Rovos FAQs and Information
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ROVOS INFORMATION & FAQs
Fay says, "Rovos Rail has a style all its own; created by Rohan Vos in 1989, his very special train tours have matured into an harmonious blend of earthy African safari and traditional luxury - except that a divine soak in a full-sized bath in a train was always rare, even on Royal trains!"
What is the Rovos payment schedule?
Individuals and Small Groups less than 10 guests
25% deposit is required to confirm the reservation.
Final payment is due no later than 8 weeks prior to departure.
Groups – 10 or more guests
Cancellation insurance is compulsory and will not be waived. Rovos offer insurance to South African residents. For international guests, go here for assistance or contact your own travel insurance broker. Please bring a copy of your travel insurance policy stating clearly the company, policy number and 24-hour medical emergency telephone number.
What about Rovos' Scheduling Times, Routes and Excursions?
We cannot be held liable for any delays due to trains not running to schedule. Off-train excursions cannot be guaranteed and will only be undertaken if time and circumstances permit. Departure and arrival times are approximate and cannot be guaranteed. We reserve the right to alter our routing at any time between departure and arrival points.
What does Rovos suggest about Passports and Visas?
The onus is upon the client to ensure that passports and visas, as may be required, are valid prior to departure for Africa. Please check with the relevant embassies in good time regarding applications. Visas are also available through booking agents. Visitors to South Africa are required to have at least three blank VISA pages in their passports to receive an entry visa. Passports must be valid for at least six months from the guests’ return-home date. We travel through South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania on various trips.
Visa requirements are the responsibility of the traveller, since these change from time to time and are dependant on nationality and operational realities.
Note that the new UNIVISA is not available at the train borders. Double or Multiple-entry visas can be requested but are not guaranteed.
The required documents are provided on the train and the Rovos staff will assist with the formalities as far as possible.
For ALL visa applications, guests will require CASH US Dollars. No other method of payment or currencies are accepted.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after intended date of departure and guests must have at least 5 blank pages in their passport.
It is advised to confirm visa requirements with the relevant embassies prior to travel as there are some nationalities that will require a visa and will need to apply in advance.
Here is some advice (accurate as at 27 April 2018 - please check well in advance of travel):
RE: Visa Processing:
We recommend that guests obtain all required visas prior to travel. Some nationalities however are eligible to apply for the Zimbabwean and Zambian visa at the port of entry.
Tanzanian visas are available on entry at the airport but it is a time consuming exercise and guests may benefit from applying prior to travel.
Required immigration forms will be supplied on board the train and the Rovos staff will assist with the formalities as far as possible. Cash US Dollars are required for payment of visas at port of entry. No other method of payment or currencies are accepted by the immigration officials. Rovos Rail crew will, as far as is possible, take care of the formalities on guests’ behalf but immigration officers have the right to request that guests be present should they deem it necessary.
Please note that the RSA/Botswana border crossing takes place whilst guests transfer from Madikwe to Gaborone by road and ALL guests will need to present themselves to the immigrations officials at the border post en route. Luggage may also be searched.
Please see further notes below:
Tanzania Rovos Rail requests that guests obtain the Tanzanian visa prior to travel due to schedule restraints. Should this not be possible, please ask us to obtain the Tanzanian visa at the port of entry, subject to nationality permitting visa on entry.
Zimbabwe and Zambia Most nationalities are able to obtain the Zimbabwean and Zambian visa at the ports of entry on the train. Current cost is (example for UK nationals) US$55pp/single entry for Zimbabwe and US$50pp/single entry for Zambia.
Botswana and South Africa Most nationalities do not require a visa for Botswana or South Africa but passports must be valid for at least 6 months after intended date of departure and guests must have at least 5 blank pages in their passports.
What are the Health suggestions from Rovos?
Please always consult your own doctor or clinic.
- Please ensure you have filled out the Passenger Information Form to indicate if you have any medical conditions, physical disabilities or allergies. There is a basic First Aid Kit on board. We have a doctor on board on the Dar es Salaam trip.
- Anti-malarial precautions are recommended. Malaria areas: Swaziland, Kruger Park, Northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Recommended immunisations (not required): Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus, Cholera (low risk).
- Either a Yellow Fever or Medical Exemption Certificate is essential if travelling to/from Tanzania. Although all countries travelled through do not require this, countries that guests return to after the trip often require them.
- Please consult your clinic or doctor. TRAVEL DOCTOR AFRICA local 0861 300 911 or international +27 11 214 9030.
The Club says: This is useful information from the UK's National Health Service.
What is the Currency advice from Rovos?
- South Africa – Rands only. All major credit cards accepted on the train.
- Outside of South Africa – Any off-train expenses or additional excursions booked while on the train are to be paid with US Dollars. Hotels and major dealers accept credit cards.
- US Dollars printed before year 2001 won’t be accepted. Low denominations recommended for shopping/gratuities. Larger denominations recommended for exchanging money to local currency (especially in Tanzania) as you get a better rate. The Gift Shop on board might exchange money if currency is available, but it is not normally catered for.
Are Gratuities required on Rovos?
Gratuities for the staff are at your discretion. If you wish to show your appreciation in this manner, there is a suitably marked envelope in your suite that you can hand directly to the Train Manager who will distribute any amounts on a pro-rata basis (share) amongst the staff on board. An amount between ZAR100 to ZAR200 (± US$10 to US$20) per person per night is suggested, depending on the length of your journey.
What is the Rovos Child Policy?
Please be sensitive to the adult atmosphere of the train by keeping your children respectful and quiet. Long journeys are not recommended for under 13s. There are no child-minding facilities or activities for children on board. Rovos allows a maximum of two guests sharing per suite. Should there be a child under the age of five, he/she will be allowed to share with two adults (in a Deluxe or Royal category only). However, should there be a child over the age of five, he/she should have his/her own suite. Should parents not feel comfortable with this option, one of the parents can share with the child. 0-2 years : Travels free of charge; 3-9 years : Pays 75% of the adult per person sharing rate, 10 years + : Pays full rate
What Locomotives do Rovos use?
Use of steam has become increasingly difficult over the years as more and more water and coaling facilities have been scrapped. Diesel or electric locomotives are used while steam is used in and around the area of Rovos Rail Station only.
The track over which we travel is inconsistently maintained. If you wake at night imagining the train is travelling at high speed, be assured it is the state of the track below creating that impression. We restrict the train to 60km/h (37mph) and over bad sections reduce speed to as little as 20km/h (12mph). If you find it noisy, earplugs are available.
What is the Cuisine on Rovos?
Meals are served in one sitting only in the charming Victorian atmosphere of the dining cars and are complemented by a selection of fine South African wines.
Breakfast: 07h00-10h00 • Lunch: 13h00 • Tea: 16h30 • Formal Dinner: 19h30.
All meals are served at these times unless otherwise stated in the timetable. A gong heralds lunch and dinner.
Can my special Dietary Requirements be accommodated on Rovos?
We will do our best to cater for dietary requirements provided a detailed request has been made on the Reservation Form. If a special request has not been made, the chefs will endeavour to prepare suitable meals with the ingredients available on board. We regret we are unable to prepare meals requiring strict religious observance in the preparation.
What is the Dress Code on Rovos?
For days on the train dress is smart casual. Evening attire is more formal – for gentlemen a jacket and tie is a minimum requirement while for ladies we suggest cocktail/evening dresses or suits. For off-train excursions, we strongly recommend comfortable walking shoes, sun lotion and hats. If required, blankets and rain capes are available. For game drives, which are on open vehicles, please dress accordingly: mornings can be cool then warm up considerably; afternoons can be warm then cool down considerably. Please see average temperatures as a guide.
What about Mobile Devices, WiFi and Internet on Rovos?
In maintaining the spirit of travel of a bygone era, there are no radios or television sets on board. The use of mobile phones, laptops and essentially anything that has the ability to disturb other passengers is confined to the privacy of your suites only. The reception is poor while the train is moving. It is advised to contact your service provider to ensure the correct settings for network services are activated. Internet is available at our lounge in Cape Town, Rovos Rail Station, Tau Game Lodge, Victoria Falls Hotel, Mokuti Lodge and most of the other Namibia Safari accommodation.
Is Smoking allowed on Rovos?
On board the train, smoking is allowed in the Club Lounge only. Please note on the Passenger Information Form provided if you are smoking or non-smoking so that the appropriate room might be requested at the hotels. Smoking is allowed in the privacy of your suite, but please be mindful that the train is generally made up of wood; please don’t throw flammable items such as cigarette or cigar butts off the train as bush fires in Africa are a constant and dangerous hazard.
What is in the Suite mini-bar?
On boarding, the mini-bar has 2 x 500ml still water and 1 x 375ml Villiera sparkling wine. Please complete the liquor requirement card (found in your itinerary pack) and hand it to your hostess, who will stock the mini bar accordingly. Drinks in the mini-bar are complimentary.
Are there Laundry facilities on Rovos?
There is a limited laundry service on board comprising household washers, dryers and steam irons. The turnaround is 48 hours so we are not able to handle a week’s worth of washing. Please note that while we are providing a complimentary service we cannot be held responsible for items that may be damaged or lost in the process. There are no dry-cleaning facilities en route or on board the train.
Rovos Rail does not have a luggage restriction. Each suite has a luggage rack that runs its length providing ample space for storage. On selected annual journeys, guests are provided with a Rovos Rail tog bag that can be used for overnight trips or hand luggage on aircraft.
There is a small gift shop on the train and at Rovos Rail Station. Due to the varying exchange rates, credit cards are preferred. The host/ess on duty has a basic First Aid Kit and personal essentials (toothbrushes, razors, earplugs etc.). He/she will also fulfil any administrative requirements and check your onward arrangements. Stamps are available for sale and postcards may be posted in the post box at the entrance to the Observation Car or at Rovos Rail Station.
Please note on the Passenger Information Form if you are celebrating a special occasion as we would like to share it with you.
Books, Magazines and Games
There are board games, playing cards, a card table (dependent), books and magazines available for your use in the Lounge and Observation Cars. In your suite is a Journeys magazine featuring articles of interest related to your route.
Electrical Current and Adaptors
220V AC 50Hz 3-point round-pronged wall plugs, 110V/220V 2-pin plugs for shavers. International adaptors available.
An electronic safe is provided in the cupboard in each suite.
There is an internal telephone system on board. Numbers are listed on the provided Guest/Rooming List.
Temperature and Air-conditioning
All public cars are fitted with gas-filled air-conditioning systems. Each suite has an individual air-conditioner with temperature controls that can also be set to heat mode. Fresh-air intake is solved by opening a window. Windows should be closed while operating the air-conditioning unit. Electric under-blankets are fitted on the bed.
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