Your guide to what to do and where to go this Freedom Day in Cape Town
The Forgotten Route Train Tour to Matjiesfontein
Take the road less travelled on a two-day adventure to the Klein Karoo
So you’re wondering what exactly you can expect from the Forgotten Route, a historical journey from Cape Town to Matjiesfontein led by the owners of Wine Flies, a boutique tour operator committed to uncovering unique destinations and real experiences. The short answer: it’s two solid days of learning, landscape and loads of laughter.
Lord Francois van Binsbergen and Baron Riaan Renke lead the charge through the Klein Karoo, the fascinating and beautiful semi-desert in the heart of South Africa, offering an all-inclusive and completely one-of-a-kind experience that retraces the steps of diamond miners and explorers venturing into the nation’s unknown wild. But don’t anticipate a regular, old guided history tour: the maverick operators like to throw a couple of quirky curveballs into the mix. Not to mention, the often overlooked region is just as majestic and bucket list worthy as the well-explored Garden Route.
The expedition starts on a Friday with a walk through the Company’s Garden in Cape Town’s city centre. After a visit to the Kimberly Hotel, which was the starting point for many prospectors heading East with diamond-studded dreams in the 1800s, it’s a scenic bus ride to Rawsonville for a cupcake and red wine pairing in the private cellars of the boutique Kirabo wine farm. From there, it’s all aboard the Shosholoza Meyl for a train ride to the former centre of the British Empire.
The locomotive tugs its way right back in time to the station in Matjiesfontein, the quaint one-road town that seems to be frozen in its Victorian era glory days, where guests stay overnight in the Rietfontein Nature Reserve. The evening’s activities include a traditional Karoo lamb braai under the limitless starlit skies (including guided stargazing), a brilliant (and super short) night bus tour and honky-tonk music from the old piano in the Laird’s Arms pub. It’s festive, to say the very least.
After a hearty breakfast, the journey back to the present day begins with a stop at the famous graveyard of legends en route to a local family-owned farm that produces “jewels of the Karoo” – biltong and dried fruit. The treats are paired with wines from the region, and guests are invited for lunch at the family’s cottage in the KOO Valley. On the way home, the bus makes one last stop at an old Anglo-Boer War fort in the town of Montagu before driving through the expanse of fragrant fynbos towards Cape Town.
How much does the Forgotten Route Train Tour to Matjiesfontein Cost?
The Forgotten Route tour costs R1675p/p plus an additional R250 single supplement, which includes everything except lunch and drinks, and is perfect for pretty much anyone looking for a weekend away, a typical South African experience or a fun alternative to the Garden Route.
The tour is ideal for individuals, couples or groups and colleagues celebrating any occasion. For information or to book call +27 (0) 21 423 2444 or email [email protected].
Read more about our experience on the Forgotten Route to Matjiesfontein.
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