The allure of train journeys is undeniable. There is something intoxicating about speeding through landscapes as life unfolds outside the window. Whether notable for their dramatic views, luxurious surroundings or sheer speed, we’ve highlighted what we consider to be four of the most exciting train journeys in the world.
A visit to Japan is not complete without a trip on the sleek, futuristically-designed bullet train, or ‘Shinkansen’ as it is locally known. One of the most spectacular journeys to undertake is the 370 km (230 miles) route between Tokyo and Kyoto. As you step onto the platform prepare to be amazed as local travellers quietly align themselves perfectly alongside the designated floor markings. Everything here runs like clockwork and despite the distances covered, bullet trains are staggeringly punctual with delays said to be less than 0.1 seconds per train. This particular journey, however, allows you to see much more than Japanese efficiency. Speeding through the Tokyo suburbs you will begin to fully appreciate the sheer size of the metropolitan area before being provided with a breathtaking panoramic view of the grand, and sometimes elusive, Mount Fuji. The whole journey takes just under 2.5 hours and a small food cart serves passengers en route. For something more substantial you may want to consider purchasing one of the beautifully presented bento lunch boxes from the station beforehand.
One of the most luxurious train journeys in the world, Rovos offers old-world comfort and elegance on a number of routes in Africa. The two night trip from Pretoria to Cape Town starts at Rovos’ private station where passengers enjoy champagne and canapés while the owner Mr Rohan Vos introduces himself and explains the history and concept behind this captivating company. On-board, the beautifully restored carriages, lounges, restaurant cars and en suite cabins hark back to the 1920s and just ooze sophistication. The food served is sublime and the observation carriages, which include an open-air version at the rear of the train, provide excellent opportunities for enjoying the passing scenery. Sweeping out of the city the train meanders across the semi-desert Karoo before reaching the beautiful Winelands, stopping at Kimberley’s Hole, where the diamond rush started, and Matjiesfontein, a town which appears frozen in time. From the opulent surroundings and fabulous hospitality on-board, to the incredible scenery in parts of the country that most people miss, this trip will leave you with many happy memories.
The Canadian is renowned for being one of the world’s legendary railway journeys. Over five days it winds its way between Canada’s largest city, Toronto, and the lovely Pacific city of Vancouver. This trans-continental journey encompasses the lake-studded forests of western Ontario, the flat and seemingly endless wheat belt of the great Canadian Prairies and the breathtaking splendour of the Rocky Mountains. This is a journey for those who like to relax, socialise with their fellow passengers, read and fully appreciate the sheer size and scale of this diverse country. A variety of compact cabins are available on board with all meals included. The Canadian also has a bar and a domed observation lounge for the best views of the breathtaking scenery.
Palace on Wheels
The Palace on Wheels is a unique and memorable experience reminiscent of travel during the days of the Raj. Over seven days this luxurious train winds it way through Rajasthan visiting highlights such as Jaipur, also known as the 'Pink City', famous for its magnificent Amber Palace; Jaisalmer, the golden city in the desert, Ranthambhore National Park, one of the best places to view tigers in the wild, and Udaipur, finishing its journey at the renowned Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world. A 'Khidmatgar' or personal attendant is present in each of the luxury carriages to attend to your every need and there are two lavish restaurants serving continental and Indian specialities, with an emphasis on the cuisine of Rajasthan.
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