Stimela Star provides an excellent way of travelling from Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park. From the moment you board you are treated to fine hospitality, as you are served welcme drinks while staff take your luggage to your cabin. With dinner, drinks and breakfast included, all you need to do is relax and enjoy the ride.
The name 'stimela' means train, and is onomatopoeic evoking the rhythm of a steam train. This is especially apt as the train is made up of restored 1950s rolling stock, giving it an authentic vintage feel. Nothing is hurried on board. After the initial welcome you are shown to your cabin, cosy and compact, yet with ample storage room, and access to the toilets and shower at the end of the carriage. Pre-prandial dinks and nibbles are served following the train's departure from Victoria Falls, as you get to know fellow passengers, after which you sit down to a leisurely three course dinner in the dining car. Later you make your way to the lounge car for coffee and a nightcap, where you hear stories about the heyday of train travel in Zimbabwe.
Retire to yoru cabin and enjoy the restful sound of the train as you drift off to sleep. By the time you awake you are at the historic railway station at Dete near Hwange National Park. Breakfast is a combination of hot and cold dishes to set you up for the day ahead, and all too soon you are on your way to your accommodation in the [ark, and the next stage of your holiday.
Open: Stimela Star first ran on 21st May 2018. The train operates on set departure dates between May and October each year.
Location: Stimela Star is train that operates an overnight service between Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park.
Rooms: There aret 2 sleeper coaches, each accommodating up to 12 passengers in a total of 14 cabins, made up of 10 twins and 4 singles. The cabins are compact but well designed, and have space for luggage in overhead racks and beneath the beds. There are power points and electric lights. There are 2 toilets and hand basins and 1 shower per coach.
Activities: Watching changing scenery from the train, relaxing, mixing with other passengers. After dinner the guide tells stories about the region and the history of train travel in Zimbabwe as you relax in the lounge car.
Facilities: The train has a dining coach and a lounge-bar coach, each with overhead fans. These and the 2 sleeper coaches are restored 1950s rolling stock. Dinner, hot and cold drinks, midnight snacks and breakfast are served on board. Staff include a host manager and a trip guide, plus restaurant and kitchen staff and 2 railway guards. The manager has a lockable safe for valuables.
Dining: Meals are included in the price and are served in the dining car, eaten at separate tables. Dinner is a 3-course meal served at approximately 8pm and breakfast, available from 7am, includes cooked items. Soft drinks, beer, wine and local spirits are included.
Children: Children aged 7 and over are welcome. They must be accompanied by at least 1 adult over 18 years of age. Twin coupes can accommodate up to 2 adults and 2 children.
Health: This is a malarial area.
Communication: There is no internet access.
Notes: Passengers should arrive at Victoria Falls train station by 6pm, in time for welcome drinks and an welcome briefing and safety talk. The train is scheduled to depart around 7pm. Before dawn the train arrives at Dete, near Hwange National Park, and spends the next few hours here while passengers sleep. Passengers leave the train here from 8am, after breakfast, and transfer (not included) to their Hwange accommodation.
Stimela Star runs in conjunction with the regular overnight train from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo, uncoupling at Dete. It is completely private and exclusive to Stimela Star guests. The train operates according to a schedule set by the National Railways of Zimbabwe and may be subject to delays and cancellations, beyond the train operator’s control.
"An experience! The coaches (sleeping car and dining car with a saloon) date from the early sixties and in their heyday were undoubtedly splendid. They are now shabby chic. The host is a very jolly man who works exceptionally hard to make sure you have a good time. It helped that besides ourselves the only other group were a very friendly party of 5 Australian ladies of a certain age who were on a school reunion and could represent their country as a female drinking team. Food was excellent. The carriages are decoupled at Dete and there was lot of shunting them around during the night-without this we would have rated it as excellent. "