Starting next to the railway bridge near the Ebb and Flow North Restcamp on the Touw River, the Half-collared Kingfisher Trail replaces the Giant Kingfisher Trail.
Step right into superb woodlands of indigenous yellowwoods, white stinkwood, white milkwood, wild pear, climbers, lichens, flowering bulbs and ferns. Numerous species of trees are labelled along the way, enhancing the experience of forest diversity.
Look out for the brilliantly coloured half-collared kingfisher for which the trail is named. Other forest specials to twitch about are the Knysna turaco (loerie), Narina trogon, brown-hooded kingfisher, dusky flycatcher, blue-mantled crested-flycatcher and tambourine dove.
Take a break at one of the rustic picnic spots next to the river bank. Interesting display boards identify some of the woodland-dwelling birds and animals that are frequently seen. The trail leads to a waterfall and rock pool which is a great spot to cool off before returning on the same path.
The 7.2km return route is not strenuous and usually takes three hours. Permits are required – there is a pay entrance at Ebb and Flow.
One of the least demanding walks in the Wilderness area, the 5 km Brownhooded Kingfisher Trail follows the meandering course of the Duiwe River.
Lush river woodlands line the riverbanks and the path crosses the river frequently. Take care when crossing after the river has flooded – particularly on wet slippery rocks.
After a short distance the trail branches off along the tree-lined Klein Keurbooms River to the turning point – a beautiful rock pool. This lovely setting is perfect for a leisurely picnic and cooling off on a hot day.
Knysna turacos are frequently heard and seen flapping between the treetops. Other birds to look out for are fish eagles, Martial eagles, Cape Battis, Burchell’s Coucal, Cape robin, little egrets and the brownhooded kingfisher.
Permits are self-issuing at the entrance gate. A small fee is usually charged in peak season.
Timberlake is a village of specialist cabin-style shops in the heart of the Garden Route. Here you can shop for sweet and spicy treats, cheese, wine, health products, ‘Faerie’ gems, and plants at Eden Nursery.
Stop at Cafe d'Afrique coffee shop for award-winning cheesecake, Zucchini restaurant for hearty country-style meals, the Country Deli for traditional South African takeaways, and the Oyster Shack for fresh wild coastal oysters.
Timberlake supports local producers and the Slow Food principles of good, clean and fair. Salad ingredients are picked fresh from their onsite organic gardens.
Extensive kids facilities include a racetrack, jungle gym, trampoline, tame goats, the Fantasy Garden walk and more.
In the heart of South Africa's lush Garden Route, a captivating world of lakes, rivers, estuaries and beachesgently unfolds against a backdrop of lush forest and lofty mountains – all elements that characterise the Wilderness National Park.
Walking trails wind through densely wooded forest and along tranquil rivers, affording you the opportunity to encounter the brilliantly coloured Knysna lourie, or one of the five kingfisher species that occur here. During spring, a carpet of flowers, further enhance the verdant beauty of this national park.
Looking for an action packed holiday adventure? Then, Wilderness is your playground. Experience whales and dolphins from Dolphin Point. Hire a canoe or bicycle, go abseiling, kloofing, paragliding or hang-gliding. Go boating, fishing at Island Lake or hike to the waterfall above Ebb and Flow Restcamp. You do not have to be super fit to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There are loads of activities for young, old, energetic or idle. Stroll along a forest path or visit the bird hide and discover the wealth of bird life. Lie back in a canoe on a quiet backwater and watch the world float by.
Wilderness National Park stretches from the Touw River mouth to the Swartvlei estuary and beyond, where it links with the Goukamma Nature Reserve, giving welcome protection to five lakes and the Serpentine, which is the winding strip of water joining Island Lake to the Touw River at the Ebb-and-flow Restcamp.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Hoekwil (3.6 km from Wilderness)
The 'Big Tree' is a yellowwood tree estimated to be 850-years old is a great attraction in Hoekwil, especially for hikers. A clearly marked path leads into the forest, crossing a stream several times. Many of the trees are labelled so one can identify them. This is a circular trail extending about 2 km. There is a designated picnic area and kids can play in the streams. There are ablutions and wheelchair-friendly walkways through the forest.
The GPS coordinates are incorrect, please follow directions.
Victoria Bay (4.9 km from Wilderness)
Set in a stunning cove enclosed by rugged cliffs, Victoria Bay Beach is one of the smallest and most hidden bays on the Garden Route. Travelling from the N2 it is only 3km away, roughly situated between George and Wilderness. A number of cottages are clustered along the beach front. The gently-sloping tiny sandy beach offers safe swimming as well as big waves in deeper water that provide surfers with a long ride.
George (8.9 km from Wilderness)
The Outeniqua Farmers’ Market is the home of nearly 80 food and craft stalls, offering visitors a wide range of produce and goods supplied and created by local farmers and craftsmen.
Located opposite the Garden Route Mall on the N2, the market spans a five-hectare site. You'll find everything, from breads to berries, fish to flowers, and everything in between.
The Outeniqua Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 8:00 to 14:00.
George (9.9 km from Wilderness)
Conveniently situated near George Airport at the confluence of the N2 highway and Knysna Road, Garden Route Mall is a vibrant regional shopping centre providing locals and visitors a relaxed one-stop shopping experience.
The new elegant shopping centre offers easy access to all entrances from 3 000 parking bays and top-notch security. Shop till you drop at a selection of 125 shops, including big-name brands
such as Woolworths, Truworths, Pick n Pay, Game and Queenspark as well as speciality shops and numerous restaurants.
Monday - Friday 09:00 - 18:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sundays and Public Holidays 09:00 - 15:00
George (10.9 km from Wilderness)
The best short course ever. Distances – 90m to 292m (Total 3001m ) Clubs and carts available to hire
Galleries and Museums
George (13.3 km from Wilderness)
Take a trip down memory lane at the Outeniqua Transport Museum.
You will be able to see 13 different steam locomotives including a narrow gauge, the Emil Kessler- Johannesburg’s first steam locomotive and the impressive GL Garrett. Also on view are beautiful old carriages such as a coach from the Royal Train of 1947, Paul Kruger’s coach and private saloons.
A photographic exhibition displays stunning photos of South African steam. There’s also train travel poetry and displays of crockery and cutlery previously used on main line trains and station restaurants. Road motor vehicles and a private vintage car collection complete the displays.
Summer season (1 September to 30 April)
Daily excluding Sundays 08:00 – 17:00
Off peak season (1 May to 31 August)
Mon to Friday 08:00 – 16:00
Sat 08:00 – 14:00
2 Mission Street, George
+27 (0) 44 801 8288
Galleries and Museums
George (15.7 km from Wilderness)
Dinner theatre aficionados in George have a new state-of-the-art theatre to visit for good times, delicious food and quality entertainment.
The Kalahari Restaurant and Theatre opened its doors in September 2010 to cater for discerning theatre fans and music lovers in the Garden Route. The 400 seater theatre will stage the latest productions from the main circuit in a warm and friendly environment.
The theatre complex houses a separate bar and a 120-seater family restaurant with an outdoor deck. A beautiful grand piano mounted on a circular stage steals the limelight in the restaurant which also functions as a cocktail bar and entertainment area.
Bookings for shows can be done at the theatre or through Computicket. Patrons are advised to pre-order snack platters and pizzas to enjoy in the theatre.
Garden Route (15.8 km from Wilderness)
For a unique eco experience, Outeniqua Power Van rides is the thing to do. Currently this is one of the most popular attractions along the Garden Route.
Enjoy the Garden Route from the comfort of rail buses in exclusive groups. Travel into the Outeniqua Mountains, one of the most scenic railway passes in the country. Experience forests, passes, waterfalls and tunnels. Flora and fauna is prolific along the route.
Trips are made daily between 7:00 and 21:00.
George (17 km from Wilderness)
Set in the heart of the Garden Route, the George Golf Club course is a beautifully manicured, 72 par course with 18 holes and bent greens. The course rating for men is either 70 (club – 5774m) or 72 (championship – 6100m), while that for the ladies is 72 (5188m).Visitors are welcome daily, with the exception of Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, which are reserved for members and their guests. Booking for golf is essential. Please note that no group bookings are allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays.Caddies and motorised golf carts are available for hire at the Pro Shop, as well as clubs and trolleys. Golf carts must be booked well in advance due to a small fleet of carts available at the club. The Pro Shop also sells golfing equipment.
George (17.4 km from Wilderness)
The 2.2 km Forest Buzzard Trail starts from Witfontein Forestry Station just outside George. This easy circular route through pine plantations and indigenous forest passes a cascading waterfall. Dogs are welcome if they are on a leash.
Duration: 1 hour
Distance: 2.2 km
George (17.9 km from Wilderness)
Kingswood is an urban golf estate located in the heart of George. Undoubtedly the Sally Little signature18-hole golf course designed by Danie Obermeyer is the prime attraction, but there are a host of other leisure activities that you can enjoy - all in a setting of breathtaking, natural beauty. Neighbouring Fancourt and George Golf Courses, Kingswood offers spectacular views of the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains. With 850 residential opportunities and family facilities complimenting the experience, Kingswood Golf Estate is truly urban living redefined.
Sedgefield (19.9 km from Wilderness)
Popular with locals and nature lovers, Gericke’s Point is one of the Garden Route’s best-kept secrets. You can easily spend an entire day in this stunning and fascinating place.
This rocky landmark resembles a lion’s head and the top offers a great vantage point to watch Southern Right whales during their calving season. You might even see the resident pod of Humpback dolphins that frequent the Swartvlei bay. Shy of boats, they avoid harbour areas and that is probably why they keep returning to this lovely quiet bay.
Gericke’s Point has impressive weathered sandstone cliffs that are actually fossilised dunes – some of the highest dunes in South Africa are right here. Colonies of Cape and White Breasted Cormorants nest on the cliffs. Seagulls, herons and oystercatchers can often be seen from the shore.
At low tide the exposed rock pools are fascinating to explore – take along the excellent Two Oceans - field guide to South Africa's marine life. The deeper pools are great for snorkeling and swimming.
Keen for a nocturnal beach adventure? Do a guided ‘Moonlight Meander’ from Swartvlei Beach to Gericke’s Point with local expert, Judy Dixon and witness the nocturnal antics of rocky coastline creatures.
Moonlight Meander & Starlight Stroll – contact Judy Dixon +27 (0) 44 883 1015
Mountain Biking Trails
Fancourt (20.1 km from Wilderness)
Fancourt, the Garden Route’s top leisure and lifestyle destination, has introduced a scenic mountain bike trail to offer its guests yet another invigorating outdoor leisure pursuit. Designed with safety in mind, the trail follows a central route through the property, and offers individuals and families a fun way to explore the spectacular estate.
Mountain Bikes will be available for hire at the Sports & Leisure Centre, which will be open from 06:00 to 21:00 each day. A leisurely 35 minute cycle will take guests along a scenic 10 km route through the resort, with the starting point in front of the Fancourt Clubhouse, coinciding with the starting point for the existing Leisure Trails.
The route then winds down to Bramble Hill and then over a scenic path across part of The Links golf course. Here it follows a bush trail, heading back to Bramble Hill and ending off again at the Fancourt Clubhouse.
George (20.2 km from Wilderness)
Fancourt’s Montagu Golf Course is a much loved Parkland course that is frequently ranked as the number-one golf course in South Africa. Recently it had a major revamp with numerous holes being redesigned and two new additions.
The course never gets cramped and there is more than enough time to appreciate the Fancourt golfing experience as it is restricted to members, their guests and resort visitors. It is recommended to book your desired tee time however.
Serious players and anyone in need of secret training can warm up before playing on the full-length range as well as the chipping and bunker practice area. A handicap certificate, soft spikes and appropriate golf attire is required. Golf carts are available for hire, weather permitting.
George (20.3 km from Wilderness)
The setting that takes in mountains, water and wildlife characterises the magnificent Fancourt Outeniqua Golf Course, one of two 18-hole Parkland layouts at Fancourt. It’s hard to beat a round here and all levels of golfers will find it an excellent challenge for its design and fine conditioning alone.
Designed by Grand Slam golfing legend Gary Player, it is similar to Montagu, and offers a variety of tees from which to play. Play is restricted to hotel visitors, members and guests to ensure overcrowding but it’s advisable to book in advance to ensure your required tee-off time.
All golfers can warm-up on the full-length range and chipping and bunker practice area before playing. A handicap certificate, soft spikes and appropriate golf attire is required. Golf carts are available for hire, weather permitting.