There are few places on the planet that match Wilderness for its natural beauty. Kilometres of golden sand meet the cool blue ocean waves of the Indian Ocean. Our breath-taking National Park is set amidst lush indigenous forest and spectacular winding waterways. Wilderness is the perfect place to lose yourself in nature. Here is our ultimate summer-time checklist.
1. Watch the dolphins play. Every day in Wilderness should start with a refreshing stroll on the pristine golden sand. The shoreline is the best place to watch the pods of bottlenose dolphin, sometimes as many as 100, splash, surf and frolic in the waves. Dolphin’s Point, on the N2, provides a higher vantage point to view the beach.
Featured Image: Paragliding in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa
2. Glide into the blue. A number of reputable operators offer tandem paragliding flights and tours over Wilderness. Soar over Wilderness National Park, sparkling lakes and 18 kilometres of golden beach. Keep an eye out for game fish, whales and even Great White Sharks in the surf below. Check out Cloudbase Paragliding, Dolphin Paragliding, Flytime Paragliding and Wild2Fly.
3. Feel the vibe of the ocean with a surf lesson at Wilderness Beach. Brothers Klaus and Heinrich Schröder, of Vibe Surf School] offer surf lessons and tours on a daily basis. Other surf schools include Surfends and Wild and Loose.
Featured Image: Kaaimans Bridge
4. Enjoy a long lazy picnic and river day by the water’s edge at Kaaimans. Watch the kids kayak, swing, splash and swim in the river. Snap pictures of ducks, put your feet up and enjoy a walk to the river mouth where you can see the iconic Kaaimans Bridge up close. Kayaks can be hired through Kaaimans Adventures.
5. Picnic in nature. The Wilderness Picnic Company take the hassle out of the preparation, by delivering pre-packaged, eco-friendly picnics right to your door. Order online and wile away a day at one of the magnificent local beaches or forest picnic spots.
Featured Image: Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park
6. Discover a hidden waterfall deep in the national park. The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail begins next to the railway bridge near the Ebb and Flow North Restcamp, on the Touw River. A fee is payable to SAN Parks. An easy circular 7km hike winds through indigenous forest and colourful fynbos. Kids love the pontoon river crossing. A refreshing dip in the glorious rock pools await. Find directions and tariffs at the Garden Route National Park.
Featured Image: Eco boat rides in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa
7. Enjoy sundowners while cruising the Touw River. Encounter magnificent bird life and breath-taking scenery on this eco-boat tour with shallow draft safari-style boat at Wilderness River Safaris. There are several tours daily in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park.
8. SUP in style with Fearless Adventures. Fit families will love stand-up paddle boarding on the Wilderness Lagoon, at Waterside Road. The tranquil flat water is perfect for beginners. Feel the true pulse of nature.
Featured Image: Canoeing on the Touw River inside the Garden Route National Park in Wilderness.
9. Experience the captivating waterways of Wilderness by canoe. Eden Adventures has large stable canoes with splash-proof buckets ideal for cameras and picnics. An additional wooden seat can accommodate a toddler between the benches. Eden Adventures is based at the Fairy Knowe Hotel.
10. Conquer your fear with Fearless Adventures. Adrenaline-fuelled fun awaits in tailor-made abseiling and rock climbing tours. Guide Roche Schoeman has a true passion for the outdoors and offered a range of thrilling trips.
Featured Image: Kloofing in Kaaimans
11. Plunge into paradise! Extreme canyoning or ‘kloofing’ as it is locally known, involves floating, scrambling, swimming, abseiling and cliff jumping down a steep river ravine. Paradise Adventures provide wetsuits, helmets, life jackets and harnesses for this daring guided tour.
Featured Image: Wilderness beach
12. Feel the sun on your skin with a spot of sandcastle building, swimming and sunbathing. There are a number of safe bathing areas on the Wilderness ‘Blue Flag’ beach, including Leentjieskllip, ‘Steps’ and the Touws River Mouth. Lifeguards are on duty from 7am to 7pm, in season. Showers and secure parking are available. Swim between the flags and don’t forget the sunscreen.
13. Check out the rock pools at ‘Flat Rock’. This popular rock angling site is accessed via steep wooden stairs at the Views Boutique Hotel & Spa. Flat rock, as the name suggests, is a rocky reef which creates beautiful warm shallow tidal pools at low tide, revealing an array of marine biodiversity including octopus, starfish and fan worms. Bring your snorkel and mask and remember not to touch or remove the sea life.
14. Cast a line at Freesia Rock. This local fishing hotspot is tucked away on Freesia Avenue, a cul-da-sac on the tranquil Touws River, in Wilderness. Soak in the peace and pace of nature.
15. Adventurous eaters will love the rustic menu at Oysters R Us. The freshest wild oysters are plucked from saltwater tanks, shucked and served with a tray of condiments. Knowledgeable staff dish out facts and fun tasting suggestions. Sample oysters with fresh lemon, black pepper and lashings of chilled bubbly.
Featured Image: The magnificent Seven Passes Road.
16. Cruise the Seven Passes Road, a winding gravel and tar backroad that connects George and Knysna. Motorists pass clear brown streams, historic bridges and indigenous forests.
Featured Image: Horse rides through farms and forests in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa.
17. Take a trot with Black Horse Trails. The popular three and a half hour ‘Rock Pool’ outride winds through unspoilt forest in the national park. The horses are rehabilitated rescue animals with unique personalities. Take a refreshing dip in the cool mountain pools. Other horse-riding tours include Garden Route Horse Trails and Perdepoort.
18. Experience the charm of a local market. There is a vibrant atmosphere at the Milkwood Village Market . On a Sunday, local crafters gather to sell their wares. Find handmade wooden bowls, batik art, clothing, leatherworks, cheeses, artisanal breads, cured meats, pancakes and live music.
Featured Image: Map of Africa look out point in Wilderness.
19. Take a moment to appreciate the ‘Map of Africa’. This popular lookout point offers panoramic views of the coastline and forested hillside. Accessed via a well signed gravel road, the extraordinary vantage point is marked by a simple sign board which has quickly become an Instagram sensation. View the pristine white sands of Wilderness beach and the calm turquoise ocean. A grassy field offers a popular picnic site and paragliding launch spot. To the north, the Kaaimans river canyon cuts an unmistakable shape through the forested hillside.
20. Sip a sundowner at the Blind Pig Taproom. Nestled in the shade at the Palms Garden Square, this hidden gem has 12 craft beers on tap and a further 70 bottled options. The ‘Pig’ is a trendy and carefree venue with local live music, craft gin and friendly bartenders.