Cheapflights Explorers: 24 hours in George

As travel writers we often travel far and wide exploring the corners of our country and further to find interesting stories to write and tips to share. How often is it that we get to explore our own back yard, through the eyes of a visitor? A week ago I joined Cheapflights and a group of local South African bloggers for an exciting 24 hours exploring George; the lesser-spoken-about ‘capital’ of South Africa’s famous Garden Route. With a list as long as our arms on all the many things to do we selected our preferences and headed off as Cheap Flights Explorers to do just that; explore. I loved it so much that I thought I would share with you how I think you should spend 24 hours in George.

Choose to stay in Victoria Bay.

Before heading off to take in some sunsets and beach views from Kaaiman’s Pass we checked into Surfari at the top of Vic Bay. Don’t let the name lead you in to thinking this is just another surfer’s backpacker accommodation, it is in fact an astoundingly slick and trendy lodge that more than ticks all the boxes. Views of the ocean, check. Fancy room with ensuite bathroom and equally great view, check. Stunning setting with spacious lounges, bar and decks, check. In-house dog that you want to steal and take home, check.

Take in the afternoon light over looking Wilderness and the Kaaiman’s River.

We headed to the famous Dolphin Point and Map of Africa view site for some ‘wish-you-were-here pics and wandered on the flying site at Map of Africa where the paragliders set off from. The creeping dark clouds and chilly breeze meant no paragliders were out but the view back over the beach at Wilderness more than made up for the weather.

Eat, drink and be merry in Wilderness.

There are many great places to eat in Wilderness and George but we chose to check out Cocomo’s and were rewarded with seriously moreish pizzas, live music and great beer on tap. As much as we would have liked to stay into the wee hours, sunrise missions were planned so we headed back to our rooms at Surfari to get some shut eye.

Watch the sunrise over the ocean.

The Garden Route has to be one of the most wonderful places along the South African coastline to watch the sunrise out over the ocean. We headed down to the beach at Vic Bay and watched the glossy morning sea throw its mohawks into the light as handfuls of surfers headed out to catch the best of this famous right point break. With storm clouds in the distance and the first sun rays soon swallowed up we headed to breakfast to begin our day exploring George.

Sunrise missions in #vicbay with @gotravelbug. Dolphins, whales and surfers… What more could we ask for.

A photo posted by Colleen Blaine (@colleenblaine) on

Eat breakfast gazing over the sleepy views of Hoekwil.

The delightful Hoekwil Country Cafe is where we sat, in the sunshine sipping our coffee watching the locals drift in and out. While we felt as though we could have sat there all day, chatting to the owner and eating more breakfast than we needed, we still had plenty to see and do. Tummys full we headed off in search of the start of the Outeniqua Trail for a wander into the forest.

Take a hike in the Garden Route National Park.

Famous for some of the most pristine indigenous forest in the country, there are many hikes one can do throughout the length of the Garden Route. One of the most spectacular ones is the seven day 109km Outeniqua Trail from George to Harkerville. While we didn’t have seven days to spend on this trail we chose to take a short stroll along the start of the hike from the Beervlei Hut towards the Windmeulnek Hut. This can be done as a full day hike in and out or you can choose to go in only part of the way as we did taking in the sounds of the forest and gazing up at towering yellowwoods.

Drive the 7 Passes road.

We needed to head back into George from the mountains and there is no better route to drive than the 7 Passes road that travels from Knysna to George. This collection of century old passes was built by the reknown Thomas Bain and today still stands testament to his unbelievable skill as a road builder at the turn of the century. We rolled down the windows and drank in the crisp forest air, arms hanging out the windows the wind catching our voices as we wound our way across the picturesque bridges of the Touw, Silver and Kaaiman’s Rivers.

Eat lunch at the Hops Valley Farm Stall.

From one side of George to another we headed up the Outeniqua Pass over the mountains into Hop country in search of the famous pizza slice at the Hops Valley Farm Stall. Situated alongside the N9 to Outdshoorn this farm stall offers the usual selection of locally produced fare but is especially worth stopping at for their pizza. Thinking about the wine tasting to come we decided to settle for a single piece of the house favourite ‘Valley Classic’ pizza and some home-made ginger beer. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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The welcoming face at the Hops Valley Farm Stall

Sip wine in the mountains.

On the north facing slopes of Cradock Peak in the Outeniqua mountains is Herold Wines, an old hop farm that began producing wine in 2003. Many of the farm’s vineyards are rooted almost 650m to 700m above sea level and the farm produces 6 different varieties of pinot noir. In an almost idyllic mountain setting we were treated to a wonderful laidback tasting of seven of their wines and left with their two 2015 pinot noir vintages to enjoy over dinner that night. They also have self-catering accommodation on the farm and this could be the perfect place from which to explore the fynbos and hiking trails of the Outeniqua mountains.

Drive the Montagu Pass.

Ignoring the creeping cloud cover we decided to take the scenic route back down to George and wound our way along the magnificent Montagu Pass. This was the first road between George and Outdshoorn and despite being a little bumpy in sections (largely due to heavy rainfall the region has had recently) the road is drivable in most types of vehicles. Finished in 1847 the road was built by 250 convicts and claims to be the oldest unaltered pass in South Africa.

#montagupass

A photo posted by Tiaan Viljoen (@showme_george) on

End your day with a Robertson Brew.

There is no better way to end a day of exploring than with a cold craft beer made locally. All the Cheap Flights Explorers gathered together at the Robertson Brewing Company to swop stories and share our excitement of what we had discovered that day over a generous spread of ales. Some played it safe with their malty American Pale Ale while others felt the the weather was best met with their roasty Irish Stout. Some of us thought it far better to try all eight of their craft beers and top it off with a pile of lip-smacking nachos to compliment a perfect day of wandering around in our backyard discovering the absolute best that George has to offer.

In spite of having a near perfect travel writer day I came to realise that 24 hours in George and Wilderness is no where long enough to experience all that this region has to offer. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you would do with a day in George.

Thank you to Cheapflights for making our #CheapflightsExplorers trip around George and the Wilderness possible and to see more of what the others got up to be sure to follow our instagram posts and tweets from the day using that hashtag.

To book flights to George, go to https://www.cheapflights.co.za/flights-to-George/.

Have a look at what the others got up to here:

Go Travel Bug

The Travel Manuel

Chasing the Rainbow

Or check out the awesome video of our day of exploring:

 

 

 

 

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