DISCOVER GEORGE, WILDERNESS & UNIONDALE
George, Wilderness and Uniondale are situated in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The province is known for its outdoor beauty and beaches, winelands, vibrant culture, world-class culinary, adventure offering and first-world infrastructure.
South Africa is the 24th-largest country in the world, 5 times the size of the United Kingdom and 3.4 times bigger than Germany! It has vast open plains and passes, smaller ‘dorpies’ as well as vibrant city hubs.
George and Wilderness form part of the outdoor paradise of the iconic Garden Route, while Uniondale is a part of the semi-desert Klein Karoo.
Only 1.5 hours away from each other, visitors to George, Wilderness and Uniondale can go from one extreme to the other – lush, green, coastal splendour to semi-desert, vast open landscapes and Klein Karoo charm.
Tourism’s VIC maps
Download our tourism maps, to get an overview of where tourism experiences are located in our area.
Weather and Climate
South Africa’s long sunny days throughout the year are one of the highlights so appreciated by foreign visitors. Temperatures vary across the country – greatly influenced by the 2,800 kilometres of coastline – and are measured in degrees celcius. In summer, the country averages at highs of 28°C to lows of 8°C. In the winter months, temperatures range from 1°C at night to around 18°C in the day. Our country boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, with an average of 8.5 hours of
sunshine a day, and a mostly a dry climate.
In the Western Cape, much of the rain falls in the winter, which is different from the rest of the country where summer rainfall is experienced. In the summer month of January, George averages a day-time temperature of 25°C and a night-time minimum of 15°C. In July in the winter, an average maximium temperature of 19°C,
with a minimum of 7°C is enjoyed, making George pleasant and comfortable to visit year round.
It’s summer down here when it’s winter in Europe and North America, making this the ideal time to visit if you want to escape the cold weather. South Africa is also a great location for travellers from the Middle East and India to escape their peak summer temperatures, with a cooler but comfortable climate to be enjoyed.
South Africa has 11 official languages but English is the lingua-franca of the country, widely spoken as a second language and used in business and media. The predominant languages in George, Wilderness and Uniondale are Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa.
Currency and Tipping
The Rand is the official currency of South Africa. There is currency exchange available in George, and bank teller machines (ATM’s) are widely available. Visa and Mastercard are the most popularly accepted card types.
In South Africa, it is common practice to add a 10% tip to your restaurant bill, and mandatory in most restaurants where the table consists of 8 people or more. At petrol stations, car guards are usually given a small tip if they wash your windows or check your tyres or oil and water.
It is not required to tip street side car guards or trolley attendents at shopping malls but South Africans generally provide a R5 or R10 tip to an attendant who takes their trolley for them.
Well-qualified doctors, dentists and specialists can be found easily across George and Wilderness. Appointments must be made in advance, unless it is a medical emergency. However, George does have three Walk in Doctor practices which also have a dentist on-site. Wilderness Med is a walk in doctor in the Wilderness area.
There is no permanently located doctor in Uniondale; a doctor from outside of the area visits the town on certain days of the week.
There is a private hospital in George as well as a public hospital in George and Uniondale. Be sure to top up on medical insurance before you leave home when residing outside of South Africa, to ensure you can be covered by private healthcare, which is more reliable than public healthcare.
South Africa is known for having some of the cleanest and safest drinking waters in the world when taken from taps in urban areas. Tap water is safe to drink and wash with in George, Wilderness and Uniondale.
Internet and Cellphone (Mobile) Connectivity
Wi-Fi is accessible at most hotels. It is recommended that travellers obtain a South African SIM card while travelling to load data, as public Wi-Fi is not as readily available in all locations.
What to Pack
Your clothing all depends on the time of year and provinces you are visiting. Keep in mind that South Africa does not have central heating, therefore warm clothes should be packed or purchased for colder temperatures.
Safety for Visitors
We want you to have a memorable stay in George, Wilderness and Uniondale, for all the right reasons! We’ve put together a short list of safety tips for your convenience:
- Ensure you always have your mobile device with you and make sure it
is charged for the day.
- Create an ICE (In Case of Emergency) on your contact list with a
number emergency staff can call if you can not speak for yourself.
If you do not have data roaming enabled on your mobile device, purchase a South African SIM card and load airtime.
This ensures you can always:
- Obtain reliable directions from a source like Google Maps.
- Call a private taxi to pick you up if you do not feel safe.
- Call for help should there ever be an emergency.
- Avoid walking alone in deserted areas. Explore busy and well-lit areas.
- It is not recommended that you carry large sums of cash.
- Don’t allow strangers to help you at bank teller machines (ATMs).
- If you’re unsure of what to do, ask for assistance inside the bank.
- Keep the doors locked and the windows up.
- Do not leave any valuables visible in your vehicle when you park.
- Never pick up strangers or hitch-hikers.
- Park in well-lit areas at night.
- Never swim alone on the beach. Please swim in areas that are supervised by a lifeguard.
- Never hike alone. Book a nature site guide to go with you or hike in access-controlled areas like the Garden Route National Park.
- Safety in the Mountains of George
- Safety on Southern Cape Beaches
- Rip Currents
- Where are Dogs allowed on the beach?
George Municipality After Hours and Emergencies: +27 44 801 6300
Garden Route Disaster Management Centre: +27(0)44 805 5071
International Tourist Safety and Support: Ilze Jacobs - +27 82 972 2507 / Ilze.Jacobs@westerncape.gov.za
South African Police Services: 10111 from a landline or 112
from a cellphone
George Police Station: +27 44 803 4400 / 4733
Ambulance / Hospital
Medi Clinic George (private hospital): +27 44 874 6777 (Emergency Department)
George Hospital (public hospital): +27 44 874 5122
Ambulance – National Number: 10177
National Sea Rescue Initiative (NSRI): +27 87 094 9774
George Municipality Fire Department: +27 44 801 6311
GETTING TO AND AROUND GEORGE, WILDERNESS AND UNIONDALE
George is well connected with excellent road and air infrastructure.
Air Connectivity and Airports
South Africa has three international airports situated in Cape Town (Cape Town Internaional Airport), Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport) and Durban (King Shaka International Airport).
The George Airport is a domestic terminal, with direct connectivity to Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also Africa’s first airport to be solar powered! In February 2016, a 200m 2 solar plant was launched at the airport, commited to clean energy generation and sustainability. The airport has been awarded the South African Airport of the Year award six times. It features several cafes and kiosks for shopping, as well as a Bidvest Premier Lounge.
There are also several car hire options available at the airport. We recommend locking your bags and then making use of baggage wrapping when travelling through airports to secure your belongings even further.
There are several service providers which offer airport transfers and car hire.
Road Connectivity and Car Hire
There are two main routes from Cape Town. Travellers can take the national highway along the N2 and stop at iconic coastal towns like Hermanus, known for whale-watching, or venture into wine country and take Route 62 to George via Oudtshoorn. Others prefer to take Route 62 up until Barrydale and then connect back onto the N2 for a faster drive. Both routes are spectacular, so you cannot go wrong!
The N2 connects George and Wilderness to neighbouring Garden Route towns – Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, continuing all the way to Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). George is connected to Oudtshoorn via the N12, and Uniondale connects to George and Oudtshoorn via the N9, and via the R339 to Knysna.
George and Wilderness are in the very centre of the Garden Route and therefore a great base from which to explore the area. George is also a popular mid-way point between Cape Town and Gqeberha.
There are several breathtakingly beautiful scenic drives to be enjoyed, such as the Outeniqua Pass en-route to Oudtshoorn and the Seven Passes from George to Knysna.
There are numerous in-destination transport suppliers who can either provide transfers or vehicle hire. Uber and Bolt is not widely used in George as it is in other major cities, because it is only available with limited capactiy.
George has affordable and reliable public busses for getting around. Universal accessibility was a core component of the new bus network, and specific busses have mobility devices with ramps, hoists and docking stations for wheelchairs. There are also specially positioned red priority seating for people with special needs.
SUSTAINABILITY, CONSERVATION AND UPLIFTMENT
In-destination Experiences and Accommodation
Look out for the sustainable and accessibility information supplied on business listings.
Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park (SANParks)
South African National Parks is the body responsible for managing South Africa’s national parks. SANParks covers 3,751,113 hectares, which is over 3% of the total area of South Africa. The Wilderness section of the national park is popular for walking, hiking, birdwatching and picnicking. Visitors can canoe or enjoy a boat ride on the rivers. There is also accommodation and camping available.
Ramsar Site, managed by SANParks
The Wilderness Lakes received its status as Wetlands of International Importance on 28 June 1991. The series includes the Serpentine river, Island Lake, Langvlei and
Rondevlei. These lakes, each a wetland by itself, form a part of the Touw River, which meets the sea on the 18km beach stretch. The area includes a dune system with associated thickets, woodlands, marshes and reedbeds.
These wetlands support 285 endemic plants, 32 fish species (several of which use the site as a nursery area), up to 300 bird species, and a diverse marine invertebrate fauna.
Important numbers of locally-migrant resident birds as well as staging and breeding
birds use the site.
Cape Nature Outeniqua Nature Reserve
The Outeniqua Nature Reserve in George spans 38,000 hectares and encompasses the mountain ranges that fall between the coast and the semi-arid Klein Karoo including five stunning mountain passes.
There is a wide range of vegetation and wildlife with mountain fynbos interspersed with indigenous forest.
Through conserving wild habitats, visitors may be able to spot the majestic black eagle, the elusive leopard and tiny fynbos birds, such as the Cape sugarbird.
It is not only animal and plant life that is conserved but also water, as the reserve is a water catchment area for the entire region. The name Outeniqua means “those who bear honey” and is ascribed to the San and Khoi people who once inhabited the mountains.
Their rock paintings are found throughout the reserve. This is a popular site for walking, hiking and picnicking.
Garden Route Botanical Garden
The Garden Route Botanical Garden, situated in George, conserves rare and threatened unique flora and fauna of the Southern Cape region.
Annual Bio Blitz
George regularly participates in the annual Great Southern BioBlitz (GSB) to record the region’s biodiversity on iNaturalist. The GSB is an international period of intense biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species across the Southern Hemisphere in Spring.
Blue Flag Beaches
Herolds Bay and Wilderness main beach are both full status Blue Flag Beaches. Victoria Bay is a Pilot status Blue Flag beach.
Our airport has a 200m 2 solar plant, and is commited to clean energy generation and sustainability.
George Municipality’s main building is mostly powered by solar energy following the activation of the recently installed 300kW solar-power plant in the municipal parking lot, with more projects to take place. Over the next 3 years, George Municipality will expand their renewable energy projects to cover wastewater treatment facilities, water works facilities, additional municipal buildings and solar farms. The total
savings in carbon dioxide emissions from the main building alone is calculated at 9 027 tonnes of CO 2 over the plant’s 25-year lifetime.
There are many established community upliftment organisations in George.
Well known organisations include George Lions, Rotary, Kula Malaika, Options Care Centre, Garden Route Food Pantry and more. George also has a school for special needs children, Carpe Diem. If you would like to get involved in Community Upliftment initiaitives, please get in touch.
Pacaltsdorp Heritage Trust Project
The Heritage Trust in collaboration with George Tourism are recording the history of Pacaltsdorp with strong ties to the Khoi community.
VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRES
While in the destination, pop in at our Visitor Information Centres (VIC’s) where our friendly team will help you learn more about what you can see, do, taste and enjoy in George, Wilderness and Uniondale. Browse and collect maps, brochures and travel magazines on-site.
Our VIC’s are open Monday to Friday 08:30 – 16:30 with additionally announced operating hours over peak season.