I don’t know about you but I have a list a mile long of all the things I want to do and the experiences I want my children to have. I managed to check one of those things off the list yesterday and we took the steam train to Vredenheim as a family. Once we got there the children also managed to see zebras, ostriches up close and lions for the first time but more about that later.
Steam train trip to Vredenheim
Someone tweeted something about this trip about 6 weeks ago and my interest was piqued. I immediately went to find out some more and boy, was I glad I did! I had no idea that Atlantic Rail runs 2 steam train trips every month mainly going from Cape Town to Simonstown but every now and then they include a Winelands trip as well. To be honest I sort of knew about” Jenny” the steam train going to Simonstown since I’d seen pictures of the train going along the beach but I didn’t know about “Katie” and her wine route.
This was the first time that Vredenheim made up a package where the return journey by steam train included lunch in their restaurant and a tour of their lion park and I hope it won’t be the last. What I lovely day out. We had beautiful weather and I’m glad we chose to have lunch at the earliest session of 11:30am. I chose this because I wanted to explore the grounds at my leisure afterwards and not have to rush through anything to get to back to the train in time for departure at 3:15pm.
Wait, let me backtrack a little. We took the MyCiti bus into town at about 7:30am (just in case there were any delays on that service) and got to Cape Town CBD just after 8am. This made us WAAAAAYYY too early for the departure of the steam train at 9:35am but I hate being late for anything. It was a lovely walk to The Train Lodge just behind Jaguar on the Foreshore and it was nice to see that part of the city while it was still cool and quiet.
Getting their so early meant we had time to see “Katie” pull into the station and then had time to take loads of pictures before everyone else arrived. It was a full train with coaches 1,3 and 5 being reserved for those disembarking at Spier and coaches 2 and 4 for those of us going to Vredenheim.
My daughter quickly made friends with the family seated across the aisle from us as they also had a little girl of around the same age and this gave the kids the benefit of swapping between the windows on either side of the train as they followed the activity of the rails on both sides.
After about 90 minutes on the train we were getting excited for what we would see at the wine farm and lunch couldn’t come fast enough. After disembarking at Vlottenburg station we were led across the tracks and down a path for a walk through the reserve.
After admiring the views for a while we were just starting to get a bit tired and then we saw an ostrich. We wondered why she was giving us the beady eye until we saw the pile of eggs she was guarding. After taking a few pictures we moved along swiftly as it looked like she might make a run for the fence at any moment. Across the path we were met by the curious sight of a dazzle of zebra (or is it a zeal of zebra?) …which included an ostrich…and a donkey.
We were glad to see to parking area of the wine farm up ahead as we were all gasping for a comfort break and some water. Once we had refreshed ourselves we headed out to the patio where tables had been allocated for each family or group. We had a choice of bobotie and rice with sambals or chicken schnitzel with basil mayo and fries.
The kids could choose between pizza, calamari, chicken strips or schnitzel and chips with a dessert choice of Italian kisses or ice cream and chocolate sauce. Once we had placed our orders the kids ran off to climb trees or explore the garden. We were offered wines to taste while we were waiting for our food and the kids could “taste” grape juice. I love it when a venue includes children in the experience rather than expecting them to be seen and not heard. A major plus in my book!
Once we had finished a leisurely lunch it was time to go see the big cats. So much awe and so many aaawwws. The majesty of the lion, the lionesses lounging in the shade, the Bengal tigers drinking from their pool and the leopard purring and growling at the same time. Have you heard a cheetah “talk” before? Seriously! The cutest thing ever!
You have to experience this for yourself so book the next available wine route trip on the 2nd of November. Vredenheim is planning to put together another package for the day and it is well worth going.
If you don’t want a package deal but just need the basic info, tickets for the train are R250 for adults and R150 for kids with entrance to the lion park at Vredenheim costing R50 per adult.
The package is only slightly more than that and includes a 2 course lunch (from a set menu), wine/grape juice tasting and entrance to the lion park so I would recommend that you keep an eye on Vredenheim’s timeline for more details.