Flanked by the imposing Outeniqua Mountain Range and the exquisite Indian Ocean, George is particularly pretty. This beauty, combined with the heritage of this town, makes George a prime tourist spot for families, honeymooners and backpackers wanting to experience South Africa. The climate here is somewhat Mediterranean, with rainfall particularly during the nights and the winter months. The summers are moderately hot and the winters cool to cold.
George is one of the Garden Route’s main towns, situated almost halfway between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town (about 100 kilometres closer to the PE side). This is one of the oldest cities in the country and still retains much of the old-world elegance and architecture of yesteryear. George is the capital town of the Southern Cape.
Despite being a relatively small (but ever-growing) town of such historical import, the infrastructure of George is modern and efficient. Therefore, it is amply equipped to deal with the many tourists that visit it every year. There is a huge variety of malls, event facilities, attractions and activities to keep the entire family busy.
The town was established in response to the growing need for timber in the late 1770’s, when the Dutch East India Company set up a timber post in the area now known as George. Today, this area is still known for its wood production and processing. The surrounding mountains and passes needed to be developed for the purposes of transporting this timber. For this reason, the Outeniqua Mountains and the Montagu Pass were focused upon and developed.
The early 20th century saw a railway being built over these mountains. The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe still travels along the old railway route between George, Hartenbos and Mossel Bay. This is South Africa’s last scheduled mixed steam train service. It was declared a preserved line in 1993 and guarantees breath-taking scenery.
Some of the most popular attractions and activities in and around George include:
- The Slave Tree – so called for its having a chain and lock embedded in its trunk. This is an English Oak and a national monument.
- The Outeniqua Transport Museum – this showcases some really beautiful steam locomotives and carriages.
- The beaches of the area are always an enormous hit. These include the nearby Victoria Bay, Herold’s Bay and Wilderness beaches.
- The King Edward VII Library is an outstanding example of the Edwardian architecture that characterises this town.
- Redberry Farm – this is a berry farm (specialising in strawberries) that offers such a broad spectrum of activities that ensure that your family will be entertained for hours. Children will love picking their own strawberries, riding on the ponies, going on the kiddies’ train and having fun in the bubble ball while you relax and enjoy local delights at the tea garden, or buy goodies from the farm stall. The range of preserves is extensive and these make for stunning gifts.
- The Outeniqua Mountains and surrounding valleys are the ideal places in which to go bird-watching, hiking, walking, cycling, horse riding and 4 x 4-ing.
- Whale watching between July and December is a must. During these months, Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales frequent the coast and provide spectacular views.
- The Fancourt Golf Course is renowned for its combination of a fabulous course with glamour and exclusivity.
- The Outeniqua Nature Reserve is situated right in the midst of the mountains and showcases this area’s beauty to perfection.