Situated at the water’s edge of the Knysna Lagoon, this magnificent 6 Bedroom House, plus 3 sea-facing cottages, offers the very best location on the South African coastline.
Sleep on “The Train” as it is known by locals situated next to Santos Beach, Mossel Bay on the Garden Route. Enjoy this unique and romantic experience only 30 metres from the Indian Ocean.
After a couple of days in Oudtshoorn, it was time to head back to the coast, so after a quick breakfast we loaded the car and headed south. The weather was sunny and warm as we left, but we could see up ahead the clouds resting on top of the mountains – which is where we were heading. Sure, enough as we climbed toward Robinson’s Pass the clouds closed in around us. Judging from what I could see this would have been a gorgeous drive on a clear day. Sadly, as we descended from the mountains onto the coastal plains the grey, overcast weather stuck with us.
The drive was short, so we arrived in Mossel Bay mid-morning, which was a little too early to check into where we were staying. We drove around the town a bit to get our bearings and find somewhere to get a coffee. Being a tourist town there were plenty of coffee shops, but we came across Jack’s Bagels, which we’d sampled in Stellenbosch – we hadn’t realised this was a chain of shops. It was nearly lunchtime so ordered a vegetarian wrap and their gorgonzola, figs, cream cheese and walnut bagel drizzled with honey (which is delicious).
It was close enough to the time we could check in to our accommodation, and I was very tired as I’d only got about 2-hours of sleep the night before and needed a nap. I hadn’t told Karen where we were staying so she was surprised when we turned up next to some old railway carriages and I told her this is where we’d be staying. The Santos Express is a series of railway carriages that have been turned into a hostel/hotel. It is right on the Santos beach overlooking the sea – a beautiful location. Some of the carriages are hostel-type shared rooms, but I’d booked us into an ensuite room. This gave us essentially half of an entire railway carriage. The room was not quite ready, so we sat in their restaurant, which also looks over the beach – which wasn’t quite so with the gloomy weather – and had a glass of wine while we waited. We didn’t have to wait too long to get into our room which was in the very end carriage. It was lovely, with a very comfortable bed and spacious (sort of bathroom) with an amazing metal sink that folded away when not being used. We also had a little deck outside to sit on that looked down onto the beach below. We were too tired to appreciate this fully, so we jumped into bed for a short snooze.
Two hours later we woke, and the sun was out. It was not very warm outside, but we could not resist going down the beach and going into the sea, so we broke out the swimming cosies and headed to the beach. We thought the water would be cold and we were not wrong. Mossel Bay is in a big sweeping bay which protects the beaches from the crashing seas of the Southern Ocean, so the waters are safe to swim in and the waves are gentle. It was not long before we decided we’d had enough of the cold water and headed back to our room for a warm shower.
By now it was late in the afternoon, but the weather was still nice, so we decided to walk to the Point where the bay opens out into the ocean. Here there is a lighthouse. It was about a three-kilometre walk which took us through the harbour and by the railway yards. When we reached the Point, the nature of the sea changed. We walked along a path that follows the bay out onto the edge of the Peninsula where the waves were large and crashing onto the rocks of the beach – a totally different feel to the calm of Santos Beach. One of the most prominent features of the Point is the lighthouse high up on the cliffs the Saint Blaise lighthouse. Snaking up the cliff face is a very rustic trail which is the start of the Saint Blaise trail. As you go up you look vertically down to the roiling seas below and some nasty-looking rocks – a scary passage for someone like me who suffers from vertigo. The plan had been to get to the top and take the road down from the lighthouse. Unfortunately, at the top, there is no access to the lighthouse as it is all fenced off and the Saint Blaise trail heads for 16km down the coast. The only option was to take the rocky trail back down!
It was starting to get dark, and we had a 3km walk back to the Santos Express. It was a pleasant, and mostly flat walk back. Originally, we thought of making a sandwich back in our room, but we talked ourselves into going to the Santos Express restaurant where we had a pizza and red wine and watched the night fall over the beach and Mossel Bay.
ABOUT THE SANTOS EXPRESS
The Santos Express Train Lodge is a genuine train situated on the Santos Beach in Mossel Bay with all cabins facing the sea. With the ocean so close, you can’t really beat its unbelievable position and exquisite views. An invigorating sea breeze keeps everything cool even on really hot days.
The Santos Express Train Lodge opened its doors on 1 December 1994. Nine decommissioned coaches were procured from South African Railways and fitted with the necessary plumbing and electricity. These coaches were similar in style to the Transkaroo first class, which operated on South African lines during the seventies. One coach was a communal kitchen and a bed cost only R25 per person per night, but guests had to supply their own bedding.
Originally it provided only accommodation, but due to its uniqueness and location, it proved very popular, especially with foreign visitors and it was decided that a restaurant was needed to complete the experience. The accommodation was upgraded and a bar and restaurant were added.
In August 2007 a fire destroyed the train restaurant and offices. A new restaurant area was built, but all the memorabilia and authentic train fittings were lost in the fire. We are looking to recreate this due to popular demand and in an effort to provide the full experience of staying and dining in an authentic Transnet train. The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe used to run between Mosselbaai and George, but has ceased service much to the dismay of the general public, as well as foreign visitors. It proved to be a major attraction whilst it was running and we still get many enquiries. Nowhere on the Garden Route can one now experience a train ride or any train related experience apart from the Transport Museum in George and our Train Lodge.
A need for more luxury coaches was identified and two vintage wooden coaches called the Royal Suites were acquired. These were built in 1919 and 1921 respectively, then transported by boat from England to South Africa where they served a luxury rail company until they were decommissioned and made their last journey by rail to join our fleet in December 2013.
|Type:||Ranging from single, double, budget and deluxe compartments and units.|
|Prices:||Around R1500 per night|
Best time to visit Mossel Bay
According to the Guinness Book of Records, this `Karoo-by-the-sea` town has the second most moderate climate in the world and has the only north-facing beach in South Africa. The sea temperature in the summertime is 20 to 22 degrees C and in the winter 14 to 16 degrees C. The average temperature for September – May is 21 to 28 degrees C, and from May to Sept is 16 to 21 degrees C.