|April 20th, 2006 we got the following email:
We regret to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances your tour to Sandstone Estates has unfortunately been cancelled.
Sandstone Estates has been committed for sometime to moving its farming operations in the direction of cutting edge Organic implementation. This is a tough challenge and one that will require us to go through a period of certification. The rules applying to that are strict, and there are some issues relating to our heritage programme which we are informed might impact negatively on our ability to obtain Organic certification.
We have reached a point where we must now comply with the requirements regarding the Organic certification and this must now unfortunately take first priority.
We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and hope that we will have your understanding in this regard."
Given this, one main point of the tour has to be cancelled. As there is no substitute which could replace the attractive Sandstone farm in the remaining time we have to postpone the complete tour. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. All who did register in the tour got already an information.
On this tour we'll avoid hardcore guest houses as well as overnight trains. To give us the best flexibility we'll not have a big, chartered bus. We have ordered Minivans (9 seats). So it is easy to split up in a group who want to enjoy breakfast at 8 am and another group who want to make photographs at sunrise. Driving a car in South Africa is quite easy, and if you like to enjoy empty, rural roads behind the wheel you’re welcome to drive one of our vans. Please let us know in advance if you would like to drive.
Alfred County Railway, photos by Hans Hufnagel:
|28.07.2006||Departure from Europe|
|29.07.2006||Morning arrival Johannesburg, continue to Ficksburg by rented minivans, small hotel near the Sandstone farm|
|30.07.2006||Take part in the great winter spectacle of the Sandstone farm including several steam trains and ancient agricultural machines, steam from sunrise to sunset, small hotel near the Sandstone Farm|
|31.07.2006||Today we have chartered our own special freight train on the Sandstone farm. We'll start in the morning with sunrise shots, have a coffee/tea break, will visit the workshop and facilities of the Sandstone farm, enjoy a traditional South African lunch and continue our train ride with the narrow gauge Garratt class 13, small hotel near the Sandstone farm|
|01.08.2006||In the morning we'll enjoy another steam charter on the sandstone farm. At noon we'll continue by our minibuses to Ixopo (some 500 km/6 hours), hotel in Ixopo|
|02.08.2006||In Ixopo we have chartered a narrow gauge Garratt class 11. Our first charter freight train will go to Ncalu and back in the morning. We'll follow the train by our minibuses. The line is some 20 km long. On our afternoon steam charter train we've planned a runpast. In the evening we'll continue to Port Shepstone (150 km/2,5 hours), were we'll stay overnight in a hotel in Port Shepstone.|
|03.08.2006||The famous Alfred County Railway offers some nice views on the beach and over the ocean. Our charter train to Izotsha leaves in the morning, to get the exciting shots with the ocean in the backdrop in the best morning light. In the early afternoon we'll return. Hotel in Port Shepstone|
|04.08.2006||Today we'll go to Durban to take a flight to Port Elizabeth. From there we'll continue to Knysna (270 km). Hotel in Knysna|
|05.08.2006||South Africa's only preserved steam railway with daily service runs from George to Knysna. We'll stay in George|
|06.08.2006||Another day on the scenic line along the cost between George and Knysna, hotel in George|
|07.08.2006||Because the traffic on the scenic line is limited and the photo positions are plenty we'll stay another day on this line. Hotel in George.|
|08.08.2006||After a last picture of the morning train we'll continue to the famous city of Cape Town (460 km/6,5 hours), Holiday Inn hotel in Cape Town.|
|09.08.2006||We'll go to the airport and fly back to Europe via Johannesburg (extension in Cape Town possible, please enquire)|
|10.08.2006||Morning arrival in Europe|
The railway lover and businessman W Mole established a huge collection of railway and agricultural vehicles at the well know Sandstone farm. The first day we want to take part in the big winter spectacle which is open to visitors from all over the world. You can expect steam from sunrise to sunset in a nice countryside setting.
The second day we will run three steam trains with a Garratt class 13. This is a charter exclusively for our group.
A part of a former state owned narrow gauge line, the section between Ixopo and Ncalu has been re-opened for special trains. The railway has a serviceable Garratt class 11, which we'll use for a charter freight train in the afternoon light until sunset. Sunrise is around 6.55 and sunset 5.45 pm.
The Alfred County Railway was taken over by businessmen and railway enthusiasts after the state railway wanted to get rid of it. After a successful start with refurbished and rebuilt steam locomotives the road competition stopped further development of the line. It was closed completely and later a small section was re-opened for tourist services. Fortunately some of the most scenic parts of the line are operational and we'll charter a steam train, hauled by a class 16 Garratt on this section. Our train will be an authentic freight train. Enjoy the beautiful views over the ocean!
George Knysna is the only steam operated line in South Africa which runs public passenger trains on a daily basis. You can compare it to Wolsztyn in Poland, where the state railway operates normal passenger trains as well. But there is one big difference: the countryside between George and Kynsna is stunning with several exciting views of the sea. You can travel in the train or take one of our minibuses to drive parallel to the line and make some nice photographs or videos. There are 2 pairs of regular trains a day.
If some of the group wish to stay a an extra day Gerorge instead of visiting Cape Town (you will miss something!) we will arrange an extended stay if it will fit in with the number of seats in our minibuses.
If you are from a country of the European Union you do not need a visa. You only need a passport which is valid for at least 6 months after the end of your stay.
South Africa is somewhat rural in the countryside while booming in the big cities. The Rand, the South African currency, is stable. The exchange rate end of 2005 was about 1 GBP = 11 Rand (1 Euro = 7,5 Rand).
We'll travel to South Africa in their winter season. So the mornings can be rather cold, while the temperatures at noon rarely exceed 22 degrees Centigrade. The weather is usually dry and sunny. The risk of Malaria is minor, a stand by prophylaxes (carrying tablets with you) is sufficient. Anyhow, if you need special tablets you should bring them from home as it might be difficult to get special medicine outside the big cities.
The hotels in smaller cities might be unheated. During the day we expect nice temperatures, but for the night you need a warm pullover. All hotels we're using are privatly owned and are well kept. Most of them offer a familiar flair and the owners giving you a warm welcome.
The crime in the big cities is a problem in South Africa. In the countryside you're as save as in central Europe. But in big cities you should avoid some districts during night and some even during day. It is always best not to show you are carrying expensive photo equipment. A good protection is to walk together with others. As long as you are together with the group you have nothing to fear. In contrast, Cape town is a rather safe city.
George - Knysna:
|Narrow Gauge Garratts and More||11 to 28 participants||3,320 Euro|
|28.07.2006 - 10.08.2006||Price for your Partner||3,190 Euro|
|Single room surcharge||360 Euro|
Minimum number of participants: 11
Maximum number of participants: 28
The price includes:
Not included are:
The prices are based on a block booking with the airline and there is a limited number of seats. Early booking is recommended.