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Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe Review
The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, an authentic narrow-gauge steam train, is the only scheduled passenger steam train still in operation in South Africa. This aged workhorse used to travel between George and Knysna until floods in 2006 temporarily closed the Kaaimans River Pass. Early in 2007 a new, more scenic, and infinitely more interesting route was started and looks set to remain the only route in place. The train now travels the two hours between the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George and the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex in Mossel Bay (you can also take the trip in the opposite direction). You may end up with a soot-blackened face if you succumb to the temptation of sticking your head out of the window to admire the beautiful Gwaing and Maalgate rivers as you cross them or the crashing waves on the beaches stretching miles west of Mossel Bay, but it's so hard to resist. It's also fun to wave at bystanders who gather to watch the immense billows of steam as the driver obliges keen photographers with an extra blast when the train passes particularly scenic sections. When weather and vegetation conditions are very dry, the steam engine poses a fire threat, so a diesel locomotive is used. Reservations are essential and should be made at least a day in advance.
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