Garden Route, including George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Wilderness.

Photo credit: Kyknoord

The Garden Route has a Mediterranean Maritime climate, with moderately hot summers, and mild to chilly winters. It is one of the richest rainfall areas, most of which occurs in the winter months, brought by the humid sea-winds from the Indian ocean. Any time of the year is good for visiting the Garden Route area, depending if you enjoy a peaceful retreat during the winter months, or a bustling holiday destination during the summer.

Scattered along the Garden Route, fashionable seaside resorts and tiny coastal villages abound, appealing to lovers of the outdoors and those who enjoy an unstructured holiday agenda. Mountains crowd close to a shoreline dotted with beaches and bays, and vividly coloured wild flowers delight the eye. Between Heidelberg and Storms River, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline featuring lakes, mountains, indigenous forests, rivers and golden beaches.

The largest town of the Garden Route, George nestles beneath the magnificent Outeniqua Mountain range and is surrounded by a remarkable blend of rivers, rich farmlands, forests and wild flowers. Scenery is a major attribute of the town, closely followed by its outstanding sports facilities.

George is located in the Cape Wildflower Floral Kingdom next to the coast at the eastern end of the Western Cape Province and has a low rainfall Mediterranean type climate with activities to keep you busy all year round. We probably have the largest number of bed-nights accommodation available in this holiday paradise with its large conference facilities and many tourist attractions. Try us for sun, sea & sand, forests, game parks, lakes, magnificent scenery, wild flowers and Xhosa culture.

George is at the centre of Nature’s ‘Garden Route’ and nestles at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains. Our airport connects you to and from all the main centres in South Africa and main roads and rail, link with the Klein Karoo hinterland.

This is an ideal place to begin your holiday. No special health precautions are necessary. Contact our Information Office for all information on site seeing, tours, conference and other enquiries.

The town’s central position between Cape Town (420 km) and Port Elizabeth (320 km) and its close proximity to other towns of the Garden Route with road, air and rail links to all the important centres in the country, has resulted in George becoming a major distribution, education and medical centre.

George has changed its image from a previously industrial growth point to a major holiday accommodation centre. The sophisticated infrastructure with banks, conference facilities, businesses, major shopping chains, transport systems, doctors and hospitals as well as educational and sporting facilities, are now utilised for the convenience and comfort of visitors to the area. The peaceful, safe country atmosphere of the town, combined with above average quality accommodation, has transformed the city into an accommodation giant in the Western Cape.

The area consists of a remarkable blending of mountains, rivers, indigenous and cultivated forests, colourful shrubs and wild flowers, glorious beaches and rich farmlands. No wonder the Hottentots, who inhabited the district, named the area Outeniqua, ‘man laden with honey’, which it still is.

Knysna, the ideal base from which to explore the Garden Route, offers visitors an unforgettable holiday – for everyone from the very adventurous to those who prefer to relax in the sun, stroll through the cool forests or take scenic day drives.Quiet Knysna forest

Photo credit: Kyknoord

Indigenous forests, fynbos, lakes, rivers and mountains, combined with a moderate climate, make Knysna a natural Eden for flora and fauna lovers.

There is an abundance of natural features in this area to be especially appreciated, including:

  • the unique Knysna seahorse and delicate Pansy shell of the lagoon
  • playful dolphins on the seashore throughout the year
  • Humpback and Southern Right whales during the months of May and September
  • the colourful Knysna Loerie and the Narina Trogon (especially delightful for birding enthusiasts).

Knysna is also home to the only forest elephants in South Africa.

Adding to the richness of this incredible region is the spectacular Fynbos vegetation, contributing 8000 plant species to the Cape floral kingdom. The magnificent Southern Cape forests are part of South Africa’s greatest natural heritage.

I am threatened

Photo credit:

In the estuaries of Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Swartvlei, a fish occurs, bearing a physical resemblance to a horse and habits associated with chameleons. The Knysna Seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) is the world’s most threatened seahorse and occurs only in the Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms estuaries.

Plettenberg Bay: More than a village and less than a town, Plettenberg Bay is renowned for its sweeping, unspoiled golden beaches, unpolluted rivers and sea, teeming bird life, vast expanses of Cape flora, its wetlands and lagoons, gigantic trees and a bay large enough to harbour great whales.

Wilderness: Lying in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains in a region of incomparable beauty, Wilderness is an attractive holiday resort with beautiful beaches and numerous vantage points from which to watch the whales and dolphins. Knysna loeries glide through the forests, cormorans ..

Oudtshoorn: Situated just 55 km from the large coastal town of George. The town has been blessed with a great variety of tourist attractions including the breathtaking Cango Caves, one of the world’s great natural wonders, numerous ostrich farms, majestic mountain ranges, an unspoilt natural environment.

Sedgefield : Set between pine-covered hills and beautiful unspoilt beaches, Sedgefield affords endless opportunities for exploration. Nature trails through indigenous forests inhabited by an abundance of wildlife can be followed either on horseback or on foot. Swartvlei, the largest natural inland salt water lake in South Africa, is a popular venue for swimming, boating, windsurfing, water-skiing and fishing.

Tame eels and ancient fish traps are among the attractions of this peaceful seaside resort. When whales visit the Bay of Sleeping Beauty between June and October, they can be seen from the Whale Point parking area above the harbour.

Riversdale: The area is richly endowed with a floral beauty seldom encountered elsewhere. On the northern side, the beautiful Sleeping Beauty peak towers over Riversdale, and the Vet River winds its way past the town on its way to the sea. Riversdale has a number of interesting historical buildings. The Julius Gordon Africana Centre houses a wealth of South African art, including a large collection of paintings by Thomas Bowler.

Heidelberg: The peaks of the Langeberg Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the village of Heidelberg. At the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and Boosmansbos Wilderness Area, over 170 bird species have been recorded, adding to the pleasure of following the Bushbuck Hiking Trail through pristine mountain fynbos.

Tsitsikamma National Park: Starting from just beyond Keurboomstrand in the west, this narrow coastal belt extends 80km along one of the most beautiful sections of the southern Cape coastline, and includes a marine reserve that stretches 5.5km out to sea.

Outeniqua Choo Tjoe

Photo credit: Wayne Holtzhausen

The Outeniqua Choo Tjoe is South Africa’s last scheduled mixed steam train service and operates on the Outeniqualand Preserved Railway between George and Knysna in the heart of the Garden Route. Opened in 1928 and declared a preserved line in July 1993, this train winds its way through some of the most picturesque scenery in the country. Along fern covered hills, through forests, crossing lakes, streams and the Knysna lagoon on low level bridges, through cutting and tunnels, the landscape unfolds slowly and unhurriedly. Scenery not visible from the car or roads comes into view and delights old and young. The pace is leisurely, the opportunity for photographs endless. An excursion that will stay in your memory for a long time to come and well worth booking.

The Outeniqua Transport Museum houses a large collection of steam locomotives and carriages dating back to bygone years. The Museum offers hours of exploration and intrigue while children can enjoy a ride on the miniature steam train. The Museum also serves as the departure and arrival point of the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe and Outeniqua Power Van, a motorised trolley offering trips deep into the Outeniqua Mountains from where the most scenic view of the Garden Route can be experienced.

Cango Caves: Tucked away in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, only 28km from Oudtshoorn, lie the Cango Caves – a place of great natural beauty, and a national monument. For more than 20 million years, rainwater has flowed through fissures and seeped through cracks in the earth’s face, scouring and dissolving rock and limestone to form the vast halls and tunnels of the Cango Cave system.

Lakes Area National Park | Garden Route Game and Nature Reserves: Formerly this national park consisted of the Wilderness National Park and Knysna National Lake Area. Because of their proximity and similarities they are currently managed as a single unit. The Knysna National Lake Area is home to the endangered Knysna seahorse and a large diversity of marine life. Sandbanks and salt marshes teem with life and in turn provide food to an indefinite number of organisms

Fancourt Hotel & Country Club Estate: Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate has four golf courses to offer the golfing visitor. All the courses are renowned for their amazing year round condition and the attention to detail that is shown.

Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary | Garden Route Game and Nature Reserves: Monkeyland is the worlds first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary. Monkeyland, is unique in that the sanctuary caters for several species of primate, and they are not caged, they are free to move about the forest, and do so in harmony.


Info supplied by the following sites:

  • Reinette du Pre

    the Choo Choo is not running between George and Knysna due to rail damage during a landslide. It is unlikely that it will ever run again.