For this blog, we'll visit South Africa and the scenic train ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
I had the opportunity to visit South Africa a few years back. The main purpose was to run the Cape Town Marathon, for which I had been training for for several months. I decided to get creative and fly into the country via Johannesburg, and fly out of the country via Cape Town. I could then explore Johannesburg for a few days and do some additional training runs, then I could rest on the train and in Cape Town prior to running the actual marathon.
If you've never traveled cross-country via train, I highly recommend it, especially in a scenic country like South Africa. There's just something nostalgic about journey by train that is lost when you travel above the clouds. The tickets for Shosholoza Meyl were relatively inexpensive for the Premier Classe sleeper train, and I had plenty of time to kill, so I thought 'why not?'.
Sadly, last year one of their trains was struck by a truck and seven cars were derailed, resulting in the death of 6 people and dozens of injuries.[src] Rare events such as this, still wouldn't discourage me from making the trip, as I am still much more statistically likely of dying in a automobile accident.
Some day I'd also like to cross the Atlantic ocean by ship, like people did before airplanes took over.
1: The train stopped at one of the few stations along the way. At some stops you had a minute to hop out of the train to stretch your legs.
2: The weather was gloomy and overcast for part of the journey, but the ominous cloud formations were impressive.
3: Tight corners offered the opportunity to see the rear of the train if you stuck your head out of the small window. Doing so with your camera was a little more tricky.
4-6: Scenes like this were the norm. Striking geographical features along with vineyards and other forms of agriculture were common.
7: It was a sleeper train, so I got to experience a beautiful sunset before the darkness set in. When it became dark I thought about how much scenery I'd be missing, but the next day definitely made up for it.
8: From this photo you get an idea of how small the sleeper cabin is. Your chair folds down into a bed which an attendant configures for you. If your cabin is feeling too cramped, you can grab your book and head to the dining car to stretch out a bit.
9: The route map for the Shosholoza Meyl trains, with the premier class route from Johannesburg to Cape Town in yellow. [src]
Below are a few short videos I grabbed with my phone. You might want to mute the audio on some of them if the wind rushing past the mic gets too loud.
Welcome message from the conductor
A bit of the landscape
Going around the bend
Video shot at sunset
Thanks for dropping by! I hope that you enjoyed my travel photos and commentary, and will return for more travel content in the future.