Two weekends ago I was invited on the Forgotten Route, Train to the Karoo tour by the wonderful and quirky Wineflies tour company and I had the living best time. This two-day excursion involved wine (a lot of it), a train trip through one of the most beautiful stretches of South Africa, and an overnight’s stay in the oasis town of Matjiesfontein that is literally frozen in time. It was also pretty freezing, but here is a what it was all about with my pics to tell a better story.
The tour started with a stroll through The Cape Town Company Gardens followed by a coffee break at the historic Kimberly Hotel. This is where we got our passports and met the bus to take us out-of-town. We visited Karibo Wine Estate in Rawsonville which is off the beaten track and were charmed by the owner Karen le Roux who presented her range of wines alongside cupcakes, ice cream and biltong. All were a novel and excellent pairing.
It was then a short trip to the station to catch the SAR Trans-Karoo train to Matjiesfontein. This is the scheduled train that runs from Cape Town to Joburg, so we just jumped on for two hours of the ride. Sitting in the dining car with epic views on either side whizzing by was very special. It was like have a real life Nat Geo documentary happening right in front of us.
We were warmly welcomed at the Matjiesfontein station with a cocktail and then driven a short distance to drop our bags at the Rietfontein Private Nature Reserve which was our accommodation for the night. We then hit the only pub in town, the Lorde’s Arms where we enjoyed a glass, took a stroll around the hotel grounds, peaked into the motor museum and went on the world’s shortest bus trip which was hilarious. We had a little more wine before heading back to Ritfontein for our evening braai and dinner next to a raging fire. There is virtually no light pollution in Matjiesfontein and with a barely any moon that night, we saw the most spectacular Milky Way. Our guide was a braai master and the Karoo lamb chops and braai broodjies (toasted sandwiches) were spectacular. Wineflies also have their own range of wines called Little big wines and I can’t get enough of The Little Big Red. After all the feasting and ghost stories we went on a midnight walk through the town museum which houses the largest private collection in the country. I wish I could have taken a few pieces home to use in my styling.
We woke up to frost on the ground but warmed up with a traditional breakfast at the Lord Milner Hotel. I did another walk through the town before we hitting day two of the tour. By this stage, it already felt like we had been away a week. First stop was a stroll through a frosty graveyard just outside Matjiesfontein.
We then headed to Montegue via the scenic Koo Valley and it was the first time I had been on this stretch of road. It is so beautiful. Montegue is also a very quaint town and we stopped off at the local Saturday market in the town square to buy a few things.
It was then onto Platform 62 in Ashton for a hearty lunch. This is a real gem of a place and is a huge farm stall / wine shop / country restaurant and you can taste many local wines. The owner gave us an interesting brandy tasting paired with chocolates, honey, ginger, tonics and even orange juice that had us rethinking how we appreciate this beverage.
The last stop of the day was at Marbrin Olive Farm in Robertson and got to taste their range of delicious oils and tapenade. It was my first visit to the farm although I have been a long time fan of their products.
The tour costs R1850.00 per person and includes everything except your lunch on the train (average R100) and your lunch at Platform 62 (average R150 with your beverage/coffee) so you’re looking at about R2100 all-inclusive for a full two-day adventure in the Karoo. This includes your tour, the guide, the bus, your train ticket, wine tasting, cupcake and biltong pairing, Matjies bus tour, Karoo lamb braai, accommodation, breakfast, brandy pairing and olive tasting. For more info > check out their website.
*Disclaimer – I was invited with a group of media to experience this tour
Check out the Wineflies tour I did to Stellenbosch during the harvest.
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