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NAF TRAIN (article first published : 2004-03-26)

The annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is one of the highlights on the social calendar of the arts lovers in the Eastern Cape. A Westville-based organisation has put together a tour based on the same principles as the annual trip from Johannesburg to Oudtshoorn, to attend the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees:

The train tour offers participants the opportunity to travel by train in comfort although not in luxury and accommodation in Grahamstown (on the train. This will allow clients to attend and enjoy the Arts Festival, having fun en route. The train trip also obviates increasing petrol prices, toll gates, speeding fines, safety, long distances, flat tyres, cars breaking down, getting lost, security, etc.

This tour is not only about the sightseeing or the National Arts Festival, but also about everything experienced en route, particularly the opportunity to see the South African countryside from a different angle. The tour is open to any person of any age who’d like to enjoy the 2004 Arts Festival and travel by train with the added bonus of meeting new people and seeing new places.

The train departs Durban at 09h00 on July 3 and arrives back in Durban at 13h00 on July 9 which allows for three and a half days at the Festival in Grahamstown. The route goes via Pietermaritzburg, Mooi River, Estcourt, Ladysmith, Kroonstad, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Cradock, Grahamstown and back.

“It is a long way round to get to Grahamstown,” say the organisers, “but the train trip is part of the festival – just long enough to get into the right mood and spirit. En route the Gauties (from Gauteng) and Free Staters will join the tour. Passengers may embark on the train at any station on the route.

Travellers sleep all the nights on the train, even in Grahamstown, thus cutting down on accommodation costs. On offer are either in a four-berth compartment (two beds) or a two-berth coupe (one bed). Bedding in the form of a duvet, two sheets, two pillows and two blankets is included in the price. Take an extra blanket or duvet from home - it will be cold on the train and in Grahamstown.

Both compartments and coupes include a washing basin with hot and cold water, storage space for luggage, a table, as well as hanging and packing space for clothes.

Tour prices: Compartments - R2,600 per adult sharing (maximum two adults) and R1,300 per child (3-18 years) sharing with two adults. Coupes: R2,600 per adult (max. one adult) and R1,300 per child sharing with an adult.

A non-refundable deposit of R500 per person is payable when booking is done, the balance payable at the latest one month prior to departure date. The deposit and booking will be forfeited if not paid on time. No cancellation after this date. Cancellation must be in writing. (Payback for certain deserving cases will however be considered). Closing date is when the train is full.

Booking through Jolene at KZN Train Tours on 031 266 7716 or Linda on 011 913 2442 or 011 913 0552 (F) or by e-mail: info@kzntraintours.co.za




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