Jewel of the Desert

14-Day African Explorer Train Journey from Cape Town to Windhoek

Jewel of the DesertA railroad safari across some of Africa’s most spectacular landscapes. Deep
canyons, wide-open plains, wild animals and the highest sand dunes in the world.
The voyage of a lifetime. Set out on an unparalleled adventure across South
Africa and Namibia.

What Makes Your Journey Unique

  • More than 3,000 kilometers of railroad on the African Explorer private train
  • Cape Town, one of the world’s most diverse and beautiful cities
  • Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa
  • The world’s highest sand dunes in the Namib Desert and Sossusvlei
  • Bizarre rock formations and lunar landscape in Namib-Naukluft National Park
  • Safari tour of Etosha National Park
  • Lüderitz, the first German colonial settlement in present-day Namibia
  • Kolmanskop, ghost town from Namibia’s diamond rush
  • Diverse flora and fauna of Namibia
  • Swakopmund, a historic town with colonial German architecture
  • Windhoek, a fascinating mix of African and European cultures
  • Namibian culinary specialties and select South African wines


    Info & Booking

    Maria Wacker
    Click here to email us

    Windhoek-Cape Town itinerary also available

    Day 1. Welcome to Africa, Arrival in Cape Town

    Your journey begins in a destination that has drawn adventurers to Africa for centuries. Few places can rival Cape Town’s spectacular setting, nestled between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. You discover everything this multicultural melting pot has to offer during a fun and informative city tour. Later you take a pleasant stroll on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront or ascend Table Mountain via its iconic cable car, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (on request), to enjoy stunning views. You finish off the day by joining your fellow travelers on an excursion to Signal Hill and enjoying a special welcome dinner. Overnight: The Commodore Hotel (or similar) (D)

    Day 2. Matjiesfontein and Hex River Mountains

    Your journey through Southern Africa truly begins as you board your private train, the African Explorer. Your friendly crew welcomes you aboard, and you discover the incomparable ease of rail travel as the African Explorer whisks you through green valleys and the dramatic tunnels of the Hex River Mountains. You pass the small railroad town of Matjiesfontein with its colonial flair.
    Overnight: On board (BLD)

    Day 3. Across South Africa

    Today you enjoy a day of once-in-a-lifetime views from the comfort of your private train. As gorgeous landscapes pass by your windows, informative and entertaining lectures reveal local customs, culture and history that most travelers miss. Overnight: On board (BLD)

    Day 4. Augrabies Falls and Upington

    Visits to Upington and Augrabies Falls National Park are on the schedule for today. As you stand before the world-famous Augrabies Falls, your senses come alive with their thunderous roar and refreshing spray—a truly invigorating wonder of the world! As the early evening sets in, your private train takes you further north. Overnight: On board (BLD)

    Day 5. Fish River Canyon, Namibia

    Welcome to Namibia—a land of color and texture, with landscapes almost too staggering to take in all at once. You marvel at its sweeping landscapes of deep, ancient ochre and its huge, aquamarine sky. In the distance, silhouettes of animals shimmer beneath the hot sun.

    You arrive at Holoog Station and take a scenic bus tour to discover the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa. If you wish, you can take a short walk along the canyon’s edge. Before sundown, there is time for a quick excursion to the Quiver Tree Forest. Later you enjoy a biltong (traditional beef jerky) tasting. Overnight: On board (BLD)

    Day 6 Kolmanskop: Namibian Ghost Town

    In the morning, you arrive at Aus Station, from which you head out to Kolmanskop. In 1908, diamonds were discovered in Kolmanskop, attracting money and miners in droves. But today it’s a ghost town with abandoned buildings filled knee-deep with sand for you to explore. Later you take a quick bus trip through the so-called Sperrgebiet (German for “restricted area”), a diamond mining area that is now a national park. The bus takes you to Lüderitz, a historic port town situated on the Atlantic coastline across from the famous Diaz Point. Back on board at Aus station, your private train continues on its journey south. Overnight: On board (BD)

    Day 7. Namib-Naukluft National Park

    In the morning, you arrive in Mariental, from where you take a scenic bus ride to your lodge. Via the Tsaris Pass, unpaved roads lead you to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Your lodge is a quiet oasis in the midst of the wilderness—the perfect place for stargazing. If you feel like taking in the sights from the sky, a panoramic aerial tour over this breathtaking landscape is available upon request. Overnight: Namib Desert Lodge (or similar) (BD)

    Day 8. The Namib Desert: A Walk Among Giants

    Today you take in the otherworldly beauty of the Namib Desert and have the opportunity to stand atop the biggest sand dunes in the world—immense, sculptural sand waves as dramatic and vast as the ocean. You’ve seen them in photographs, but nothing compares to real life. An excursion in open-top vehicles takes you to the famous Sossusvlei salt pan. Later, as the sun begins to set, you have the chance to join a desert safari. The natural beauty you see here is simply unforgettable. Overnight: Namib Desert Lodge (or similar) (BD)

    Day 9. Walvis Bay and Swakopmund

    Today you head back to the coast, this time to Walvis Bay (aka Whale Bay), a deepwater port city named for its historical abundance of southern right whales. Your tour guide advises you to look out for them as well as pink flamingos strutting along Walvis Bay Lagoon. Later you continue your journey via air-conditioned bus to the coastal city of Swakopmund, famous for its unique examples of German colonial architecture. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a stroll on the promenade or a slice of Black Forest cake in Café Anton before heading back to your train. Overnight: On board (BD)

    Day 10. Spitzkoppe: Namibia's Most Famous Peak and a Traditional Barbecue

    You begin your day with a hearty breakfast, after which you continue your exploration of the Namib Desert. Today you arrive at Usakos, from where you head to the Spitzkoppe—known as Namibia’s Matterhorn—and marvel at its immense, granite peak. The ancient rock paintings you see here speak to the fascination this famous landmark has long held for humankind. Later, you return to your private train, stopping in the evening to enjoy a braai—a traditional African barbecue—alongside your train, beneath a fabulously starry sky. Overnight: On board (BLD)

    Day 11. Etosha National Park: The Great White Place

    The seemingly endless, shimmering white plain you stand on is the largest salt flat in Africa—the Etosha Pan. With the mineral crust crunching underfoot and the horizon going on forever, it’s easy to understand why this was named the Great White Place. You watch as elephants, giraffes and countless other wild animals congregate near watering holes while crossing the entire park by bus. If you’re lucky, you might even see the rare black rhino before sunset. Overnight: Mokuti Lodge (or similar) (BLD)

    Day 12. Safari Day

    Today is a safari day, and you jump into a jeep in the golden light of the morning. You set out in search of feathered, furry and fanged creatures in their natural habitats. Overnight: On board (BD)

    Day 13. Windhoek and Katutura

    This morning’s unique train route is a veritable safari. Your private train passes through game farms where giraffe, antelope and ostrich are often visible from your window. Soon, you arrive in the Namibian capital Windhoek, where you embark on a fun and informative city tour. Among the major sights of the day are the Christ Church—which combines neo-Gothic design with local African sandstone—and the Namibian parliament building, also known as the Tintenpalast (German for “Ink Palace”). Later in the day, you visit the township of Katutura and a local market, before heading back to relax at your hotel. That evening, you enjoy a special dinner in celebration of your exceptional journey and to say farewell to your fellow travelers. Overnight: AVANI Windhoek Hotel (or similar) (BLD)

    Day 14. Farewell Africa!

    After your last delicious breakfast in Africa, you get the shuttle to the airport for your flight home. Looking back on your rail adventure, you smile, remembering the amazing sights you’ve seen, feeling that you’ve become a true African explorer. (B)

    (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner

    The African Explorer train takes you from the metropolis of Cape Town to the otherworldly wonders of the Namib Desert. Travel in comfort and ease by private train, watching elephants and giraffes graze in fields outside your window.

    Rates Include

    • 8 nights on board the African Explorer private train in the category booked
    • 1 night in a well-appointed hotel in Windhoek
    • 1 night in a well-appointed safari lodge at the entrance to Etosha National Park
    • 2 nights in a well-appointed lodge in the Namib Desert
    • 1 night in a well-appointed hotel in Cape Town
    • Multilingual tour director between Cape Town and Windhoek
    • English-speaking tour guide for up to 25 guests from Cape Town to Windhoek
    • Doctor on board
    • All meals as specified in the itinerary
    • All excursions and sightseeing including admission fees
    • Excursions and transfers in air-conditioned buses
    • All airport transfers on first and last days
    • Fascinating series of lectures on sights, history, daily life and culture
    • Informative reading materials

    Not Included

    • Visa fees
    • Gratuities
    • International flights
    • Personal expenses

    Entry Requirements

    • Passport and visa required depending on nationality. Please check with your local embassy
    • Depending on your country of origin, you may require vaccinations. Malaria tablets and hepatitis A vaccination are recommended. Please consult your doctor


    The Elephant compartments offer private shower and toilet, individually adjustable air-conditioning, 220/230 V sockets, a small safe, towels, a compact wardrobe with coathangers, small bedside cabinets, hair dryer, toiletries and one small bottle of water per person per day on the train. The windows (equipped with blind and sunshades) can be opened as needed.


    In addition to the features of the Elephant category the Leopard compartments offer a small sitting area and are located closer to the restaurant cars.


    Total price $
    Single use supplement for Leopard category available upon request