You Can Now Sleep in a Restored Vintage Train Car on Your Next Safari — and It Comes With Its Own Pool, Too

It's old-school cool to the max.

The pool at Founders Railway Carriage
Photo: Courtesy of Founders Railway Carriage

Mantis, a conservation-focused hospitality group, announced in February the opening of its latest venture — the Founders Railway Carriage, a vintage train car now permanently stationed in the Eastern Cape, just one hour from Gqeberha in South Africa.

The railway carriage, which belongs to Mantis founder and chairman Adrian Gardiner, has been lovingly restored to now house intrepid travelers looking for a bit of old-world charm.

Founders Railway Carriage at Founders Siding Rail station
Courtesy of Founders Railway Carriage

"My love for train travel began in the early 1960s when, as a student, I traveled from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to University of Cape Town," Gardiner shared in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure.

Gardiner noted that he purchased the train carriage in the early '90s and converted it into a first-class coach. He then came to an agreement with the railways, which enabled him to attach the carriage to the regular passenger services so he could travel all over the country and beyond.

"It has long been my dream to bring the carriage to Mantis Founders Lodge on its very own station," Gardiner said. "Now, other families can enjoy it and create their own personalized holiday adventures for generations to come while experiencing the excitement of sleeping on board a railway carriage."

A bedroom inside of Founders Railway Carriage
Courtesy of Founders Railway Carriage

The carriage now sits at the top of a hill within Mantis' private concession. Mantis noted that the carriage is ideal for families or small travel bubbles. It can accommodate up to five guests spread across three cabins and a shared bathroom.

The railway carriage features both indoor and outdoor dining, lounge areas, and an expansive deck with a private swimming pool to boot. Guests staying in the carriage will also have a dedicated team to help them make the most of their holiday, including planning early morning nature walks, big five game drives, and picnic brunches.

A living area inside of Founders Railway Carriage
Courtesy of Founders Railway Carriage
Outside lounge area at Founders Railway Carriage
Courtesy of Founders Railway Carriage

"We are delighted to offer guests at Mantis Founders Lodge an intimate, exclusive experience on board the railway carriage," Gardiner said. "This is something very special."

Use of the Founders Railway Carriage starts at $1,960 a night on an all-inclusive basis. See more about the carriage on the Mantis website, and to make a reservation, email

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