The gloomy weather will not stop me from taking my first Umgeni Steam Railway train ride. The Umgeni Steam Railway is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers, whose aim is to preserve the heritage of railways in South Africa. Train rides take place on the last weekend of the month, from Kloof to Inchanga Station.
I wanted to take a ride on the iconic train for as long as I can remember. When I was invited to attend the launch of The Saunter, a series of arts, crafts, food and activity trails that stretches from Durban to Hilton, I gladly accepted.
My friend Sarah and I arrive at the Kloof Station a few minutes early and decide to enjoy a cup of coffee at the Stokers Arm pub. The pub is located a few meters away from the train. Dozens of people occupy the table outside, gulping down beer and eating ribs. A waiter tells us that the train will arrive at 4pm. It was scheduled to bring the morning travellers back to the Kloof Station.
When it's time to board, Coach Marshall welcomes us. He tells us about the safety regulations. A few minutes later, the chugging sound from the front of the train alerts us that it's time to leave. I feel like I am in a scene from a movie, as it looks similar to the trains in those golden oldies movies. The green coloured leather seats, with wooden fixtures, sets the tone for the incredible ride that lay before us. The hour long journey starts at Kloof, travelling west towards Hillcrest to Padleys, Botha’s Hill to Inchanga. On our way, we pass Emberton, the Valley of Thousand Hills and Drummond Tunnel. Fresh summer air fills the train through the bare windows. The scenery is beautiful, with views of the lush greenery, mountains and townships. The train ride is an escape from life, transporting you into another world. On our journey, there are families who wave as we pass by, children playing games at the side of the road and women from the township collecting water.
It paints a true depiction of an authentic Durban. This train, like the Holiday Express, is a great way to reconnect with families. The harmonious atmosphere is exactly what many people need after a long week. Once at Inchanga, we are treated to date balls as we wander the station. According to one of the guests, one of the trains were made by the same company that created the Titanic. Guests can enjoy picnics at this spot. For dates and times of trains this festive season, visit http://umgenisteamrailway.com/