Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lillooet Kaoham Train Shuttle to Seaton Portage Sept. 9-17 2016

This blog deviates from my normal blog as it doesn't contain many pictures of wildlife.  Instead I am utilizing it to vent my frustration with the tourist train in Lillooet.  It is described as "one of the most scenic rail trips in the world, along the shore of Seton Lake, surrounded by high mountains and near vertical cliffs. The 2 car Kaoham Shuttle train runs daily between Lillooet and Seton Portage."  However the train is mostly for locals but Fridays, tourists may purchase a round trip ticket for $10.
We began our trip with friends Art and Marlene. We initially decided to camp on Kootenay Lake.  Our first stop was Kekuli Campsite in Vernon where the California Quail were abundant.

Here is our camp at Davis Creek Campground on Kootenay Lake.  This is one of the most scenic campgrounds we have experienced.

It was here we discussed the Lillooet train ride.  We headed to Kaslo where a nice lady at the information centre searched her computer and found all the information we needed.

On Tuesday I phoned the number she provided and left a message with the Kaoham answering machine.  I explained we wanted 4 round trips for the coming Friday and left our names.

The next day (Wednesday) we had a message from a lady saying we were all confirmed for that Friday.  We  broke camp and took the 2 day trip to Lillooet.  We arrived in Lillooet on Thursday and took a trip around town.  We saw one of our neighbours from home, walking down the street with his wife, and told him about our pending trip. He said he would like to join us so he made a reservation too.

Here we are early Friday morning, waiting for the train to arrive.

And here is what we were waiting for.  The little puffer belly pulling in from its trip to Seaton Portage.  We waited in a nervous anticipation as the representative  opened a file and started calling off names and collecting fees.  Imagine our disappointment when our names weren't called.  We asked the representative why we weren't called and she replied if we weren't on the list we weren't getting on the train.  We wanted to play back her message on the phone that confirmed our reservation but she told us the train wasn't for us anyway but only the locals.  Then she threw up her arms and said she had to go because she had a "medical emergency".  The train left without us.  We then noticed a couple of other parties that had reservations and didn't get on.

The train returned that afternoon and we were there to meet it.  We again asked the rep to listen to her message and she reluctantly consented.  When she realized she had made a mistake she checked her file and discovered she had mistakingly put us down for the week after.  Instead of apologizing she rushed off and jumped into a waiting car and said again, "I have to go. I have a 'medical emergency'".  

This is a map of the total distance of our trip.  Notice the distance between Kaslo and Lillooet.
This is Seaton Lake that the train traverses.  In conclusion I would suggest if one intends to take this trip you must realize it is a hit and miss operation (to put it mildly).  You may have a great experience or a great disappointment depending on the whims of the operators.  At least don't take a 600 kilometre side trip to get there, like we did.  To add insult to injury, our neighbours, who reserved 2 days after us, took the trip and throughly enjoyed it.


  1. Sorry to hear about your experience. Ours was quite different. We stayed at the free BC Hydro campground nearby, the name escapes me but we turned up unannounced and got tickets. we had to stop twice because of herds of California bighorn sheep. I suggest not to give up and try again when you happen to be in the area.

  2. Hi John-yes, we will try again but this time we will double book : > )

  3. Sorry to hear about the screw up at the train in Lillooet. Especially if you took Highway 31 north of Davis Creek to get back to Galena Bay. While I have not attempted it, our camping friends that meet us yearly at Lost Ledge Campground every year attempted it and would not recommend it to his worst enemy! North end of Kootenay Lake is paradise on earth!

  4. Thanks for the comment Eagle99. We actually did take Hwy 31 and found it alright. It was a bit winding but very smooth and scenic.