Kloofing, wildlife and water fun: Why the Garden Route's Wilderness is SA's best national park gateway

2019-01-23 10:30 - Saara Mowlana
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the storms river valley

Why the Wilderness is worth your next visit. (Photo: iStock)

They say first impressions are lasting. Well the Wilderness is getting that right and is ready to welcome you in 2019 after receiving SANPark's Kudu Awards recognition for its entry gate.  

The pristine region that sits snugly in the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) had seen a growth in visitors. In 2018 they had raked in a total of 24 208 visitors while in 2017 they had seen only a recorded 19 847 visitors - marking a growth of 4 361 visitors in total.

SEE: Coast along SA's tranquil Garden Route for your next road trip 

The criteria for the best reception of the year for the national Kudu Awards includes:

  • The general impression of the gate - its grounds of the gate or reception and its ablution blocks
  • The friendliness of staff
  • The efficiency of staff at the gate or reception
  • Administrative work
  • Stock control
  • Human relations
  • Staff appearance (neat and presentable)
  • Service to the customers
  • Net profit
  • Human resources management as the percentage of turnover and sales growth including the gross profit percentage for the past year

And Wilderness has accordingly checked all the necessary boxes, earning it its title.

CHECK OUT: 9 Secret Beaches along the Garden Route 

Serving as the Western gateway into the GRNP - which includes the beloved Knysna and Tsitsikamma regions - the Wilderness is not a section to overlook or merely gloss over or cruise through.

So, what can you get up to in the thick of the Wilderness' forests?

Map of Africa

Take in a hike in the small village of Wilderness to see this iconic viewpoint that resembles the southern tip of Africa itself.


The GRNP is well-known for its lake system boasting two saline lakes - Wilderness and Swartvlei - which flow into seven flowing rivers.

The Wildnerness lakes branches off into the Touw River, Duiwe River and Langvlei Spruit while the Swartvlei system branches off into the Diep, Klein, Wolwe, Hoekraal and Karatara Rivers.

READ: Garden Route kloofing, the Chokka Trail and homegrown eKasi escapes: SA's top experiences given the Lilizela nod 

Ruffle your feathers with bird wildlife photo ops

The Park is also a bird lover's paradise and is known to attract many wildlife photographers to its nested embrace. 

Boasting hundreds of bird species its plush environment, you're sure to catch sight of some truly remarkable birds.

Water fun

Speaking of the water wonders of the area, you'll also find opportunities to quench your thirst for adventure on the lakes and rivers mapping the area.

You can go canoeing or cruising in the Touw and Serpentine Rivers which run through the Park. 

ICYMI: Knysna Forest: 4x4 adventuring along secret, century-old routes 

Take a hike or kloof

The diverse landscape of the Park that is blanketed by indigenous forest, fynbos areas and wetland and sea views set the ideal spot for many magical hiking and kloofing routes.

In fact, the GRNP has recently announced four hiking trails accredited with Green Flag status by the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA) - rounding up the available hiking routes in the GRNP to 18 routes.

The four newer trails include the Half Collard Kingfisher trail (9,65km), Dune Mole Rat Trail (8,2km), Woodville Big Tree (2km) and the Circles in the Forest (3,4km).

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