The Wilderness National Park, in the Western Cape of South Africa is a protected area that forms part of the Garden Route National Park and runs from the Tour River mouth to the Swartvlei Estuary. Situated between the two towns of George and Knysna, this area is a nature lovers’ paradise.

From lush forests to pristine beaches this region offers everything to any visitor looking for an adventure or a relaxing time-out. Hiking trails wind through wooded forests and along sparkling rivers affording you the opportunity to observe the Knysna Lourie or any of the five Kingfisher species that can be found in the area. During the spring and summer months, the lakes are surrounded by brilliantly coloured flowers further enhancing the beauty of the region.

Visits to the other two areas of the Garden Route National Park, the Tsitsikamma and Knysna Section, are highly recommended.

Places to Visit

Things to do and see:

  • Island Lake Fishing
  • Dolphin Point Lookout
  • Garden Route Horse Trails
  • Kingfisher Trails
  • Eden Adventures: canoeing, mountain biking and abseiling
  • Cloudbase Paragliding
  • Acrobranch Wildwoods
  • Kaaimans Waterfall

Accommodation can be found at Ebb and Flow Rest Camp, North & South and includes camp sites, caravan parks and self-catering Rondavels (budget accommodation) chalets. Vending machines are available at Reception, but for other amenities a trip into the town of Wilderness would be necessary.

Climate

Recommended best time to visit – September to May

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 12˚C and 28˚C

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 8˚C and 21˚C

Transport

Commercial Airlines offer flights into George Airport, Western Province the closest Airport to this region. The N2 will take you into the Wilderness National Park area and car hire facilities are located at both Airports.

Festivals

May – Elvis / Rock-n-Roll Weekend: Held at Marilyn’s 60’s Diner in the pretty little Village of Storms River.

July – George Cheese Festival: Approximately 10 000 visitors attends this festival each year for wine, brandy and whiskey tasting…..and of course Cheese!

August – Storms River Traverse: A 3-day bike ride through mountains, plantations and coastline alongside the Storms River Village

December – Wilderness Beach Festival: A fundraiser hosted by the Wilderness Sea Rescue, this event is filled with fun sports and beach related activities.

More festivals can be attended in the surrounding areas, see Knysna.

History

The Wilderness section of the Garden Route was originally part of the farm Kleinkrantz and granted to JJ Viviers in 1818. In 1845 the land was taken over by Paul Gerber. By the third generation of the Gerber family were in the area, there were 37 people living on the farm. It was only in the early 20th Century that the land was subdivided and started being sold off with the Western section being sold first. The land along the Touw River was administered by the George Divisional Council and later became known as the Ebb & Flow Nature Reserve.

South Africa’s first national lake area was proclaimed at Wilderness in 1983 and was under the control of the Lake Areas Development Board. Later in 1985, when the National Parks Board took over, the Wilderness National Park was named and incorporated into the Garden Route National Park.