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A Travel Dash Around George with #CheapflightsExplorers

A Travel Dash Around George with #CheapflightsExplorers

When I was a young girl, my dream was to win the KTV Trolley Dash, where you would get 2 minutes to race around Toys R Us and fill your trolley with whatever toys and games your heart desired. This is exactly how it felt when we visited George with Cheapflights and spent a day dashing around some of the area’s top attractions.

George and Wilderness on South Africa’s Garden Route are literally bursting with incredible things to do – so many that to experience it properly you should spend at least a weekend, if not a week or two in the area. But this time we had just one day to suss it out.

We decided to mix things up a bit, step away from our family’s usual choice of outdoor adventure activities and throw in some history, spirituality and natural beauty for a well-rounded dash day.

But there was no way we could completely ignore the lure of adventure especially since George and Wilderness are tucked between mountains and sea and full of forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and gorges – a real magnet for us lovers of the outdoors.

Ready, set, go – the stopwatch started at 9am and we had until 3pm to complete our George dash.

 

Mission 1 – Adrenaline Abseiling Adventure

 

First up, our task was to dangle hundreds of meters above a waterfall as we abseiled down a gorge into the river below.  We met up with our guide Chris from local tour company Eden Adventures at the Kaaimans River in Wilderness.

All geared up and ready to go

All geared up and ready to go

After gearing up in hard hats and mountaineering harnesses we scrambled up a steep mountain path to a rocky ledge surrounded by trees. It didn’t look too bad from there. “We got this”, I thought. Now I really don’t like heights. I guess it’s a Taurus thing – my feet like to be firmly on the ground. But this was different, this was not about me. It was a mission-critical tourism dash. For the sake of the blog, and our readers and all the would-be tourists to George. So I didn’t overthink things, I listened to the brief, rushed in, clipped on the guide rope and started walking backwards on the rocky slope through the trees. I did not look down as the ground fell away beneath me. I breathed deeply and looked straight at my rainbow nation takkies. One step at a time down the vertical rock face. For the sake of the country.

Eden Adventures Abseiling Wilderness George

For the sake of our rainbow nation

Don’t look up, don’t look down – “I got this” I thought again. And I did have it….until the rock face disappeared and it was just a looooooong sheer drop below. I couldn’t help it, I had to look down. There were little people in little canoes way down below. “Oh dear”, I thought…”What have I done?” And there was no way back up. The guy told us before we left the top – once you start there is no turning back. So I gritted my teeth, and watched my rainbow feet step into thin air. I didn’t expect to spin around which was terrifying, but as I twirled I noticed where I was for the first time – next to a moss covered waterfall tumbling into the most magnificent red rock gorge and black tanin-stained water below. I motored it down the rope and into the canoe waiting at the bottom, shaking like a leaf. I did it!

George Abseiling Eden Adventures

Dangling down next to the waterfall

I have to say though that I felt like a very bad mother to let my kids go through that terror, and was very relieved when we all had our feet safely on the ground below again. What a start to our day – we were on such an incredible adrenaline induced high that it made all the fear completely worth it. In the words of Ice Age’s Diego “Woo-hoo who’s up for round 2!”

Abseiling Eden Adventures Kaaimans River

Terrifyingly good fun for families

 

Mission 2 – Flowers and a view at Garden Route Botanical Gardens

 

The botanical gardens beneath the Outeniqua mountains can be accessed through the large main entrance or via the cute Getafix Garden Café tea garden (which looks like the perfect place for a pre- or post- garden cuppa). The aim of the gardens is to conserve, promote and research the floral diversity of the Garden Route. The gardens themselves are not very large but there is lots to see and quite a bit to do too.

Garden Route George Botanical gardens

Lots to see and do at the botanical gardens

We fast-walked (the clock was ticking) around a pretty dam and checked out a bird hide overlooking a reed pond before spotting an interesting looking green hill with a spiral path going up. All regard for time evaporated as we twirled up the path and discovered a gorgeous mosaic circular bench at the top with George’s best view of the mountains.

Garden Route Botanical Gardens South Africa

A spiral path led to a mosaic circle bench

The colourful mosaic circle bench on top of the hill

The colourful mosaic circle bench on top of the hill

As we sat in a circle as a family and chatted about life, Ralph took the drone up to see what it looked like from above. Whoever planned the gardens clearly had an eye for symmetry and it was lovely to see what it looked like from on top.

Garden Route Botanical Gardens from above drone

Perfect symmetry from above

We were also delighted to see the quaint red Outeniqua Power Van trundle past us full of happy waving tourists on their way up the Montague Pass for a picnic (added on our “Places to Go” list).

Power van Garden Route Transport museum George

The Power Van passes the gardens on its way up the Montague Pass

The Garden Route Botanical Gardens are the perfect spot to have a stroll or a run, do some geocaching, play “frisbee golf” (a fascinating-looking course has just been installed and is due to open soon) or just sit and absorb the surrounding peace and beauty.

Garden Route Botanical Gardens flowers

Beautiful flowers and a stunning view

 

Mission 3 – A peaceful respite at St Mark’s Cathedral

 

We raced back to the centre of George town and were enchanted by how old and quaint St Mark’s  Cathedral is. We were expecting an imposing domed building, but instead found a warm and welcoming looking stone church that would be right at home in the English Cotswolds.

St Marks Cathedral George South Africa

What a beautiful building

We arrived just after 1, to find out to our dismay that you can only visit the interior of the church between 10 and 12. Lucky for us, church secretary Wyneta was so excited about our blogging mission that she opened up and gave us a private tour of the church interior, sharing her favourite spots with us. The cathedral is over 165 years old and boasts some of the oldest stained glass windows in the country.

Stained glass windows St Marks Cathedral George South Africa

Magnificent stained glass windows

A feeling of calm washed over all of us as we strolled around quietly gazing up at the magnificent vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows and ancient artifacts. The kids even got to hold the original huge brass door key from the 1800’s.

St Marks Cathedral in George Garden Route South Africa

Inside St Mark’s Cathedral

Mission 4 – Outeniqua Transport Museum

 

As we pulled into the parking lot of the transport museum, it started pouring with rain. We were relieved that we had timed it perfectly and that it came down when we were inside a museum rather than hanging off a mountain.

George Outeniqua Transport Museum

Canadian hoodies, Canadian bus

Museums are not usually at the top of our teenage kids’ wishlist, but even they perked up when they saw the huge warehouse full of old trains, classic cars and historical modes of transport.

George Outeniqua Transport Museum Transnet South Africa

Fascinating collection of vintage transport

We whizzed around, climbed in some trains and took loads of photos. What a fascinating, larger than life collection of all sorts of vintage transport.

Train at Transnet Outeniqua Transport Museum in George

All aboard!

 

Mission Completed

 

We made the 3pm cutoff in the nick of time, and rushed to our end meeting point at the Robertson Brewing Company where we enjoyed a well-deserved ice cold drink and some tasty snacks with the rest of the #CheapflightsExplorers.

I learned something new about travelling with teens in George. We adults like to take things slow and nurture and cherish every moment. Teens and kids are much faster paced and dashing through the sites against the clock with a set mission completely ignited them!

Shoo – what a day. George, we thoroughly enjoyed making your acquaintance and rest assured, we will be back soon to dash around the rest of your incredible home!

 

Thank you to Cheapflights for making our #CheapflightsExplorers trip around George and Wilderness possible.

 

Check out what the other #CheapflightsExplorers did and what they had to say about their George experiences:

The Travel Manuel

Travel Bug Rose

Colleen Blaine

 

Fact Sheet

Accommodation – We stayed at Surfari in Victoria Bay between Wilderness and George. It must be the poshest backpackers on the planet. They have family rooms, double rooms and dorm rooms making it the perfect base from which to explore the area – http://www.vicbaysurfari.co.za/

Abseiling – Eden Adventures was incredible. They also offer kayaking and kloofing  excursions – www.eden.co.za.

Garden Route Botanical Gardenswww.botanicalgarden.org.za

St Mark’s Cathedralwww.stmarkscathedral.co.za

Outeniqua Transport Museumwww.georgetourism.org.za/listing/outeniqua_transport_museum

For cheap flights to Georgewww.cheapflights.co.za/flights-to-George/

Vic Bay Victoria Bay Surfari Garden Route George Wilderness South Africa

Vicbay Surfari – an uber posh backpackers

 

Check out the awesome video of the #CheapflightsExplorers trip to George:

(Click here to watch on YouTube if it does not display correctly on your device)

1 Comment
  • Whenever I head that side I tend to soak in the peace and quiet of Wilderness, but I really need to head into the city and have a look at those gardens! Just wow!
    Thanks for adding things to my never-ending list 😉

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