Train to Karoo – The Forgotten Route into Real SA
There’s no better way to savour the old world charm of the Karoo than by departing on an overnight train trip along the Forgotten Route. The Train to Karoo will transport you back in time along a dusty route into the world of early explorers, while still managing to blur the line between the fascinating history of a bygone era and good old modern fun. Don’t forget your hip flask!
The low down
While the tour is particularly popular among 20 – 30 year olds, it can be enjoyed by anyone, of any age. The tour is operated by tour extraordinaires and Wine Flies owners, Lord Francois (Francois van Binsbergen) and Lord Renke (Riaan Renke) – dressed the part in top hats and waistcoats. The company’s quirky and new age attitude is reflected throughout the trip and promises train loads of fun for all.
“We realised long ago that people prefer their tours with a bit of storytelling, and so we created this tour to tell stories that have been collecting dust for some years. We want travellers to immerse themselves in the imagination of a time gone by but we don’t expect them to leave their Instagram and Twitter behind. There’s also plenty of time to pause and take it in; why rush with that much history all around you? ” says Francois.
The Forgotten Route departs Cape Town on a one night, two day adventure. The tour travels from Cape Town by bus to the towns of Worcester and Rawsonville, where you’ll jump on the Shosholoza Meyl (previously the Trans Karoo Express) and head through to Matjiesfontein. You’ll spend the night in this ancient town before heading back to Cape Town via Montagu. Expect exquisite mountain views, dusty Karoo landscapes, delicious local delicacies, a chance to share stories with the locals, visiting old world landmarks, Anglo-Boer war battle sites, and enjoying as much wine as possible along the way! Come on, it’s time to get your Karoo passport stamped…
What can you expect?
- Visit iconic Cape Town landmarks like the Company’s Gardens and Greenmarket Square
- Refreshments at the Kimberley Hotel before embarking by bus into the Karoo.
- Visit Kirabo Private Cellar in Rawsonville. Meet the wine makers, share a few glasses of wine, or enjoy a delicious wine and cupcake tasting!
- Climb aboard for a 2.5 hour train trip filled with stunning scenery and board games.
- Arrive in the Victorian town of Matjiesfontein. Learn about the legends of local settlers in a town that appears to be frozen in time.
- Depart on the “world’s shortest and funniest red bus tour” – a bizarre 5 minute historical tour of the town.
- Enjoy a traditional Karoo lamb braai under the stars.
- After dinner, enjoy a walking tour of the town’s weird and wonderful attractions, followed by star gazing of the clear Karoo sky with your guide.
- Head to the Lairds Arms Pub for some Honkey-Tonk sing-alongs around the old piano.
- Stay overnight in original farm cottages on Rietfontein Nature Reserve.
- After breakfast at the Lord Milner Hotel, enjoy a tour of the transport museum and the town itself.
- Head back to Cape Town via the scenic Koo Valley with a stop at a famous graveyard.
- Stop for a traditional potjiekos lunch at the family owned Oupa Batt’s shop. Learn how they make biltong and dried fruit, and enjoy a tasting paired with local juices.
- Drive to Montagu by bus, stopping at a local brandy distillery for a brandy tasting. Round off with a visit to an Anglo-Boer war fort.
- Head back to Cape Town along the R62, arriving around 18:30.
- Want to stay for longer? Book your Karoo accommodation here.
Cost: R1,475 per person sharing (excluding lunch and drinks).
The tour departs from the Tourism Information Centre in Cape Town | Open: 08:30 on Fridays (other days on request) | +27 (0)21 462 8011 | [email protected]
Reviews on TripAdvisor – what the locals say
- The Forgotten Route tour was unforgettable! Our tour guide, Riaan was excellent. The first stop was the Kirabo wine estate in Rawsonville where the winemaker gave a refreshing talk on winemaking & blending. Their 1NE (One) & Cupcake wines are lovely and a good buy! – Wilma M.
- Highly recommended for anyone that enjoys wine – Malcolm C
- The best thing about the tour is that although you are part of a group, you can either revel in the fact of having a designated driver and go for that second (or third) glass of wine, or you can take things at a more moderate pace, anything goes. You could do the tour alone, with family, a partner or a bunch of friends, and have as much fun either way. – 84simone84
- It is jolly, it is authentic, it is beautiful, it is tasty, it is festive, it is highly original. GO! – 701Judith
Would you try the Forgotten Route?