All - Scenic Drives

Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe George

The Outeniqua Choo-Thoe steam train is regarded as South Africa’s premier tourism icon.
A concerted effort is being made by the Western Cape minister of tourism Allan Winde and
other role players to put together a business plan to ensure the ongoing viability of the
service as a private-public enterprise.

The George to Mossel Bay route is currently the only one in operation. The George to
Knysna line had to be closed following extensive flood damage in 2006.
Exciting vistas over Glentana, Great Brak and Hartenbos as well as Mossel Bay are worth
the trip. Mossel Bay town has a special old-time atmosphere with several lovely museums
and restaurants offering wonderful opportunities to while away an afternoon.

Time Table:
During the winter holidays the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train departs on Monday,
Wednesday and Friday from the Transnet Heritage Transport Museum in Mission Street for
the duration of the school holidays from 16 June to 9 July. After that it will run only on
Fridays if there are enough bookings.

Arrival and departure times are as follows:
Depart from George at 10:00, arrive at Hartenbos: 11:30; depart at 11:35 for Mossel Bay
arriving there at 12:00.

Return trip departure from Mossel Bay station at 14:15 arriving in George at 16:10
Fares: adults R 140(single) and R 180 (return) Children from three to 11 years pay R 70
(single) and R 90 (return). Children under three years travel free.

PLEASE NOTE: Advance reservations are essential, at least 24 hours prior to departure,
Phone 044 801 8288, 801 8202. When there is fire danger, steam locomotives will be
replaced with diesel locomotives.
Latest reporting time is 30 minutes prior to departure. Kindly note that smoking is not
permitted on the train. Seating is on a first come first serve basis.

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Outeniqua Power Van’s railbus

A unique experience awaits you when you travel on the Outeniqua Power Van’s railbus from George on the Oudtshoorn railway-pass.
Panoramic views over the Outeniqua Mountain Nature Reserve can be enjoyed whilst listening to the commentary of an experienced tour guide.
The stunning beauty of the Outeniqua Mountains unfolds as you travel one of South Africa’s most scenic routes. Experience the forest, four passes, water falls, seven tunnels, fynbos, proteas, bird, animal life and the panoramic picnic site. Take a picnic basket.

Trips start from 07:30. Tariffs are: R95 (adults) and R75 (children, ages 3 to 15).
Booking is essential.
A picnic stop is usually made at a former steam train watering point called 'Power’
Departure is from George’s Outeniqua Railway Museum at 2 Mission Street.
To book, call 082 490 5627 or send an e-mail to opv@mweb.co.za.
Special trips for special occasions or functions can be arranged.
You may take your own mountain bike on the Power Van and cycle down the scenic Montaqu Pass, a trip of 15km back to the Railway Museum. Group
bookings for 20 passengers may be made. Trips are also offered from George to Great Brak of Mossel Bay on which route splendid views may be enjoyed, especially at Maalgate Bridge and Glentana Heights.
Special excursions are also offered to Camfer (over the Outeniqua Mountain).

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The Outeniqua Pass

If you are in the mood to take a leisurely drive, the Montagu Pass is one of the most
rewarding, meandering mountain pass that formed an important historic link between
George and the Karoo after it was built in 1848.

You can take the Cape Nature Conservation / Witfontein turn-off on the road to Oudtshoorn
or alternatively watch out for the Montagu Pass sign (a little further on) to get onto this
scenic route.
Keep an eye out for the Knysna Loerie and waterfalls and enjoy a picnic along the way, get
a look from up close of the fynbos and indigenous trees and let your thoughts wander back
to the road pioneers who had to blast away rack to construct the road with the help of
convicts. Drive slowly - this historic pass is narrow and preferably only stop at the top
where there is enough room to park and enjoy the panoramic view.
The building of the pass was a milestone in the history of South African road
communications and a mammoth task that begun in 1844 and was completed under Henry
Fancourt White, a qualified surveyor, in 1845.
You will find a few Historic landmarks on your way, the firs historic landmark you will
encounter is the Keur River Bridge which is built of stone and was designed by Charles
Michell. Further along you will encounter the ramshackle old Toll House (1890). There is a
move afoot to restore it. Every twist and turn in the road were given names by the
wagoneers who cracked their whips to warn of their approach. Evocative names like
Moertjiesklip or Helluva Stone, Die Noute, Haarkantdraai and Remskoendraai are but a few.
Panoramic views are to be had at the top of the pass. As the pass begins to descend to the
Karoo, North Station is one of the historic landmarks that you will encounter. From here,
glance up at the Outeniqua Mountains and see traces of the Cradock Pass, the first pass to
be built across the Outeniquas.

North Station (1844) was used as a convict station, later as a post office, shop, stables and
police station. But it was probably best known as a hotel where travellers and transport
riders could overnight. Many George couples spent their honeymoon in this hotel, wrote
local author Helena Marincowitz.
More recently, several attempts were made to revive the tradition of hospitality, but the
restaurant and guesthouse, which were housed in the restored building, regrettably closed
down.
Herold, a sleepy hollow in the Outeniqua Mountains, has a feeling of being in a time warp.
This village was turned into a quest house complex by the late Michel Joubert, a hop farmer
with an entrepreneurial spirit. Joubert was a story teller of note and was responsible for the
restoration of all the buildings, including the old police station, court house and post office.
Perhaps, if you are lucky, the tea garden may be open.
Along the pass you can also visit the Cracock Wine Farm. There are quite a few ghost
stories told by colourful locals, one being of two slave girls haunting the pass. Their
out-of-control wagon careened down the mountain and being tied to it, they were unable to
jump free.
The Montaqu Pass joins up with the scenic Langkloof from where you can do a return
journey to George via the Outeniqua Pass, a modern road with a number of lookout points.
Ledgend has it that the Langkloof is also haunted. A white apparition is said to be the
restless spirit of a bride who is forever hitching a ride.
Photo's Supplied by Willie Du Plessis

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Seven Passes Road (Saasveld Road)

The Seven Passes Road winds its way through an indigenous forest, over historic stone bridges, through lush farmlands and provides sweeping views over the sparkling Indian Ocean.
The historic pass built by the pioneer pass builder, Thomas Bain (in the
1890s) it takes about 90 minutes from George to Knysna, but you may elect to do just the section up to Wilderness, as the section is tarred.
Bain built stone bridges in 1892 to replace the drifts
over the Kaaimans River, the Touw River and Swart River.

How to get there:
From Knysna Road (at Pine Lodge) take the NMMU campus turn-off and continue along the Saasveld Road (past the great white entrance to the university campus) onto the old road between George and Wilderness for some lovely forest views, turning right towards Wilderness Heights (if you do not want to go all the way on the old pass).Continue on to view the ‘Map of Africa’ or go down into Wilderness.
Visitors can catch a glimpse of some of the loveliest farms in the area with the Outeniqua Mountains providing spectacular backdrop.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: the road was severely damaged during floods and is ‘fragile’. In several places the road sags or has potholes and these have been marked with signposts in the middle of the surface.

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