Wilderness, home to the Garden Route’s Best Kept Secrets

paragliding over wilderness

South Africa is one of the only places in the world that one can visit and see something seemingly a world apart mere hours away spot to spot. The way the landscape naturally changes offers an unparalleled stay to every traveler, but especially those looking to pack in as much as possible within a short stay. After arriving at Cape Town International Airport, a scenic drive with ever changing views takes you along the Garden Route, known for world-famous vineyards, sprawling landscapes full of natural fynbos vegetation and rolling hillsides impressively backed by mountain ranges like the Outeniqua which lead you to the romantic town of Wilderness.

Full to bursting with charm and appeal to holiday makers, Wilderness has a long history as an ideal location that began with a simple homestead back in the late 1800’s.  With stretches of peerless shorelines, cerulean ocean, lush forests and rich marine life, it’s every nature lover’s dream destination.  Though a small resort town, it is big on delight, where one can find absolutely anything they enjoy all in one place.  Some of the many different wilderness activities include: Paragliding, oyster bars, bird hides located along Langvlei Lake, hiking trails tailored to everyone from the smallest toddling feet to those needing the assist of a cane, canoeing, kayaking, cycling, horseback riding/trail adventuring, abseiling (also known as rappelling), zip lining tree-top guided tours, spas and art galleries.

Also in the area is the Goukamma Nature Reserve, a location that remains nearly obscure despite being among the most popular routes travelled by holiday makers to the area.  Less travelled than the Garden Route National Park and Botanical Garden, this reserve offers 2500 hectares of nearly untouched beauty.  Few places can encompass the stark contrast between dunes and vegetation, but this place boasts some of the highest vegetated dunes anywhere in the country.  Interestingly, the Goukamma River, estuary and Groenvlei Lake are all self-contained, with no links to the sea or any other feed by other rivers, and must be seen to be believed. The lake offers some of the best bass fishing to be found in South Africa.  Bottle-nosed and other dolphins delight in the shoreline here as it remains free of motor boats and spearfishers, and are a wonderful sight as they play in the surf. The region is rich in fynbos and forests full of milkwood (which the local Wildnerness market is named for) yellowwood, and candlewood trees. Many trails wind through the entire area, offering exploration to every corner, the most popular two being the Blombos Trail and Buffalo Bay Trail.

The small town of Wilderness has earned a reputation for pleasing people with hospitality and genuine warmth that is a mainstay of life in Wilderness. Plenty of wildlife enjoy the hamlet just as much as we do, and is home to bushbuck and duiker along the serene forest pathways, as well as dolphin and whales along the ocean which are sighted regularly, and the telltale bright scarlet flash of a Knysna Lourie that many flock to the area specifically to see. The ocean isn’t the only place where serenity can be found here however.  Other notable bodies of water include the Touw River Estuary, the Serpentine – which true to its name – snakes between the Touw river, Rondevlei and Island Lake.  This makes it a favourite spot for water sports from water-skiing to fishing.

Completely different than the hustle and bustle of a busy city like Cape Town, Wilderness is the quiet calmness; peace personified in one location. It feels like a secret all your own regardless where you go, highly personal and a spiritual event as you take in the immense abundance that surrounds you. True to this very nature, restaurants and self-catering accommodations seek to embody this in every aspect of the stay in this one-of-a-kind destination. Enabling the ability to live as the locals do while there, enjoying a braai while the sun goes down over a vista unlike anything you’ve seen before is something truly unforgettable.  Booking a visit to Wilderness is sure to be a repeat trip, a way to recharge your senses and fill your soul no matter how long you have to spend here.

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