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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take for example Uniondale’s quaint, bright yellow Tuk-Tuk, aptly named Toekie. With room for four passengers to be comfortably seated, you’ll mosey through town while local guide Dirkie Coetzee will enlighten you on everything local – from the town’s interesting history involving the Anglo-Boer War, ghost legends and well-preserved buildings to its culinary delights and other paraphernalia. It’s a two-hour tour and excellent value for money.
Featured Image: Happy Valley Kids Play Centre
Treat your kids with a visit to the Happy Valley Kid’s Play Centre in George. It’s a children’s paradise where your little ones can jump and climb, swing and run to their hearts’ content. Every offering is well below R100 – from the inexpensive child-friendly munchies on the menu, to 90 minutes of fun and games, to attending one of their exciting cooking classes for the next generation of chefs.
Featured Image: Montagu Pass
A trip up the historic Montagu Pass, which is a giveaway treat in and of itself, will lead you to the remote and unique little winery of Herold Wines on the sunny north-facing slope of Cradock Peak. It was established in 1999 and made quite a name for itself with its superb wines. Visit them for cellar tours, wine tastings and delightful lunches. Affordable accommodation is available in the form of renovated worker cottages.
Featured Image: Wilderness Art Meander
Explore the Wilderness Art Meander for soul rejuvenating fuel. The route contains 24 art venues and meanders in and out through this picturesque coastal village, known as an artist’s haven. It’s a brilliant symbiosis between hotels, businesses and restaurants who joined forces with local artists by providing wall space for the latter’s creations. Grab yourself a copy of the homegrown monthly Wats-up on the Wild publication for a map of these venues and embark on an exciting adventure.
Featured Image: Victoria Bay
Who would say no to an idyllic day on the beach, inhaling fresh salt air, listening to the heart-warming shrieks of sea gulls and getting lost in the hypnotic drone of the waves? You won’t have to look too far afield to find the perfect beach to spend the day. Victoria Bay, Herolds Bay and Wilderness Beach all have something unique to offer. For perfect surfing conditions, Vic Bay is your stop. The iconic Wilderness Beach is ideal for long, romantic strolls along the lapping waves and enjoys blue flag pilot status.
And if fishing, surfing, sunbathing and swimming are all on your wish list, Herolds Bay will bring you joy.
It has been said before that often the best things in life are for free and this is certainly true when it comes to Garden Route breaks. The spectacular George, Wilderness and Uniondale area are awaiting visitors and inhabitants alike with open arms. Health and safety are a priority with COVID-19 protocols firmly in place all over the region. Visit the George, Wilderness and Uniondale Tourism website at www.visitgeorge.co.za for even more ideas on affordable breathers.
For those into nature, there is no better escape than the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park. It’s a place of unlimited beauty and explorers can spend many dreamy hours in, on or next to rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, forests and mountains. The cherished Wilderness section rests comfortably between George and Knysna.
Dive into history with a visit to the Transnet Transport Museum in George. This simply captivating collection of trains, ox-wagons, old-fashioned fire engines and a funeral hearse will keep visitors spellbound. There is an assortment of beautifully kept, privately-owned vintage cars, with the stately Royal White Train used during the British Royal Tour of 1947 as its crowning glory.
Featured Image: Redberry Farm
A visit to the Redberry Farm on the outskirts of George is a family outing like few other. Take a leisurely stroll through strawberry fields, picking out your own little red delights, or sip a cup of coffee while watching the kids enjoy themselves in the play area with its many intriguing fixtures. There are several eateries on the premises where guests can delight in the likes of artisan ice cream and pizzas, with even a wine tasting of superb local wines thrown into the mix.
Come marvel in the brilliant showcase of locally indigenous flora at the Garden Route Botanical Gardens. It’s a popular place for a quiet stroll and to absorb the healing peace and harmony of Mother Nature. Tuck into a light lunch at their restaurant while taking in the views over the mighty Outeniqua Mountains.
Featured Image: Outeniqua Power Van
Talking about the Outeniqua Mountains, why not get up close and personal with a trip up there in the popular Outeniqua Power Van? This former rail inspection trolley trails through breath-taking scenery, dotted by ferns, waterfalls and the occasional bush buck. Sit back and listen to the interesting commentary on the indigenous fauna and flora before dismounting for a picnic and panoramic views over George.
The world is opening up again and George, Wilderness and Uniondale welcome travellers. Everyone knows the reviving power of a quick getaway – those special memories created with loved ones and the stimulation offered by visiting new places, meeting new people and trying out new things.
So don’t wait – escape the mundane life and go explore. All tourist activities and attractions in the area are COVID-19 safety compliant. For more information on what this exciting traveller’s paradise has to offer, visit the George, Wilderness and Uniondale Tourism website at www.visitgeorge.co.za.
Canine companions will love the Marshmallow Café , at the Garden Route Botanic Gardens, on Caledon Street. They have a big lawn for pups to lounge on, and a menu filled with light meals and drool-worthy gourmet milkshakes. They braai at the weekend and there is a tap and water bowl for thirsty mutts. You can access the sprawling botanic gardens directly from the entrance. Dogs must be on a leash in the gardens, but there are plenty of interesting little hikes to explore like the Mushroom Meander and the Medicinal Plant Mound. Open Tuesday to Sunday.
Featured Image: The Food Co
The Food Co Bakery and Café at the Pick and Pay Centre welcomes dogs. They have a covered patio seating area, so it is still accessible even if the weather is wet. Their menu is based on their delicious preservative-free sourdough breads and homemade treats. Stop by for a baked cinnamon bun and a cappuccino, while your pup does some crowd gazing. Open Tuesday to Friday 8am to 4 pm, and Saturday until noon. Excellent WIFI!
Featured Image: The Pottery
Perch with your pooch at The Pottery Garden Café and Pizzeria, on York Street. This funky little café and restaurant offers laid-back dining and has lots of grass for dogs to roll around on. Try out their wood-fired pizza and soak up the good vibes. Watch the potters work the wheels and glaze the Wonki Ware Pottery. There are lots of fresh healthy menu items, including vegan and vegetarian options. Locals love to hang out here and sip a cappuccino while they paint a plate. The Pottery has a full bar license and hosts the occasional night market with local crafts. Open daily from 8,30am to 5pm. Closed on Sundays.
If the world revolves around your wet-nosed companion, then you may need an extra special treat for your dog. The Outeniqua Family Market in George is a family and pet friendly outing. The Drool Lekker tasting bar and pet food stall sells delicious dog and cat treats including fish biscuits, lamb’s liver nibbles, chicken liver treats, cheesy chews, and gizzard snacks. All the homemade pet treats are sugar, salt, wheat and preservative free.
If you and your dog are celebrating a special anniversary or birthday while on holiday in George, check out local confectioner, Canine Bakes. They have specially formulated treats for dogs and their ‘Paw Menu’ includes pooch-friendly biscuits and ‘pup-cakes’. Their homemade peanut butter mini bakes and bacon bliss cupcakes are well reviewed by the local canine connoisseurs.
Contact George Pet Photographer Melissa Pohl for a special lasting memory of your soul mutt. She specializes in artistic pet photography. Check out her work on Instagram. It’s really the mutt’s nuts!
Restaurants and Activities in Wilderness
Featured Image: * The Girls on the Square*
Furry friends like to lounge in the shade at the Palms Garden Square, in Wilderness. The Girls on the Square is an award-winning restaurant with covered outdoor seating. It is much loved by locals and international visitors for African-inspired tasty seafood and tender steaks. The restaurant is owned by dog lover, Roxi Blum. Enjoy a gin tasting and some finger licking prawns. Water bowls are available on request. Open 7 days a week 9am till late.
Featured Image : The Bling Pig
Dog owners can grab a pint of beer next door at local hooch joint, The Blind Pig. The Pig, as it is locally known, specializes in craft beer and has plenty of outdoor tables for lounging about, on sunny days. The staff are fun, upbeat and there is often live music. Grab a bite of something battered or deep-fried to fill your tummy. Bring your pup to the Pig, and party!
Featured Image: Zucchini Restaurant
Zucchini Restaurant at the Timberlake Organic Village, in Kleinkrantz is super dog friendly. This family restaurant specializes in artisanal and homecooked food. Their menu is packed with fresh seasonal ingredients. They have a lovely outdoor area, which is popular with dog-lovers, but watch out for the local troop of vervet monkeys, they love to steal snacks and treats. The Timberlake Village is also the home of several indoor/outdoor coffee shops, studios and workshops. Check out Pause Coffee Roastery, Ingrid Nuss Fine Art Gallery, Wildflower Leather Studio and Neevrah Art.
Featured Image: The Commonage
Just about everywhere in Wilderness is dog-friendly, but The Commonage and The Green Shed are excellent options for a ‘canine and coffee’ break. The Commonage is located adjacent to a large dog-friendly grassy common, on Waterside Road. So grab a dirty chai, head for the lawn and let the tail wag the dog for a while.
Featured Image: Milkwood Village Market
Make Sunday a fun day for you pet by going to the Milkwood Village Market in Wilderness. This pretty market square hosts some permanent restaurants and bars with outdoor seating for pet-lovers. There are also stalls selling artwork, clothing, gifts, food, and crafts between 10am and 3pm every Sunday.
Yelp for Help
If your dog gets ill on holiday, the following vets offer out of hours and emergency assistance, Garden Route Animal Hospital, VetCare Animal Clinic and George Animal Clinic.
The Pfaff family, who run this hidden hilltop gem, welcomed us warmly into one of their two newly built family units; Forest Rise. Tucked away in nine hectares of indigenous bush, overlooking the majestic Indian Ocean, the bushcamp is an idyllic family getaway. Forest Rise is a haven for technology saturated parents. The two bedroom unit is uniquely positioned to enjoy the peace and seclusion of the neighbouring bird sanctuary, with uninterrupted views of the Touw River Lagoon, the National Park and Wilderness village. Best of all, there’s no TV!
As the Friday evening winter sunshine gave way to a chilly evening, we lit the outdoor braai and on the covered deck. Our three-year old was blissfully entertained sliding from the deck into the spacious fenced garden. As dusk fell we watched tiny sunbirds visit the Cape Honeysuckle hedging. Cape Wagtails and White-Eyes fluttered through the lush fynbos. Ross collected sticks for the fire and learned to tease the grass spiders from their funnel shaped webs, by tickling them with a leaf. We soaked in the pace of nature, slowed down and tuned in to our tranquil surroundings.
Forest Rise has an open plan kitchen and lounge with wooden floors, a comfy couch and a family dining area. It is at once familiar and homely. The cabin contains two bedrooms, one double and one twin, each en-suite. The indoor wood burning stove provided cosy warmth as we packed the children off to bed, opened a bottle of red wine and planned our weekend.
Featured Image: Surfing In Victoria Bay
Saturday morning brought a sparkling sunrise, as bushbuck nibbled at the edge of the forest and my husband headed for a surf at the local right-hand point break, Victoria Bay. I packed the kids in the double pram and hiked ten minutes down a very steep hill into the village. Our first stop was Peter the Pancake man, in the charming Milkwood Village market. Peter is a local institution, operating from a simple wooden hut, he flips pancakes and slathers them with chocolate. Perfect for an indulgent holiday breakfast!
Wilderness village is safe, clean and family friendly. The Wilderness Ratepayer’s Association recently started an initiative to employ nine local people as village monitors. These friendly folk as easily spotted in hi-visibility vests, directing the traffic and tourists. They act as excellent ambassadors for the village and keep the streets spotless. Wilderness hosts a wealth of family activities, from hiking and canoeing, to surfing, beach walking, paragliding and horse riding. In winter the beach is deserted, there is plentiful parking and the sea air is pristine.
Featured Image: The Girls on the Square
Mama needed coffee and we found The Girls on the Square. The Girls is a perfect brunch option nestled in the shade at the Palm’s Garden Square. This tapas bar is one of the best places in the village to relax. There is a shaded garden terrace and a cosy interior with an open fire. Restaurateur Roxi provides an all-day brunch menu in low season, featuring 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. The evening menu features fresh line fish, succulent prawns, tender steaks and flavoursome curries all cooked to perfection in the open kitchen, where you can see the chefs at work. Ross enjoyed watching the Koi fish and playing on the jungle gym while I sipped a cappuccino in peace. The baby slumbered and we found ourselves plotting an excursion to the Wilderness Section of the heavenly Garden Route National Park.
Featured Image: Wilderness River Safaris
My surfed-out husband re-joined us and we armed ourselves with a fishing net and divine take-away hot chocolate from Caroline’s Chocolate Haven. Arriving in the Tarentaal day visitor area in Ebb & Flow South Rest Camp, we boarded a shallow draft aluminium boat for a superb eco-safari on the lagoon. This Wilderness River Safari is a must for birding enthusiasts, small boys and nature lovers of all ages. The Touw River was mirror-still and low winter sunlight highlighted the reed-lined wetlands. Ross was soon kited out with a life jacket as he hung over the bow spotting fish. Guide and skipper Mike Raubenheimer has an extensive knowledge of the ecology and bird-life on the Touw River and Island Lake. We enjoyed listening to Mike point out the Giant Kingfisher and the little Red-Knobbed Coots gliding on the water. This relaxing hour and a half eco-safari took us all the way into the forested section of the park where Knysna Loeries flashed scarlet and green through the trees. Mike picks up guests at various guesthouses and picnic points along the river. Bring your camera, binoculars and maybe a picnic or a bottle of bubbles for the sunset tour.
We rounded off the day with a craft beer at Blind Pig Taproom. Nestled in the dappled shade at the Palms Garden Square in Wilderness. The Pig has gained legendary status amongst local and visiting beer aficionados. My beer-loving husband rated it as one of the best bars in the universe, high praise indeed when you consider he has visited most of them! 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. This is one of the trendiest little bars in the world, with friendly bartenders and local live music.
Back at the Bushcamp we just about had the energy to braai some meat as we watched dusk fall on the surf-swept beach below. The lights twinkled in the village and the last rays of sunshine brushed the placid lagoon. We decided to make Wilderness our annual winter escape. There is so much more to explore in this tranquil little village.
Other self-catering accommodation at the Wilderness Bushcamp includes a modern and sophisticated loft conversion with expansive ocean views and a roaring ocean soundtrack, several evocatively named rustic log cabins set in the forested slopes and a secluded Honeymoon Cottage tucked away in the trees.
Book your winter break at www.wildernessbushcamp.co.za or on +27 44 877 1168
Clare van Rensburg is our guest writer and blogger.
Clare is an Irish teacher, writer and passionate environmentalist who relocated to the Garden Route in 2009 with South African husband Mark. She is a mother of two small children (Ross and Ellie) and a slave to a pair of rescue dogs (Ben and Jerry). Clare teaches full-time and fits blogging into her busy schedule while her own kids sleep. Weekends are spent in the company of friends, bargain hunting in antique shops, browsing the local markets and finding ways to keep her children amused. She enjoys being outdoors: hiking, camping, surfing and exploring the regions stunning coastline. Clare loves the breath-taking beauty of the Garden Route and sharing stories of exploring the area’s hidden treasures.
The ceramic artists at Bomkisi have created a haven for the crafty and creative. Mother and daughter team, Tayla and Chantal Stewart, are the passionate artisans behind the Bomkisi range of functional art. Their thought-provoking and original pottery includes four unique ranges of designer dinnerware and wash basins; inspired by the diverse people of South Africa, tropical vegetation and the retro 70's vibe. The ladies work out of a funky art space behind the Stiles Tiles store, in Levallia. Their studio is filled with music, hanging plants, colourful paintings and antique wardrobes stacked with beautiful pottery. You'll find their hairy black Labrador, Freya, lounging on one of the couches.
The Bomkisi team offers a range of fantastic workshops and classes suitable for all levels of creativity. During their 'Girls Night Out' Workshop, students can learn to build a coil pot from scratch and then decorate it, while sipping wine. Their Sgraffito class is a great option for groups of ladies of varying levels of creativity. Sgraffito is a decorative technique used on a clay surface, it involves scratching into a glaze to create a graphic image. Learn to throw a pot on the wheel or glaze ceramics while leaving all your stress behind. According to Chantal, working with clay is totally soothing; “art is very therapeutic, but clay has a way of calming anyone who interacts with it, as it massages your fingertips it releases built-up tensions, calming even the most energetic individual.”
Theatre for Tea
Featured Image: Stock Image
Grab your leading ladies and book yourselves a private tea in the historic opulence of the George Arts Theatre, at 125 York Street. You can star in your own stage show or relax in their private venue; the Backstage Lounge Cafe. The entire theatre was refurbished in 2016 with striking stained-glass windows, rich furnishing and Art Deco themed wallpaper, curtains and carpeting.
Dress up and enjoy a high tea. Allow your inner diva to dive into the theatre's huge wardrobe department and explore costumes from shows such as Sleeping Prince, Robin Hood, the Great Gatsby, the Little Shop of Horrors and Back to Broadway and so many more. Don velvet gloves, trilby hats, flapper dresses, feather boas and drink champagne, take selfies and explore your thespian roots. The George Arts Theatre is a community theatre and dates back to 1905. To book your ladies day at the theatre, contact Jolene at firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured Image:Stock Image
Coffee-loving ladies will enjoy the African Coffee Pairing at Milwick's Café , at the Cornerstone Lifestyle Centre, in Blanco. Local coffee roaster, Ben Ferreira from Brothers Coffee, hosts a regular coffee appreciation session, where he describes the process of sourcing beans in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and working to uplift African coffee growers. He charmingly demonstrates alternative brewing techniques.
Ben's passion for coffee is infectious and he describes the roasting process as one involving 'science and the senses'. The African Coffee Pairing is a great opportunity to taste Brother's four single origin coffees and learn more about their alluring aromas and fascinating flavours.
Brothers Coffee Roastery was nominated for Roastery of the Year in 2019 and 2020, in the Coffee Magazine Awards. Milwick's Cafe is conveniently located in the Cornerstone Lifestyle Centre where patrons can enjoy restaurants such as Meet and the Corner Club, and partake in some retail therapy at Mantellis Direct, Bee Botanique, Tack and Tuck and the Corner Emporium Winery and Deli.