|The Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Geoff's Trains has had a long and strong relationship with the Sandstone Heritage Trust. For a number of years we ran tours to South
Africa's two foot narrow gauge railways, since then Sandstone has grown in stature and interest, whilst the other narrow gauge railways in
South Africa have become unreliable or have stopped running. In 2017 Geoff's Trains visited the Stars of Sandstone festival with two groups,
totalling 60 participants.
As the Sandstone Festivals developed, they showcased the heritage assets to those enthusiasts wishing to get a hands on experience
running the railway, driving traction engines and tractors, and suchlike. The 2017 Stars of Sandstone festival was the first that attracted a
large number of international visitors who wanted to see the event, rather than volunteer to provide the service. Whilst the festival was a
success, the transition from a volunteer to a visitor experience was not always smooth and there was a feeling within Sandstone
management that the Stars festivals had run their course, and that they should no longer be offered. Lengthy discussions ensued, with the
outcome that Sandstone want to run another Stars festival in 2019 with Geoff's Trains acting as exclusive sales agent for all International
A variety of packages
Everyone has different interests. You may have visited South Africa and even Sandstone previously, and would like to spend as long as
possible at the festival. On the other hand, you may be making your first visit to South Africa and would like to see more of the country, visit
great cities, experience amazing vistas, some great wildlife and a few steam trains. Whatever your interest, we have created a package for
The International Festival - do not miss a single day
03 to 12 April 2019
The Stars of Sandstone International Festival starts on 04 April 2019. Travel from Johannesburg on 03 April, ready to enjoy the first day.
Leave Sandstone on 12 April, either by coach back to Johannesburg or by chartered steam train to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Germiston.
Your package will include transfers, entry to the Sandstone festival, breakfast and accommodation.
See a more detailed programme here.
Two action packed shorter visits if your time or budget are limited
03 to 08 April or 08 to 12 April 2019
Not everyone can afford to spend ten days at Sandstone, you may have time constraints, or you may wish to see more of South Africa. We
have two shorter options, the first of which leaves Johannesburg on 03 April and returns on 08 April, the second leaves Johannesburg on 08
April and leaves the Festival on 12 April, either by coach or steam train.
The festival programme will, as far as is feasible, be repeated for both shorter visits. The locomotives will be steamed at least twice, before
and after 08 April, if you choose to visit on one of these shorter packages you should see all of the main traction and activities but booking
the longer package will offer you better photographic opportunities as well as a chance to experience the many activities that take place
throughout the festival.
The programme for the shorter tours is the same as for the full festival package, go here to see how they work.
Something special for photographers
Sandstone is a photographer's paradise. Good weather,great scenery and a proliferation of interesting subjects will keep your camera
shutter clicking all day long. To maximise photographic opportunities for more serious photographers, a special package has been created
that includes access to a railway photo session between sunrise and breakfast with selected locomotives and a specialist runpast
organiser. These morning sessions happen before the festival opens at 10 am and will only be accessible to pre-booked participants.
There will be other benefits including convenient accommodation options and afternoon photo sessions and you will also have full access
to the rest of the festival. Bookings are limited to 50, first come first served and early booking is strongly recommended.
Find out more about the photographers packages here.
Do you want to volunteer?
Sandstone is a working farm with a small team dedicated to the maintenance and development of their heritage assets. There is no
permanent volunteer support group that can be mobilised to operate the extensive railway, numerous traction engines, farming machinery,
vintage cars and much more. Volunteers travel from countries as far afield as Australia, Britain, Belgium, Germany and America to help keep
the festival moving and if you have the necessary skills, you may be able to join them.
If this interests you, fill in the relative boxes on the pre-registration form and you will be contacted.
The Family Festival
12 to 14 April 2019
It is hardly surprising that the Sandstone festival is popular with South Africans who travel from far and wide to see their heritage. To
accommodate their special interests a Stars of Sandstone Family Festival will be held between 12 and 14 April. You are most welcome to
stay on for this more family orientated event that will feature activities aimed at the kids. Geoff's Trains is not specifically involved with the
family festival, but we will be happy to assist with tickets, accommodation and transfers.
Turn your Sandstone visit into a great African holiday
Geoff's Trains is offering a number of post tour activities that can turn your Sandstone visit into a more inclusive African holiday. These
include a special mainline steam train, a visit to Cape Town and the Garden Route with a steam charter from Cape Town to Mossel Bay.
You can round of your amazing southern African holiday with a visit to Victoria Falls featuring a steam train ride to the famous bridge over the
Zambezi River and a wildlife experience par-excellence on the Chobe River in Botswana.
A charter train from Johannesburg to Bethlehem, and the Stars of Sandstone Family Festival
10 to 12 April 2019
A steam charter is panned that will leave Bethlehem on the morning of 12 April. It will run vis Bloemfontein to Kimberley with the
Reefsteamers Class 12AR locomotive. From Kimberley to Germiston it will be hauled over the main line by electric traction. Germiston is the
home for the train and locomotive, and so a positioning move is required between there and Bethlhem, an opportunity to offer an interesting
short break to family festival visitors.
The train will leave the Reefsteamers Germiston depot on the morning of 11 April, bound for Bethlehem. It will be possible to join on the
afternoon of 10 April with secure parking available at the depot. It is anticipated that the train will be hauled between Germiston and
Bethlehem by a diesel electric locomotive. You will have sleeper accommodation on the train and there will be a traditional Braai (barbecue)
that evening. Travel from Germiston to Bethlehem on 11 April, arriving late afternoon. Spend the night in your compartment on the train. On
12 April, travel by coach to Sandstone for the start of the Family Festival. That evening, transfer to your accommodation for the next two
nights. Entry to the Stars of Sandstone Family Festival is included as is a coach transfer back to Germiston on the afternoon of 14 April.
A steam operated charter train from Bethlehem visiting Sandstone, Bloemfontein and Kimberley
12 to 17 April 2019
Our five day steam train charter that includes runpasts in some of South Africa's best scenery as well as visits to Bloemfontein and the
Sandstone railway workshops and the national heritage steam collection, Kimberley and the Big Hold museum, station railway museum
and Steamnet 2000 steam collection and Germiston, the photogenic Reefsteamers depot. It is anticipated that the train will principally be
operated by a Class 12AR locomotive, built by North British in 1919, possibly supported by a Class 19D in Bloemfontein and a Class 25NC
in Kimberley. This is an excellent way to end your Sandstone visit and can be combined with both the full International festival package, or
the second sort visit option. Accommodation on the train is limited and early booking is recommended.
Find out more about the steam train here.
Cape Town, including steam trains and the Garden Route
14 to 26 April 2019
There are two options following the Sandstone festival. You can either return to Johannesburg and fly to Cape Town with include tours of the
city, the cape peninsular and the winelands. Your tour of the Cape will then take you on a two day steam train journey from Cape Town to
Mossel Bay, with Class 19B and Class 19D locomotives double heading. Your tour will end with a road trip via George and the National
Railway Museum and Knysna to Port Elizabeth, where we will visit the Apple Express steam railway before flying back to Johannesburg.
There is then an opportunity to extend your stay i the easter Cape with a visit to a private game reserve before you fly back to Johannesburg.
It will also be possible to travel on the Bethlehem to Kimberley charter train and then fly to Cape Town to join the steam charter there to
Mossel Bay, continue by road to George for the railway museum and Port Elizabeth for the Apple Express before flying home.
Find out more about these options here.
We have been asked to include a visit to Victoria Falls, and are delighted to do so. Following your visit to Cape Town and the Garden Route,
fly to Victoria Falls. Spend two nights at the Falls, including a hosted tour of the Victoria Falls and a dinner steam train ride to the famous
Victoria Falls bridge before you fly back to Johannesburg.
Find out more here
Some questions and answers
Can we buy an entry ticket for Sandstone without a package?
Yes, Geoff's Trains can sell you a ticket for Sandstone entry only, but not for groups of more than four. Accommodation is limited in the area,
and transport between accommodation and Sandstone, and around the estate, can prove difficult. The Geoff's Trains packages offer other
benefits as well, you will have access to our representatives, coaches will run around the estate for photographers to tie in with the more
important train movements and the morning photographic opportunities can only be booked in association with a package.
If you wish to book Sandstone tickets only, send us a request and we will get back to you.
Can I arrange my own group visit?
If you are a tour operator, club or if you have a group of friends wishing to travel together, Geoff will be delighted to discuss options with you.
The identity and individuality of your group can be maintained whilst you benefit from the integrated logistics that can make your visit hassle
Are flights included?
No, we include airport transfers in Africa, but not flights. Our visitors come from many countries and it is impractical to include flights which
are normally easier and cheaper to arrange on-line or through your travel agent. It is very easy to book local and regional flights in southern
Africa, and Geoff will be happy to offer advice. One year before the festival, anyone who has booked will be sent a list of suggested internal
and regional flights that will most conveniently fit in with airport transfers.
Should I arrive in Johannesburg one day early?
Transfers to Sandstone leave OR Tambo Airport at 12h00 (noon). If you arrive early that morning, you should be OK, but missing the coach
will incur additional cost for a personal transfer and this can prove expensive. It can be more comfortable to spend a night in Johannesburg
to get some sleep and recover from the long flight. There are a number of hotels at the airport, the Intercontinental is closest, the City Lodge
is a little further but still an easy walk. Both can easily be booked on-line. Geoff can discuss other options if you wish.
I am vegetarian, is that OK?
South Africans love meat. Vegetarian and special diets can be catered for, but make sure you tell us when you book.
How do I book?
Fill in the registration questionnaire and send it to us. We will prepare an offer that best matches your interests and get right back to you. A
small deposit will be requested to confirm your booking with final payment due two months before the tour starts.
|Page updated on
15 November 2017
|Can Agents book groups?
Absolutely, talk to Geoff, he will
work with you to prepare a package
suited to your clients. You can
maintain your identity, have your
own group manager and still take
advantage of Geoff's Trains
Smaller groups are also welcome,
we can make sure that you have
the right accommodation, your
group stays together during
transfers and they can enjoy a
consistent level of service at
|Tell me about Sandstone
Sandstone are great about
sending information, and they have
an interesting website with maps,
photos, videos on u-tube, stock
lists and much more.
Find out more here ...