Outeniqua Choo Tjoe – All Aboard!
Visitors exploring the Garden Route should really consider taking a ride on South Africa's only remaining steam train, the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, as it travels from George to Mossel Bay and back along one of the country's most spectacular stretches of coastline. Start off your adventure with a visit to the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George, where you will get to see 13 superbly restored and preserved steam locomotives and coaches, a fascinating photo gallery and a host of models and memorabilia relating to railway history in South Africa.
The railway line, which was opened on 25 September 1907, initially passes through lush agricultural land before crossing the Gwaiing River and climbing the hill toward the siding of Skimmelkrans and descending into the picturesque Malgate Valley. The train then crosses the Malgate River over a high bridge. Looking down at the riverbed, passengers will notice large round holes which have been caused by water rolling stones over and over, eroding the rock of the riverbed over time.
From Outeniqua, the railway line begins to descend toward the sea, and as the train makes its way around a large bend, the hillside falls away suddenly opening up an incredible view of the Indian Ocean with its waves crashing onto the beach. Making its way through a deep cut into the mountain and the only tunnel on the line, the train emerges to another incredible vista including the St Blaze lighthouse to the south of Mossel Bay.
At Great Brak River passengers will see the original station building which had been erected by the Cape Government Railways, as well as the remains of the original railway bridge. Passing through Hartenbos Station, the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe arrives at Santos Beach, where passengers have the opportunity to explore the Diaz Museum Complex and other attractions in the area before making their way back to George.
Interestingly, due to the ecologically sensitive area that the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe travels through there may be occasions where the steam locomotive will be replaced by a diesel locomotive to prevent any chance of sparking a fire. But whether it is a steam or diesel locomotive pulling the train, passengers are assured of a memorable adventure on the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe.