Saturday, 31 July 2021

Outeniqua Power Van ride

I tend to favour doing 'experiential' outings with my mom for her birthday. This year, I had a treat in mind. The train track from George, through the Outeniqua mountains, is very much in our minds as I cross it almost daily on the trails that I most frequently access. It runs past the Botanical Gardens where my mom meets her Run/Walk For Life group. We've seen the little power van - a small diesel-engine train that runs on the tracks -  a few times and my mom has mentioned in the past how nice it would be to take a trip.

A few weeks ahead of her birthday, I made our booking and only told my mom that we would be doing something. She began fishing for clues closer to the time, thinking that we would be going paddling or hiking or riding ostriches in Oudtshoorn. She breathed a sigh of relief the night before when she knew that she would instead enjoy a motorised-transport experience.

The Outeniqua Power Van trip starts from the Transport Museum in George. We were to meet at the museum at 11h30 for the 12h00 trip (there is also a 9am trip) and so we had 30 minutes to walk around the museum. It is spectacular. We only saw part of it and look forward to returning to see more. It is clean, tidy, neatly presented and there is so much variety on display - from trains and carriages to classic vehicles.

Leaving the train yard.

The trip accommodates 20 people - to allow for social distancing. There is the engine part with seating and a smaller carriage. Both have big, clean windows so that you can see in every direction.

We cross the railway line just up ahead regularly - walking or driving past the Botanical Gardens.

The trip heads out from George on the meandering track, which climbs up the Outeniqua Mountains. The views of the town and the mountains are spectacular, and seeing the historic Montagu and newer Outeniqua Passes from the railway line is really neat. 

Snow on Craddock Peak

Outeniqua Pass visible across the valley.

Our tour guide was superb. She gave such interesting information on the track, the passes, the mountains, history and plants. The train stops at its highest point where it crosses the Montagu Pass and then it heads down. Halfway back, the train stops at their picnic site. We were told in advance to bring our own picnic basket and refreshments. I had prepared a bunch of treats for us to enjoy for lunch.

We had about 40 minutes for a picnic stop. That's the Power Van waiting for us.

We were blessed with unbelievably clear air and skies so mom got to see the sea. I often see it from the trails but rarely have I seen it as blue or clearly visible.

That's the sea in the background. George is a 'coastal' town but it isn't on the sea as there is a steep drop to the rocky (no beach) shore. The main part of town is a few kilometres inland. There are nice beaches at the nearby towns of Wilderness, Glentana, Herold's Bay and Groot Brak.

I can highly recommend this trip when you visit this area. They are currently only running on Saturdays (two trips) but they would schedule more trips on week days during the holiday periods. 

My mom celebrates a milestone birthday next year. I wonder whether ostrich riding may be in order? hahaha (don't worry mom, I'll take this one off your to do list)

Happy birthday mom xxx

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