Fancy a super spa in Africa? Take the train. Not any train, mind you. The one you want is Rovos Rail, where embarkation begins at Cape Town in South Africa – the fairest cape, said Drake – and ends 15 days later after a thrilling adventure in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

It is an indulgence of luxury and elegance on wheels, involving bush gear by day and Hermes ties at night. Ladies will likely be wearing Shimansky diamonds they bought in Cape Town.

This is new wave travel as practised on expedition voyages to faraway places like Antarctica, where you rough it, gently, by day and dine in state in the evening. Two nights in Tau Lodge on the border of Botswana are en route.

The first day we lunched by a waterhole with two white rhinos and the next day in the company of a statuesque giraffe, while nearby, zebras fought off a pack of hyenas.

On game drives we encountered huge lions and had sundowner cocktails, while our cosy cottage (with outdoor shower) overlooked a waterhole thronged with elephants and a malicious-looking crocodile.

And equally enjoyable was the spa, where Dina administered the best pedicure ever, then followed up with a massage that left me begging for more.

But Rovos Rail was waiting and so was the track through Gaborone, capital of thriving Botswana, where a branch of Barclays Bank appeared to have survived an onslaught of gleaming, Chinese-built office towers.

We were to see more of the long reach of China in our odyssey across a huge stretch of Africa; clearly the new imperialists…

Words David Wishart / Photography Genevieve Balthazard, Rovos Rail and the Zambezi Queen

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