Hiking in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa

Wilderness, the Garden Route’s smallest national park, is described in Fodor’s as:

“a popular vacation resort for good reason. Backed by thickly forested hills and cliffs, the tiny town presides over a magical stretch of beach…as well as a spectacular system of waterways, lakes, and lagoons strung out along the coast, separated from the sea by towering vegetated dunes.”

What the guidebooks fail to mention is that its small size really means the area is encircled by development.

In fact, the Pied Kingfisher 10k trail, recommended as showing you everything thing this little park has to offer, goes through a housing development, down boring dirt roads, and even worse along the N2.

On the plus side, for those interested in birding, the trail does meander through grassy wetlands and along a pretty lakeside boardwalk. You can stroll the length of the beach instead of following the trail along the shoulder of the N2, but this alternate trail is not marked.

To find it, at the park road – N2 junction, cross the highway and make your way past a small parking lot down to the beach. Turn right and continue up the beach past an interesting section of mega rich mansions to a bridge where the N2 crosses the river.

Here walk back inland and look for the boardwalk on the opposite side of the lake and head back towards the camp. Except for an interesting slice of life aspect, I would skip this hike and this area, especially if you are looking for true “wilderness”. On the other hand, as a calm, kid friendly recreation area with boating, a nice beach (no swimming), and forest and wetland walks, it might be your thing.

October 6, 2011

For links to all the posts in this series see the South Africa page.