In the heart of historical Mossel Bay

The Santos Express heritage

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.

Extensive renovations commenced immediately and we now have four royal suites, all with private sea view decks and en suite facilities. These have proven extremely popular, even resulting in a television news broadcast. The colonial feel, authentic woodwork and attention to detail makes these extra special.

We feel that by providing our unique accommodation combined with an authentic train restaurant atmosphere will help preserve the transport heritage of our country, as well as providing a major tourist attraction much needed in the Garden Route.

We go the extra mile, even though our little train goes nowhere!

The current owner has been with the train since 2001. He is passionate about trains and preservation of our country’s history. We have many national and local celebrities who have stayed here and who dine with us on a regular basis. Working here is fantastic. The whole team is tight knit and we regard each other as family. Most of us have been with the company for a long time and a few have been here since it opened initially.

We treat our guests as part of the family and we have regulars who stay with us every season, whom we have built relationships with. We treat the business as our own and the dedication and commitment of our team is astounding. It’s great to get up in the morning and want to go to work. We have won the Sanlam Top Destination Award for Ungraded Lodge two years in a row, 2016 and 2017.

Ultimate summer destination

Halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and right in the middle of the famous Garden Route of South Africa, nestles the seaside town of Mossel Bay. A bustling holiday resort in summer and the ideal retreat in winter, it is situated on a spectacular sun washed peninsula, embraced by the warm Indian Ocean. The greater Mossel Bay area has a well-deserved reputation among the thousands of holidaymakers who frequent this area every year.

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 temperatures for September – May is 21 to 28 degrees C, and May to Sept is 16 to 21 degrees C.

From right in front of the Santos Express one can watch dolphins, seals and whales at play. Seal Island is home to a large colony of seals and their cubs, while scuba diving at Santos Beach opens a colourful and astonishing underwater wonder world. Mossel Bay is also famous for marlin, sole, mussels and oysters.

The history of steam trains in South Africa, like the Royal Suites of Santos Express, is closely linked to Mossel Bay and it is, therefore, no wonder that Mossel Bay has become the biggest centre for restoring steam locomotives of all classes in the South African rail network. Enthusiasts from all over the world come here to see in real life locomotives they’ve only read about.

Make Santos Express your base while exploring this breathtaking area.

History of Mossel Bay

After being blown around the Southern tip of Africa, Bartolomeu Dias, in search of a route to India, became the first seafarer from Europe to round the Cape and sailed into Mossel Bay on 3 February 1488, 165 years before the Dutch settlement in Cape Town. Dias did not complete the journey to India as he had to turn back at the fish river to avoid mutiny. When he rounded the Cape on his way back, he called it the Cape of Good Hope. In 1500 a Portuguese fleet, en route to India, was almost completely destroyed in a storm. The remaining ships sought shelter in Mossel Bay and spent some time here.

One of the sailors left a letter in a sailors boot which he hung in a very big milkwood tree. The letter was found in 1501 by a crew member of another ship, who took it to his family back home. This tree became the first post office in Southern Africa and is there to this day. The tree is an estimated 800 years old, and a mere 200 meters from where the Santos Express is today.

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