Stimela Star: Our full report
The Stimela Star is a private overnight train that travels between Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park.With classic rolling stock that dates back to the 1950s, two sleeper carriages and a dining car, the Stimela Star provides a truly unique way to arrive on safari.
The Stimela Star, which derives its name from a local word literally meaning train, will be linked on scheduled departures to the longer running Victoria Falls-Bulawayo passenger train, and while the locomotive is a modern diesel engine, the carriages of the Stimela Star are from the post-world war two era, having been lovingly restored. Due to the unique link with Zimbabwe's National Rail Service (NRZ) we have found that departure times can be a little unpredictable.
The Stimela Star’s two sleeping coaches each sleep 12 passengers in twin or single compartments with shared toilet and shower facilities at the end of each coach. The compartments are understandably smaller than most hotel rooms, with the single beds measuring 92x188cm, but they are comfortably furnished with plenty of overhead luggage space, and are more than functional for the night. The Stimela Star is then completed by a kitchen and dining car, and a lounge car including a fully serviced bar. We understand that the sleeper carriages have been lovingly restored and have some really nice old world charm, we have received some reports that the original kitchen and lounge areas are looking rather more dated.
The train runs set date departures with a minimum of 12 people required for the train to run (these can be from different parties). It departs at 19:00 from the Victoria Falls train station, just opposite the historic Victoria Falls Hotel, built to house the workers who built the same railway on which you will be travelling. On boarding the train guests will be shown to the lounge car for welcome drinks and orientation, and then shown their cabins for the night before dinner. Dinner is served in the dining car from 20:00, with coffees and liquors served in the lounge afterwards, where guests will gave the opportunity to learn about the history of the railways in Zimbabwe. Guests can then retire to their cabins for the night as the train meanders its way towards Hwange National Park.
While passengers are sleeping the train will arrive at the historic railway town of Dete, where the Stimela Star stops for the remainder of the night. Breakfast is then served from 07:00 the following morning before guests disembark. The majority of the camps in the park will transfer their guests to camp by game viewing vehicle, but for people staying at Camelthorn or Bomani it’s possible to continue along the railway on the Elephant Express, a modified railcar with open sides that allows for game viewing as you pass along Hwange’s northern border, before arriving at the Ngamo siding close to camp.
The Stimela Star has been running since May 2018 however Expert Africa has not yet had a chance to experience the train in person. This said we have always enjoyed our experiences at the camps in Victoria Falls and Hwange associated with the Stimela Star so we have high hopes for this train. We think it will be a truly unique and very memorable way to arrive on safari.
Country manager: Zimbabwe
- Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
- Ideal length of stay
- The Stimela Star is an overnight train from Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park, so only one night stays are available on the train.
- Guests will board the train at the railway station in Victoria Falls, either having stayed in a hotel in the area or having flown in from elsewhere in Africa.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Attitude towards children
- Water supply
- Transported in
Health & safety
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Fire safety
- Disabled access
Other lodges in Hwange National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.