Cape Gauge Steam in KwaZulu-Natal

Steam in South Africa 11 - 19.6.2022

The trip to South Africa is an extension of the trip to Zimbabwe, where the main part of the planned 2022 Africa tour will take place. We want to see another great Garratt. And because the Umgeni Steam Railway is so close, we'll call there as well. Currently "only" one 19D is operational, but they are working on a 3BR. It is not yet clear whether this will be ready by the time of our visit, but we hope so.

GMAM Garratt in South Africa

The current pandemic is not unlikely to flare up again in the coming African winter, which is why we timed our trip for the beginning of winter, when case numbers in southern Africa are likely to be comparatively low. The population of southern Africa has also largely achieved immunity by now, not so much through a vaccination program, but through contagion and herd immunity. Nevertheless, we expect some minor travel obstacles with additional forms to be filled out.






Flight to South Africa


Arrival in South Africa and connecting flight to Durban, where the group from Zimbabwe will arrive at 18.50 hrs. From there we will drive for about two and a half hours to Creighton, where we will stay in various accommodations scattered over the village.


We will run the GMA/M-Garratt to Riverside and return. This will take all day and empty the tender completely.


As there are some positions that require more effort and could not be implemented on the first day, we will go to Riverside again with the Garratt.


In the morning we drive from Creighton in the opposite direction. About 7 km on the line to Donnybrook are operable. At sunrise we will photograph our charter train with the mighty Garratt. Afterwards we drive to our accommodation in Kloof.


We have booked a charter train on the Umgeni Steam Railway and will go all the way to Inchanga. A 19D will haul our train.


In the morning we’ll start from Inchanga with a different train composition. In the afternoon we leave the railway and drive to a hotel in Durban.


Individual flight home


Arrival at home


Line description

Creighton is now isolated from the rest of the national railway network in the southern part of South Africa, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The whole region is hilly to mountainous and was once developed by a network of cape and narrow gauge lines. Steep gradients required powerful locomotives; hence many Garratts were used here, including the State Railway's newest, the GMA class. The vast majority of these lines are disused nowadays. Only the section from Creighton to Riverside remains operational. Beyond that, you can still travel about seven kilometres towards Donnybrook. The area offers many fantastic photo opportunities and although the selection of wagons is limited, they are authentic for the line.

GMAM Garratt in South Africa

The Umgeni Steam Railway from Kloof to Inchanga is one of the few museum railways in South Africa that has been running extremely well for many years. It has many volunteers who keep it running, and have a suitable passenger train and some freight wagons. The line first runs through a heavily built-up area before changing to more open mountain scenery. This is where we will make our photo stops. On the second day, we plan to leave for the usually unused section and negotiate the steep gradient section northwest of Inchanga.

19D Umgeni Steam Railway, South Africa


Small Print

In South Africa there is a strict 12-hour service rule for locomotive and train crews. Therefore we have to observe these service hours.

The GMA/M in Creighton has seen better days as there are hardly anyone left who knows how to maintain the engine. However, the boiler inspector has given his okay, which means the locomotive will be available for us in 2022.

19D Umgeni Steam Railway, South Africa

The 19D of the Umgeni Steam Railway is in good technical condition. Work is currently underway on the 3BR, but it is not certain whether it will be ready by the time of our visit. As there are no replacements on the two railways, no spare locomotive can be provided in case of a technical failure. There is no possibility of compensation or refund in case of problems, delays, breakdowns, etc. This risk must be accepted when booking the tour.

Our hotels offer different standards. In Creighton we have to divide the group between different accommodations (not hotels). All accommodations are clean and have a hot shower. The number of single rooms is extremely limited; therefore we cannot guarantee single rooms. However, booking early increases the chances of getting a single room considerably.

We will concentrate on sunrise and sunset to make the photographic opportunities as good as possible and meal breaks will work around this aim. Even though breakfast is included in the tour price, this does not mean that we will have a five star breakfast at sunrise. Breakfast may also be served packed if circumstances require it.

Cab ride in South Africa

The temperature can be below freezing in the morning (though this is very rare), while in the afternoon it can exceed 20 degrees. Although we naturally hope for sunny weather, it can also rain, and in extreme cases even snow. Therefore, besides sturdy shoes, a rain jacket, a jumper, an (umbrella) cap and sun cream should be in your luggage.

Most of the photo spots we visit have hardly seen any photographers for two years. That's why the vegetation could be a problem – a temporary one. Because if everyone helps to cut it down, and even tall grass can be cut back in a few minutes, the problem can be solved quickly. However, if everyone rushes to the supposedly "optimal" photo spot and stays there until the only one or two who removes the grass is done, it can take 30 minutes – time that we simply miss for other photo locations. South Africa is a huge country. There is room for everyone to take a wonderful photo, so please help each other clear the view then go to the photo spot. The more who help, the more good shots we will all get. The train will not leave until all photographers, especially those who are actively involved in the grass removal, have taken their photo positions. It is a group event, so everyone should make sure that the person next to them also gets good results.

Double header in the Cape Province

The 230 volt/50 Hz power supply is reliable, but in many cases an adapter is needed. Besides the two-pin figure of eight plugs, South Africa uses a three-pin system, which most universal adapters do not offer. Here are pictures of the socket/plug system in South Africa:

The region we are visiting is considered malaria-free. Except for Covid19, no special vaccinations are required (exception: against yellow fever if you have previously visited a yellow fever area). However, if you want to visit one of the national parks after the railway trip, including the Kruger Park, you should take care of malaria prophylaxis. 90 % of all malaria cases in South Africa come from the dangerous Malaria Tropica. If you need special medication, you should carry it with you in sufficient quantity, as it is hardly or not at all available outside the big cities.

For most nationalities, no visa is required. However, this does not apply to all, so you should check with the embassy.

You will need some local money (Rand) on the trip for lunch (if there is an opportunity), dinner, drinks and tips. Tips can also be paid in US Dollars or Euros.

class 19D

In the countryside, you are usually just as safe in South Africa as in Central Europe. However, the big cities are sometimes dangerous and the crime rate is alarmingly high. Some districts should be avoided even during the day. The best protection against crime is to move in a group and not show your expensive photo equipment around.

Please note that although South Africa is a developed country, hotels, buses, trains, in fact everything we will encounter is by no means EU compliant. Be expressly advised of the dangers of using and being near the railways or on the roads. Always use common sense, e.g. when crossing roads and railway tracks. It is recommended to take out foreign accident insurance and the already important foreign health insurance. Neither the railway operators, the local organiser nor FarRail Tours are liable in any case for accidents of any kind, damages, losses or inconveniences, additional costs etc., which may arise e.g. from necessary re-bookings or delays of individual carriers. It is also recommended to take out travel cancellation insurance.

19D Umgeni Steam Railway, South Africa



South Africa
Craighton & Umgeni Steam Railway 21 to 38 participants £2,460
11.06.2022 – 19.06.2022 17 to 20 participants £2,870
  Single room surcharge £300
Registration Deadline: 01.05.2022

In addition, the following expenses should be expected:

Expenses for meals (approximate guide values)

90 Rand
110 Rand
One bottle of beer:
25 Rand
One bottle of water (0.5 l):
20 Rand

The price includes:

Not included are:

GMA/M Creighton - Riverside, South Africa


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