Islamic-style decor throughout the carriages.

The 15-day and 12-night Legendary Silk Route by Rail journey, including international flights and 7 nights aboard the Orient Silk Road Express, is available from £5,245 per person.

Orient Silk Road Express

Orient Silk Road Express

For more information about any of these rail journeys or to plan a tailor-made itinerary, speak to one of our regional experts or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our team will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.

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