The town of George nestles at the foot of the beautiful Outeniqua Mountains, some 12 km inland from the coast. George was founded in 1811 and is the sixth oldest town in the country. It is named for the British monarch at the time, George III. It is the largest town along the Garden Route. Because George lies close to several other towns, it has steadily grown into the distribution, education and medical centre of the region.
The timber industry was the main economic activity of the town for many years and still plays a major role in the
town’s economy. Many visitors return home with a special item of furniture, a permanent reminder of their visit to the area.
Adventure And Sport
Angling: Surf and rock-angling is a popular pastime, as cobs, stumpnose and blackfish are found in the waters along the coastline. Angling is also permitted at Touws River and Island Lake.
Beaches: The small cove of Victoria Bay is a popular surfing-spot. Herold’s Bay is favoured by the locals and has large tidal pools, which are safe for bathing and great for angling.
Canoeing: Canoers negotiate the waters of George Dam, Swartvlei, Island Lake, Groenvlei and Touws River.
Cycling: The area has a wide variety of cycling routes from which to choose.
Flying Tours: Various helicopter and flying tours offer the advantages of a bird’s eye view. Visitors are flown across the region and over the majestic mountains.
Golf: The George Golf Course and the Fancourt Golf Course are among the finest courses in the Western Cape.
Hang-gliding: The George area has many good hang-gliding points.
Hiking: There are over 70 hiking routes in the region, catering for all kinds of fitness levels. One of the most popular hiking trails is the tough eight-day Outeniqua Hiking Trail, which starts in George and passes through the Outeniqua Mountains north of Knysna through mountain fynbos and indigenous forests.
Horse-riding: The Garden Route Dam rents out horses to be ridden around the area. The trail guarantees breathtaking views of the majestic Outeniqua Mountains.
Outdoors: A variety of different activities can be ventured in the area, such as 4×4 routes, abseiling, bungee-jumping and mountaineering.
Power-boating: Power-boating is only allowed within certain areas on Island Lake and Swartvlei.
Sailing: Island Lake and Swartvlei allow sailing and board-sailing. The Yacht Club is situated on Island Lake.
Art And Crafts
Art and Craft Route: George has many different art galleries and craft markets, which offer something for everyone. The route also visits the Strydom Gallery, which was established in 1968, and the Artistico Gallery where South African artwork is on display.
Culture / Community Tourism
Xhosa Village: The Khulani Xhosa Village is situated at the outskirts of Thebalethu and offers visitors true Xhosa hospitality and culture.
Fauna And Flora
Bado Kidogo – Exotic Parrot Farm: This bird-breeding farm has over 150 different species of birds and visitors can walk around and view the birds at leisure.
Bird-watching: The lakes around George are home to many different bird species. The Malachite Bird Hide is situated at the northern shore of Langvlei and over 250 species of birds have been recorded here.
Montagu Pass: The Montagu Pass through the Outeniqua Mountains behind George was opened in the late 1840s and offers some of the most spectacular views in South Africa. The pass is a national monument.
Outeniqua Choo-Choo: The steam train, the only one still in operation in the country, dates from 1928. The service runs twice daily from George to Knysna and back and takes travellers along the coast, over numerous lakes and through attractive wooded ravines. It is the perfect combination of history and nature.
Outeniqua Nature Reserve: The reserve is home to a rich variety of plant life that sustains a wide variety of animal species. Various hiking trails have been mapped out.
Outeniqua Power Van: If you prefer more modern machinery, a guided tour in the motorised rail trolley that runs between George and Oudtshoorn is the option for you. The route winds up the Outeniqua Mountains and you can appreciate the splendorous beauty from the comfort and safety of the power van.
Seven Passes Road: The road goes through seven passes past George and Knysna, winding through indigenous forests. Plan your journey to include several stops to admire the magnificent scenery.
Southern Cape Herbarium: The herbarium displays lovely examples of local flora. The annual Wild Flower Show is hosted here in October.
Whales: Victoria Bay lies 9 km east of George and whales are often spotted in the surf.
History And Architecture
Churches: St Mark’s Anglican Cathedral, built in 1850, is the smallest cathedral in the Southern Hemisphere. George also has one of the oldest Roman Catholic Churches in South Africa (dating from 1848), and a Dutch Reformed Church (1843).
George Museum: The museum is situated in Courtenay Street and focuses on George’s timber industry and the history of George.
George Timber Route: This route was created to allow people to visit several of the important attractions in George on foot. The attractions are mainly related to the town’s timber history and include the special old trees of the town, as well as several timber stores. The attractions included are the George Museum, the Big Outeniqua Yellowwood, York Street Interiors, the Magnolia Tree, Old Oak Tree, Touw Meubels, the Giant Magnolia Tree, Norfolk Island Pines, the Gum Tree, the Tibouchina Tree, Houseman’s Furniture, the Big Oak Tree, Woodcraft Furniture, the Cape Ash Tree, Witfontein, the Saasveld Forestry School and De Steyl Furniture.
Old Oak Tree: This tree is one of George’s famous landmarks. It was planted in 1811 and has an old iron lock embedded in the trunk. Said to have been the place where slaves were sold in the past, some people refer to it as the Slave Tree. It is also reputedly the largest oak in the Southern Hemisphere.
Outeniqua Railway Museum: This is the only national railway museum in the country and exhibits locomotives and rail equipment.
Pacaltsdorp Church: The oldest church in the George area it was built in 1825.