Trains & Travel

P.O.Box 312

Portola CA 96122

chris@traintrips.biz (Rail Tour Manager)

1-800-359-4870 (USA)

1-800-752-1836 (Canada)

1-800-266-8751 (Fax)

1-530-836-1944

Africa

 

THE STARS OF SANDSTONE

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

RAILFAN/TOURIST TOUR

APRIL 3-12, 2019

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

Sandstone is a large commercial farming estate on the picturesque South African / Lesoto border. The principal business here is agriculture, with crops including wheat, soya and the very colorful cosmos flower that are grown for their seed. The estate is very open, you can walk freely almost everywhere and there will also be organized 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 narrow gauge railway system. Over 13 miles 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.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival
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 he 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, totaling 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 bookings. Trains & Travel International is pleased to have been chosen by Geoff Cooke as the exculsive booking agent for North America. (USA and Canada)

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 you.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

The International Festival - do not miss a single day

April 3-12, 2019

 

The Stars of Sandstone International Festival starts on April 4, 2019. Travel from Johannesburg on April 3, ready to enjoy the first day. Leave Sandstone on April 12, 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.

 

Keep in mind this far in advance events outlined each day may change and they will certainly be expanded. For now, this gives you an idea of the breadth of what will be on offer. Trains will run throughout the day over the main railway, starting at 10:00am and culminating in a double headed Garratt trip around the Vailima loop late this afternoon, arriving back around sunset. There will be numerous steam and diesel locomotives running, they will vary every day so that most of the steam fleet will be seen in operation over the first four days, and again over the second four days. The shorter Sebs Railway will operate every day, featuring the smaller locomotives in the Sandstone collection. At times, Sebs Railway will offer rides and at other times it will feature photographer's specials with industrial goods trains using wagons such as hoppers and cane cars.

 

In addition to the railway you will find traction engines, vintage tractors, machinery and cars, draft animals, military vehicles and aircraft in action throughout every day. Special arena events will take place with each day having a theme, either military, draft animals and tractors, traction engines, vintage cars and buses. Everything on display has an African heritage, making this the premier transport heritage event on the continent. There will also be opportunities to fly in vintage aircraft (extra charge), ride military vehicles, ox wagons, vintage buses, rail-cars and much more.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

TOUR PACKAGE OPTIONS

 

Three different tour packages are available for the international festival. You can travel from Johannesburg on April 3 and stay for the full international festival, leaving on April 12l. Alternatively, there is a shorter package that leaves Sandstone on April 8. A third option leaves Johannesburg on April 8, ending with your return transfer on April 12. The slightly shorter tour running between April 8-12 can be combined with the mainline steam train to Bloemfontein and Kimberley, an alternative to booking the full festival and the charter and a good option for anyone with limited time.

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

12:01PM. Leave OR Tambo Airport .Johannesburg by Mortocoach6:00PM. Arrive at your hotel.

You will be met at Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport and shown to your motorcoach in time for a 12:00PM (noon) departure. The transfer to your hotel will take between 5 and 6 hours with a halfway comfort stop. An included dinner will be at your hotel.

 

Thursday, April 4 2019

After breakfast, transfer to Sandstone in time for the 10:00AM start, there will then be a non-stop program of events until sunset. Today will feature the two Lawley 4-4-0 locomotives that are between them scheduled to make eight journeys from the main Hoekfontein station to the Grootdraai loop before running through Hoekfontein to Mooihoek and back. Each journey will take about one hour. During the morning there will be a passenger train to Vailima siding, where it will take water before returning to Hoekfontein. In the middle of the afternoon, a double headed NGG16 Garratt powered passenger train will travel to Vailima before continuing around the mountain loop back to Hoekfontein. A goods train with the NG15 will follow the Garratt powered Mountain Wanderer as far as Vailima. Coach transport will be provided in the afternoon that will access photo run-past locations prior to the arrival of the Mountain Wanderer and the train that follows it to Vailima. The coach will leapfrog the trains in such a way that different photographs will be achievable. Space will be limited and participants in the early morning photo charters will have priority. You are also able to travel on the Mountain Wanderer, but photographs will be more limited with that option. The train timetable on every day of the festival will be similar, but with different locomotives.

 

This festival will be the first where the shorter Sebs Railway will be fully functional. This railway has been built to facilitate the use of the interesting collection of smaller locomotives that Sandstone owns. In the past, these locomotives have not seen much action as they are unable to run a service alongside their larger stable mates. During each day, a selection of smaller steam locomotives will run, some with passenger carriages and others with goods wagons on trains that should please photographers. Sandstone are planning to expand their collection of smaller industrial type wagons such as cocopans and sugar cane carriers to complement the interesting fleet of industrial locomotives.

 

New for 2019 will be organized arena style events that should appeal to both spectators and photographers. Each day, these events will highlight a different facet of the heritage collection. The arena is a movable concept, it will be set up at an appropriate location for each day’s event. Consideration will be given to the needs of photographers with an appropriate backdrop – normally the outstanding Freestate scenery, appropriately dressed display teams and a live commentary. This morning an arena will introduce Sandstone’s draft animals, a rare collection of working animals that cannot be seen in such authentic surroundings anywhere else. See the trek oxen and learn how they are trained, how they worked a Great Trek wagon in spans of up to 20 animals, the various operational problems they encountered as they moved across Africa. This afternoon, a second event will feature some of Sandstone’s operational vintage tractors and agricultural equipment. Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner. You will be asked to specify your daily preferences for dinner so that the organizers can arrange the meals and transfers.

 

Friday, April 5, 2019

The big event this morning will be the NG10 grand re-launch. This iconic locomotive has been magnificently restored by Lucas Nell and his team at Sandstone’s Bloemfontein workshops. The launch will be followed by eight trains throughout the day operated by the NG10 and NGG11 locomotives running between Hoekfontein, Grootdraai and Mooihoek. There will also be an NG4 tank locomotive to Vailima and Garratts around the mountain this afternoon. Sebs Railway will be running all day and the arena events will involve vintage aircraft, cars and trains all in the same picture - a transport spectacular. This event will take place at the Sandstone Airport, en-route to Grootdraai. Aircraft and relevant motor vehicles will be positioned at the airfield ready for runpasts with the Hoekfontein – Grootdraai trains. The stargazer express will run tonight. Travel to a dark location on the estate where there will be an informative talk about the stars of the southern hemisphere, a wonderful evening of beauty and enlightenment. This can only happen if the weather is clear and so may be postponed to another day. Return to your accommodation will be before dinner, or after dinner and the stargazer express.

 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Today's regular trains will run with the NG10 and Peckett locomotives. The NGG11, the oldest working Garratt in the world, will run two trains to Vailima and the usual Garratts will wander around the mountain. Sebs Railway will be running and today's arena events will include the railway, traction engines, draft oxen and re-enactors who will create some photographic opportunities of yesteryear, a timeless African agricultural cameo.Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner.

 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Today has a military feel. The main railway will feature the German First World War Fendbahn locomotive, the NG4 tank locomotive and the afternoon Garratts around the mountain. The arena event  will be military with cameos using tanks, other armoured vehicles, re-enactors, smoke and much more. Have your camera at the ready - action stations! Sebs Railway will be in operation as usual.

 

After dinner, there will be a lecture on an interesting subject related to the activity at the Festival. This event may be switched with the starlight express if it is felt that the weather may be more appropriate. Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner and the event.

 

Monday, April 8, 2019

 

April 3-8 OPTION

guests who have booked the shorter tour from April 3-8 will leave at 9:00AM this morning, with an included transfer back to Johannesburg Airport that should arrive at about 3:00PM.

 

April 8-12 OPTION

leave Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport at noon, arriving at your hotel late this afternoon.

 

April 3-12 option

Today will be a day to catch your breath, enjoy the action around the farm and the numerous trains that will run on both the main line and Sebs railway. The main line will feature the Barclay and Fowler locomotives on the eight Hoekfontein - Grootdraai - Mooihek trains, with the NG15 running morning and afternoon to Vailima and the usual 2 x NGG16 on the Mountain Wanderer.Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner.

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The railway will again feature the 2 x Class NG6 (Lawley) 4-4-0 locomotives on the eight scheduled trains supported by two Garratts for the Mountain Wanderer and the NGG11 Garratt to Vailima. Sebs Railway will be running all day with some of the smaller steam locomotives, some with passenger carriages and others with wagons. The arena event will include vintage aircraft, cars and trains all in the same picture - a transport spectacular. The stargazer express will run tonight. Travel to a dark location on the estate where there will be an informative talk about the stars of the southern hemisphere, a wonderful evening of beauty and enlightenment. This can only happen if the weather is clear and so may run on another day.Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner and the stargazer event.

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The NGG11 and NG10 will be in action today on the scheduled trains, supported by an NG4 to Vailima and the usual double headed Garratts around the mountain. Sebs Railway will run a usual and today's arena events will include the railway, traction engines, draft oxen and re-enactors. The idea is to create some photographs of yesteryear, a timeless African agricultural cameo. Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Today is the last day of the Stars 19 International Festival. The railway will bow out with the NG10 and NG15 locomotives supported by the NG4 and the double headed Garratts around the mountain this afternoon. Sebs Railway will welcome you with the smaller steam locomotives and the arena event will be a Military day. Military cameos using tanks, re-enactors, smoke and maybe some aircraft. Have your camera at the ready - action stations! After dinner, there will be a lecture on an interesting subject related to the activity at the Festival. This event may be switched with the starlight express if it is felt that the weather may be more appropriate.Return to your accommodation will be either before or after dinner and the event.

 

Friday, 12 April 2019

Today is a changeover day, the Stars International Festival has come to an end and the Stars Family Festival starts. Most international guests will leave this morning, either returning to Johannesburg and their onward journey home, or joining the steam charter that will take them to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg.

 

OPTION ONE

Return to Johannesburg today, leave at 9:00AM and arrive at about 3:00PM in time for this evening's flights to Europe, England. and the USA.

 

OPTION TWO

Transfer early this morning to Bethlehem to join the steam charter train.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON

 

The prices listed here may change at any time

due to cost increases or foreign currency adjustments.

 

The full International Festival April 3-12, 2019

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$3,387 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$1,028 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$200 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 2019

PRICE INCLUDES

Hotel dinner on April 3.

Entry to Sandstone for 8 days

Your transfer from Johannesburg

Return transfers between your hotel and Sandstone

Accommodation at Fouriesburg for eleven nights, bed and breakfast

 

April 3-8 2019:

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$1,974 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$628 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$200 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 2018

PRICE INCLUDES

Hotel dinner on April 3.

Entry to Sandstone for 5 days

Your transfer from Johannesburg

Return transfers between your hotel and Sandstone

Accommodation at Fouriesburg for five nights, bed and breakfast

 

April 8-12, 2019:

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$1,564 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$503 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$200 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 2018

PRICE INCLUDES

Hotel dinner on April 8.

Entry to Sandstone for 3 days

Your transfer from Johannesburg

Return transfers between your hotel and Sandstone

Accommodation at Fouriesburg for four nights, bed and breakfast

 

meals:

Breakfast

is included in your booking, normally at your accommodation unless you are joining early morning photo sessions, when it will be at Sandstone. You will receive vouchers for all breakfasts served at Sandstone.

 

Lunch

is not included, there will be a number of catering outlets at Sandstone where a variety of lunch options can be obtained.

 

Dinners

are included in your hotel where indicated as such in the program. Other dinners may be at your hotel or at Sandstone and should be pre-booked. Vouchers for Sandstone or the hotel are USD27 per person per meal. Dinners can be booked directly with the hotel if you wish but Sandstone meals must be purchased in advance

 

Light refreshments

will be available throughout the day at Sandstone.

 

Coach transfers:

You will be allocated space in a coach that suits your Sandstone package and requested dinner/evening activity options. A schedule of coach departures will be posted on a notice board at the hospitality hub and you will be able to discuss any issues or amendments with the Geoff's Trains team. The coaches will run to a timetable and it will be your responsibility to ensure that you are on the correct coach in time for departure. There may be an extra charge for private transfers or alternative meals should you miss your coach.

 

Sandstone entry tickets only:

Any day, between April 4-14, 2019

Note: For groups of 4 or less

 

US$ 168Per Adult, per day.

US$ 101Per child under 18, per day.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

PHOTOGRAPHERS SPECIAL TOUR

 

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 maximize 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 organizer. 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.

 

Preview days

There have always been a few days before the start of a Sandstone Festival when volunteers prepare the equipment and acquaint themselves with the knowledge needed to operate a railway and the other diverse heritage machinery efficiently and safely. For 2019, these preparation days will be open for a maximum of 50 photographers who will be able to explore the farm, view the machinery and enjoy the railway operations without other visitors being present.

 

April 1, 2019

You will be met at Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport and shown to your coach in time for a 12:01PM departure. Your transfer to your hotel will take between 5 and 6 hours, with a halfway comfort stop. An included dinner will be at your hotel.

 

April 2, 2019

After breakfast, travel by coach to Sandstone. Spend the day on the estate, viewing the preparations and exploring the outstanding heritage collection. Photographic opportunities will be arranged to take best advantage of operating equipment, particularly steam locomotives. Lunch will be available. Return to your hotel.

 

April 3, 2019

A second day at Sandstone, once more taking in the activity on the farm as final preparations are made for the festival. This should include a wealth of railway activity as a substantial number of volunteer crew familiarize themselves with the route. Lunch will be available. Return to your hotel.

 

The preview package ends on arrival at your hotel this evening, where you will join one of the festival packages described below.

 

Photogapher’s Special packages during the International Festival

 

To satisfy the interests of serious railway photographers who would like to enjoy early morning photo sessions in a controlled environment with experienced runpast organizers, Geoff’s Trains has arranged for access to the estate for a maximum of 50 participants who will have exclusive access to either the main railway or Sebs railway for those magical early morning glint shots. Each session will run from sunrise to 9:00AM, and will then include breakfast at Sandstone. A second photographic group will be available to other tour operators, they will be managed by the same Geoff’s Trains team but will not follow the same trains as the first group.

 

You can book for April 4-7, or for April 9-11. In the three or four mornings of your package you will photograph a selection of ex SAR locomotives, both straight and Garratt. If you wish, you can book both groups. The first and second groups will, as far as is possible, feature the same locomotive classes. Travel between photo locations will be by coach, and the trains will have goods loads. No other visitors or transport will be allowed on the estate before 9:00AM. During the day, when the Stars festival is open to everyone, you will have priority on other services such as coach transport to run-past locations for the afternoon mountain meander trains. Early booking is advised, we cannot increase the number of participants and the sessions should prove popular.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON

 

PREVIEW DAYS

April 1-3, 2019

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$832 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$240 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$200 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 2018

 

TOUR INCLUDES

Hotel dinner on April 1

Your transfer from Johannesburg

Entry to Sandstone for 2 days 9:00AM to Sunset

Return transfers between your hotel and Sandstone

Accommodation at Fouriesburg for two nights, bed and breakfast

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

PHOTOGRAPHER’S SPECIAL PACKAGES DURING THE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

April 9-11, 2019

 

DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$380 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$285 

DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE CONFIRMED$200 

FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 3, 2018

 

TOUR INCLUDES

Breakfast at Sandstone.

The services of a photo run-past organizer

Entry to Sandstone between 06h00 and 09h00 on the selected days.

Priority on coach transport on the Sandstone Estate to access run-past locations

 

meals:

Breakfast

is included in your booking, normally at your accommodation unless you are joining early morning photo sessions, when it will be at Sandstone. You will receive vouchers for all breakfasts served at Sandstone.

 

lunch

is not included, there will be a number of catering outlets at Sandstone where a variety of lunch options can be obtained.

 

Dinners

are included in your hotel where indicated as such in the program. Other dinners may be at your hotel or at Sandstone and should be pre-booked. Vouchers for Sandstone or the hotel are USD27 per person per meal (Non commissionable). Dinners can be booked directly with the hotel if you wish but Sandstone meals must be purchased in advance.

 

Light refreshments

will be available throughout the day at Sandstone.

 

Coach transfers:

You will be allocated space in a coach that suits your Sandstone package and requested dinner/evening activity options. The coaches will run to a timetable and it will be your responsibility to ensure that you are on the correct coach in time for departure. There may be an extra charge for private transfers or alternative meals should you miss your coach.

 

Maximum number of photographers per group: 50.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

TURN YOUR SANDSTONE VISIT INTO

A GREAT AFRICAN EXPERIENCE

 

We are 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

April 10-12, 2019

 

A steam charter is panned that will leave Bethlehem on the morning of April 12. It will run via Bloemfontein to Kimberley with the Reefsteamers Class 12AR locomotive. From Kimberley to Germiston it will be hauled over the main lin

 

The train will leave the Reefsteamers Germiston depot on the morning of April 11, bound for Bethlehem. It will be possible to join on the afternoon of April 10 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 April 11, arriving late afternoon. Spend the night in your compartment on the train. On April 12, 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 April 14.

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON

 

Germiston to Bethlehem charter train:

April 10-17, 2019

 

silver classsingle room occupancy$675 

silver classsingle in a double bedroom$1,100 

There are a limited number of single rooms available at no surcharge. Book early!

economy classsingle room occupancy$519 

economy classtwo singles sharing three bed compartment$778 

There are a limited number of single rooms available at no surcharge.

 

A steam operated charter train from Bethlehem

visiting Sandstone, Bloemfontein and Kimberley

April 12-17, 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. Accommodation on the train is limited and early booking is recommended.

 

The Bethlehem – Bloemfontein – Kimberley –

Johannesburg Steam Train

 

This steam charter is being negotiated with Reefsteamers and Transnet, the rail operators. Until the tour arrangements have been finalized, we can accept provisional bookings that will be confirmed later. If the charter is unable to operate, alternatives will be proposed to fill the time between the end of the Stars Festival and the Cape Town steam charter, this will probably include time with Reefsteamers and other steam operators in the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas. It is important that you declare your interest in the tour as space is limited and provisional bookings will be dealt with on a first come basis.

 

Friday, April 12, 2019 Bethlehem to Bloemfontein

Depart Bethlehem at 7:10AM.

Arrive Bloemfontein 5:45PM.

 

Leave your hotel early this morning for a coach transfer to Bethlehem. Join a special steam train for your journey to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg. The locomotive will be a Class 12AR, supported by a Class 19D at Bloemfontein and a Class 25NC at Kimberley. (All locomotives subject to availability).The train will comprise coaches for the Reefsteamers fleet. There will be sleeper accommodation for 75 passengers, a lounge and dining car. Runpasts will be arranged at locations selected by experienced organisers, the number being determined by the time available. Overnight on the train standing in Bloemfontein. Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch, light refreshments and bar will be available.

 

Saturday, April 13, 2019 Bloemfontein works and a short steam working

Depart Bloemfontein 6:00AM.

Arrive Bloemfontein 1:00PM

 

This morning, our train will make a trip from Bloemfontein to Sanapos and back. On the outward journey, the Class 19D will lead and on the return, the Class 12AR will be in charge. This afternoon, visit the Sandstone Workshops and National Collection of locomotives. Overnight on the train standing in Bloemfontein. Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch, light refreshments and bar will be available.

 

Sunday, April 14, 2019 Bloemfontein to Kimberley

Depart Bloemfontein 1:00PM.

Arrive Kimberley 6:00PM

 

Free time in the morning. This afternoon, our train will make the trip from Bloemfontein to Kimberley with the Class 12AR. Runpasts will be staged as the train steams west into the afternoon light.Overnight on the train standing in Kimberley. Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch, light refreshments and bar will available.

 

Monday, April 15, 2019 Kimberley

 

Today is set aside to visit the Big Hole Museum and the railway museum on the station platform. Also, visit Steamnet 2000. It is possible they will have their Class 25NC in steam for a short run and photographic opportunity. The program for today will be finalized when it is known what Steamnet 2000 can offer. Overnight on the train standing in Kimberley. Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch, light refreshments and bar will be available. If you are continuing with us to Cape Town and beyond, you will leave the steam charter today and fly to Cape Town from Kimberley this afternoon.

 

Tuesday, April 16-17, 2019 Kimberley to Germiston

Depart Kimberley.5:00AM

Arrive Germiston 7:00PM

 

Our train and the steam locomotive will be hauled by Transnet fright Rail electric locomotives from Kimberley to Germiston as steam is not permitted on core routes. Three or four service stops will be required, and photos may be possible, depending on the location and according to the safety rules. The train will stable for the night in the Reefsteamers depot, offering an opportunity for night photography. Overnight on the train standing in Germiston. Breakfast and dinner included. Lunch, light refreshments and bar will be available.

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tour ends this morning with airport transfer

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON

 

Bethlehem to Germiston charter train:

April 12-17, 2019

 

silver classsingle room occupancy$2,899 

silver classsingle in a double bedroom$4,594 

There are a limited number of single rooms available at no surcharge. Book early!

economy classsingle room occupancy$2,007 

economy classtwo singles sharing three bed compartment$3,702 

There are a limited number of single rooms available at no surcharge.

 

TRAVEL IN FIRST CLASS STYLE

ON SOUTH AFRICA'S LEGENDARY

BLUE TRAIN

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

A very exciting feature for Stars of Sandstone 2019 will be the arrival of a special charter of The Blue Train at the event. The Blue Train will be departing Pretoria on April 3 at 9:00am and will be spending 2 nights at Sandstone Estates, departing on April 5 at 6:00pm for arrival in Pretoria on April 6 at 10:00am. Early booking is essential and you could be one of only 52 passengers to share in the experience.

 

This is one of the great luxury trains of the world and has the advantage of providing its passengers with a comfortable environment, excellent food, and of course the ability to hop on and off a 2ft Narrow Gauge Railway which would be operating on an adjacent siding. Many years ago when the Sandstone Railway system was planned they specifically created a siding next to the Main Line Vailima siding on the National Railway Network Branch line between Bethlehem and Bloemfontein. That is where this special train will be staged. Most luxury trains are enjoyed for what they are, namely a trip on a train, but this has the added advantage of spending 2 days at a world class event where there are any number of additional things to do. When the passengers have had enough, they can go back to the Blue Train, relax, sit in the lounge and watch the trains go by. They can on a whim jump off and join a passenger train about to embark for the mountains or returning to the main complex which will be a hive of activity.

 

There are only 52 berths on this train, so we do commend it to everyone who is considering coming down to Stars of Sandstone 2019 but who may be concerned about the lack of 5-star accommodation opportunities in the area.

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival
Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

The Blue Train package:

April 3-6, 2019

 

De luxe accommodation Per person sharing$4,337 

De luxe accommodationSingle person supplement$4,337 

Luxury accommodationPer person sharing$4,566 

Luxury accommodation Single person supplement$4,566 

A 50% non-refundable deposit is required by August 31, 2018 Balance due by December 31, 2018

 

Included:

Blue Train travel from Pretoria to Sandstone and back

Accommodation on the train for three nights, full board

Entry to Sandstone for 2 days 9:00am to end of day

 

Stars of Sandstone International Festival Stars of Sandstone International Festival

 

VICTORIA FALLS

CHOBE GAME RESERVE

 

There can be no better way to end your African adventure than a visit to the magnificent Victoria Falls and a wildlife safari at one of the animal kingdom's hotspots on the Chobe River in nearby Botswana. Your tour will be fully hosted by Geoff or Sheelagh Cooke. Your hotel at Victoria Falls will be the four star Kingdom Hotel, a short walk from the railway station and the Victoria Falls itself. Included during your visit will be a tram ride to the famous Victoria Falls bridge, a hosted visit to the Falls and a sunset cruise on the mighty Zambezi River. End your Africa adventure with an unforgettable wildlife experience at the Chobe game reserve. Photograph wildlife with the experts from their specialist vehicles and boats. No need to take the big lens with you, a Nikon DSLR camera and lens are included at no extra cost.

 

Two dates are available. The first departure leaves Johannesburg the day following the end of the Sandstone international festival, and the second date leaves Johannesburg after the arrival of the charter steam train a few days later.

 

Saturday, April 13 and Wednesday, April 17, 2019 (B)

Fly to Victoria Falls, arriving around lunch time. You will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. Later this afternoon, join a tram trip from Victoria Falls Station to the famous bridge over the Zambezi River. The bridge carries both road and rail over the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, when built in 1905 it was the highest railway bridge in the world - an engineering marvel of the time and still impressive today. Overnight: The Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls.

 

Sunday, April 14 and Thursday, April 18, 2019 (B)

Enjoy a hosted tour of the famous Victoria Falls this morning, included will be an informative introduction to the Falls and a walk through the rain forest to a viewpoint overlooking the famous railway bridge. Your rain forest visit will be followed by a visit to the big tree, a Baobab under which David Livingstone probably sat, and a craft market visit. After a break for lunch and a leisurely afternoon, transfer to the banks of the Zambezi River above the ‘Falls for a sunset cruise, snacks and sundowners are included as you watch the sun set over the river and distant Ilala Palms. Overnight: The Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls.

 

Monday, April 15 and Friday, April 19, 2019 (B)

Today is a free day at Victoria Falls. Time to relax or join numerous activities in the area, including helicopter flights, game drives, village tours and much more. Victoria Falls town is a short stroll from the hotel and for the less energetic there are a number of pools at the hotel (with signs asking you to beware of small crocodiles!) Overnight: the Kingdom Hotel, Victoria Falls

 

On Friday, 19 April, there is an opportunity to join an optional stream train dinner train to the Bridge and Jafuta Siding. The locomotive should be the Bushtracks Class 14A Garratt #512, the five course dinner will be provided by the Victoria Falls Hotel. (This is a scheduled service and space is limited to 44 diners, bookings are subject to availability.) As the train only runs on Wednesdays and Fridays, it cannot be offered on 15 April.

 

Tuesday, April 16 and Saturday, April 20, 2019 (B

Option one: Airport transfer

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Victoria Falls airport for your flight to Johannesburg. This will connect with most overnight flights to Europe.

 

Option two: Wildlife and the Chobe River

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 including herds of elephant that love the river. After breakfast, transfer by road to your lodge on the banks of the Chobe river, about  80 kilometres distant in Botswana. The Chobe River is a tributary to the Zambezi, with the two great rivers coming together at Kazungula, a few kilometres down stream from the town of Kasane. The Chobe National Park is one of the best reserves in Africa for wildlife photography. Not only can you enjoy your photography from land and water, but the animals tend to be more relaxed in the Chobe than many other places. Check in to the Pangolin Chobe Lodge, the closest lodge to the national park. This stylish 14 room lodge has the photographer in mind with magnificent views, particularly at sunset. The lodge is decorated with stunning wildlife photographs and there is a special photo editing desk in the bar area. A Nikon D7000 camera and Sigma 150 to 600 mm zoom lens can be used at no extra cost during your stay and the SD memory card is included free so that you can take those outstanding images home with you.Your first game activity will be this afternoon. The lodge will offer activities on the photo boat, and  their selection of custom-built vehicles including the mighty Unimog. Along with photographic activities, they also have several other boats and vehicles which can be used by clients not wishing to do photography specifically, but rather general game viewing instead. The choice is yours as to whether you would like to join the photo safari or standard game activity. The Pangolin Chobe Lodge is designed to be enjoyed by photographers and non-photographers alike.Overnight: Pangolin Chobe Lodge. Full board, all local drinks, two activities per day and park fees are included.

 

Wednesday, April 17 and Sunday, April 21, 2019

A morning and afternoon game drive or boat trip are included today, with ample time to relax at mid-day. The lodge has a swimming pool, lounge and bar. Overnight: Pangolin Chobe Lodge. Full board, all local drinks, two activities per day and park fees are included.

 

Thursday, April 18 and Monday, April 22, 2019

Enjoy another morning and afternoon game activity today. The final mix of water and land activity will be determined by wildlife activity at the time, but you should expect two land based and four water based trips during your stay. Overnight: Pangolin Chobe Lodge. Full board, all local drinks, two activities per day and park fees are included.

 

Friday, April 19 and Tuesday, April 23, 2019 (B)

Your last game trip will be this morning before breakfast and an included transfer to Kasane Airport for the South Africa Airlink departure to Johannesburg (flight not included).

 

There is an opportunity to spend one more night at the Pangolin Lodge, with your transfer to Kasane Airport on 20 April.

 

ALL PRICES ARE PER PERSON

 

Victoria Falls

April 13-16 or 17-20, 2019:

 

DOUBLE ROOM$1,089 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$358 

 

Your package includes:

Airport transfers at Victora falls.

Hosted tour of the Victoria Falls.

Sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.

Tram ride to the Victoria Falls bridge.

Accommodation at Victoria Falls for three nights, bed and breakfast

Dinner train with a Garratt steam locomotive

Only available on April 19, 2019: $288

 

Chobe National Park

April 16 - 19 or 20 - 23 , 2019:

 

DOUBLE ROOM$1,820 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$379 

 

Your  Package includes:

Your transfer from Victoria Falls to Chobe

Accommodation at Pangolin Chobe Lodge for three nights, all inclusive

Transfer from lodge to Kasane airport. (Victoria Falls airport transfers on request - extra cost)

 

Extend your stay at Chobe

Only available on 19 April 2019

 

DOUBLE ROOM$493 

SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$116 

TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2018 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**

Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. Those people that use a credit card for payments a 3% conveyance fee will be added to the tour price. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.