Stars of Sandstone Festival 2017

The main feature at Sandstone is probably the extensive 2-foot gauge railway, operated with a great variety of Garratt and non-
articulated locomotives over scenic lines over 20 kilometres long. A new feature is a separate railway, laid out in 2016 to allow the
smaller locomotives from sugar plantations and industry to be shown in operation without interfering with the larger trains on the
main line. The Sandstone team have been busy on other ventures as well, re-aligning track and building new passing loops to
make possible even more dynamic train operations. Over 24 locomotives should be steamed during the Festival, supported by over
200 wagons and coaches. Adding interest to this historic collection will be vintage aircraft, military vehicles, agricultural vehicles
and equipment, steam traction engines and road cranes, draft animals and wagons and much more.

Our tour brings together the Stars of Sandstone Festival, accommodation, meals and coach transfers between Johannesburg and
Sandstone. Also included is the use of a private coach for transfers between hotel and the Sandstone Estate during your stay and
the services of a dedicated tour manager who has a wealth of Sandstone experience, having driven steam locomotives during
previous festivals. He will ensure that you are kept informed about your day to day activities during your visit to this internationally
acclaimed attraction. You can include some of the non-railfan adventure activities, such as the three-day train and coach journey
between Johannesburg and Sandstone and the day trip to Lesotho.

Geoff's Trains have worked closely with Sandstone for many years and we have been invited to return to this Festival. Booking with
us gives you an inclusive package and an assurance that you are travelling with one of the most experienced rail tour operators to
South Africa. You can also benefit with a discounted price by combining Sandstone with the Garratts to Victoria Falls tour.

This way to the African Adventure (Tourist) programme

Return to the Africa season homepage

Friday. 31 March 2017
Meet your tour manager at Johannesburg’s O R Tambo Airport at 12h00 (noon) for a road transfer to your hotel at Fouriesburg, a peaceful country town
by the Caledon River in the Free State province. Arrive in time for an included dinner.

Fouriesburg Country Inn. Dinner included.

Saturday. 01 April 2017
A full day at the Stars of Sandstone Festival.

Two buses will transfer from the hotel this morning, one before sunrise and the second after breakfast. Sandstone will also run a complimentary
minibus service. Sandstone will have a varied programme each day, but the programme has not yet been advertised, we will keep you informed as
more details are known. All meals will be at Sandstone and are included in your tour price, their catering has been very popular at previous events.  
Return to the hotel after dinner.

Sandstone is a large commercial farming estate on the picturesque South African / Lesotho border. The principal business here is agriculture, with
crops including wheat, soya and the very colourful cosmos flower that are grown for their seed. The estate is very open, you can walk freely almost
everywhere and there will also be organised walks. Many years ago, owner Wilf Mole started collecting vintage agricultural machinery, eventually
branching out into a railway that is used to carry crops back to the central area. These heritage activities grew and it was decided to open the facility to
visitors in a festival that covers two weekends and the intervening week. Enthusiasts from around the world travel to Sandstone to give their support,
operating the railway, agricultural machinery, steam road vehicles, traction engines and steam cranes, military vehicles including working tanks with
the support of the South African military museum, vintage aircraft, draft animals, vintage cars and buses, and much more.

Sandstone has an outstanding 2 foot gauge railway system. Over 20 kilometres of scenic line, about 24 working steam locomotives and 200 items of
rolling stock offer an abundant opportunity to ride the rails, photograph trains and generally have a lot of fun on the railroad. There are also a number of
interesting Cape Gauge artefacts on site, including a locomotive and dining cars that are used during meal times.

Lesotho option
Travel by road today to explore the attractive Free State / Lesotho border region. Your tour will include a visit to the Katse Dam in Lesotho, the second
largest dam in Africa. Built high in the Maluti Mountains, the dam is the heart of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This is the land of the “blanket
people”, who ride their sturdy ponies, build picturesque houses and greet visitors with a dignified salute. Lunch is not included today if you choose this
option and dinner will be at the hotel.
This can be pre-booked. You will join the guests on the adventure package for the day in their coach. The additional cost for this will be US$60.00 per
person.  

Fouriesburg Country Inn. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Sunday to Friday. 02 to 07 April 2017
Six full days at the Stars of Sandstone Festival.

Fouriesburg Country Inn. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Saturday. 08 April 2017
Enjoy you last sunrise and breakfast at Sandstone before transferring by motor coach to Johannesburg airport. If you are returning home, check in for
your flight. If you are continuing to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe to join the Garratts to Victoria Falls tour by air, check in to your hotel. If you have chosen to
travel to Bulawayo by road, remain on the coach as it motors north to your overnight hotel.
Geoffs trains tours
Page updated on:
09 November 2016
Zimbabwe – Garratts to Victoria Falls

Getting to Bulawayo

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport is the logical gateway into Zimbabwe from both the Sandstone Festival and overseas flights. However, with only one
flight between Johannesburg and Bulawayo daily that uses a medium sized aircraft, seats are limited and costs can be high. As an alternative, we can
arrange for the coach that supported the Enthusiast Group in Sandstone to continue to Bulawayo, offering you an economical road transfer as an
alternative to the flight. The road journey will only travel in daylight hours, with accommodation in an hotel en-route. Availability is subject to adequate
bookings being received.

Your Zimbabwe tour

Zimbabwe is the undisputed land of the Garratt. These mighty articulated locomotives remain in revenue service, although they find little use apart from
supporting our tour each year and providing traction to the Hwange Colliery, which we plan to visit. With over 400 steam charters successfully run in
Zimbabwe, Geoff Cooke, owner of Geoff’s Trains Limited and your tour host, has a special relationship with the National Railways of Zimbabwe that
cannot be matched.

Saturday. 08 April 2017
If you are continuing to Bulawayo from Sandstone by road, remain in the coach at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport. If you are joining the Zimbabwe
tour only, you will join the coach here for its onward journey to Bulawayo. The tour manager from the Sandstone tour will accompany the coach.

Overnight: The Ranch, Polokwane. Dinner included.

Sunday. 09 April 2017

Flight option:
Fly from Johannesburg to Bulawayo. (Flight not included). Transfer from the airport to your hotel and enjoy a few hours at leisure.

Road option:
Continue this morning to the South Africa / Zimbabwe border at Beit Bridge. Cross the Limpopo River into Zimbabwe and motor to Bulawayo.

Overnight: Churchill Arms Hotel, Bulawayo. Breakfast and dinner included.

Monday. 10 April 2017
Leave the hotel at sunrise for the steam depot where a Garratt will be in steam, preparing for our steam charter train to Cement this morning. The
locomotive will be a Class 14A 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 with a train made up of a few goods wagons, one coach and a van. Numerous run-pasts will be arranged.
This afternoon there will be free time to return to the steam depot and visit the railway museum, both an easy walk from the station. You will have a
photo permit issued by the Railway and free access to the steam depot, there is a small charge to visit the railway museum.

Option:
This afternoon, visit Khame Ruins on the outskirts of Bulawayo, the second largest ruined stone city in Zimbabwe after Great Zimbabwe. (Extra cost).

Later this afternoon, return to the railway station to join the rest of the group on the train to Dete.

This evening, join an overnight train to Dete in the Hwange game reserve. Accommodation will be in private sleeper coaches with hot showers and
comfortable beds. A dedicated lounge / dining car will serve refreshments and meals. This train will be diesel electric operated.

Overnight on a private train to Dete station. Breakfast and dinner included. Accommodation will be in twin berth or single berth cabins.

Sleeper accommodation on the charter train is fully booked. You can still join the tour by staying at the Hwange Safari Lodge for three nights and
transferring to the train by road. All steam charters can be enjoyed in this way, but space is limited. Contact us to find out more.

Tuesday. 11 April 2017
This morning, a diesel electric operated charter train will travel from Dete to Thomson Junction. We will stop for a few run-pasts at scenic locations as
the line borders the Hwange game reserve.

This afternoon, join a steam charter to the double horseshoes at Zanguja on the line to Victoria Falls. This will be a goods train hauled by a Class 15A
4--6-4+4-6-4 Garratt, with assistance from a diesel locomotive that will stand clear with the support coaches during run-pasts. The Zanguja area offers
some of Zimbabwe's best run-past locations and a number of excellent run-pasts are planned.

Overnight on a private train. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Wednesday. 12 April 2017
Our steam charter will leave Thomson Junction this morning, heading south towards Bulawayo with a train of coal wagons. The locomotive should be a
Class 15A Garratt. Travel around the Tajintunda horseshoe curves, through the tunnel and past Baobab Hill before arriving at New Hwange station.
From there travel down the little used line to Old Hwange station, and back over the old line to Thomson Junction. Numerous run-pasts are included.

This afternoon, visit the nearby Hwange Colliery to see their railway, still worked with Garratts. If the Colliery does not have working steam available, we
will use our Class 15A Garratt there. A rare opportunity to see and photograph some of Africa's last industrial steam.

Overnight on a private train. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Thursday. 13 April 2017
Our Garratt operated train will depart Thomson Junction this morning for Victoria Falls. This journey is only 120 km long, but we anticipating taking all
day as we stop for numerous run-pasts.

Arrive at Victoria Falls this afternoon, transfer to your hotel on the banks of the Zambezi River above Victoria Falls for the next two nights.

Overnight: A’Zambezi River Lodge. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Friday. 14 April 2017 (Easter)
An unforgettable day to end your Garratt extravaganza, featuring four steam trains to the Victoria Falls Bridge in one day! Built in 1905, the famous
Bridge carries the railway from Cape Town and Bulawayo northwards into Zambia and onwards to the Congo and Tanzania. Attractively located a short
distance downstream of the Victoria Falls, the Bridge has long been a mecca for railway enthusiasts wanting to visit one of the world’s iconic railway
locations. More recently, it has become the centerpiece of adventure sports including bunji jumping, zip-wire and gorge swinging.

The first train will make run-pasts over the Bridge at sunrise, the scene best viewed from the gardens of the five star Victoria Falls Hotel. The train will
be an NRZ Garratt and passenger coaches.

After breakfast, transfer by road to Livingstone in Zambia to board the Bushtracks train. We are planning some photographs in the station area with a
false start and run-pasts as we steam to the Bridge. There will be an opportunity to photograph the train on the bridge, probably with an ex Rhodesia
Railways 12th Class 4-8-2 locomotive. The best photo locations are from viewpoints in the Zambian Victoria Falls national park, from where it is often
possible to see rainbows arching over the train.

Enjoy time exploring and photographing the Victoria Falls from the Zambian bank as the Livingstone train returns and the Zimbabwean Garratt makes a
second run to the Bridge. You will then have an opportunity to photograph this train from the Zambian viewpoints before walking back across the bridge
to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Known locally as Mosi Oa Tunya, the smoke that rises, the Victoria Falls is the greatest sheet of falling water in the world. Recognised as one of the
seven natural wonders of the world, this is a magnificent backdrop to your steam railway photography. There will be time to view the Falls from both the
Zambian and Zimbabwean sides, as well as from the air in a helicopter (pre booking advised, extra cost).

Later this afternoon, walk the short distance from the’Falls to the railway station to board the Bushtracks Victoria Falls train with their Class 14A 2-6-2+2-
6-2 Garratt. This will be our fourth steam trip to the Bridge, this time ride the train that will slowly amble down to the Bridge, and will stand there to
enable you to alight, drink in hand, to watch the sun set – a romantic end to an exciting day that will have ticked a box on any rail enthusiasts bucket list
of things to see and do.

Overnight: Zambezi River Lodge in Victoria Falls. Breakfast and dinner included.

Saturday. 15 April 2017
Following an included breakfast, there will be time for a last visit to the Victoria Falls or simply to relax in the attractive hotel gardens before an 11h00
transfer to Victoria Falls Airport for an afternoon flight to Johannesburg (flight not included).

Alternatively, join a post-breakfast coach transfer via Kazungula in Botswana to Francistown, and from there to Johannesburg. Overnight at Cresta
Marang, Francistown, arriving at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport mid-afternoon, 16 April.

There is an option to join a three-night wildlife tour into the Chobe National Park starting today.
Chobe Wildlife post-tour option:

The last part of our African experience is a splendid three-night visit to a lodge on the Chobe River in Botswana, an opportunity to see Africa’s
magnificent wildlife and birdlife hosted by Geoff and local photographic experts.


Saturday. 15 April 2017. Continued
After breakfast, transfer by road to the lodge, about 80 kilometres distant. The Chobe River is a tributary to the Zambezi, the Chobe National Park is one
of the best wildlife reserves in Africa.
Morning and afternoon game drives with one of the best photo safari operators in Africa. Game drives will be either by road or special photography
boats on the Chobe River.

Mowana Safari Lodge. Breakfast and dinner included.

Sunday. 16 April 2017
Full day wildlife viewing activities on land and by boat.

Mowana Safari Lodge. Breakfast and dinner included.

Monday. 17 April 2017
Full day wildlife viewing activities.

Mowana Safari Lodge. Breakfast and dinner included.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Transfer to Kasane Airport.
Transfer to Victoria Falls airport can be arranged for an additional charge. You will also need a Visa for Zimbabwe. There are direct flights form Kasane
to Johannesburg.

Breakfast included.
The Geoff's Trains 2017 Africa Season
For Steam Railway Enthusiasts
Prices:

Most service suppliers in Africa quote in US Dollars, to keep prices as low as possible these tours are quoted in that currency. If you live  in Britain,
you are welcome to pay in Sterling at the prevailing exchange rate. Please ask for details.

Prices may vary if input costs change, but will not change once an invoice has been issued.

For Rail enthusiasts

South Africa
Stars of Sandstone enthusiast option.
Starting at Johannesburg airport on 31 March and ending at Johannesburg airport on 08 April 2017.
Including transfers, accommodation, all meals, private coach transfers between hotel and Sandstone and Sandstone entry.

US$1,920        Per person sharing a twin room.
US$100            Single room supplement (Subject to availability)

Zimbabwe
Garratts and wildlife in Zimbabwe.
Starting at Bulawayo airport on 09 April and ending at Victoria Falls airport on 15 April 2017.
Including transfers, steam train charters, touring as described, meals and accommodation.

US$2,980       Per person sharing a twin or double room.
US$204             Single hotel room supplement. Accommodation on the train will be twin compartments.
US$300          Supplement for a single coupe on the charter train.

Sandstone and Zimbabwe combined
Book both the South African and Zimbabwe enthusiasts tours together for a discounted price.
Starting at Johannesburg airport on 31 March and ending at Victoria Falls airport on 15 April 2017.
Excludes the hotel in Johannesburg on 08 April and your flight to Bulawayo on 09 April 2017.

US$4,654        Per person sharing a twin or double room.
US$304            Single hotel room supplement. Accommodation on the train will be twin compartments.
US$300         Supplement for a single coupe on the charter train.

For Enthusiast and African Adventure options

Chobe and Zambezi Wildlife tour
Starting in Victoria Falls on 15 April and ending at Victoria Falls airport on 18 April 2017.

US$1,416       Per person sharing a twin or double room.
US$449          Single hotel room supplement.

Your tour price includes all transfers, activities, accommodation and meals as described in the programme.
Your tour price does not include air flights, visas, drinks, tips, laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Coach transfer from Johannesburg to Bulawayo
Departs OR Tambo Airport at 16h00 on 08 April 2017 and arrives in Bulawayo the following day.
Minimum 15 guests need to book the coach, which will cost
US$175 per person sharing a twin room, this includes coach travel and an overnight
hotel, bed and breakfast. For a single room, add
US$40.

Coach transfer from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg
Departs Victoria Falls on the morning of 15 April and travels via Kazungula and Francistown to OR Tambo Airport. Overnight in Francistown and
arrive in Johannesburg the following afternoon.
Minimum 15 guests need to book the coach, which will cost
US$175 per person sharing a twin room, this includes coach travel and an overnight
hotel in Francistown, bed and breakfast. For a single room, add
US$40.

To book
This tour is full
Our booking conditions can be found here.
Click here if you have a query.

Return to the home page.

Go back to the 2017 Africa Season landing page.
Please note

During this tour, you may
experience laws and standards
that are not be the same as you
are used to at home. We visit
countries with less advanced
infrastructure, an open yet cautious
mind and a flexible approach can
help your enjoyment of the
experience.

By their nature, steam locomotives
and older diesel electric
locomotives are prone to
unexpected failure. Should this
occur, we will ask the service
supplier to substitute the most
appropriate alternative equipment
or service consistent with the
advertised programme.

The railways over which these
tours operate are often single track
with passing loops, possibly with
infrastructure maintained to a
lower standard than in Europe.  
Any delays or cancellations caused
by the failure of such plant and
machinery beyond our direct
control will be dealt with as quickly
as possible. If trains arrive late at
their destinations, local tours may
have to be shortened or cancelled.
No compensation can be offered
for such failure or delay.

Train accommodation
in Zimbabwe

This tour will use a set of coaches
that include four accommodation
coaches, a twin dining car (one car
with a kitchen and dining area, a
second car with bar and lounge).
There will also be a baggage /
generator car.

Sleeper accommodation will be in
traditional first class
compartments and coupes
Compartments have two upper
and two lower berths and coupes
have one upper and one lower
berth, but we only accommodate
two guests in a compartment and
one in a coupe. Most of the
coaches were built by Metro
Cammell in the 1950's, they are
steel bodied with clerestory roofs
and wood panelled interiors.

We may also have to use coaches
selected from the Railway's first
class sleeper fleet. These coaches
are normally used on their
overnight trains, they have the
same sized compartments and
coupes but they may not be to the
same standard as the Metro
Cammell ones. To be impartial,
train accommodation will be
allocated when full payment for
your tour is received. The earlier
you pay, the more likely you are to
enjoy wood panelled
accommodation with hot water and
a power socket in your cabin.

Bedding and a towel are supplied,
but shampoo and soap are not.
Three coaches have a hot shower
at one end and all have toilets at
both ends. The showers will be
shared by all participants.

The Railway is responsible for
cleaning and maintaining the
coaches and whilst Geoff's Trains
will deal with any shortcomings as
efficiently as possible, we cannot
accept responsibility for any
shortcomings.











Coupe










Compartment

Train meals

On train catering will be provided
by the National Railways of
Zimbabwe catering department.

The bar will stock local drinks,
including wines, beer, spirits and
minerals, at reasonable prices.
Past and future tours
in Zimbabwe

The most recent tour to Zimbabwe
ran in May 2016.
Details and
photographs can be found here.

The General Manager of the
National Railways of Zimbabwe
recently sent me this message:
We have come a long way with
yourself. On our part we see the
tourist trains as an area for growth
and would like to thank you for the
business you continue to give us.

His Business Manager, Passenger
Services, commented:
Please go ahead and plan for the
April 2017 tour. I am positive that it
will run and the organisation is still
committed to the tours.

With such assurance and a
successful tour this year, the
prospects for a great tour in 2017
are good. Book with the Africa
experts whilst we can keep the
Garratts running - they may not last
much longer.