It was the ultimate test in parenting for me – a four-hour train trip to Ceres with two kids. Yes, it was fun, but it was the longest time I had spent in a confined space with my difficult two-year-old.
Between moments of moaning and tantrums, I managed to get glances of the passing scenery. And the amazing places we passed made the trip worth it.
The passing landscape could change in the blink of an eye, from rugged farmlands to lush vineyards. And watching it from the comfort of a steam train made the experience even more exciting.
The Ceres Rail Company probably had the same thing in mind when launching their trips from Cape Town to Ceres.
Stepping on to Jessica, as she is aptly named, takes you back to an era when steam travel was the luxurious way to get around.
The coaches were redesigned with comfort in mind, while still maintaining that bygone look and feel.
Even the dining car retains that air of long-gone train travel, and you’ll forget you are living in the 21st century as time stands still.
The only time you’ll be whisked back to the present is when you disembark at Ceres Golf Course for a two-hour break and lunch.
The 9-hole course offered some respite from the heat of the day as we made our way to a specially prepared buffet lunch. There is plenty of space for the kids to let off some steam before the return trip to Cape Town.
The return trip was another four hours of toddler tantrums and nagging.
With open windows and quick naps, the passing scenery provided a moving picture of the Ceres Valley, hidden rock pools and virtually untouched wilderness areas. For this reason, you should add the Ceres Rail trip to your bucket list. Oh, and maybe leave the little ones at home.
Construction on the Ceres railway track, on which the Ceres steam train runs, started in 1910, and was completed in 1912.
After many years of active service it was later closed, only to be reopened in 2012.
Ceres Rail, one of only two steam train operators in the Western Cape, run three steam trains – Jessica, Bailey and the Red Devil.
Jessica was manufactured in England in 1948, while the famous Red Devil is a one-of-a-kind South African-built train manufactured in 1981.
Some quick tips
Drinks are offered free of charge in the bar area
Do pack snacks for the journey, as there is no food for sale on board
If taking the kids with, make sure there are enough activities to keep them occupied
The dining car serves hot beverages like tea and coffee Pack sun hats and sunscreen as Ceres can be hot this time of year
When making your booking, state if you’ll be having lunch, at an extra cost, at the golf estate
The Ceres Steam Train runs every second weekend, departing from the Royal Cape Yacht Club
One-way trips cost between R250 and R400 per person
Lunch at Ceres Golf Estate is at an additional cost of R150 per person
To book your tickets, visit: http://www.ceresrail.co.za/book/