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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!

GET YOUR HEART RACING THIS WINTER

6/10/2021

Needing a mental break this June-July? George has plenty of adventure to get your heart racing.

ADRENALIN FUELLED ADVENTURES

The Wilderness area is filled with adventure activities. On a sunny Winter’s day, canoe along the serene Touw River or kayak along the Kaaimans River to the waterfall gorge. Quad bike through untamed landscapes. Enjoy a round of paintball with your mates and do a dry canyon abseil tour. Go professional rock climbing. Mountain bike, trail run or hike spectacular scenery covering over 1,000km of trails. Fly from the seat of a helicopter.

Image Featured: Canoeing in the Garden Route National Park

Image Featured: Paragliding in Wilderness

Go paragliding. Tandem flying is fun and easy - experienced flight instructors assist you through this unforgettable experience. Sites include Kleinkrantz, the Wilderness Beach Hotel, Paradise Ridge and Map of Africa. There is nothing quite like soaring through the playground in the sky with the sparkling sea at your feet.

Image Featured: Horse riding in Wilderness

Guided horse trail riding will take you through Indigenous forest, mountain trails and rockpools with occasional wildlife sightings. Beginner to advanced riders are welcome.

Image Featured: Surfing at Victoria Bay in George

And if you a very brave. And we mean brave. Book a few lessons and learn to surf. George is famous for its right-hand break at Vic Bay and there are few things more thrilling than speeding through the waves. And our sea water is much, much warmer than Cape Town. We’re fortunate to have the Indian Ocean on our shores.

VIBEY PLACES TO HANG OUT

George isn’t known for its night life but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have trendy places for young people to hang out at. Make sure to breakfast under the bohemian umbrellas at the Pottery, grab a beer and burger at the Bench, eat pizza and mingle at Cactus and visit the Bling Pig and Bootlegger Brewery in Wilderness. There is also a chilled Friday night market at the Milkwood Village.

Image Featured: The Bench in George

AMAZING PICNIC LOCATIONS

George has very mild winters with plenty of sun days. Take advantage of the weather by packing a picnic and enjoying the great outdoors. The Wilderness Picnic Company can hook you up with a basket of delicious spoils. Picnic at spots like the Woodville Big Tree, on the grass at Herolds Bay or Victoria Bay beaches, Island Lake, inside the Garden Route National park, along the Kaaimans River or at the Wilderness lagoon.

Image Featured: The Woodville Big Tree in Wilderness

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TAKE A MID-YEAR BREAK IN THE GEORGE AREA

6/10/2021

This mid-year holiday, unwind and rejuvenate in George’s great outdoors. Surrounded by ocean, mountain, forest and farmlands in the Garden Route of the Western Cape, George is your passport to paradise.

VIEWS FOR DAYS

By train, boat, car, foot or helicopter – you are spoilt for choice. The Power Van, which departs from the Transnet Transport Museum, chugs up the mountain along the railway track. It offers lovely views from atop the mountain, passes through tunnels and fynbos. Riders climb out for an enjoyable picnic before returning down the mountain.

Image Featured: Wilderness River Safaris

River cruises are available in the Garden Route National Park. This is a relaxing way to enjoy the Touw River or Island Lake and spot the birdlife.

Image Featured: Seven Passes Road

There are plenty of scenic drives in the area – after all, the Garden Route is not known as the “Garden of Eden” for nothing. The most noteworthy are the 7 Passes from George to Knysna, the Outeniqua Pass from George to Oudtshoorn with majestic mountain views – blue rock contrasted against green hills, and the Baviaanskloof in Uniondale, starting at Patensie in the East and ending at Willowmore in the West.

Another way to enjoy the landscape is from the air with Savanah Helicopters, based at the George airport. Enjoy scenic heli-flights of the topography.

Image Featured: Kaaimans River Bridge

Visit viewpoints in Wilderness like the Map of Africa, a natural wonder, or Dolphin’s Point for a better look at the Kaaimans Bridge. 210m long and 36m high, the railway bridge is engineering genius, beautifully positioned at the mouth of the Kaaimans River. The point is also a great place to spot dolphins and whales in the ocean below.

SWING AWAY YOUR STRESS

Image Featured: Oubaai Golf Course

Known as a golfing mecca, George is home to the Links, the number one course in South Africa, and several high ranking courses. Fancourt offers two premier courses, Montagu and Outeniqua. Oubaai’s 18-hole Ernie Els signature championship golf course is set in a truly exceptional position, on a cliff top with the Indian Ocean below. The George Golf Course is also highly rated. Kingswood is inspired by the Home of Golf, St Andrews (The Old Course) in Scotland and is a popular choice.

EXCEPTIONAL TRAILS IN EXCEPTIONAL SETTINGS

There are over 1,000km of trails in the George area alone, frequented by hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers. Enjoy forested pathways, hidden natural pools and the blue water of the George dam. Get a bird’s eye view of the city from the mountain peaks or trek your way to a waterfall. Walk along the beach. There are plenty of routes to pick from, depending on your fitness and preferred duration. Guided tours are also available.

If you are an avid 4x4er, Uniondale cannot be missed. The M’kama route offers a unique Klein Karoo experience, and Uniondale is also the gateway to 4x4ing the magnificent Prince Alfred’s Pass.

SERENITY IS FOUND AT THE SPA

Image Featured: Fancourt Spa

George and Wilderness have plenty of spas to choose from. Check in to Fancourt and the Views for international award-winning luxury. Besides for offering various treatments, the Fancourt spa offers a Roman Bath and jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and tepidarium. There are also great views over the golf course while you sip a beverage in your towelled gown. At the Views, facilities include a hydrotherapy bath, heated indoor pool, hydro pool, steam room, sauna and Moroccan rasul steam cleanse. There are also some other great mid-range spa experiences, like Sanguine Spa in George.

BE ENRICHED BY CULTURE, ART AND HISTORY

George has two museums. The Transnet Transport Museum is an amazing ode to locomotives and vintage cars and is truly an enjoyable experience for all ages. Enormous life-size retired trains of different models and eras stand proud. The George Museum is worth a quick visit to discover George’s history, with wagons and carts, the first local newspaper, Apartheid historical items and every-day life objects from another world.

Image Featured: Uniondale tuk-tuk

Uniondale is filled with raw history. Book an interesting tuk-tuk tour where you will visit a watermill dating back to the 1800s, restored by Afrikaans author Dalene Mathee, visit an original fort from the Anglo Boer War, and go past heritage buildings like Uniondale’s very own police station – likely the most attractive police station in South Africa. Rock art can be found in Uniondale, as well as in Herold.

Go on a historical and culturally significant walking tour in the community of Pacaltsdorp. A local guide will take you to 12 unique sites where you can learn more about this community that was originally inhabited by the Khoi people and later became a Mission station. 200 years of rich history will unfold as you visit the sites.

Image Featured: Langkloof Gallery and Sculpture Garden

If you enjoy South African art, make a round trip of it by visiting the various galleries in George, Wilderness and Uniondale. Sheena Ridley’s sculpture garden is not to be missed.

TASTE THE FLAVOURS OF GEORGE

Image Featured: Herold Wines

Stop in at Herold Wines or Houtbosch to enjoy wines cultivated from grapes grown in the Outeniqua region. Pick fresh strawberries from the fields at Redberry Farm. Savour a delicious treat from Prince of Tarts, a local baker and magic maker whose humble beginnings at the Sedgefield market turned into the fashionable bakery of today. Pick up a packet of wors, biltong and steak from Van Rensburg’s butchery – a local favourite. Enjoy pairing experiences at Pause Coffee at Timberlake Village or pop in at Caroline’s Chocolate Haven. Totally unpretentious, it will be worth the stop when you taste the handmade Belgian chocolate.

Image Featured: 101 Meade

The main road as you enter Wilderness is lined with restaurants, and there are also eateries overlooking the sea. For a dining experience to remember, make a reservation at Serendipity, where chef Lizelle Scholtz will serve you a South African 5-course fine dining meal on the Touw River bank. In George, enjoy one of the many coffee shops sporting a relaxing garden and plenty of stellar dinner options. Uniondale is most famously known for its ghost so a visit will not be complete without a meal and photo op at the Hungry Ghost restaurant.

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A Weekend Farm Getaway

5/14/2021

As budget farm getaways go, you won’t find better than Witteberghoek Guest House and Camping Grounds. This historic apple farm is hidden in the Langkloof Valley, close to the sleepy little hamlet of Haarlem. Pack up your kids, bikes and fishing nets and hit the tar to discover simple Klein Karoo hospitality, a secluded cabin in the hills and a truly tranquil escape.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

A turn off the smooth tar of Route 62 takes us into Witteberg Farm, nestled beneath the rocky slopes of the Witteberg hills. Owners Klippies and Johan Strydom guide us through the apple orchards to our little cabin. The stone cottage, ‘Royal Beaut’, sits on the hillside facing east. The stoep has views of the Groot River kloof, acres of apple, pear, peach trees, and the rocky slopes of Witteberg hills. As the sun begins to dip, my husband and our two kids climb out of the car to begin exploring. I am amazed at the quality of the light in the Klein Karoo. Everything seems to glow in the orange evening sunlight. No wonder the locals call this the ‘golden hour’. There is quiet and stillness, birdsong, and a faint breeze. Johan apologies for the lack of cellphone or WIFI reception. With a huge sigh of relief, we switch off the phones and spark up the braai.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

Klippies and Johan Strydom are fantastic, charming hosts and chat easily about the history of the farm. The Strydom Estate dates to 1896 when Johan’s grandfather and fierce looking red-headed grandmother bought the farm. The couple had eight children and Ouma Susanna Maria’s red-hair genes persist in the family line to this day. Johan jokes that the ‘rooikop’ gene seems to crop up somewhere in every generation. The farm is currently managed by Johan and his brother, third generation farmers and his 80-year-old father, David. Despite the crippling drought, the farm produces bumper harvests of delicious soft fruits such as apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums as well as apples, pears, and pomegranates. Johan explains that a mountain spring supplies life-giving water throughout the farm and even feeds their own bottling plant. Witteberg mineral water is purified and bottled on the farm and distributed throughout the Western Cape. In addition, the farm is also home to a small herd of sheep, a few pigs, a flock of chickens, a pair of springbok and some bunnies. Johan climbs into his Isuzu bakkie and promises to return early the next morning to take the kids on the full farm tour.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

Witteberghoek has four rustic self-catering guesthouses as well as a small camping terrain. The cabins are named after the apple varieties growing on the farm; Royal Beat, Fallawater and Sundowner. The former laborer’s cottages have been renovated to comfortably sleep a family of four or five. Each cabin has a stoep with braai facilities and a charming wood-burning stove in the kitchen. The cottages are fed with spring water from the hills and have a solar water heater on the roof. After exploring the waterfalls and pools in the Groot River kloof, we wrapped the kids in blankets and spent the evening counting stars and watching fireflies dance in front of the porch light.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

As promised, Uncle Johan was back at 7.30 am looking for volunteers to help him with the sheep. Our kids pulled on their gum boots and climbed onto the back of the bakkie. My five-year-old immediately took a shine to the quiet, softly spoken and hard-working farmer. Within minutes Ross was hand-in-hand with Johan, herding sheep and feeding rabbits like he had been doing it all his life. Our kids loved feeding the Witteberg pigs. They filled big buckets with bruised apples and emptied them into troughs and then fell apart giggling as the pigs tucked in with gusto.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

Uncle Johan points out rows of beehives sitting on every available rooftop. Bees, he explains, are the fruits farmer’s best friend. The hives are essential to the fruit farming industry as they visit the fruit blossoms, ensuring that pollination occurs. Johan describes how that hives had to be raised above the ground to outwit the local honey badger. The clever and persistent little ratel seems to have already foiled Uncle Johan’s efforts. We see one or two hives which have been pushed off the piggery’s roof and smashed open. The tenacious honey badger seems to be winning the race.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

Witteberg Farm has several well marked walking trails through the hills. These pass the chicken coop and sheep pastures and wind alongside fynbos clothed hills. In the distance, Johan points out the Cape Honeybush crop growing on the hilltops. This unique herbal tea is one of several medicinal plants growing on the farm. Johan shows us other herbs used by generations of local people including ‘Wildeals’ (African Wormwood) and Sour Fig. Today, the antioxidant rich Honeybush is added to their spring water to make a delicious Honeybush Iced Tea.

Image Featured Image: Clare Van Rensburg

We spend the afternoon canoeing on the farm dam and lazing about in the sunlight. Johan pays his new ‘farmhands’ with a pocketful of small freshly picked gem squash, a few ripe tomatoes and a backpack full of bright red Sundowner apples. Our kids stroll home covered in dust and smiling from ear to ear. Witteberghoek provides a unique opportunity for rest, rejuvenation, and quiet family time. It is an affordable three-star getaway on a working farm. Bring your mountain bike and hiking boots, and prepare to switch off completely.

Contact Details Address: Witteberghoek Self Catering Guesthouse, Route 62, Haarlem Phone: Klippies Strydom 084 702 6940 Email: klippies@langkloof.net Website: www.witteberghoek.com Facebook: Witteberghoek Self-Catering Accommodation

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The Evoking Art Festival: Shining a Spotlight on Emerging Young Artists

3/26/2021

Whether you are an art-lover, a proud homeowner with wall space, a wannabe collector or an established art aficionado, the Evoking Art Festival is a date to diarise.

The art festival will involve an exhibition of up to 75 contemporary art works by 25 emerging young artists, as well as poetry readings, live music, and an exciting art auction. Evoking Art Festival 2021 will take place at the Timberlake Organic Village, in Wilderness, on the 24th of April.

Image Featured: Evoking Art

Evoking is the brainchild of Wilderness surfer and painter, Ingrid Nuss, who saw an undeniable opportunity to nurture fresh talent. The established artist describes the Garden Route as a creative hub ‘bursting with artistic potential’. “I love spotting raw talent,” Ingrid explains, “and the evoking festival was born as a stepping-stone to help young artists to break into the contemporary art world.”

Nuss curated the exhibition with four main criteria; she selected young artists with a strong visual aesthetic who display innovation and whose art is moving. She specifically chose to exhibit artists in their 20’s and 30’s, who have a fresh perspective, because she says these artists are all at that crucial point in their careers, ‘when they are at their most energized, excited, and brave’. “I want this energy to translate into the Evoking experience. I want viewers to look at this collection and be swept away,” says Nuss. The 25 artists in the Evoking collection share other commonalities. Each has his or her own unique style or medium and most of the artwork is, yet unseen. Evoking will be the exhibition debut for many of the artists, including Lesica Roux, Milena Favet and Lindie Calitz.

Exhibition Highlights

Children’s book illustrator, Lauren Sparks, produces playful watercolour illustrations of quirky characters. Evoking is a great opportunity to snatch up a print as an unusual nursery gift, or as a funky addition to a child’s bedroom. Surfer and free-style artist, Luke Vieira, is inspired by 1980’s street/skater pop art and artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. His artwork is coloured by his broad travel experience, including time spent in South Korea. Pick up one of his ultra-modern mash-up cartoon sketches, featuring bold drawing, pulsing colour and neon highlights. Lee Molenaar’s artwork explores the emotional impact of loss, gain and compromise in the face adjusting to a bewildering modern world. His art explores our roots in modern culture and the scary pace of change. In addition, Evoking will exhibit works by Harveen du Preez, Amy Anstey, Hermuné Pienaar, and others which expand upon the concept of poignant emotion.

Auction Highlights

The Evoking Auction will involve bidding on over 15 art works with auctioneer Adriaan Barnard.

Image Featured: Red Baloon by Houghmordeen Jansen

Young Houghmordeen Jansen, known locally as Holmes, grew up in the Smutsville Township, outside Sedgefield. He paints portraits of daily scenes from township life. His painting ‘Red Balloon’ will appear at auction. This mixed media painting is a raw depiction of the simplicity of his township childhood. It shows a small child totally absorbed in the pleasure of play. It carries a reserve price of R2000.

Image Featured: Reaching by Janet Botes

Janet Botes’ artwork entitled ‘Reaching’ depicts an outstretched hand. It symbolizes a personal pursuit of connection and elicits a deep yearning sensation. The mixed media work will appear at (reserve R2200).

Image Featured: "Imagination Station" by Ingrid Nuss

Ingrid Nuss will auction her painting ‘Imagination Station’. It depicts a content tiger reclining on a comfortable bed in an overgrown and empty room. This piece will appeal to creatives of all types as it represents the metaphorical space where creativity is stimulated. It is a visualization of how the artist’s ideas flourish in a calm space. The auction reserve will be set at R4000.

Image Featured: "Ecstatic Bliss" by Simon Gower

‘Ecstatic Bliss’ by Simon Gower represents a moment of pure joy and crystal clarity. The oil on canvas shows a strong tribal aesthetic and is painted in shades of yellow and honey. It has a reserve price of R7000.

Affordable Art

One of the main aims of the Evoking Art Festival is to connect fresh talent with art buyers. This fair is a fabulous hotspot from which to find rising stars and is an ideal place to snap up a future investment, without breaking the bank. Evoking places a strong emphasis on affordable art with prices ranging from only R200. Bidding on several artworks will start at only R20.

Festival Details

The festival kicks off with the art exhibition at 2pm followed by live music gigs by Khayelitsha based band Warongx, Cape Town based Altello and a line up packed with local musical talent such as Daytura, Electric Spinach, Shaun Galolo and Chris Auret. Live Poetry readings and an auction of select pieces will follow at 5,30pm. A full menu is available at Zucchini’s Restaurant. Coffee, cakes and light meals from Pause Coffee Roastery and kids can enjoy the open-air play areas and jungle gym.

Image Featured: Warongx Band

The event is free if you register online and VIP tickets are available from evoking.co.za at a price of R500 which includes entry to the artists lounge and VIP area, along with complementary drinks and canapes, R200 auction credit and a limited-edition Evoking art print by Ingrid Nuss.

More information is available at Evoking

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The Ultimate Romantic Getaway to Wilderness

2/9/2021

With breath-taking ocean views, incredible scenery, luxury spas and five-star accommodation, Wilderness tops the bucket list for romantic getaways. Local blogger Clare van Rensburg took her husband for a soul retreat in nature’s wonderland. She gives her top five tips for enjoying a beachside vacation in the Gateway to the Garden Route. One’s first impression of the sleepy little village of Wilderness is the vista from Dolphin’s Point. The Indian Ocean sweeps the golden shore as far as the eye can see. Candy coloured paragliders hang in the balmy summer breeze and the tang of salt saturates the air. Wilderness is soaked in holiday vibes. This relaxed and fun-loving little town is in a league of its own when it comes to romance. If there was ever a place to get lost and in love, it’s here!

Image Featured: Escape to the Beach

  1. Splurge on Sensational Sleeps

We chose to blow our budget on a weekend at ‘Escape to the Beach’, on Sand’s Road. This five-star boutique guest house is famous for its chic modern décor, elegant architecture and proximity to the beach. It is an ideal setting for lovers; dance in the dark, dip your sandy toes in the ocean and have a sneaky kiss on the sun loungers. Stepping through the ground floor entrance, guests are treated to jaw-dropping panoramic views of the ocean. The lounge, bar and kitchen open onto a sun-drenched deck and lap pool. The white sandy beach and soothing surf lie just footsteps from the deck. You can toast your getaway by sipping gin cocktails at sundown and watching the dolphins play in the waves. Take a dip in the jacuzzi and ask hostess Sarie for dinner recommendations. Escape to the Beach has five lavish suites named after the region’s whale species. We stayed in the beach-facing Humpback Suite. The hanging 'love seat' on the private balcony is the perfect place to snap a selfie. There is even a Cowrie shell chandelier hanging over the toilet! Escape to the Beach is all you can expect from a five-star guest house; expensive cotton sheets, duck down pillows, a flat screen TV, Nespresso machine and minimal environmental impact – no dreadful plastic bottles! Best of all, it comes with a soothing ocean soundtrack, for blissful deep sleep.

Image Featured: Escape to the Beach

  1. Pack light and live like a local

Heavenly beach holidays require only the minimum baggage, so pack light! The Wilderness locals are famous for their carefree attitude, walking barefoot and in board shorts. A bikini, a sarong and a couple of dresses will suffice for a holiday at Escape to the Beach. The guest house supplies fluffy robes and slippers which quickly become standard attire. Follow the locals for a ‘post-surf’ morning coffee at the Commonage or the Green Shed in the village. Local hooch joint, The Blind Pig, is a great option for a mid-afternoon craft beer and there is a small craft market every Sunday afternoon in the Milkwood Village.

Image Featured: The Milkwood Village

  1. Enjoy award-winning local cuisine

We chose to get dressed up and dine in luxury at the award-winning Serendipity Restaurant, on Freesia Avenue. This unique fine-dining restaurant is situated on the banks of the Touw River, overlooking the Wilderness National Park. Rudolf Stolze, owner and Maître d’ welcomed us with a selection of local aperitifs and an in-depth explanation of the night’s menu. Drawing inspiration from South African flavours and culinary heritage, executive chef Lizelle Stolze plans a five-course menu championing South African ingredients and flavours. The offerings change seasonally depending on the availability of fresh fish and local game, but invariably include indigenous veldkos, fynbos botanicals and fresh vegetables from the garden. We selected the wine pairing, and a talented young Sommelier chose local wines to complement each course. We loved the descriptions and tasting notes as these were delivered effortlessly at our table. Serendipity is an intimate dining experience, with only five tables of diners per sitting, so bookings are essential. There are several other reputable dining options in Wilderness village. Ilali Restaurant and Social Bar is perfect for cocktails and tapas. They host local musicians in season. Pomodoros is famous for excellent wood-fired pizza and authentic Italian gelato.

Image Featured: The Wilderness National Park

  1. Experience nature’s playground

Spend a peaceful morning in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. Stroll the Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail. A seven-kilometre round trip winds along a shaded path through indigenous forest. Take an invigorating dip in the icy waterfall and watch out for the local love bird, the Knysna Loerie. Enjoy a secluded picnic in the great outdoors. The Wilderness Picnic Company promise to ‘deliver food to match your mood’. They specialise in planning romantic picnics in the area and offer a delicious range of freshly prepared local and seasonal foods, in eco-friendly packaging. Our choice, however, was a sunset cruise on the Touw River, with Wilderness River Safaris. This company cater for honeymoons, engagements and anniversaries, and offer a private cruise for the lovestruck on their safari-style boat. A gentle cruise on the idyllic waterways is the perfect way to celebrate love. The reed lined wetlands, lush forests and placid lagoon are perfectly enjoyed with a glass of bubbles, at dusk.

Image Featured: Stock Image

  1. Soothe and spoil your soulmate

The Wellness Emporium at the Views Boutique Hotel offers a couples’ massage package to die for. The ‘Togetherness Ritual’ includes a Moroccan Rasul steam cleanse, followed by their signature serenity massage and a mineral hydro bath. If you are looking for a blissful opportunity to rejuvenate your mind and body and reconnect with your loved one, look no further! On our final morning, Mark and I rose at dawn for a quick dip in the waves at Wilderness Beach. It brought back memories of our first holidays together as boyfriend and girlfriend. As Ed Sheeran would say, ‘We were just kids when we fell in love’. Decades ago, we camped on this very beach. We were penniless then and spent the evening laughing under the stars with a cheap bottle of plonk. We woke up in a stuffy and sandy tent. Our five-star romantic getaway left me feeling smug. We might be older now, but we are certainly wiser, and finally, we can stay in hotels!!!

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The Best Beaches around George

2/3/2021

We have an abundance of beaches in and around George; whether you want smooth waves for ‘cooking’ surf sessions or a social beach for strutting, suntanning and snapping selfies. We have sandy strands for buckets and spades, calm estuaries for chilling with kids and windswept shores for romantic strolls.

The best time to visit the Garden Route’s beaches is between November and March, when the days are long and warm. Water temperatures remain in the balmy 16-to-21-degree range throughout the year, so you can avoid the Cape Town ice-cream headaches here! Pods of dolphins are regularly spotted in our surf. The Common, Dusky and Bottlenose Dolphin are all well-known locals. Southern Right Whales visit our shores between June and November.

Image Featured: Victoria Bay

Best for Surfing, Suntanning and Selfies

Victoria Bay is the region’s most famous and funky beach. ‘Vic’ is well known for its consistent right-hand point break, making it one of the most popular surf spots on the Garden Route.

The narrow sandy cove is surrounded by rocky, forested cliffs and usually lined with bikini clad sunworshippers. A paved promenade extends past the local holiday homes to the headland, aptly called ‘Land’s End’. Here, a circular stone portal called a ‘Moon Gate’ was built from local slate and offers a fantastic opportunity for selfie snaps, against the backdrop of crashing surf. The point is strewn with huge boulders that offer fascinating rock-pooling opportunities for small children. A small tidal pool is the safest place for weak swimmers. The pier offers a spot to cast a line from, however, most find they are more likely to snag a surfer than a fish!

Lifeguards are on duty in the holiday season, please pay close attention to their direction, as the riptides in the bay can be strong. Vikkie’s Beach Bar offers chips, milkshakes, burgers and breakfasts with spectacular views. Toilets, showers, and disabled parking and wheelchair access are available. Dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Location: Traveling along the N2 National Road between George and Wilderness, Victoria Bay is 3km off the N2.

Image Featured: Herold's Bay

Best for Chip Vans, Tidal Pools and Surf Lessons

Herold’s Bay is a clean, safe beach and is ideal for busy families. This beach has been trending in the holiday guide books since the 1900’s. Photos in the George Museum show Voortrekkers camping out on the beach next to their fully laden ox wagons.

Surfers and bodyboarders enjoy the left-hand reef break, which picks up plenty of groundswell. It’s a popular spot for lunch, with a few snack vans, including a Chip N’ Dip, in the car park. The bay is protected from the dreaded south easterly wind by a rocky headland and is a wonderful swimming beach with plenty of space to stretch out, play bat and ball, and bask in the sun. Herold’s main attraction for families is the deliciously warm and calm tidal pool on the western side of the cove. It’s warmer than the open ocean and large enough to do laps in. The salt-water pool hosts tiny shoals of fish, sea anemones and even the odd octopus - so make sure to bring your snorkel and mask. Check out local company ‘Vibe Surf School’ for lessons and board rentals. Lifeguards are on duty in season. Parking and ablutions are available.

Location: Take exit 425 off the N2 National Road (between George and Mossel Bay), follow the R404 for about 5,5 km to Herold’s Bay.

Image Featured: Kaaimans

Best for family fun, floaties and fishing/ Kids, canoes and floaties

Kaaiman’s River Mouth is a jealously guarded local secret and a phenomenal spot for families. A tiny car park is located directly off the N2, and the beach is accessed via a 200-metre hike alongside the whizzing main road. The lack of sufficient parking and difficult access deters most visitors, but the blissful river mouth is well worth a visit.

Hikers descend onto a massive and secluded sandbar at the mouth of the Kaaiman’s River, with breath-taking views of the forested cliffs on either side. A dark cola-coloured river meets the blue Indian Ocean under a towering train bridge. The tidal estuary is a great place for kids to cast a line, swim, float or paddle a canoe. Small children love the shallow warm water and are unlikely to be bowled over by a wave or swept away by breakers.

Please note that there are no ablutions on the beach, no lifeguards and no rubbish bins. Pack everything that you need and take every scrap of litter with you when you leave.

Location: Kaaiman’s River is located between Wilderness and George. The car park is located on the south side of the N2. Follow the walking trail east to the beach.

Image Featured: Wilderness Beach by Drone Girl Wilderness Photography

Best for Paragliding and Paddling

The little village of Wilderness is locally renowned for having one of the longest, cleanest beaches in South Africa, with pristine white sand and crystal water. The first section of the beach (at the western most corner) is called Leentjiesklip. Visitors will find limited parking, clean ablutions, a cold-water shower and a braai area. Leentjiesklip is popular for sunbathing, fishing, volleyball and whale watching. Fishermen come to this beach for the wide variety of fish species found in the area, including Kabeljou, Blacktail and Steenbrass. ‘Leentjies’ is an ideal place to watch the local hand gliders and paragliders who take off from the Map of Africa above Dolphin’s Point. Lifeguards man the beach in-season, beware of dangerous currents around the rocks.

Location: Turn off the N2 onto Station Road, turn right into Sands Road. Leentjiesklip carpark is at the western end of the road.

Image Featured: Wilderness Beach by Drone Girl Wilderness Photography

Best for Blue Flags, Lifeguards and Seafood Spoils

Further along Wilderness Beach, the local NSRI Station is situated next to Salina’s Beach Restaurant. This section of beach has Blue Flag status, lifeguards and is out-of-bounds for dogs. Parking and ablutions are available and there is access to a large sandy beach at the mouth of the Touw River. Small children enjoy the calm and shallow water in the mouth. Check out the local surf and wind conditions on Salina’s Beach Restaurant webcam (salinas.co.za). Stop into the restaurant for a chilled glass of wine or a fish supper after some swimming.

Location: Directly off the N2 on the Knysna side of Wilderness.

Image Featured: Wilderness Beach by Drone Girl Wilderness Photography

Best for long walks and dog-Lovers

Klein Kranz is ideal for escaping the crowds. Tall sand dunes slope down onto a seemingly endless expanse of sand. Walking east, hikers can enjoy 20 km stroll all the way to Swartvlei. The westward direction takes walkers back to Wilderness. Dogs are allowed off-leash on this beach and further information on dog-friendly beaches can be obtained from SANPARKS

San Parks dog friendly beaches and parks

Due to the lack of ablutions and the steep profile of the beach, fewer people use this section of the coast. Beware of strong currents and riptides. Lifeguards are not on duty here and swimming is dangerous.

Location: East of Wilderness turn off the N2 onto Protea Lane. Take a right and follow the road to the car park.

Please note that the south-easterly wind can occasionally blow stinging bluebottle jellyfish onto our shores in the summer months. Beware their ferocious sting. Although all our beaches look inviting, currents and riptides at some locations can be very dangerous, please swim at lifeguard monitored beaches!

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20 years of embracing real South African Flavours at Serendipity Restaurant

1/15/2021

Serendipity Restaurant has achieved international acclaim by championing traditional and local South African flavors. Blogger Clare van Rensburg visits the iconic Wilderness fine-dining restaurant, on its twentieth anniversary. She discovers a bucket-list meal at an award-winning eatery.

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant Chef Lizelle Stolze

Serendipity’s menu is rooted in chef-patron Lizelle Stolze’s passion for the very best South African produce, which she describes as ‘amazing indigenous bounty’. For two decades, Lizelle and her husband Rudolf, have put Wilderness on the map for sumptuous food and an unparalleled knowledge of local wines and spirits. Their ingredients-driven menu changes every five weeks and depends on what hunter, fisherman and spear-diver Rudolf has managed to wrestle into submission or pull from the ocean. You can expect local game and seafood, indigenous foods and traditional flavors, elevated to fine-dining splendor.

Serendipity’s fun-loving maître d’ Rudolf likes to serve sunset aperitifs on the waterside terrace, overlooking the placid Touw River. This gives him a chance to chat about his favorite South African spirits and brag about his wife’s menu. This fantastic menu is matched only by Rudolf’s local food lore. Serving us a pink gin-style cocktail, Rudolf tells us about the near-calamity that accidently created the ‘Spook van Blomfontein’. At the secluded Strandveld Winery, on South Africa’s southernmost tip, winemaker Conrad Vlok was determined to produce a superlative MCC. Shortly after bottling his prized pinot noir, disaster struck. Explosions shook the Cape Agulhas cellars, as hundreds of bottles shattered from the pressure. Desperate to protect the plonk, Vlok decanted the remaining stock and distilled it with a secret blend of local fynbos botanicals. A unique and rare spirit was born and this Spook van Blomfontein has become a closely guarded local secret. It tastes like an actual flower fountain and smells like Turkish Delight and Rose Geranium. Rudolf serves it ice cold, in a champagne flute, topped up with refreshing Indian tonic.

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant

Serendipity’s setting is intimate and magical. The dining room is situated right on the banks of the lagoon, in the perfect position to appreciate the Southern Cape sunsets. Dragonflies hover over the water, reeds sway in the breeze and the scent of food wafts from the kitchen.

Serendipity is a unique experience for proud South Africans and international food-lovers. The menu is infused with regional botanicals and indigenous flavours. “When we first began Serendipity Restaurant in 2001,” says Rudolf, “we committed ourselves to sticking to fresh sustainably-sourced local foods, and two decades later it is still a winning formula”. Lizelle says that her dedication to South African cuisine stems from recollections of her favourite childhood foods; “I have vivid memories of marog cooked with onions and potatoes, and of preparing hunted spoils that my dad brought home: we once stuffed a warthog heart and I had to do the sewing-up. I remember freshly grilled whole white mielies, topped with a swipe of butter and spicy salt.”

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant

“For years,” Lizelle says, “our traditional foods were forgotten, and focus was placed on exotic imported ingredients”. “We choose to keep the spotlight on South Africa’s unique culinary heritage,” she says of her kitchen. Indeed, this passion is surely the reason that Serendipity features so frequently in hospitality awards. They were named ‘Global Winner’ of the 2020 World Luxury Restaurant Awards, for South African Cuisine and ‘Continent Winner’ for Fine Dining. They remain the top-rated Trip Advisor restaurant in Wilderness and feature in the Ten Best Restaurants in the Western Cape Province.

Our meal began with a surprise ‘amuse bouche’, served in a spherical pottery cloche. We opened it to find silky beetroot hummus, served with a local goat’s cheese and crisp croutons. A basket of homemade bread contained a traditional Vetkoek and was served with flavored butter and a sprinkle of onion flowers. The snoek pate starter featured slivers of wild harvested pepper dew and was plated with a traditional grape jam, pickled onion and a peppery Nasturtium pesto. My husband loved his Retro Waldorf Salad, possibly the first time in his life he ever enjoyed a salad! The rich pigeon breast Bresaola was perfectly complemented by pickled sultanas, crunchy apple, celeriac and toasted pecans.

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant

As an interlude, we enjoyed the broccoli and ice-berg lettuce soup served with a splash of salty local Blaauwkrantz cream cheese. This was followed by a single refreshing spoonful of ice-cold sorbet. We slurped up tangy lemon and native buchu flavors until our palates were suitably cleansed.

Our favorite aspect of the Serendipity experience was the interaction with our waiters and hosts. We loved the fun and detailed explanations of the dishes, as well as Rudolf’s hunting escapades and his personal wine recommendations. Serendipity offer to pair each course with a complimenting wine, carefully sourced from local vineyards. The waiters deliver each pairing with flawless tasting notes.

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant

The showstopping main course was tender springbok fillet, served on a bed of wilted spinach with slow-braised springbok shank, crisp hasselback potatoes and a rich red wine jus. This is quintessential South African comfort food and characterizes Serendipity’s insistence on ethically sourced meat. Other options included a succulent Santer fillet, served with shellfish bouillabaisse and grain pilaf, with roasted vine tomatoes. The vegetarian option was roasted cauliflower with spiced date butter. Dessert was a simple choice between a vanilla crème brulee served with a white and dark chocolate crème and the rooibos stewed fig cake, served with Amarula ice-cream and green fig preserve.

Image Featured: Serendipity Restaurant

Serendipity Restaurant only seats 30 guests, so it is wise to book well in advance and arrive hungry.

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