By Greg Aragon
Nothing says travel and adventure like a train ride across beautiful country side. It’s the stuff that novels are made of. A few years ago, I took a train journey across Alaska aboard Gray Line of Alaska (www.graylinealaska.com), and I will never forget the magical feeling of the box cars chugging along the tracks, passing mountains, rivers, bridges and valleys.
I recently heard about a couple of luxury train rides in Africa and Scotland that I want to investigate. They are offered by Frontiers International Travel, a Pennsylvania-based travel company, catering to “discerning travelers.”
The first excursion is a 15-day rail journey between Cape Town, South Africa and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania aboard “The Pride of Africa,” one of the most luxurious trains in the world. The trip rolls across five countries: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania. It is a chance to recapture the romance of a bygone era by stepping aboard wood-paneled coaches and enjoying fine cuisine in five-star luxury.
The sojourn begins in Cape Town taking guests to the historic village of Matjiesfontein, the diamond town of Kimberley, and the capital city of Pretoria, followed by two nights in the Madikwe Game Reserve. Guests will continue through Botswana into Zimbabwe where they’ll stay overnight at the Victoria Falls Hotel.
After crossing the mighty Zambezi River, the train joins the Tazara line in Zambia and continues to Chisimba Falls for a bush walk. Next, the train will climb to the Tanzanian border and descend into the Great Rift Valley negotiating the tunnels, switchbacks and viaducts of the spectacular escarpment. Climbing again, it will traverse the Selous Game Reserve – the largest reserve on the continent– before the bustling arrival in Dar es Salaam.
The Cape Town to Dar es Salaam trip is slated for July 1-15, 2017 and the reverse trip, Dar es Salaam to Cape Town, is July 18-August 1, 2017. Deluxe Suites start at $16,500 per person based on double occupancy.
Another exciting trip offered by Frontiers International is The Royal Scotsman, which traverses the Scottish Highlands and ancient castles in Scotland. Combining Edwardian splendor with modern luxury, this stately train revives the decadent age of railway travel and takes guests on a journey through landscapes of towering, pine-clad mountains reflected in mirror-still lochs.
Guests begin the trek to the sound of bagpipes in Edinburgh, and along the way sample Single Malt whisky, pass the shores of Loch Lomond and visit Glamis Castle, the childhood home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
The Royal Scotsman takes 36 guests in 16 twin and 4 single cabins, all with private facilities and comfortable beds, furnished in traditional Scottish-country style. Two dining cars bookend the sleeping cars and the observation carriage is a popular gathering place for guests to socialize and enjoy the champagne and whisky which flow throughout the journey. Traveling only during the day, the train berths at night to ensure a sound sleep for guests. The ride is also highlighted by fresh food and produce.
The Royal Scotsman offers two, three, four, five and seven night journeys throughout Scotland. I am looking into the four-night Classic Journey, which travels 720 miles, through some of the UK’s finest scenery. Highlights of this expedition include Dundee, Montrose, Aberdeen, Keith, Inverness, Plockton, Dalwhinnie and Perth.
Optional activities on the adventure include fishing, clay pigeon shooting, golf, a woodland walk and a boat trip, whisky tasting at Dalmore Distillery, a visit to Ballindalloch Castle and gardens, and a stroll along pristine beaches and wildlife habitats.
Prices vary by departure, are per person and include all fixed meals. All alcoholic and other beverages, all sightseeing excursions as shown in the itinerary and accommodation on board is based on two people sharing a twin compartment or one person in a single.
For more info on these trips, contact Frontiers International Travel at 800-245-1950 or visit www.frontiersej.com. Founded in 1969, Frontiers caters to discerning travelers and specializes in the finest worldwide fly fishing and shooting destinations, photographic safaris, as well as customized Elegant Journeys. The company has a combined staff of more than 50 travel experts in its Gibsonia, Pennsylvania headquarters and its United Kingdom branch office.