Things To Do In Wilderness

Paragliding Over Wilderness

Wilderness is an excellent base for a few days’ stay on South Africa’s Garden Route, with plenty of things to do and places to visit.  You could easily spend a week or more there and not get bored.

Examples of things to do include enjoying the incredible beach, great viewpoints, walks in the National Park and enjoying the rivers and lakes.  There are also a number of activities for the more adventurous, such as paragliding and abseiling.

In addition, there are a few great places than can easily be visited on day trips.

The Beach

Wilderness beach is made of white sand and stretches for almost 20 kilometres (over 10 miles).  It is perfect for long walks as well as for simply relaxing on and dipping your toes in the warm Indian Ocean.  If you want to go deeper into the water, do be careful as there can be strong currents in this area.

The beach is easily accessible from the central area of Wilderness.  It can also be directly accessed from many of the guest houses and hotels that are situated right on the coast.

Great Views

For an amazing view, you must visit the “Map of Africa”, which is likely the most unique thing to do in Wilderness.  This is a natural feature, whereby the shape of a river makes a section of forested land strongly resemble the shape of Africa.

Whilst the viewing point is only just on the hill above Wilderness, it does take around 20 minutes to drive to.  The last stretch is along a gravel road which requires you to go quite slowly, although it is suitable for all cars.  It is also not signposted from the main N2 road.  You need to drive through central Wilderness, passing the Wilderness Hotel on your left.  Turn left at the circle, then continue straight, going up the hill.  After a few minutes you will see a sign showing you to turn left onto the gravel road, which you continue along to the end.

There is no charge for observing this wonderful feature, although there may be a guide there to tell you more about it, who will be grateful for a tip.  It is also worth noting that if you walk across the road and down the grass hill (a paragliding launch area), there is a stunning view of the Wilderness coastline.

For great views just off the N2, Dolphin Point Lookout is just a minute’s drive from central Wilderness when heading towards George.  This offers a great view of the Wilderness coast, and well as one of the iconic Kaaimans River railway bridge. Unfortunately you won’t get a photo of a train, as the railway line is disused.

Exploring

The National Park, comprised of forest and water features, provides a great location for various things to do in Wilderness.  You should note that there is a fee for entry into the National Park.  This is currently R37 for South African citizens or alternatively R120.  Children are half price.

If you enjoy walking, there are a number of “Kingfisher Trails” to follow.  These go through the forest and along rivers and range from 4km (2.5 miles) to 10km (6.5 miles) long.  The most well known is the 7km long Giant Kingfisher Trail, which goes to the Kaaimans Waterfall.  To start the trails, head to reception at the Ebb and Flow Rest Camp.  To get there take the Ebb and Flow Drive turn off the N2, just a few minutes from Central Wilderness.

For something different, consider a Segway Tour through the National Park.  An hour long tour on one of these unique machines will cost you R300.  This includes a short training session on riding a Segway before you hit the forest trails with your guide.  Booking beforehand is required.

If you prefer to explore the area with more conventional transport, there is a Cycle rental shop in central Wilderness.  “Sixty 53 Sixty” hires out bikes from R60 per hour or R250 per day.  A refundable deposit is required.

On The Water

The slow flowing Touws and Serpentine rivers, which wind through Wilderness, offer a perfect canoeing opportunity.   Canoes can be hired from Eden Adventures, located at the Fairy Knowe Hotel.  This location gives you the option of canoeing towards central Wilderness, or in the opposite direction into the forest.  If you are staying in riverside accommodation, they may have their own canoe for you to use.

For a more relaxing time on the water, Wilderness River Safaris offers cruises on an 8 seat safari-style boat.  Your knowledgeable captain and guide Mike will point out lots of birdlife on your trip.  There are 2 standard cruises, the Island Lake Cruise and Touw River Cruise, which each cost R150 for adults and R100 for children.  Customised cruises are also available for special occasions or if you have specific requirements.

Adventure Sports

Are you looking for a more adventurous thing to do in Wilderness?  The town is well known as a great location for paragliding, with a launch site near the Map of Africa viewpoint.  The two main paragliding companies in the town are Cloudbase and Dolphin Paragliding.  You can expect an unforgettable 10 minute tandem ride with a qualified paraglider to cost around R750.

Abseiling and Kloofing are available through Eden Adventures (located at the Fairy Knowe Hotel).  They offer a 45 metre high abseil next to a waterfall.  Alternatively, kloofing involves a combination of boulder-hopping and swimming whilst wearing a wetsuit.  A combination of both activities is also possible.

Timberlake Village

For a slightly less hair-raising adventure activity just outside Wilderness, Acrobranch Garden Route is located at Timberlake Organic Village.  Acrobranch offers 70 platforms connected by ziplines, bridges, tarzan swings and obstacles across 4 supervised courses.  The easiest is for children aged 4 to 8, whilst the advanced course is only for ages 12 and over (including adults).  Prices range from R130 to R340, and payment must be made online or by card only at the venue (no cash is accepted).

Timberlake Organic Village is located 10 minutes drive east towards Sedgefield from central Wilderness.  In addition to Acrobranch, it hosts a few restaurants, cafes and small independent shops. For young children there is a fairy garden, a playground and a small train.

Events

The next Wilderness Festival will be held from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th March 2018.  Now becoming an established event, it is based at the Wilderness Hotel and on the grassy area in front of the hotel.  The festival includes food stalls, wine tasting (from numerous different providers) and live music.  An entry fee applies per day, which includes a tasting glass.

Day Trips

Wilderness is a great place to stay, not just because of its natural beauty and the things to do listed above.  It is also superbly located for day trips to other locations on the Garden Route and beyond.

The beautiful town of Knysna is just under 50km (30 miles) east of Wilderness.  This is only just over half an hour’s drive with light traffic, although be aware that this stretch of road can become busy during peak holiday periods.  The town is situated around a large lagoon, with great views from the “Knysna Heads”.  The waterfront area of the town is a good place for a meal.  An extra 25km (15 miles) away is Knysna Elephant Park, where you can walk with the elephants.

The large town of George is just a short 15 minute drive from Wilderness, in the opposite direction to Knysna.  A highlight here is the Outeniqua Transport Museum.  From the museum you can take a unique trip on the railway line up the mountain in a “power van”.  This must be booked in advance, ideally a couple of weeks before your desired trip date.

Despite being only around 70km (about 45 miles) drive from Wilderness, Oudtshoorn is located in the semi-arid “Klein Karoo” area.  As such it has a very different landscape from Wilderness and the surrounding coastal area.  This day trip is well worth it just for the stunning scenery on the drive.  Oudtshoorn is known as the “ostrich capital of the world” so you should ideally visit one of the farms, such as the Safari Ostrich Farm.  The Cango Wildlife Ranch is also worth a visit if you have time.  The stunning Cango Caves are an extra 30km (20 miles) from Oudtshoorn.  If you want to visit the caves, book a tour in advance.

Next Steps

Has this huge choice of things to do in Wilderness convinced you that it’s a great place to stay?  If so, take a look at our guide to accommodation in Wilderness.

 

Map Of Africa View in Wilderness