It was D.H. Lawrence that wrote: 'Only the desert has a fascination – to ride alone – in the sun in the forever un-possessed country – away from man. That is a great temptation.' The Desert Express luxury train is also a great temptation. It runs between Windhoek and Swakopmund, a must for the rail enthusiast, but it is also highly recommended to anyone who just simply want to spoil themselves.
The train runs between Windhoek and Swakopmund the standard tripis one way but many passengers on the Desert Express Train, book a return journey, Windhoek – Swakopmund – Windhoek, departing on the Friday and returning on the Sunday. It visits different private game reserves on the outward and return journeys, to add to the adventure of the trip!
Passengers have access to an elegant lounge - the popular Spitzkoppe Lounge, which like the entire train, is fully air-conditioned. On offer is:
A full on-board bar service - which includes specialty drinks and aptly named cocktails.
A unique chess table - where black and white squares have been made from the sand of the Namib desert.
The lounge opens at 06h00 in the morning - when early risers are welcome to enjoy a cup of freshly-brewed coffee or tea.
The Welwitschia Restaurant:
Where dinner and breakfast are served - located adjacent to the Spitzkoppe Lounge.
A 3 course dinner, with a selection of starters, main courses and desserts, are prepared in the adjacent kitchen by the Desert Express chefs.
The overhead lights in this coach are something special - sandblasted glass panels depicting animal footprints in mud.
The train has 24 compartments - each accommodating 1,2, or 3 passengers. They are:
Fully air-conditioned and heated.
Have en-suite facilities as standard. The en-suite bathroom is cleverly designed to make maximum use of minimum space.
Body wash/shampoo, body lotion, shoe buff and a mending kit are available for the guests.
Valuables can be stored in the small safe in the compartment.
An added attraction is the uniquely shaped large windows throughout the train, which includes the passenger in the wide open spaces outside. This journey has been carefully planned to take best advantage of Namibia's dramatic sunsets and sunrises.
It is possible to load your vehicle on the Desert Express. (Pre booking and additional payment required.)
Mode Of Transport
Windhoek - Swakopmund (Departure: Winter: 12.00 & Summer 12.30)
At Windhoek Station the boarding call spurs you into action. Once inside the Desert Express you are welcomed by a refreshing fruit cocktail while you make yourself comfortable in one of the plush couches. Slowly the train departs, leaving the city far behind. Soon the hustle and bustle of civilisation is only a distant memory. The rhythmic swaying of the coaches gently soothes and relaxes. Later you disembark for a late afternoon game drive.
As your journey progresses, vegetation along the way becomes sparser, revealing more of the rich ochre soil and rocks. The landscape changes along with the geology - mountain ranges give way to plains until only lone standing mountains are visible from time to time. This area is very rich in minerals with gold, marble, granite and semi-precious stones abundant here. Some believe that diamonds can be found towards the west. Many have come from afar and given up everything they've ever owned to find their fortune on these unforgiving plains. Until now their endeavours have proved fruitless.
Travel of a different kind unfolds as the fragrant aroma floats in from the kitchen and you embark on a journey of gastronomic delight. Succulent offerings of the finest Namibian food accompanied by an outstanding bouquet of choice wines - enough to please any discerning palate. As darkness sets in, the train comes to a halt. Stars appear like you have never seen them before, flickering in the sky, almost close enough to touch. The symphony of silence is interrupted only by the taunting of geckos and the howling of jackals.
Rich gold and amber sunlight is cast over the landscape as the train heads for the distant horizon. This leg of the journey takes you to the warm sands of the coastal Namib dune sea. Shortly after breakfast, you are on a giant sand dune feeling the sand under your bare feet. Make it all the way to the top and you are rewarded with the sight of the blue Atlantic Ocean in the distance, beyond the rows of rolling Namib dunes. It is still morning when the train pulls into the picturesque coastal town of Swakopmund.
German architecture dating back two centuries echoes the town's rich history as an oasis in the world's oldest desert. Explore the town and its quaint shops, make your way to the beach for a splash in the Atlantic Ocean, languish in the sun or continue with your journey.
Swakopmund - Windhoek (Departure: 14:30)
The Swakopmund station is your point of departure if you are heading inland. Crossing the gravel plains of the Namib, you head off to granite-like gneiss formations of the Kahn River Valley. Sundowners are served in the open, as the last light of day is cast over the barren landscape. As the Desert Express approaches its stop-over for the day, a delectable three-course feast is presented by the master chefs.
Nightfall brings it's own spectacular display as you gaze at the blanket of stars in the sky. Civilisation becomes a forgotten concept with no distraction from the lights of the city, only silence. Inside you are encapsulated in supreme comfort in the spirit of true Namibian hospitality. After a scrumptious breakfast you make your final excursion into the wild. An early morning visit to a game farm to see lions being fed, and now once again, it's time to rejoin civilisation. Slowly the Desert Express nears Windhoek station
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