|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
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 bookings.
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 can help.
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 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. 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 be an active participant?
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. Active participants travel from countries as far afield as Australia, Britain, Belgium, Germany and America to help
keep the festival moving. If you have the necessary skills and would like to get your hands dirty, you may be able to join them.
Find more information here.
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 experience. These
include a special mainline steam train and a hosted visit to Victoria Falls featuring a tram ride to the famous bridge over the Zambezi River.
This will be followed by a safari par-excellence on the Chobe River in Botswana with one of Africa's foremost photo safari companies.
A charter train from Johannesburg to Bethlehem and the Stars of Sandstone Family Festival
10 to 14 April 2019
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.
The train can also be used to extend a journey on the Bethlehem to Germiston steam charter, making the journey a 7 night charter train
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 Hole museum, station railway museum and
Steamnet 2000 steam collection and Germiston, the photogenic Reefsteamers depot. The train will be operated by a Class 12AR locomotive,
built by North British in 1919. This is an excellent way to end your Sandstone visit. Accommodation on the train is limited and early booking is
Find out more about the steam train here.
Victoria Falls and some wildlife
We have been asked to include a visit to Victoria Falls and are delighted to do so. Spend three nights at the Falls, including a hosted tour of the
Victoria Falls, a tram ride to the famous Bridge, a sunset boat cruise and an optional dinner steam train ride before either flying home or
crossing the border to Botswana for a three night wildlife Safari on the Chobe River. The tour will be fully hosted. It can be booked on two
different dates to accommodate the rest of your tour.
Find out more about Victoria Falls and Chjobe 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.
Do you control where we will stay?
Accommodation within easy commute of Sandstone is limited and this has in the past proven difficult. Geoff's Trains is working with the
accommodation suppliers in the area and will find you somewhere suitable to stay, even if the few hotels in the area are full. This
accommodation will be based on a number of hubs such as Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Clarens. Scheduled coach services will connect each
hub with Sandstone. Your accommodation will be discussed with you when you book and will then only be changed if unavoidable, in line with
our booking conditions. Early booking is strongly advised but if this is not possible, we will find something to suit your needs.
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.
|Page updated on
16 January 2018
|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 very good at
sending newsletters and
information, they have an
interesting website with maps,
photos, videos on u-tube, stock
lists and much more.
Find out more here ...
|Unser Generalagent für
unsere Gäste aus dem
Bahnreisen Sutter ist unser
deutscher Repräsentant für das
Sandstone Festival einschl.
Über Bahnreisen Sutter können
Sie die einzelnen Reiseprogramme
für das Sandstone Festival
buchen. Bahnreisen Sutter freut
sich Ihnen die Reise zu diesem
einmaligen Kultur- und
Eisenbahnfestival zu organisieren.
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