Loved Shongololo Express trip

At Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village, Estelle Burdige tries balancing a jug on her head

I read with interest Vern Lewis’ article of his train trip with Shongololo Express (March ’04, pg. 84). My husband, Joseph, and I took a Shongololo Express trip in October ’03 but chose to go only through South Africa, hence we took the 16-day “Good Hope” trip. The price was $2,300 each, excluding air. We, too, booked through Wild African Ventures (Shadow Hills, CA; phone 800/358-8530 or visit www.wild

We started in Cape Town (magnifcent) and ended in Johannesburg. In between we toured the Garden Route, the mountains, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, Durban and Zululand, making countless other side trips.

The whole concept of Shongololo Express is fantastic. They carry their own vans for touring, and we had a choice of tours each day, so we really saw what we were interested in.

The accommodations were not luxurious; in fact, the compartments were rather small (but seemed to grow as we traveled). However, the people who looked after us during our journey were fantastic. The service was great, the food was varied and quite good, and our tour guides were knowledgeable and great fun to be with (especially our favorite guide, Jenny DeJongh).

After visiting Durban, we left the coast and headed up into the hills to the old traditional capital of Zululand, Eshowe. This is the area where the might of the Zulu “Impis” was felt by the colony’s British forces.

We visited the old Fort Nongqayi and the Vukani Museum of Zulu craft, then headed for Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village, where the original Zulu clan settled in the 18th century. Here we enjoyed a cultural tour of Zulu life, including traditional dances, food, huts, crafts, etc.

Joe tries out a handcrafted instrument.

The next day we visited Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve where, thanks to our fantastic guides, we viewed an incredible pride of lions and other animals.

There was an international group of fellow travelers on board the train, and all in all it was a wonderful trip. We saw a lot, learned a lot and found our South Africa trip to be one of the greatest vacations we ever had. It was well worth the long plane ride to get there.

Spring Valley, NY