Whilst in Mossel Bay with the girls and my folks for a bit of the June school holidays this year, we were rather hoping to catch a ride on the Outeniqua Power Van – a 2.5 hour return trip aboard an old Transnet railcar up into the Outeniqua mountains via the historic Montagu Pass. Of course, my severe aversion to planning, let alone making reservations of any sort, resulted in us not getting a spot – though it did facilitate a madcap race through to George just in case some seats were left open on the morning!
There were none. So instead, we camped outside the George Botanical Gardens in order to take a photo of the Power Van as it powered on by, following which we immediately hopped back into dad’s car for an impromptu drive over the famous Outeniqua Pass, the mounain pass that was built to replace the Montagu Pass as the primary route connecting George and the Garden Route coastal plain with Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo.
Built over a period between 1943 and 1951 (and undergoing more than a few upgrades along the way), the stunning Outeniqua Pass contains over 40 bend, corners and curves, and along the way you are able to spot four other passes in the area, not to mention gain an aerial view of George and the sea down in the distance.
As it turned out on the day, the weather was perfect for the drive (due to the elevation, the pass is often subject to mist and rainfall – and the occasional truck breakdown), and we were even lucky enough to hear and watch the Power Van chug along the Montagu Pass on the opposite side of the valley from one of the lookout points that we were stopped at!
After driving over the pass, turning around and then driving back over it (the best views – and lookout points – are in the Oudtshoorn to George direction), we next headed down into rural George, for a coffee, cake and ice cream with strawberries stop for the kids at Redberry Farm – a firm favourite family hangout for both tourists and locals alike.
And yes, of course the girls went for a spin on the mini train while we were there.
From there dad randomly selected a dirt road to follow, and eventually we ended up back home. Exactly how a day out and about driving should be enjoyed.