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We’ve scoured the city to uncover its hidden gems and fascinating history. Be inspired by our ultimate adrenaline adventures and fabulous family fun days out. Get ready for your best holiday ever!

Plan the Perfect Picnic – inside secrets on dining alfresco on the Garden Route

11/5/2021

Few things in life rival the joy of a lazy afternoon spent sharing a picnic with friends and family. Not only do George and Wilderness have a wealth of safe and idyllic picnic spots, we also have a selection of award-winning artisan food producers to do all the preparation for you! Simply choose a picnic theme and soak in the splendour of the Garden Route.

Image Featured Image: The Wilderness Picnic Company

The Wilderness Picnic Company is the local specialist in gourmet eco-friendly, pre-packed picnics. They offer a selection of themed picnic boxes and will even deliver them to your chosen picnic destination, in George or Wilderness. They offer five picnic experiences which can be enjoyed on one of the local hiking trails, beaches or from the comfort of your accommodation. The Wilderness Picnic Company creates healthy, fresh, picnic meals without the use of artificial preservatives. Each element is home-made from locally sourced ingredients by entrepreneur Cecily Pepler.

Enjoy the 'Breakfast Picnic' while watching indigenous bird life from the sheltered Gallinule Bird Hide, in Wilderness. The breakfast pack includes delicious yoghurt and granola cups, egg and bacon muffins, a spread of ostrich carpaccio, and Camembert cheese and preserves. The dried fruit and chocolate chip energy bombs are a decadent delight. The 'Waterfall Picnic' is a highly portable feast specifically designed for outdoor activities. It includes pressed sourdough paninis layered with roasted vegetables and mozzarella cheese, Mediterranean salad, hummus and vegetable chips. The entire picnic can be easily packed in a waterproof cooler for exploring the incredible Half Collared Kingfisher Trail, by foot and canoe. Snack on the biltong, trail mix and double chocolate brownies as you glide along the Touw River.

Image Featured Image: The Wilderness Picnic Company

The Deluxe Basket is a 'three course' meal in a box. It contains Egyptian-style dukka, local olive oil and stone-ground sourdough paninis as well as salads, quiches, cheese, dried fruit and brownies. This is an ideal spread to enjoy while watching the golden sunset as the breeze rustles the rushes on the Wilderness board-walk. Simply follow the directions provided by the picnic company to the Wilderness Lagoon on Waterside Road.

The local's favourite 'South African' hamper captures some of South Africa’s most iconic flavors, including oven baked roosterkoek, sorghum salad, ostrich carpaccio, crisp vegetable chips, local cheese and kudu paté. The Wilderness picnic company has specialist offerings for vegans and vegetarians. They can prepare special kiddies picnics suitable for children under 10 years. A child's meal includes a beef slider, vegetable crisps, juice and a marshmallow kebab. Check out details of their fun mystery picnic online, as well as a list of the SANParks approved green picnic spots. The Wilderness Picnic Company uses a range of environmentally friendly packaging including compostable and biodegradable containers. Make happy memories in nature with a few takeaway bites from local family-owned bakery and cafe; Food Co Located at the corner of Fourth Street and Courtney Road, Food Co. specialises in baking preservative-free artisan loaves. The tangy sourdough, ciabatta and freshly baked farm-style loaves are stocked on the shelves each morning from 7:30am.

Everything is baked by hand, using only stone-ground flour. Grab some charcuterie and local cheese from the deli counter to accompany your fresh bread, or pick up one of their artisan sandwiches, a slice of quiche or a home-made muffin. They also bake a range of real butter croissants which are absolutely delectable. Those with a sweet tooth will adore biting into the crisp flaky crust of the Pain au Chocolat. It's made with 55% Couverture dark chocolate. The savoury croissant, the Pain au Jambon, contains thick smoked ham and melted cheese. Food Co. makes a range of take away coffees, smoothies and juices to accompany their baked treats. They are open from Tuesday to Friday from 7.30am to 4pm and Saturday from 7.30am to 12 noon.

Image Featured Image: Stock Image

Special occasion picnics may demand a touch of sophistication and luxury. Pick up a truly decadent bite from the tiniest chocolate shop in Africa. The Mayan Chocolate Company is a boutique chocolaterie nestled at the back of Calorosso Coffee Shop, at 103 Meade Street. Marlin Moodley is the smiling chocolatier behind the glossy handmade couverture chocolates. Sample the Frangelico, Caramel Vodka or Strawberry Liqueurs. These are made with the finest dark chocolate, according to traditional Belgian recipes. The chocolates at the Mayan Chocolate Company are all produced in small batches, by hand, without the use of preservatives. The milk chocolate toffee and raspberry ginger bonbons are some of the best-sellers. Don't miss the Hazelnut Truffles, made with dark chocolate, double cream, honey and roasted hazelnuts.

Drop in and grab a gourmet coffee, and a box of bonbons for your picnic adventure. You can watch Marlin temper the chocolate and hand fill the moulds while you choose your treats from the glass display case. Open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and Saturday from 8,30 to 12 noon.

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Feast in the Garden of Eden

10/20/2021

A wealth of culinary experiences awaits holiday-makers visiting George. The bounty of the region was first noted by the indigenous Khoi people who named the Outeniqua Mountains which fringe the coast; “man laden with honey”. Indeed the region has become known for both the local fynbos honey and delicious dairy products that grace Eden’s tables. The Eden district is a cultural melting pot with culinary influences from the earliest waves of explorers. Dutch, German, French and English settlers each left their own mark on our local food heritage. The Cape Malay brought nuances of Indian and Indonesian culinary heritage and the Xhosa pastoralists impacted modern South African cuisine.

George and Wilderness host a wealth of dining experiences, from the opulent to the humble. Expect to encounter unmissable contemporary South African and international flavours, trendy bars, fresh farm produce, pleasant picnics and strawberry feasts in this food-lovers paradise. Discover our gourmet restaurants, experience dining with locals or simply escape to the beach to feast on a bag of slap chips. Explore the Outeniqua Farmers Market, wander the stalls, experience the passion of our local producers and savour our thriving coffee culture.

Toast the Sunset in Style

The temperate foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains are prime hop growing country. In summer, the fields are filled with curtains of these aromatic green flowers. Hops provide an essential bitter flavour in brewing beer. Local farmers have raised new varieties to suit the climate; Southern Promise and Southern Passion are two such breeds. In fact, the small region of Waboomskraal, Blanco and Herald provides over 70% of the hops needed by South African Breweries. It is little wonder that a hearty craft brewing industry has developed in the town of George.

Image Featured Image: The Blind Pig Taproom

The Blind Pig Taproom is nestled in the dappled shade at the Palms Garden Square in Wilderness. It has gained legendary status amongst local and visiting beer aficionados. This hidden gem has 12 craft beers on tap and a further 70 bottled options. Their selection of 14 local craft gins need to be tasted to be believed. Their signature pairing consists of a handmade 100% beef double cheese and bacon burger with the Devil’s Peak Pale Ale. This is one of the trendiest little bars in the world, with friendly bartenders and local live music. Free beer is offered if you participate in one of their monthly beach clean ups!

Proteas and Vines

Image Featured Image: Herold’s Wine

A winding drive up the scenic and historic Montague Pass takes visitors to the sleepy hamlet of Herold. On the sunlit slopes of Cradock Peak lies a flourishing but petite 8 hectare wine farm, Herold Wines. Uniquely rooted at high altitude, winter frosts and cooling summer breezes result in a long growing season for the vines. Nature lovers will enjoy the fynbos clad slopes and nature reserves bounding the property. This friendly, family run winery is renowned for its laid back charm, relaxed tastings and intimate cellar tours. Enjoy a delicious cheese platter with the winemaker’s favourite Pinot Noir. It has a soft, silky palate with flavours of ripe cherry and hints of oak and vanilla. Families will enjoy sitting in the dappled shade between the vines with a picnic basket. There are mountain pools, secret paths and hideaways for children to explore.

Coffee Culture

Image Featured Image: Stock Image

Beans About Coffee is a vibrant coffee roastery on York Street, in George. It has become an institution amongst the local coffee snobs. They hand-roast their Sugarbird blends on a daily basis, while the energetic baristi crank the espresso machine. “Our main focus is on roasting and serving excellent coffee”, says local owner Stefan Jamnek. Enjoy a flat white with their range of healthy snacks and pastries. Local baker and surfer, Tyrone Schroder is the George’s ‘Prince of Tarts’ supplying their dainty confectionaries. He bakes perfect mouthfuls of pastry on Laing Street. His bite-sized pastries are the perfect complement to any brew. Try the buttery Pecan Nut Pie, the traditional Milk Tart or a divine Chocolate Brownie.
People-watching is a popular past-time at Root. This boutique micro-roastery and cosy coffee shop is located in the Paddagat Mall on Knysna Road in George. They showcase a range of Asian, African, Central and South American coffee beans in bright red silos at their coffee counter. There is a freshly roasted bean at Root for every palate and a selection of treats and sandwiches from local bakery Ciabatinni. Root displays a selection of Kevin van Niekerk’s painting which use coffee as a medium.

Formal Dining

Image Featured Image: Serendipity Restaurant

Award winning fine dining is available at Serendipity Guest House, situated on the Touw River Estuary in Wilderness. They serve South African inspired gourmet meals and their 5 start dining experience features indigenous flavours, and fresh, sustainably sourced local produce. Enjoy an aperitif at the water’s edge, where passionate chef Lizelle Stolze talks guests through her spectacular five course dinner menu. Serendipity offers the perfect opportunity to sample truly pristine South African flavours. The hand-cut springbok tartar is served with a quail egg and spekboom chutney.

Image Featured Image: 101 Meade

Sophisticated diners will enjoy the contemporary menu at 101 Meade, in George. Diners will enjoy the warm atmosphere and stylish African inspired décor. Diners can watch the bar tenders in action at the contemporary bar. The duo of happy chefs, brothers Ben and Jeremy Gibbs, prepare a range of delicious meals in their open plan kitchen. Their modern South African menu features homemade Italian style pastas, tapas, artisan bread, meat, fish and banting options. Sample their Roast Bone Marrow, aged T-bone steak and mouth-watering spiced apple crumble served with salted caramel ice cream.

Image Featured Image: The Fat Fish

The freshest seafood and sushi is invariably found at The Fat Fish on York Street in George. Enjoy a cocktail at their atmospheric bar. The dining room opens out to a spacious courtyard with romantic water features and is the perfect al fresco retreat for warm summer evenings. The Fat Fish seafood platter features the best of their menu including grilled prawns, buttered line fish, spicy harissa calamari and a seasonal mussel pot. The Fat Fish are serious about sustainability and have done away with plastic straws, water bottles and plastic bags, replacing them with reusable or biodegradable alternatives.

Relaxed Restaurants

Pomodoro is a charming family trattoria in the heart of Wilderness village. Relax on the outdoor terraces with a glass of wine, this is the ultimate vantage point to view village life. Exceptional authentic Italian pizza and pasta are served amid the hustle and bustle of this busy restaurant. Their thin based pizzas are topped with a range of fresh, local ingredients. The Pizza Fico features Parma ham, preserved green figs and melted brie. The best kept local secret is Joplin’s Steakhouse at Pirate’s Creek outside Wilderness Village. Father and son duo, Aiden and Gareth Jeans, man the grill, sizzling steak to absolute perfection. Diners can choose from a range of steaks, cooked to their taste, topped with hot garlic butter and chips, served with or without an egg. Service is friendly, the ambiance is relaxed and guests are treated to a ‘Milktertjie’ shooter after supper. Vegans should look elsewhere for sustenance. The Pottery at Di Marshall’s factory store in George, Wonki Ware, is certainly a viable option for vegans and vegetarians. Colourful smoothie bowls, wood-fired pizza and ciabatta toast with hummus feature on their seasonal menu. Kids can paint a plate while you browse for bargains or watch the potters in action.

Dine with Locals

Image Featured Image: Dine with the local

Extremely popular amongst international tourists and domestic visitors, Dining with Locals provides an opportunity to experience the rich cultural diversity of George communities. Guests can enjoy traditional Xhosa or Cape Malay cuisine with excellent wines in the company of the knowledgeable locals. Hosts invite diners to explore their heritage through food, art, poetry and song. This culinary adventure is ideally suited to open-minded tourists, daring diners and curious nomads. Guests learn about local customs, traditions and lifestyle nuances while experiencing true South African hospitality.

Best for Brunch

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Family Martket

Without any doubt the best brunch in George can be found on Saturday mornings at the Outeniqua Family Market. Showcasing the best mouth-watering local produce, as well as a large variety of craft stalls, this market is popular with locals as a weekend hang out. Live music, acres of parking, a huge kiddies play area and plentiful shaded seating make this a weekend winner. Kids love the bumpy Boere ‘train’ ride, sand art and board games dotted on the picnic tables throughout the seating areas. The crunchy salted potato chips on a stick are a huge winner with young visitors, the giant beef burgers are a true hunger buster. Brunch on healthy smoothies, freshly blended pineapple juice, yoghurt and muesli or opt for the full farm breakfast with boerewors, bacon and tomato relish. Those with a sweet tooth can choose from a selection of sinful pancakes, muffins, tarts or the totally decadent Belgian chocolate waffles from Wicked Waffles. Traditional syrupy koeksisters, Melkos and fresh coffee are another option. South African staples like homemade buttermilk rusks, vetkoek and biltong are available to test. Visitors can pick up organic vegetables, artisan bread and free-range chicken within a few paces. Chef Johan de Jager from Hetta’s Food Stall makes delicious bruschetta and the absolute star of the farmer’s market, crunchy decadent baked cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. No visit is complete without sampling the warm crunchy churros filled with toffee or chocolate sauce.

Image Featured Image: The Food Co

The best artisan bread can be found at the Food Co on the corner of Knysna Road and Fourth Street. Husband and wife team, Jean and Lizelle Rossouw, bake a range of artisan loaves using 100% stoneground flour, including rustic sourdough, ciabatta, plaasbrood, seed loaf, and challah. Watch the bakers in action while you enjoy a farm breakfast and fresh green juice.

Image Featured Image: The Girls on the Square

The Girls on the Square at the Palms Garden Square in Wilderness is another excellent brunch option. This tapas bar is one of the best places in the village to relax. Their all-day brunch menu (low season) features a variety of fresh fruit smoothies, pressed juices, croissants, Middle Eastern Shakshuka, French toast, traditional cooked breakies, as well as delicious peanut butter and banana milkshakes. Kids will enjoy watching the Koi fish in the pond or playing on the jungle gym. The young at heart will also love the beautiful old fashioned sweet shop next door. Lolly’s Candy Bar serves candy floss, artisan gelato, soft serve, trendy milkshakes, cupcakes and a huge array of sweet treats.

Family Friendly Food and Fun

Image Featured Image: Red Shed Coffee & Berry

Redberry Farm on Geelhoutboom Road in Blanco offers a serious day out. Their range of eateries will satisfy all budgets and palates. The deli-style farm stall is perfect for picnic treats while the Red Shed Coffee and Berry Bar serve a selection of strawberry themed beverages. The Noshery Pizzeria offers gourmet pizzas from their wood fired oven. Outdoor ambience is plentiful in the tea garden overlooking the kid’s playground and rabbit hutch. Parents can kick back and relax as there are activities to suit every age and ability. Start your Redberry experience with a trip to the fields to pick your own sun ripened strawberries right off the runners. Energetic guests will enjoy discovering the secrets of strawberries within the remarkable hedge maze. Seven stations are hidden in a labyrinth of passageways. The paths and tunnels are stroller friendly. Be sure to take a hat and some water.

Image Featured Image: Houtbosch Wine and Craft Beer

The Redberry Express mini train and pony rides will keep small people busy. Acrobatic teens can show off their moves in the inflatable bubble balls which float on the farm dam. Stop at the Framboos Handcrafted Ice Cream parlour to sample their artisan gelato served in crisp sugar cones. Kids can design and build their own ice cream sandwiches from a selection of freshly baked biscuit and flavoured gelato. Sumptuous sundowners are offered at the elegant Houtbosch Wine and Craft Beer tasting room. Sample their flagship Pinot Noir with a cold meat and cheese platter and finish with the phenomenal fudge and wine pairing.

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Victoria Bay ‘surfs’ Olympic medalist and beginners alike

10/13/2021

Victoria Bay and newly awarded Olympic surfing silver medallist, Bianca Buitendag, are synonymous with each other. Despite travelling the world for years and riding waves at many exotic and prime surfing destinations, she still regards the breakers at Victoria Bay as the best among the best. In fact, she describes our whole coast line as world class. “Our marine life is absolutely amazing and among the most vibrant I’ve ever encountered, especially in winter. It’s really special to surf among dolphins, whales and sardines.” It’s at this postcard-worthy little bay nestled cosily between jaw-dropping Southern Cape vegetation and the Big Indian Blue, that she nurtured her passionate love for the ocean and the high-octane sport that put her in the history books for eternity. It was also here, and at the surrounding beaches in the area, that she prepared and practised for her 2020 Olympic participation.

Image Featured Image: Bianca Buitendag surfing

“I’ve had 20 months to prepare, due to COVID-19 and the consequential postponement of the Olympics. It was the first time in a long, long time that I didn’t have travelling commitments, and it was very special to be back among my family and the dogs.” Her preparation involved five days a week in the water and gym exercises three times a week.

Image Featured Image: Victoria Bay

Bianca’s family moved to Victoria Bay when she was just entering teenage-hood, and she fondly remembers the many hours they all spent in the ocean. She made her first appearance in an international surfing competition in France when she was 13 years old, and that country turned out to be her base for many years when she became a professional surfer. “I’m 28 years old now, and for the bigger part of my life I competed in surfing competitions right across the globe,” she said.

First introduced to the waves by her father at a young age, she ended her surfing career on what can only be described as a triumphant highlight by securing second place during the Women’s finals which took place on Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Japan, on 27 July 2021. It was not only a proud and incredible moment for her, but many South Africans witnessing the ceremony couldn’t help but swallow a lump in their throats when she stepped onto the podium to receive her medallion. To her, it’s all still a bit surreal and miraculous.

“The finals took place amidst a typhoon hitting Japan and the waves were really huge. I prepared for a small swell, as it’s more typical surfing conditions for Japan during summer. I had to change tactics and it actually contributed to my performance as I love big waves and I’m better with them.” She describes the moment when she realised her achievement as anything but idyllic, although it didn’t take anything away from her immense thankfulness and joy. “I was alone in the pouring rain and glanced back to see my coach, Greg Emslie, jumping up and down on the beach, and then it registered that we’ve made it.”

Now back in George and officially retired from surfing, she’s excited about the next chapter in her life. “I’ve been involved with a local Christian NGO called Life Community Services since my high school years. We’re currently busy with fundraising to build a primary school next year.”

Victoria Bay is a popular surfing spot among surfers from all efficiency levels and from all over the world. It’s the regular site of high-level competitions such as the Vic Bay Classic and the SA Masters Surfing Championships. According to Bianca, it’s such a great place for surfing due to the fact that it’s a point break set-up, meaning it’s one of the places in South Africa where you’ll find the most consistent waves. In addition, it’s only about five kilometers from George with all its amenities and comforts. The bay is very user-friendly, there are no significant currents to speak of and the waves are ‘soft’.

Image Featured Image: Surfends

There are two surfing schools situated at the cove that will gladly take holidaymakers who want to learn the ropes of this invigorating sport through their paces. The friendly instructors at both Vibe Surf School and Surfends are all highly experienced surfers. After your lesson, you can refuel and regale friends and family with your ocean adventure at Vikki’s at the Beach seaside restaurant, a favourite local gathering place. And for even more surfing adventures, you’ll find the Wild & Loose Surf School next door at Wilderness, where an instructor will swiftly get you confident in the water and provide expert guidance. In the words of Bianca, “surfing can change your life. It’s a healthy habit that will have lifelong benefits. It’s therapeutic and something in which the whole family can participate.” Victoria Bay is just picture perfect to get your helping of wholesomeness. So don’t wait, grab a surfboard and wetsuit, book a lesson, and come hit the waves!

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Five School Holiday Adventures in George & Wilderness

9/28/2021

The Garden Route is a great destination for active families, with plenty of fun, exciting and unique attractions to explore. George and Wilderness have a slew of incredible outdoor activities to keep youngsters busy. Whether you want to involve the whole family, or watch on as the kids create happy memories, we’ve got a plan for every clan. George Tourism have scouted the top activities in George and compiled our pick of feel good attractions to help busy families plan an action-packed and memory-filled holiday.

Image Featured Image: Acrobranch

  1. Exhilarating tree-top adventures await families visiting Acrobranch Garden Route at Timberlake Organic Village. Venture into the forest canopy to slide, balance, jump, crawl or swing through four action-packed courses. The Acro-twigs course is designed with safety in mind for small children, aged 4 to 8 years. There are 17 obstacles on the route, which are monitored by a safety guide. Parents can walk alongside the course to keep a close watch on small children. Most of this course is placed within reaching distance of an accompanying adult and involves short zip-lines, stepping on suspended walkways and balancing on high wires with handholds. Older children will be challenged by the Monkey Moves and Swinging Tarzan courses. Ladders ascend over six metres into the pine forest canopy with suspended boardwalks, beams, tubes and cargo nets to scramble and climb. The High Flying course is open to thrill seekers from age 12 up. This exhilarating course boasts an impressive 48 obstacles, including a high-flying trapeze. It definitely tests strength, agility and determination. Stepping off the highest platform requires plenty of daring but is a super adventure for fit family groups.

Image Featured Image: Pause Coffee Roastry

Closed shoes are ideal and long hair needs to be tied out of the way of the cable trolleys. The guides provide safety harnesses and training. The out of season family rate is excellent value. A visit to Timberlake Organic Village is a real crowd pleaser for multi-generational family groups. Pause Coffee Roastery serves excellent coffee and delicious cake, there is a boutique wine merchant as well as a restaurant, duck pond, art gallery, gift shops and a leather studio.

Image Featured Image:Dolphin Paragliding

  1. Superb aerial adventurers are offered by local paragliding operators Dolphin Paragliding and Wild2Fly Paragliding. Six-time National Hang Gliding Champion Johan Anderson from Wild2Fly Paragliding, says the ‘bird’s eye’ perspective offered during a tandem flight is a firm family favourite. Wild2Fy have specially made harnesses for children. Their team of professional pilots encourage family groups to fly together. There is no age restriction for paragliding, however, most flights require a weight of between 20 and 120kg. Dolphin Paragliding also offer exhilarating tandem paragliding tours of the Wilderness skies. Soar over the National Park, sparkling lakes and 18 kilometres of golden beach. Keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and even Great White Sharks in the surf below.

Image Featured Image: Elevate Trampoline Park & Go Cart Track

  1. Children can bump and bounce at one of two indoor trampoline parks in George. Griffin Sport is open for recreational jumping, free running and rock climbing, check out their Facebook page for time slots. These fun indoor child-friendly activities are ideal for rainy days. Kid’s clubs are offered during school holidays. Birthday parties and team building events can also be hosted. Light meals, snacks and beverages are available from the health bar. Action for every age is available at the Elevate Action Centre, in George Industria. The centre offers 70 connected trampolines, totalling over 600 square metres of bouncing space. Families can participate in a game of dodgeball or face-off in a thrilling Go-Kart Race. See the website for session times, bookings and holiday special offers. Trampolining is restricted to children over 4 years and go-karting to those over 12 years or 1.2 metres tall. Toddlers can play on the adjacent jungle gym and tired folks can grab a coffee at the café. Budget for grip socks at R30 per pair.

Image Featured Image: WildX Adventures

  1. Thrill seeking kids and teenagers will love the dust, vibrations and petrol fumes at Wild X Adventures between Wilderness and Sedgefield, on the N2. Their ‘Family Fun’ quad bike ride includes breakfast and coffee, kids under 12 ride for half price. The 12 kilometre track is perfectly suited to novice riders and is sandy and forgiving. Vegetation lines both sides of the trail and helmets with face protection are provided. Small children can ride pillion on their parents’ bikes and those that can steer, brake and accelerate, can ride independently. No age restrictions apply. Owners Marisa and Johnnie Borrett say they have catered to parents with a children as young as 11 months and as old as one 86 year old granny. The tours are fully guided and can be tailor-made to the abilities of the group. Meanwhile experienced bikers and adrenalin junkies can go full throttle and opt for the ‘Extreme Quad Ride’. This trip is technically demanding and requires a faster bike and more advanced safety equipment. Wild X Adventures also offer other fantastic kid and family-friendly options including segway tours, archery, nerf ball, paint ball and air soft games. Don’t forget a dust buff and a good pair of shades when you book.

Image Featured Image:Stock Image

  1. Ground Zero Bike and Trail Park offers a safe mountain bike pump track for all ages, located on Arbour Road. The 300 metre MBT track is an ideal venue for young bikers to hone their skills. The trail park owners even have a couple of bikes and helmets available for holidaymakers, along with an out-of-hours donation box. The track leads onto a 1.6 km cross country course and is open all hours. A jungle gym, coffee shop and mini zip-line are on the property.

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Arts, Culture and Heritage

9/23/2021

History for Breakfast, Trains for lunch and Theatre by Night

Experience the opulence of a bygone era in George’s remarkable performance space. Adventure through history on a vintage rail trolley or browse the antiques of our town’s forefathers at the George Museum. A wealth of culture and history await you in the sixth oldest town in South Africa.

Image Featured Image: George Museum

George’s antiquity is written in its forests, timber and saw dust. Originally established as a trading post for the timber industry in the eighteenth century, the town of George grew around the demand for wood for building, transport and furniture. One can sense the hardship of these early woodcutters and experience their skilled craftsmanship in the George Museum. An exhibition about the historic timber industry includes a display of traditional woodworking tools, furniture crafted from the indigenous Yellowwood Tree as well as original photographs of the woodcutting communities. An outdoor display shows a reconstructed yellowwood cottage from the 1890’s as well as plantings of fynbos and forest trees. Smaller children will enjoy the Toy Exhibition on the first floor displaying antique train sets, Kewpie dolls and model aeroplanes. Community members are invited to aid in the identification of activists depicted in the photographic exhibit about forced removals in George.

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Power Van

There isn’t a better way to experience George’s by-gone days than to relax on the Outeniqua Power Van and chug back in time. The power van remains one of George’s most popular tourist attractions. It leaves daily from the Outeniqua Transport Museum. This rail trip is an absolute must for train fans of all ages and offers an unbeatable insight into our fascinating local rail heritage. Climb aboard the vintage rail inspection trolley and ascend the Outeniqua Mountains. These mountains were originally inhabited by the Khoi San. ‘Outeniqua’ means ‘man laden with honey’ and alludes to the rich bounty nature provided to these indigenous hunter gatherers.

The swaying motion of the carriage and the hypnotic clacking of the tracks transport travellers back in time. Over the honking blast of the horn and the squealing of the metal tracks, the guides explain the history of the route. The bench at the front adjacent to the driver offers uninterrupted panoramic views of the sheer mountain slopes, dripping forest, cascading waterfalls and purple heather.

The building of this railway line over the precipitous Outeniqua Mountains, between George and Oudtshoorn, began in December 1908 and was officially completed in 1913. Thousands of sticks of dynamite were used to blast the track out of solid rock. The line required the excavation of seven separate tunnels, the longest of which is Topping Tunnel at a length of 230 metres. Some 2 500 mostly convict workers were employed in its construction. The total cost came to a staggering £465 000. The rail tour takes about two and a half hours with a 30 minute picnic break close to Power Station. Booking is essential. Bring some snacks and a drink and enjoy some Instagram opportunities.

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Transport Museum

The Outeniqua Transport Museum itself holds an epic collection of trains, ox-wagons, vintage fire engines and even a funeral hearse from the last century. The enormous museum also houses a fantastic array of private collectors' vintage cars, all in beautiful condition, including a Model T Ford, restored Italian supercars, as well as the MG Midget! A visit to the train museum is a brilliant idea for the rare rainy day in George. Energetic children can climb aboard some of the superbly preserved locomotives and even sit in the dining carriage of the Royal White Train.

Image Featured Image: George Arts Theatre

George Arts Theatre has a local reputation for show-stopping acts. The playhouse features two performance spaces, including an outdoor amphitheatre. The building once accommodated the young ladies attending Miss Christina’s First-Class Public School for Girls. The quaint and cosy theatre has recently been lovingly restored, with luxurious seating, Moulin Rouge style murals and romantic lighting. The theatre is a cultural gem boasting old-style charm with a few modern twists. The Backstage Lounge Café is a coffee bar by day, serving light lunches, and a vibrant chandelier-lit lounge by night. Catch a fringe film festival, pantomime, drama or a live music gig.

Image Featured Image:Garden Route Botanical Gardens

The green lungs of the town are located on Caledon Street at the Garden Route Botanic Gardens. The garden was the site of the first irrigation scheme in the town in 1811 by the then Mayor Adriaan Geysbertus van Kerval. One of his first acts as mayor was to redirect water from the Rooi River via furrows to the ‘Van Kerval’ storage dam to supply the original 36 plots in the hamlet. These historic furrows and weirs are still visible in the GRBG. The main purpose of the gardens is to protect the local indigenous flora, according to manager; Finn Rautenbach. “We are in danger of losing our medicinal and edible plant heritage,” he explains, “the Koi San had an in depth knowledge of indigenous plants”. This incredible floral resource was their larder, pharmacy, bedding and part of their spiritual and cultural legacy. Much of their invaluable heritage was passed down orally, from parent to child or from one shaman to another. Much of this plant knowledge is being lost.

The Medicinal Plant Mound is a vibrant example of the preservation of our traditional medicines. This exhibit features segments planted with a variety of folk remedies to education and local people to harvest. Smell the potent Wild Garlic with its tiny purple flowers. Spot the African Potato, it’s said to be a treatment for tuberculosis. Sample the bitter tasting African Wormwood. Wildedagga, Sour Fig and many more folk remedies are displayed. Children will enjoy reading the sign boards and discovering the different illness treated by each remedy. Smaller children will enjoy the different scents, from the strong smelling Vick’s Plant, the garlic scented Knoffelbuchu to the aromatic Wild Rosemary. Inquisitive guests will quickly associate the names of the plants with their interesting shapes – the Elephant Ear has thick fleshy leaves and can be consumed for parasitic infections. The Slaagblad’s flower resembles the head of a snake. Herbal remedies such as Pelargonium sidoides have now reached far outside SA, their antiseptic and immune boosting effects have lead it to become the main component of cold and cough medicines as far away as Germany and the USA.

Tourists can stroll the spiralling path to the summit of the Medicinal Plant Mound. A quick rest on the memorial seat offers a view of the Koi San Maze and the lush slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains. This is one of the best views in George and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Entrance to the gardens is R10 and guests can pick up a map upon arrival.

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Local tourism empowers people

9/20/2021

Let’s get back to our roots

Tourism is a labour‐intensive sector offering a great deal of opportunities to stimulate economic growth and transformation. In the South African context, transformation is the process of advancing sector initiatives for the empowerment of previously disadvantaged people, and in so doing, make the sector more accessible and more beneficial to all South Africans. In these COVID-ridden times, the domestic tourism sector plays a key role in reversing the debilitating damage and chaos caused by the pandemic overall. Last year’s Level 5 lockdown restrictions caused a massive nose dive in visitor numbers – both foreign and domestic – to all corners of Mzanzi, jeopardising a vast number of jobs and disrupting transformational projects in the process.

National Tourism Month, in league with the United Nations’ World Tourism Day, is arguably more relevant than ever in cultivating consciousness of the importance of tourism and switching things back to a more positive outlook. The Western Cape narrows this week down on the theme of transformation as part of the province’s Tourism Month celebrations. In the George municipal area, there are a variety of sights and activities linking up with this important theme.

Image Featured Image: Dine with a Local

There is no better way to absorb a region’s culture than to visit local people’s houses, sharing a traditional, homecooked meal, listening to their stories and music, and engage in personal interaction. Dine with a Local is a successful tourism concept offering the wider community the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from tourism. In George, various households in the communities of Pacaltsdorp and Thembalethu are involved in this project, and visitors will get a deeper insight into the Xhosa, Khoi, and Cape Malay cultures.

Image Featured Image: Kula Malaika Foundation

The non-profit Kula Malaika Foundation near Hoekwil originated as an effort to reduce the vicious cycle of poverty and all its associated negative factors. Besides learning more about their various projects making a difference in society, such as children centres and a farm where skills training and production take place, visitors can also look forward to a great cup of coffee and delicious light meals at their Bush Café, buy hand-made articles such as mohair mats from their broad range of products, or book an African experience with authentic meals and music.

Another chance to get up close and personal with local life is presented by Explore Our Hood Tours and Experiences. This entrepreneurial organisation is bent on showing visitors the Thembalethu and other regional communities through the eyes of a local. The experience encompasses driven and walking tours to places of interest. It’s perfect for discovering and tasting authentic and unusual food and to feel truly South African.

Image Featured Image: Milkwood Village Market

Come spend a lazy and relaxing few hours at the Milkwood Village Market in Wilderness, which takes place every Sunday. The market is characterised by live music and a warm, friendly atmosphere. Best of all are the many exotic craft stalls where visitors can hunt for unique, practical, not so practical, beautiful and quirky items. By buying articles made by talented local people from all walks of life, visitors contribute to job creation and economic stimulation.

Image Featured Image: Thembalethu Bed and Breakfast

At Thembalethu Bed and Breakfast, guests can count on comfortable accommodation and tasty breakfasts. True African hospitality is the order of the day. As it is situated in an area comprising a motley collection of different cultures, such as the Rastafarians with their fascinating religion and handcrafted products, it’s a stay that will truly broaden the visitor’s mind.

With so many exotic experiences and unique activities available right here in our own backyard, the time to travel locally and return to our roots has arrived. Come meet the people behind the crafts and participate in their empowerment. The George, Wilderness and Uniondale area is proud and eager to share its bounty. COVID-19 protocols are strictly adhered to all across the area. For more information, make sure to visit the George, Wilderness and Uniondale Tourism website at www.visitgeorge.co.za

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Responsible tourism paves the way to a better world

9/15/2021

We all can make a difference

National Tourism Month has reached its halfway point, and celebrations are full steam ahead country wide. If ever there was the perfect time to go on a much-deserved local break, it’s right now. The devasting COVID-19 pandemic has made, and continues to have a distressing impact on the South African tourism industry. However, living with more relaxed lockdown restrictions, the vaccination process under way, preventive protocols firmly in place, and many touristic ventures offering huge discounts, it’s safe to assume that very few people would say no to the opportunity to hit the road and do their bit to support the crippled domestic tourism trade. The annual Tourism Month was inspired by World Tourism Day, a much-anticipated yearly event on the global calendar since 1980. This noteworthy day was called into being to make people aware of the important role that tourism plays in a society – having an enormous economic impact, creating jobs for many and helping to preserve and promote cultural and natural heritages.

South Africa is world-famous for its widely diverse range of cultures, destinations, sights and activities, and Tourism Month points the lens at all those treats. Propelled by the national Department of Tourism, this project is clear proof that local is indeed lekker and that something special awaits just around the corner. This year, the Western Cape celebrates Tourism Month by focusing on relevant themes during each week of September. Currently in Week 3, the topic of responsible tourism is emphasized. Responsible tourism, in a nutshell, is aimed at supporting existing resources and experiences in the quest to create better places for people to live in and better places to visit. It prompts all parties, such as tour operators, authorities, communities and tourists, to take responsibility in making tourism more sustainable by preserving local culture through respect, education, and monetary support. With that definition as backdrop, here’s a compendium of just some of the gems that the George Municipal area offers in terms of responsible tourism:

Image Featured Image: George Museum

The George Museum is a great starting point to get some insight into the region’s rich history and its unique culture. Most everything is covered, from the town’s origins nearly 250 years ago as a Dutch East Indian Company outpost, to the fascinating timber industry that played such an important role in the development of the whole territory. Our area is known as an outdoor paradise and boasts a vast number of trails aimed at the exploits of energetic people – be it mountain biking, hiking or running. George Trails is a project that was initiated by a non-profit organization called Green Sport which seeks to promote nature-related sport. This organization develops trail infrastructure and, in the process, helps cities and towns to develop and promote their local trails as a sustainable tourism product that creates jobs.

Image Featured Image: Buff and Fellow Eco Game Farm

The Buff and Fellow Eco Game Farm is not only a working buffalo farm, but also a great country escape. Guests can help themselves to fresh eggs from the chicken coop, or organic veggies from the veg patch before getting out there in nature to canoe, fish, hike or embark on a game drive.

Image Featured Image: Outeniqua Nature Reserve

The Outeniqua Nature Reserve covers a vast area of 38 000 hectares with many hiking, mountain biking and birding trails. Bird watchers will delight in the abundance of winged fauna species found in the various forest, mountain and fynbos zones. History enthusiasts will be equally thrilled by the interesting rock paintings scattered throughout the area depicting animals, hunters and honeycombs.

Image Featured Image: Garden Route Birds of Prey

Garden Route Birds of Prey was founded in 2018 as a rehab center for injured raptors and a refuge for those hapless ones which cannot be released. These birds now have a second chance on life by being used for educational purposes during the center's regular interactive flying shows. The organization's mission is to involve the youth by making use of volunteers and teaching them about the different birds of prey. These volunteers are equipped with a range of skills and knowledge allowing them to have a positive impact on their community.

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help making the world a better place, even when on a break. Come explore the George, Wilderness and Uniondale area which eagerly anticipates your visit. COVID-19 protocols are securely in place to ensure a memorable adventure. Learn more about our particular slice of Eden by visiting the George, Wilderness and Uniondale Tourism website at www.visitgeorge.co.za.

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A barking good time; pet friendly accommodation in George and Wilderness

9/10/2021

If it just isn’t a holiday without your hound, then you have come to the right place! George and Wilderness are ideal getaway destinations for dogs travelling with their human companions. There are long sandy beaches for swimming and sandbathing, a few cool rivers to take a dip and even some terrific artisan crafts for your four-legged friends. Explore, hike, sniff about these pet friendly destinations and have a barking good time!

Image Featured Image: Over the Moon Guest Farm

Over the Mountain Guest Farm offers relaxing farm-style accommodation in the secluded little hamlet of Herold, a 30-minute drive from George. This historic guest house was once the village’s only post office and police station. Over the Mountain Guest Farm is owned and run by Estelle and Gerrit Brits. The couple host two and four legged guests in their charming self-catering cottages and en-suite double rooms. The guest farm has lots of space for pets, as well as an outdoor terrace and a swimming pool. Free WIFI is available and guests are advised to bring their own doggy beds. A pooch-friendly tea garden is open daily for light meals and snacks.

Image Featured Image: * Herolds Wine*

The village of Herold is uniquely located in the only hop growing area in South Africa and is close to a network of hiking trails and a fantastic local winery, Herold Wines. This winery welcomes dogs, they have outdoor picnic benches, plenty of grass, rows of scented lavender and drinking water available. Herold Winery reserves one of their cottages as pet-friendly accommodation. Ask for the Flufftail Cottage! Be aware that there are other animals on-site, including sheep and ducks.

Image Featured Image: * The Outeniqua Travel Lodge*

The Outeniqua Travel Lodge offers affordable pet-friendly accommodation, in Blanco. Co-owner Sue Schulze says they have had a wide range of animal guests from Sphynx cats to snakes, Bearded Dragons, parrots, mice and dogs. This three-star hotel has 6 rooms and offers dog bedding (on request) and even a pet-sitting service. The lodge has two bedrooms which are suited to larger dogs as these open out onto the owners’ private enclosed garden.

Image Featured Image: * The Old Trading Post*

The Old Trading Post just outside Wilderness village has lots of rustic old-world charm. Hosts Mike and René Raubenheimer have four self-catering units situated adjacent to the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. The Old Trading Post also offers cosy glamping, in two canvas safari tents. The hosts are very welcoming to both human and furry kids (there is no extra charge for dogs). This accommodation has a pretty, enclosed garden which is ideal for keeping pets entertained and there is a swimming pool for the kids (the human variety). Be sure to ask owner Mike about bike rental, local dog friendly hiking and his own side hustle – magical sunset eco-boat cruises on the Touw Estuary. René bakes her own artisan breads and pizza on-site with stoneground flour and local ingredients.

Image Featured Image: The Pink Lodge on the Beach

The luxurious Pink Lodge on the Beach is a four-star lodge overlooking the golden sands of Wilderness Beach. The lodge has 10 suites and one self-catering family cottage. It is located at Die Dune, with large open gardens and direct access to a phenomenal stretch of dog-friendly beach. The lodge has free WiFi and is a few minutes’ drive from the uber dog-friendly centre of Wilderness village, with shops, pet-friendly cafes, bars and restaurants. Inquire about the Dolphin or Hadedah units, both are ground floor double en-suites with private patios and garden access.

When travelling with your pet, we advise asking the following questions: Are dogs are allowed off leash on the premises? Are there any additional charges for animals or any breed restrictions? Are pets allowed to sit on the beds, couches and linen? If not, you will be expected to bring your own dog bed and you may be asked to pay a damage deposit. Can pets be left unattended in the accommodation? Is there an enclosed ‘escape-proof’ outdoor area for pets? Does the accommodation have feeding and water bowls / a pooper scooper / outdoor tap on the premises?

See our next blog for details of pet-friendly beaches, restaurants, bars and cafes in George and Wilderness.

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