The Most Scenic Train Journeys Across Africa

Traveling Across South Africa, Cameroon, Egypt, and More

A train winding its way through a hillside

Cammaert / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 

Train travel is an option that may not be favored by everybody, but when you compare it to flying, you will certainly get more beautiful views when you travel by railway than you will high above the ground.

Trains also provide a good way of getting from place to place without having to go through customs and the usual security checks. Not to mention, they usually provide a more relaxing travel experience than flying.

On these train trips in Africa, not only will you get to travel between the country's destinations, but you will have some wonderful views to enjoy from the window as you travel.

01 of 07

Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa

Take a ride on the Table Mountain Cable Car, giving you an incredible view of Cape Town, South Africa

Neil Austen / Getty Images

While the Blue Train may be the most famous train in South Africa, you don't need to pay the big bucks to enjoy this scenery. The Shosholoza Meyl trains follow the same lines, are much more affordable, and still perfectly safe. The iconic views of Table Mountain are just a part of the attractions here, with the beautiful wine region around the Cape offering some lovely scenery to enjoy too.

02 of 07

Yaounde to Ngaoundere, Cameroon

Yaounde, Cameroon
Tim E White / Getty Images

This is quite a long journey that takes around 17 hours when running on time, and reveals some of the fascinating cultures around trains, with the vendors carrying trays of fruit and food on their heads at each stop. The route passes through some beautiful scenery, with rolling hills and the greenery of the forests along much of the route. While it may not be the most modern of trains, it is undoubtedly the best way to carry out this journey.

03 of 07

Cairo to Aswan, Egypt

Camels in the desert

Rudolf Baumann / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This is a stunning line that follows the route of the Nile for much of the way, and the views of herds of camels, along with the stark contrast between the greenery around the Nile and the desert elsewhere, makes for a visually stunning trip. The one hiccup with this route is that tourists cannot purchase tickets for the daytime trains at the station, only for the more expensive overnight sleeper train. This meaning you either have to be purchased online in advance or purchased from the conductor on the train.

04 of 07

Umgeni Steam Railway, South Africa

Bushmans Kloof

Marion Boddy-Evans

This preserved railway has been running in the KwaZulu Natal National Park for over 25 years, and it is certainly one of the most interesting ways to see the superb scenery of this national park. The train is pulled behind a historic steam engine and runs from the station at Kloof to Inchaga. There are some very steep sections along the line as it climbs through the 1000 Hills region, and you can see the train having to work to pull the vintage coaches up the hills.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya

Nairobi Railway Station

sharjah / WikiMedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

 

Few journeys have such a contrast between the two destinations like this one, as you drop over 5,000 feet from Nairobi in the mountains to the tropical heat of Mombasa, which lies at under 100 feet above sea level. Along the route, the train passes through beautiful open areas, and it is common to spot giraffes, ostriches, impala, and so many other species as you travel.

06 of 07

Bulawayo to the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

Louise Grubb / Getty Images

This train runs with some historic rolling stock from the 1950s. It does show some of the neglect caused by the economic situation in Zimbabwe. First-class sleeping compartments are quite affordable for most international visitors.

It is the experience that makes this route special, and as it is an overnight train, the sunrise as you travel across the plains towards the falls is sensational. You can spot all kinds of wildlife while also seeing the spray of the falls rising on the horizon.

07 of 07

Metlaoui to Redeyef, Tunisia

Selja Gorge (Atlas Mountains)

felinebird / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

This is a seasonal train that travels a stunning route through the Selja Gorge and includes plenty of wonderful views of the Atlas Mountains too. The train was once the property of the Bey of Tunis but has now been adapted to hold tourists. Tourists flock to this line precisely because of the beautiful views throughout the route. Originally built to transport phosphates from these mountains, it now offers a very different service.

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