Trips start from 07:30. Tariffs are: R150 (adults) and R130 (children, ages 3 to 15). Booking is essential. A picnic stop is usually made at a former steam train watering point called ‘Power’
Now steam, it is not, but train it is, with only two cars or carriages, seating only 12 people each, and powered up the railway pass by a ‘motorised trolley’. So we made our booking, which you need to do, and prepared for our departure at 11h00. (A second run had been added at 14h00, since it was holiday season.)
Picnic spot with fantastic view
The railway pass travels parallel at times, to the old Montague Pass, and the train powers its way up to the highest point. The journey is accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, who narrates details from the resident flora, to the history of ox wagons traversing the hazardous pass. At points on the upward journey you can view all three passes; the old dirt road, the railway pass and the majestic new road. The upward route ends at the point at which the railway pass and old Montagu Pass meet.
Railway through Outeniqua MountainOn the upward journey one passes through six little tunnels, At times the pass is so narrow that you think you are going to brush the rock face on either side! The railway passes through areas of forest and fynbos, including an abundance of king proteas, culminating in spectacular views at the summit. The return leg brings you back through the six tunnels, with the cars travelling in reverse order, offering passengers an alternate view. About halfway down the pass we stopped at a picnic site, to enjoy our packed lunches and take in the surrounding scenery.
The Powervan descends back into the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George, which houses an array of steam locomotives and carriages from days gone by.
George Railway Museum
Save some time either before or after the journey, to explore the amazing history of travel in South Africa, including a fascinating photo gallery of steam trains at the Outeniqua Transport Museum.
Beautiful views and stops
The two hour experience, with an additional half-hour for lunch, costs R95 for adults and R75 for children; a worthwhile way to spend a morning. An alternative for the active at heart, is to take a mountain bike with you on the up journey, and cycle the 15km back down the Montague Pass into George and to the railway museum.
Powervan on route on Outeniqua