About a dozen Georgians were taken on an excursion over the Outeniqua Mountains last week to be 'test pilots' for an exciting new tourism initiative being developed by Garden Route Rail Excursions (GRRE), a local tourism company.
With their new venture they want to unlock the tourism potential of Herold and Waboomskraal, two charming gems of the Little Karoo.
And this is indeed what their excursion over the mountain does. It starts with a short guided tour of the Transnet Museum with its railway treasures and precious locomotives, before everyone embarks for a scenic trip on the Power Van to Camfer Station up the Outeniqua Mountain. From Camfer, groups have the choice of taking a tour of either Herold or Waboomskraal.
We missed out on the Power Van trip because of threatening rock falls and went by bus via the Outeniqua Pass to Camfer. From here visitors can opt for a variety of different activities. We had a leisurely stopover at Herold Wines for a cellar tour, wine tasting and delectable light lunch in a heavenly setting, and then visited Over the Mountain Guest House with its quaint gardens and breathtaking views.
Here more refreshments, a brief talk on the history of the area and an introduction to a non-alcoholic wine bottled under the label of Bonvigne were enjoyed.
The wine is made by a young couple, Dave and Gale Lodge who also offer a tractor-drawn wagon trip up the mountain on Grootfontein (farm of the Du Toit brothers) for an al fresco breakfast and a walk to Bushman paintings.
In Waboomskraal, the excursion can include activities such as an ostriches and vineyards experience at Holgate Hanepoot Halte, witblits and mampoer tasting at Bobina, a hops demo and beer brewing talk, a fruit production experience and a stop at Rosenhof for a flower demo and something sweet.
GRRE partners Pierre Poolman and Alwyn van Rensburg have dreams of bringing partners on board to restore many of the neglected historic buildings along these routes to further add to the attraction of the area.
Fathima Hassain-Watney, Eden Municipality's coordinator of tourism development who accompanied the tour, was extremely impressed with the tourism possibilities of the area. "I'm really excited about what is being created here. This is the way to go for developing our region's tourist potential," she said.