Exploring the Garden Route

Scenic Drives

Discovering the Montagu Pass: George to Herold
In 1843 Major Mitchell, Surveyor General of the Cape Colony, suggested that convict labour be used to build a good road over the Outeniqua Mountains, the one which was to be called the Montagu Pass. This was approved by the Hon. John Montagu, Colonial Secretary, and in 1844 work was started on the new pass.

About 250 convicts tackled the arduous task of building the new road. They were housed in two camps, the South station and the North Station. The job was completed at a cost of R71 598-00. In December 1847 the pass was opened for traffic, but the official opening only took place on 19 January 1948. This was a festive affair, and the Hon. John Montagu personally opened the pass which was to be called after him.

The passage over the mountains, which used to take a full three days over the tortuous Cradock Pass, could now be accomplished within three hours (Today it hardly takes 15 minutes by car).

The engineer in charge of the work was Henry Fancourt White, an experienced road engineer from Australia, who was imported by John Montagu for the work. Henry Fancourt White's name is perpetuated in the lovely estate, Fancourt (his mother's surname) and in the village of Blanco. In honour of this very capable engineer, the Hon. John Montagu suggested that the little hamlet which grew up atthe foot of the pass, be called White or White's Village. This was later changed to the more euphonious Latin word for 'White' - Blanco.

Swartberg Mountain Pass: Oudtshoorn - Prince Albert
This part is acknowledged as a World Herritage Site by the Cape Nature Conservation. The crest route will take you along the Swartberg Mountain Range for some 50km. At last 4x4ers can go to Hell! Not fire and brimstone, but Die Hel, also known as Gamkaskloof, deep in the Swartberg mountains.

The route consists of two parts that take one day each to complete. On Day one the convoy traverses a ridge of the Swartberg for 44km, using old forestry roads in an easterly direction towards the famed Swartberg pass. Used only by Cape Nature Conservation rangers for many years, this route offers panoramic views to the north of the Klein Karoo and the Groot Karoo plain beyond. When winter come, snow can make this trail extremely challenging.

Gamkaskloof, where a settlement of farmers, direct descendants of the trekboers who sought refuge from the world nearly 200 years ago, still live an unhurried life. The track is full of twists and turns with steep descents and ascents in and out of lush valleys. This guided tour is peppered with historical anecdotes garnered from the amiable residents.

Day Trips

George: Oldest Town In Southern Cape
When looking at the roadmap of today an abundance of towns lie on route from Cape Town to George. Why is it then that George has a longer history than most? Is it perhaps that early travellers to this region already recognised its beauty and potential?

George Hiking Trails

Cradock Pass Day Walk
Guide Johannes Andries
OUteniqua Nature Reserve
outdoorexcursions@hotmail.com

Dikkop Hiking
info@georgetourism.co.za

Doring River Hiking - Wilderness
Outeniqua Nature Reserve
outdoorexcursions@hotmail.com

Garden Route Dam Day Hike
info@georgetourism.co.za

George Peak and Cradock Peak Trails
Outeniqua Nature Reserve
outdoorexcursions@hotmail.com

Groeneweide Forest
pietervr@petech.ac.za

Historical Church Building - The Dutch Reformed Mother Church
This historical church is open to the public to visit. Various facilities on the premises cater for day visitors and tour groups. I met Drew de Kock, the congregation manager. He showed me around and we talked about the rich history of this building.

Mossel Bay - A Day At The Harbour
"Shopping with a difference" are the words greeting you as you enter one of the large entrances of this old stone building. It has forty stalls under one roof where entrepreneurs display their goods. My daughter and I took a leisurely walk down the long passageway

Victoria Bay - A Small Hidden Bay
Victoria Bay is approximately 8kms from George and 6kms from Wilderness traveling along the N2 between these two towns. This lovely bay is also referred to as "Vic's Bay" by some people. It has a relaxed beach setting and is almost enclosed by cliffs.

Garden Route Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Garden is situated close to George yet it is far enough from traffic noise to hear the sounds of birds and insects. You see a wide variety of indigenous trees, beds of flowers, fynbos and succulent plants. Small signboards inform the visitor of plant names and other intere

Oudtshoorn: Ostrich Capital of the World
Safari Ostrich Show Farm
safariostrich@mweb.co.za

Cango Caves
info@cangocaves.co.za

Meerkat Magic: Walk with wild Meerkats
gmmcilrath@mweb.co.za

Cango Wildlife Ranch
cango@kingsley.co.za

Wilgewandel Holiday & Animal Touch Farm: Ride a Camel
info@wilgewandel.co.za

Swartberg Adventures
info@tbiadventures.co.za

WILDERNESS

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS: If you're looking for an action packed holiday adventure, Wilderness is your playground. Bird watching, hiking, paragliding, diving, riding, mountain hiking, canoeing, abseiling, surfing, and much, much more. Enquire about our reputable, accredited adventure companies and tour operations, run by trained professionals whose only concern is your safety and enjoyment. Eden Adventures offers canoe or bicycle hire, abseiling, kloofing and daytrips. Take your children on an adventure - discover Kidbuddie Adventure Farm playground, obstacle course, farmyard and secret forest. Follow bridle paths on horseback with Perdepoort. Experience the freedom of paragliding with Cloudbase Paragliding and S.A. Paragliding Adventures. So much to do, whether you're a beginner or advanced, Wilderness provides all the entertainment you'll ever need, (Contact details overleaf) Some of our natural attractions include the 800 year old Big Tree in Woodville and boating or fishing at Island Lake. Take a leisurely hike then picnic at the waterfall above Ebb & Flow in Wilderness National Park. Take a scenic drive to Map of Africa in Wilderness Heights with panoramic views over Wilderness. Experience whales and dolphins from Dolphin Point.

ARTS & CRAFTS: The tranquil beauty of Wilderness is a great source of inspiration, so it's not surprising that Wilderness boasts many talented artists and regular craft markets. Enjoy a leisurely ramble through the mountains and farms visiting enterprising artists and crafters in their studios. Browse the Wilderness Craft Market on the last Sunday of every month on the banks of the Touw River, the S Wilderness Village Market every second Sunday and the Milkwood Village I Market every Fridayfrom 16:00. Take a trip back in time, Wilderness Wagons in Hoekwil (044) 850 1092 offers miniature wagons handcrafted in wood. Visit Beatrix Bosch on Die Duin (044) 877 0585 for unique leather art. Visit Irma Art Studio for hand painted ceramics in African design and fine art by artist Irma de Waal (044) 877 1585. Visit Artifact Gallery in the Milkwood Village (044) 87 7 1416 or pop in at The Pharoah Gallery (076 976 2629) which features contemporary fine art by Peter Pharoah and other South African artists on the banks of the lagoon.

BEACHES: Visit our beautiful beaches at Leentjiesklip, Touw River Mouth and The Boardwalk on 6th Ave, The Fisherman's walk on 8th Ave and Kleinkrantz for fishing, sunbathing, swimming, surfing or a leisurely stroll. Refer to map for details. Please take care when swimming as there are strong currents.

TRIPS: Enjoy the many scenic drives in and around Wilderness. Take a drive along White's Road, visit the viewpoint at the Map of Africa, experience the Seven Passes road and the Big Tree at Woodville. Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Sedgefield and Plettenberg Bay are all within close proximity to Wilderness. For more information, contact Wilderness Tourism Office (044) 877 0045.

NATURE: The conglomerate of different habitats - forests, rivers, the lakes and floodplains, the sea and mountains makes Wilderness an Utopia for bird-lovers. More than 230 bird species have been sighted.

STEAM TRAIN: Enjoy the romance of a bygone era on the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe as it winds along the coast between George and Mossel Bay. For information and train bookings contact Wilderness Tourism Office (044) 877 0045.

WILDERNESS NATIONAL PARK: Wilderness National Park stretches from the Touw River mouth to the Swartvlei estuary and beyond, where it red_links with the Goukamma Nature Reserve, giving welcome protection to six lakes and the Serpentine, which is the winding strip of water joining Island Lake to the Touw River at the Ebb-and-flow campsite. , - There is an International convention, known as the Ramsar Convention, on wetlands of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitats. South Africa was an early signatory of the convention and has designated 12 Ramsar sites so far, one of which is made up by the Serpentine, Langvlei and Rondevlei. Their main objective is to protect, preserve and promote the wise use of wetlands. The Parks Board has also been instrumental in developing a network of beautiful hiking paths and trails with birdhides strategically located at various spots.

HIKES & TRAILS: The rich diversity of Wilderness makes exploring nature's bounty on foot a memorable experience. There are a number of day walks and nature trails within the natural surroundings of conserved forestry areas, nature reserves and the Wilderness National Park, The choice varies from mild to strenuous. Enjoy the many paths that penetrate deep into the tranquil forests or trails overlooking the unspoilt lakes of Wilderness. Don't forget your binoculars, sunscreen, a sun hat and good walking shoes as well as drinking water, a bird reference book and your camera. TRAIL DETAILS OVERLEAF*

WHALE WATCHING: The best time for whale watching is from July to October when Southern Right whales can be seen all along our coast. Dolphin Point, 6th Avenue and Flat Rock (Beach Hotel) provides great lookout points. Throughout the year dolphins can be seen playing in the surf. Refer to map for details.

SOURCE: Wilderness Tourism Bureau
Tel: +27 44 877 0045
Fax: +27 44 877 0045
Email: weta@wildernessinfo.co.za

 
 
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