Imvelo Safari Lodges lead the pack in offering new experiences for travelers to Zimbabwe. Their newest
innovation is The Stimela Star, the nation’s only private overnight sleeper train operating from Victoria
Falls to Hwange National Park. Travel on The Stimela Star harkens back to the glory days of train travel in
Stimela is the word used in Zimbabwe (and Zululand) for a train – it derives from the rhythm of the
sound the old trains made. Imvelo's Stimela Star hooks up to the regular Victoria Falls to Bulawayo
passenger train, transporting guests in comfort and lovely old-fashioned style on an overnight journey to
For 2018, Imvelo is offering 10 scheduled departure dates for the Star, however additional departures
can be arranged for 12 or more guests on request. Powered by a diesel electric locomotive, the train
cars date back to the heyday of national rail in Zimbabwe. The former Premier Class coaches and have
been lovingly upgraded for today's travelers.
Two sleeper carriages each host 12 passengers (for a maximum of 24 passengers) in twin or single
compartments with shared toilet and shower facilities at either end of each carriage, for a total of 10
twin and 4 single berths. Compartments are cozy but roomy enough for two. Each compartment has
electric lights and 3 round pin power sockets, and plenty of luggage room under the beds and in
Meals are served in the kitchen dining car, and a lounge car completes the Star. Both of these cars have
overhead fans and electric lighting. On request, Imvelo can hook up their teak-floored Dancing Coach for
a special occasion!
The Stimela Star Operation
Guests should arrive at Victoria Falls station at 6 pm for embarkation. Luggage is stowed for guests as
they are shown to the lounge car to enjoy welcome drinks during an orientation and safety talk. Guests
are then shown to their compartments to freshen up before departure which is scheduled for around 7
pm. Then its pre-dinner drinks and canapes in the lounge car and a sit-down dinner from about 8 pm.
After a delicious meal and post-meal drinks and entertainment in the lounge, guests retire to their
cabins to revel in the luxury of being rocked to sleep on the Star as it winds its way through the night to
Hwange National Park. For those night owls not ready for rest, signature midnight snacks are available.
The train crosses the hills along the northern edge of Hwange making short stops at sidings along the
way. The final stop is the historic little railway town of Dete, arriving in the dark early hours of the
morning. The Star is shunted into a siding and the remainder of the train continues to Bulawayo while
guests sleep on in comfort.
Breakfast is served from 7 am, and at around 8 am guests can disembark for transfers to their respective
lodges. Imvelo guests booked for Camelthorn or Bomani will board the Elephant Express, Imvelo’s
signature open-air rail car for the wildlife viewing train journey to Ngamo. Imvelo guests bound for
Nehimba will board open Land Rovers for their game drive to camp. Guests leaving for other lodges in
Hwange must arrange for their transfer vehicles to collect them at Dete station.
About The Author: Tad Bradley
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