Visiting Franschhoek is always a highlight of local and international visitors alike. WINNIE BOWMAN takes a closer look and experiences why Franschhoek is leading the way in offering a variety of experiences, activities, festivals and just allround fun!
Now there is a new way to see the beautiful Franschhoek wine valley – by wine tram! From its start five years ago, the Franschhoek Wine Tram has enhanced the Franschhoek visitor experience with a short rail journey in a 32-seater open-sided tram that only visited two wine farms.
Today sees a built-for-purpose open-sided 80-seater double deck railway wine tram (using the existing train tracks), together with wine busses covering the entire valley, visiting 22 wine estates. The new tram is designed in an old-worldly style, with the aesthetic of yesteryear. The design features seats that “swing both ways”. So no matter in which direction the tram is travelling, visitors have the best possible view. A must-experience on the tram is the crossing of roads: it is done with huge waving flags and operators’ smiles to match! Not to be missed and fast becoming an institution on this wine route.
Currently six different tours are available:
Orange Line, Purple Line, Blue Line, Green Line, Red Line, Yellow Line (see map on their website for stop details).
Minister Alan Winde, the Minister of Economic Opportunities, oversaw the cutting of the ribbon to mark the official launch of the recently introduced Franschhoek Wine Tram Double Deck railway tram.
In his address, Minister Winde highlighted that fact that the Franschhoek Wine Tram is repeatedly referenced in the context of local and provincial tourism because of its unprecedented success and the overwhelmingly positive direct and indirect economic impact it has had on the region.
He went on to point out that tourism in the region is growing at 27%, year-on-year, and acknowledged the contribution and value of the Franschhoek Wine Tram in adding to this figure.
The Franschhoek Wine Tram General Manager, Brett Garner, acknowledged the “vision and inspiration of the owners of the Franschhoek Wine Tram business, the David and Debbie Blyth, whose relentless pursuit of the exceptional has inextricably linked the Wine Tram and Franschhoek brands”.
Wine Tram passengers aboard the hop-on-hop-off tour on a combination of tram and tram-bus around a loop of stops allowing them to disembark at each stop and experience the activities on offer. These include unique and leisurely wine tastings, cellar tours, lunch and many photo opportunities during vineyard walks. The combination of tram and tram-bus are perfectly timed and on schedule, so visitors can plan their rides to the last minute! The experience takes passengers right into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with unparalleled views of the vineyards and a narration focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley.
Special features on individual farms include an old Massey Ferguson tractor and trailers on Grande Provence, while Rickety Bridge offers rides on 2 vintage Dodge trucks (modified to seat 30-odd guests each). Allee Bleue transports visitors on an old Ford tractor and trailers and Backsberg has a vintage Chevrolet truck (modified much like the Dodges) to delight winelovers. Set your inner-farmer free!
The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300 year history.
Franschhoek Wine Tram now offers an exclusive and direct transfer service from Cape Town and surrounds (including the airport) out to Franschhoek. Transfers are private to each booking, direct door-to-door, include a return transfer and can be arranged to accommodate an extended stay over in Franschhoek at no additional cost.
NEED TO KNOW
- Passenger safety is our utmost priority and any passengers exhibiting signs of intoxication will be asked to leave the tour immediately.
- The tour boards at the Franschhoek Wine Tram ticket office located in the Franschhoek Village. Tickets are issued with a specific departure date and time when purchased
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time
- The tram or tram-bus passes each stop every 60 minutes
- The tour operates in one direction and passengers will have only one opportunity to disembark at each stop
- Upon return to the ticket office the tour ends
- Comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunglasses and sun protection
- Should passengers wish to dine at one of the restaurants on the tour it is advisable to make lunch reservations at least 24 hours in advance of travel. The website includes details of the restaurants available on the tour
- The service may be cancelled due to weather conditions or mechanical problems without notice in which case full refunds will be issued
- Smoking is strictly prohibited except at clearly designated outdoor area
- No food or open alcoholic beverages are allowed on board the tram or tram-bus
TICKETS AVAILABLE AT www.winetram.co.za
Tel: +27 21 300 0338
Address:Franschhoek Square, 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek, 7690, South Africa.
The ticket office is located on the main road in Franschhoek Village just after Bordeaux Street.