It is indeed an honoured privilege as Executive Mayor of the city of George to extend our appreciated thanks to every citizen of George, and also a word of warm welcome to every visitor whose choice of holiday destination is the city for a sustainable future.
It is my wish that we strengthen our brother- and sisterhood and reach out to one another in the spirit of unsurpassable hope. Although we cannot change the world, we can touch the person living next to us and across the street. Although we are living in trying and challenging times, challenges are not new to us. It is during the festive season that we need to fortify ourselves with our convictions of faith. Let us not only walk on the treadmill of life, but always be conscious of our sense of purpose and destiny. Let us help one another to move forward and reach towards our tomorrows. Let us make the safety of our families, friends, neighbours, fellow road users and visitors our priority.
George offers you natural beauty and an array of holiday activities. You are reminded to use the different media platforms to stay informed regarding activities in and around our city. I also urge everyone to use our most threatened natural resource, water, sparingly and wisely. I want to wish everyone a fulfilling festive season a well-deserved time of relaxation and introspection. May you enjoy the time with family and friends and may you enter 2020 with renewed hope and a rejuvenated spirit.
Melvin Naik - executive mayor
George is the city with the best quality of life in South Africa, beating Knysna (second), Port Elizabeth (third), Cape Town (fourth) and Durban (fifth).
George received this accolade in 2019 from Numbeo, an international online database of user-submitted information.
The quality of life score is obtained by ratings of a city’s purchasing power, safety, health care, climate, cost of living, traffic and cleanliness.
Need to get rid of the stress of the past year?
Relaxing at one of George’s famous beaches is the way to go.
From Wilderness in the east to Herold’s Bay in the west, the local beaches offer some of the best swimming and surfing in South Africa.
As always over December, Wilderness, Victoria Bay, Gwaiing River Mouth, Kaaimans beach and Herold’s Bay with its two tidal pools, will be buzzing with holidaymakers. The beaches are manned by lifeguards who are on duty right through the season.
While relaxing, always be aware of the dangers of the sea and please obey the instructions of law enforcement officers and lifesavers.
On the beach:
● Swim where there are lifeguards on duty - usually from 10:00 to 18:00.
● Make sure that you are seen by lifeguards in the water. Don’t swim outside the designated swimming area, i.e. outside the flags.
● Swimmers need to watch out for surfers and surfers need to watch out for swimmers.
● Don’t drink alcohol on the beach. It’s illegal and extremely dangerous.
● Never swim alone.
At the pool:
● Never leave kids unattended.
● Secure the pool area with appropriate barriers that can’t be pushed down by little kids.
● Kids submerge very quickly. Stay within an arm’s length.
● Make sure that kids don’t play rough in the pool and jump on top of one another.
● It is important that adults who supervise are able to swim.
● Remember, anyone is at risk of drowning.
The one thing George is world-renowned for is its excellent golf courses.
With six 18-hole courses and two short courses, golf lovers are spoilt for choice.
Coupled with great weather, an abundance of bird and wildlife and spectacular views, a round of golf on any of these fine courses guarantees a memorable experience, regardless of the quality of golf!
Fancourt is South Africa’s premier golfing destination and boasts three top class golf courses, all designed by the legendary Gary Player. The Links is reserved for members and hotel guests, but Montagu and Outeniqua are open to the public.
George golf course
The historic George Golf Course is very popular with local golfers. Situated in CJ Langenhoven Street next to Outeniqua Park stadium, it boasts a beautifully manicured 72-par, 18-hole course with bent greens.
This signature course designed by Ernie Els is flanked by the Indian Ocean on one side and the Outeniqua Mountains on the other. The 18-hole, 72-par course is about 10km from the George Airport near Herold’s Bay and is open to the public.
This short course is rated as one of the best short courses in South Africa. It is a 9-hole pitch & putt course (mashy course) which can also be played as an 18-hole course due to the different boxes for teeing off at each hole.
This course offers a unique opportunity for beginners and advanced players to enjoy a quick game, meet new people and have a great time. The elevated clubhouse where breakfast, light meals and wood-fired pizza are served, has WiFi.
Visitors to the George area can enjoy various markets that offer a huge variety of good food, fresh produce, home-made goodies, art, clothing, crafts and more.
Enjoy the festive atmosphere often accompanied with live music.
Ek Lief Krismis, Eden Place, tuiste van Eden Gemeente, Knysnaweg, Kraaibosch, George.
10 to 21 December, Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00, rain or shine.
Outeniqua Family Market, opposite Garden Route Mall, Kraaibosch.
Every Saturday from 08:00 till 14:00.
Boerevintage Gift Market at Redberry Farm.
16 to 21 December. Daily from 09:00 till 17:00.
Mosaic Village and Outdoor Market, Paul Kruger Street, Sedgefield.
Every Saturday from 08:00 till 14:00.
Sunday 1 December: Fun Outdoor Art Fair from 11:00 till 14:00.
Milkwood Village Friday Night Market at Milkwood Village Shopping Centre, Wilderness.
Every Friday night from 16:00 till 22:00 with live
Over December daily from 09:00 to 17:00.
Outeniqua Kersmark at Dutch Reformed Mother Church.
9 to 21 December daily 08:00 till 18:00 (closed on Sundays).
Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market N2, Sedgefield.
Every Saturday from 07:30 till 12:00.
Scarab Craft Market N2, Sedgefield.
Every Saturday from 07:30 till 12:00.
The Map of AfricA
The Map of Africa is one of the coolest things to see in the George area.
The world-famous landmark in Wilderness Heights is about 15km from George in the direction of Knysna.
The vantage point overlooking the Map of Africa is a sought-after launch site for hang gliders and paragliders. The large lawn also provides a wonderful picnic spot for the whole family. Pets are welcome if they are well behaved and on a leash.
So, if you want to take the family out for a picnic with a very nice view, this is just for you. The bright and colourful paragliders create a beautiful picture against the blue sky.
The last stretch to the viewpoint is dirt road, but it is very well maintained. Keep in mind that this is a very popular viewpoint and on weekends a long line of cars is parked along the road.
The Map, as it is known among locals, is a spectacular landscape of mountains and forests. It is amazing how nature formed this ‘map’ of Africa.
It’s a little way out of town, so make sure all your goodies are in your picnic basket. Of course, remember sunscreen, a hat, chairs, blankets and your camera. Children and pets are welcome.
The Outeniqua Pass guarantees breathtaking scenery. Take the N9 on the northern outskirts of George. Travel over the mountain towards Waboomskraal, where you can visit various farm stalls and restaurants including the Roadside Deli.
Close to George you can turn off to see the historic Old Toll House at the start of the Montagu Pass. Just after the sign that points to the George Airport and Herold’s Bay on the right, you’ll find the Montagu Pass turnoff to the left. You can even cycle up there and make a true day trip out of it.
Travelling east on the N2 just outside George, the popular, scenic Victoria Bay will be your first stop. Turn right at the sign and follow the winding road down to the beach, about 2-3km. Watch the surfers while enjoying an ice cream or a bite at the restaurant.
Back on the N2, continue in an easterly direction down the Kaaimans River pass towards Wilderness. Don’t miss the Dolphins Point lookout point just a kilometer further to take in the spectacular views.
From here, take High Road at the back of Wilderness. If you want to return to George, turn left when you reach the T-junction at the Seven Passes Road for another scenic drive through indigenous forest. If you want to explore some more, turn right (east), taking the gravel road towards Hoekwil. While in the area you can also visit the Woodville Big tree, a yellowwood tree that is more than 800 years old.
Meade Street in the George CBD is not only a hub of interesting shops and lovely restaurants, it is also steeped in history.
Meade Street was named after Lady Theodosia Meade, descended from Irish nobility and wife of Sir John Cradock, governor of the Cape of Good Hope in the early 1800s.
Theodosia was the daughter of John Meade, the first earl of Clanwilliam.
Meade Street appears on the first street plan of George that was drawn in 1812, the year after the town was declared a drostdy.
From 1818, erven in Meade Street were being bought, but no development happened until the 1850s when a water furrow was built.
The oldest building in the street, the SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, is the exception - it was completed in 1843.
The SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church is also the oldest Roman Catholic Church in South Africa.
In 1912, the “zaal” was built by Rev Rousseau to act as an overflow hall for the Dutch Reformed Mother Church until a hall was constructed at the back of the church.
The top storey housed the first permanent cinema. In 1970, it was taken over by George Museum to house Georgiana, wagons and large items, but it was demolished some time later to make way for a provincial administration complex, which was never built.
In the early 1980s, Beacon House, now accommodating Millers Attorneys, was erected.
St Mark’s Cathedral is a beautiful stone building, situated on the corner of Cathedral and York streets.
The cathedral was designed by Sophia Grey, the wife of a bishop, and contains beautiful stained glass windows. It was built from local stone in 1850 and granted cathedral status in 1911.
The St Mark’s Cathedral affords George city status.
Discover breathtaking places you didn’t even know existed. With kloofing, you take a hike down the river through pools, surrounded by indigenous vegetation and animals. Climb over rocks and if you want, you can even jump from a cliff into the lovely deep pool far below you.
The wet part can’t always be prevented - it’s all part of the fun - but the jumps can. For the daredevils, the jumps vary between 2m and 12m. Children from 10 years old can participate.
Contact the experts: Fearless Adventures, or Eden Adventures can help you plan your trip and take you on a kloofing expedition.
A braai with a view
Herold’s Bay, Victoria Bay, Leentjiesklip at Wilderness and the Gwaiing River estuary in Hansmoeskraal, are four nearby beach areas where making fires are legal, but only at designated braai sites.
Amenities are limited, so make sure you head off early to secure a spot.
At Herold’s Bay the braai area is next to the tidal pool, at Victoria Bay a few barbecues are located on the lawn in front of the beach area and at Leentjiesklip you can braai next to the parking area.
The braai facilities at Gwaiing River Mouth in Hansmoeskraal are very popular with Pacaltsdorpers who enjoy partying at this beautiful beach.
The Wilderness National Park’s Ebb & Flow rest camp also offers the option of throwing a chop on the braai with a specific area for this purpose where visitors can also (for a fee) rent a canoe to sail on the river.
Island Lake Resort also offers braai and entertainment facilities for day visitors.
Maak 'n donkie se dag
Die donkie is ‘n wonderlike ding! Gaan kyk maar self by die Barnyard Kennels and Cattery se Donkey Sanctuary op die R102 (lughawepad).
Hier kan donkies rustig aftree en hul laaste jare in vreugde en vrede geniet.
Kinders van alle ouderdomme is welkom om vir Donk en sy maatjies te kom kuier.
Ingang is gratis, maar besoekers word gevra om asseblief kos vir die viervoetiges saam te bring.
Hulle is lief vir wortels, appels en selfs naartjies.
Join in the fun with the George Parkrun.
It is a 5km run (or walk) every Saturday at 08:00 at the George Botanical Garden, 49 Caledon Street.
There is no cost to join - it is free, but please register for the George parkrun before your first run. You only ever have to register with parkrun once.
Don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your barcode. If you forget it, we can’t give you your running time.
And you don’t need to be fast. You run for your own enjoyment and against your own clock.
Join in, whatever your pace!
The history of the Garden Route Botanical Garden, goes back more than 200 years.
The garden, located at the top of Caledon Street at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountain, was the site of the first irrigation scheme in the town in 1811 by the then mayor, Adriaan Geysbertus van Kervel. One of his first acts as mayor was to redirect water from the Rooi River via furrows to the Van Kervel storage dam to supply the original 36 plots in the hamlet. These historic furrows and weirs are still visible in the garden.
The main purpose of the garden is to protect the local indigenous flora.
The medicinal plant mound in the garden is a vibrant example of how to preserve our traditional medicines. Smell the potent Wild Garlic with its tiny purple flowers and spot the now infamous African Potato, 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 what illness is treated by each remedy.
These vineyards are situated on the foothills of the majestic Outeniqua Mountains. The vineyards are planted in quartzitic sandstone which forms part of the Table Mountain Sandstone Group.
The cool temperatures at this high altitude of 600 meters above sea level and hard soil results in grapes that ripen very slowly and produce berries of exceptional quality with intense flavours.
Harvesting takes place towards the end of March. Bunches are hand harvested early in the morning and arrive cool at the cellar. The stems are removed and the grapes are crushed into an open concrete fermentation tank; yeast is added immediately to start fermentation which lasts about five days with short pump-overs twice a day.
Thereafter the free run juice is separated and fermentation finished in tank. The wine is aged for 12 months in older French oak Barrels.
How to get there: Houtbosch Wines & Craft Beer tasting room is situated at the Redberry Farm in Geelhoutboom just west of George.
How about tasting some good wine produced in the Outeniqua Mountains?
The crisp mountain air, cooling summer southeasterly winds and year-round rainfall contributes to the fine quality of the wines made at Herold Wines - Pinot noir and Sauvignon blanc grown, made, bottled and certified in the Outeniquas.
Herold Wines lies on the sunlit north-facing slope of Cradock Peak, surrounded on three sides by the nature reserve. At between 650m and 700m its vines are rooted at a higher altitude than most other South African vineyards and it enjoys a protected growing season.
An electric fence keeps the grapes safe from marauding baboons and innovative zone netting gives protection against fruit-eating birds.
How to get there: From George, either take the historical Montagu Pass (it’s a gravel road, so the condition of the road can’t be guaranteed), or go the roundabout way via the Outeniqua Pass, taking the N9/ Herold turn-off and continuing up to the northern start of the Montagu Pass.
Bloodsuckers, twitchy legged, unlovely and whining. These words describe one of the most hated insects on earth.
What are your options when you find yourself covered with itchy bite marks during a summer break?
These natural remedies can be applied on the bite to help reduce itchiness & swelling:
● Lemon halves (rubbed over the bite) ● A puree of garlic cloves ● Baking soda ● Aloe vera ● Salt ● Ice wrapped in a thin cloth ● Rubbing with alcohol, toothpaste, tea tree oil or a paste of ground aspirin and water.
The sleepy, picturesque little town of Uniondale is known for its quaint churches and quirky cottages, lovingly planted with bright roses in shades of cream and pink. This captivating town and surrounding area fall in the George Municipal area and has an old-fashioned charm and a wonderful laid-back simplicity.
So when you’ve seen all the sights in George and surrounds, or live here and feel like getting away from the crowds, make your way across the mountain and head for the lovely Langkloof.
The African Aloe Café is a popular choice for energetic visitors. It offers a self-guided cycling tour of the town on comfortable and brightly coloured cruiser bikes.
The shorter route is an easy 5km and takes in the Synagogue, lamp-lighter’s home and Applewood Cottages, some of the earliest in the town, dating from 1850. The architecture is mostly Cape Dutch Revival, with fresh whitewashed walls, thatched roofs, ornate rounded gables and stoeps decorated with intricate metalwork.
A longer route requires a pedal out to the Jewish cemetery, at a total distance of 8km. Guests can return to the comfort of the clay pot fire at African Aloe after their exertion, to enjoy a coffee and a delicious slice of coconut cake.
Dirkie Coetzee is the colourful local guide trusted with escorting the more laid-back visitors on Uniondale tours.
Four guests can squash into the bright and bouncy yellow Tuk-Tuk for shorter trips.
The Volkswagen Minibus is fired up for longer cruises through the passes and poorts. Dirkie motors leisurely around the town offering amusing anecdotes.
The town boasts 42 churches, an ancient system of furrows and weirs and a dentist who will pull a tooth for R80. The charming Communion Houses, Dirkie says, were used as accommodation for rural farmers when they came to town for church once a month.
Dirkie guides you to the imposing and elegant 1884 Dutch Reformed Church. A new stone tower was added in 1908, as the original sandstone tower was unable to withstand the strain of the heavy bells. Dirkie invites the group to climb through a shuttered window onto the steeple veranda. The 360- degree vista is breathtaking.
Guests to the region will see the aloe harvest as they drive northwest towards Willowmore. Thousands of regal aloes stand sentry in the arid veld, their red flowers pointed towards the endless blue Karoo sky.
The leaves of Aloe ferox are carefully carved away and left to dry in the sun. These succulents contain a juicy pulp which is extracted and manufactured into health tonics and herbal remedies. The bitter sap of the aloe plant is well known in the region as a painkiller, a tonic for inflammation and sepsis, as well as a formidable laxative.
Soap, shower gels, moisturisers and healing balms are made from the aloe pulp, as well as crystals for constipation.
Legend has it that this eerie stretch of road is haunted by the ghost of an elusive young woman seeking her bridegroom. On a cold and windy April night in 1968 Maria Charlotte Roux and her financé, Giel Pretorius, were driving towards the town of Uniondale in their VW Beetle. The couple were set to announce their engagement and Maria was lying in the back seat of the car dreaming of her wedding dress. Tragically, at the 20km road stone, Giel lost control of the car and as the Beetle flipped and struck the ditch, Maria was flung from the car. It is said that the enigmatic figure of a bride in her wedding dress can be seen walking the road at dusk.
Good Samaritans who stop to aid her, report a passenger who slips quietly into the back seat of their car. When they turn to their curious passenger, she has vanished. An icy chill and the strong smell of sweet apples linger in her wake. She is fondly known in the region as the Lady of the Karoo.
A 10km drive south of Uniondale on the R339 takes you to the hamlet of Avontuur. The region is famous for its apple orchards and a replica of the narrow-gauge steam locomotive, the Apple Express, which once transported the apple harvest from the Langkloof to Port Elizabeth, can be seen in the village. The fertile valley produces bumper crops due to the cool misty evenings and winter frosts.
The road leads into the wild and unspoilt scenery of the Prince Alfred Pass. Thomas Bain began building this historic pass in 1860 as an access between the Langkloof and Knysna. The drystone retaining walls built by the convict labourers can still be seen supporting the twisting gravel road. Afrikaans place names record the history of the construction of the pass. Tiekeliefie ridge is where the convicts were finally given their “ticket of leave” in 1867.
The eastern end of the majestic Swartberg Mountain range is home to a canyon forming a historic link between the Great and Little Karoo. This deep gorge was formed over millions of years by the rushing water of the Traka River and is known locally as Toorwaterpoort. Few trains chug through this beautiful ravine and no road exists, but the locals come here on hot days to swim in the cool clear pools and savour the red lichen-clad cliffs that tower above the valley floor.
Ambulance, Fire Brigade or Police:
1022, or 112 from a cellphone
Eden911 - 0608 911 911
ER24 - 084 124
Metro - 10177
George Hospital - 044 874 5122
Mediclinic George - 044 803 2000
General - 0860 142 142 / 10111 /112
General - 044 878 2400
General - 044 801 6379
Emergencies - 044 801 6311/00
Sea rescue - 082 990 5955
Mountain rescue (NSRI Wilderness) - 080 000 5133
James Shackleton - Bergsig - 082 302 3383
Troy Lewis - Camphersdrift | Glenbarrie | Heatherlands - 063 165 8554
Deon Labuschagne - Denneoord - 081 795 3803
Deon van der Rijst - Blanco - 083 954 9804
Mike Ellis - Heather Park - 082 675 3424
Francois van der Merwe - Crime Spotters - 079 398 7766
Snake and bee removal - 083 262 5934
SPCA - 044 878 1990
Oudtshoorn Dogs in Need - 072 084 1374
Cat Garden Route - 072 425 5843