Wilderness is a coastal village situated in the Western Cape province in South Africa. It is set between the Kaaimans River and the Goukama Nature Reserve in the heart of the Garden Route, bordered by the Outeniqua Mountains and swept by the Indian Ocean. Renowned for its tranquil sea, seemingly endless beaches and natural lakes and lagoons, Wilderness has become a sought-after international holiday resort. This charming paradise is a great spot for water-sport enthusiasts, but also offers a fantastic wildlife variety, particularly birds, and is the ideal location from which to enjoy rejuvenating hikes, hang-gliding, paragliding, horse-riding, or leisurely scenic drives. Wilderness is also home of many craftsmen and women in the area, whose work is for sale at the weekly and monthly craft markets. Just outside Wilderness, two breathtaking viewing points offer magnificent views of the ocean for miles – namely the ‘Map of Africa Viewpoint’ and ‘Dolphin Point’. A photographic hotspot is the Kaaimans River Bridge, over which the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train used to pass on its journey between George and Knysna.
The train that ran between George and Knysna via Wilderness was known as the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe. The scenery along the route is stupendous, and includes the Kaaimans River bridge (the most-photographed railway bridge in the world) and the bridge over the Knysna lagoon. The railway station is in town; the tracks run right next to the main east-west road (the N2 national road). However the Choo-Tjoe service remains suspended following storm damage to the tracks along the route. Classic Rail is working to restore service on this line.
There is a pleasant short walk along the closed tracks that is accessible by the beach near the Wilderness Beach House.
The N2 national road from George (to the west) and Knysna (to the east) runs through Wilderness. Driving between George and Knysna there are permanent speed cameras in the Kaaimans River Pass. The speed limit on this pass is 60 km/h for a reason, the pass is very dangerous to take at high speeds, especially when wet.
If you are staying in the village, it is an easy walk to the beach going underneath the train tracks. It’s definitely easier to get around either by bike or by car. The nearest car rental is in George.
- Dolphins Point, halfway up the Kaaimans there is a lookout point that offers great views of the coastline.
- The Ocean, there are many public access points to the beach but be careful of strong currents in the area.
- Serpentine River viewpoint, on your way up to Hoekwil, stop and admire the view.
- Map of Africa, driving through the village up to the old George Road, follow the sinage to the Map of Africa. It’s a viewpoint close to where the paragliders launch and shows a beautiful view of the river valley that looks like the coastline of Africa.
- Go to the Wilderness National Park
- Paraglide, there are many local companies that offer tandem flights.
- Surf, local surf stop Steps is always a hit, and world renowned Vic Bay is a short hike over the train tracks.
- Canoe, rent a canoo and paddle up the Kaaimans or the Touw river.
- Swim, the beaches are beautiful, but be careful of the currents. The safest place to swim is on the main beach or the beach at the end of Sands Road.
Ample accommodation exists in Wilderness, but it can get full during season.
- The Beach House, ☎+27 44 877-0549. Check-out: 10AM. A pleasant backpackers’ hostel a few hundred feet from the beach, on the Baz Bus route. R115 – R230 pp.
- Fairy Knowe Backpackers, Dumbleton Rd, ☎+27 44 877-1285. From R115.
- Wild Farm Backpackers, 291 Whites Rd, ☎+27 82 838-5944. Atop the hill at the back of Wilderness, superb 360-degree views. R250/room.