Mantis, a conservation-focused hospitality group, has announced the opening of the lovingly restored Founders Railway Carriage, at Mantis Founders Lodge, 72km from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape.
The concept for Founders Railway Carriage, the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape, belongs to Mantis Founder, Adrian Gardiner, who travelled in the carriage with his family on holiday and business rail journeys around South Africa for almost a decade until the train was eventually retired and restored.
“My love for train travel began in the early 1960s when I travelled from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, to the University of Cape Town,” says Gardiner. “The return trips were six times a year for at least four years and took three days and three nights. In those days with steam engines and remarkable service, the experience was unforgettable.”
From 2000, says Gardiner, “the carriage stood empty and we needed to find a permanent home for it”. “My dream to place the carriage at Mantis Founders Lodge, on its own siding, has been realised.”
The three-cabin Railway Carriage is stationed at a siding atop a hill and features an expansive outdoor deck, private swimming pool, dining area and boma.
The three compartments accommodate a total of five guests – a main double sleeper as well as a two-berth and a single compartment. There are also period-inspired bathroom facilities and a beautifully restored lounge and dining area.
The Railway Carriage complements the Mantis Founders Lodge, which offers seven suites as well as a newly built Honeymoon Pod that is perched above the central lodge and offers unobstructed views of the valley. It also has its own separate entrance and verandah.
All staff at Mantis Founders Lodge are vaccinated and PCR testing is available at the property.