Wilderness looks exactly like it sounds; dense forest and lush greenery leading to a pristine coastline. The little town is situated along the popular Garden Route which is jam-packed with attractions. Located right after the town of George, Wilderness is about a 5 hour drive from Cape Town. A lengthy drive for some but I can guarantee you, well worth it. Now having driven all that way, you’ll need a list of places to visit in Wilderness so that your time spent in this beautiful town isn’t wasted.
Drive the Seven Passes road
The scenic Seven Passes Road connects the towns of George and Knysna. As the name suggests, the road takes you through seven gorges and is 75km long. It was built by Thomas Bain and his brother-in-law, Adam de Smidt back in 1883. Rumour has it, the construction caused a lifelong feud between the two due to a difference of opinion.
We drove the tarred section of the Seven Passes road to Oakhurst Dairy farm and took the gravel section to the Map of Africa viewpoint. Both sections can easily be driven by normal sedan and have stunning nature views. Bear in mind that the route is currently undergoing road works and has two stop-and-go systems in place which will affect your travel time.
Stand under the Woodville Big Tree
The Woodville Big Tree is an 800 year old Outeniqua Yellowwood which stands 33 metres tall in the Hoekwil part of the Garden Route National Park (also called the Wilderness National Park by some). Despite overcoming many adversities, the majestic tree still attracts numerous visitors who come to do the short forest walk and marvel at its size. Hikers will be delighted with the lush circular trail leading through the forest. There are also several seating and picnic areas that you can enjoy if you’re visiting with your family or if you’re looking for romantic things to do in the Garden Route.
www.sanparks.org/parks/garden_route | +27 44 877 1197
Have the best cheesecake in S.A. at Hoekwil Country Café
It’s said that the best cheesecake in South Africa can be found at Hoekwil Country Café! While I cannot confirm the accolade, I can confidently tell you that they serve the best blueberry cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. The little café is situated in the quiet suburb of Hoekwil and has a covered outside eating area overlooking the kiddies play area. They also have a shop that is stocked with lots of yummy homemade goodies. All-day breakfast, excellent customer service and beautiful hilltop views makes this coffee shop one of the loveliest places to eat in Wilderness.
Hoekwil Country Cafe Facebook page | +27 44 850 1037
Marvel at the Map of Africa
Do you see a crocodile’s head or the outline of Africa? According to a local tour guide, this is one of the most frequent debates had between visitors at this Wilderness attraction. What makes the Map of Africa lookout point unique is the fact that the Kaaimans Rivers flows around a hill, creating an outline of the African continent which can only be seen from above at this particular location. Being on the list of free things to do in the Garden Route also makes this attraction one of the best places to visit in Wilderness. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of the tour guides while they’re not busy, you’ll also learn some interesting facts about the property surrounding the viewpoint – which I won’t reveal now!
The section right across from the Map of Africa viewpoint is a very popular paragliding spot. According to the experts, the site is perfect for beginners as its great for tandem flights offering a grass launch and a beach landing. And if heights are not quite your thing, you can simply sit on the grass and watch the paragliders take-off while overlooking the Wilderness beach. The contrast of the paragliders soaring in the sky with the big blue ocean below them also makes a great photo so don’t forget your camera when visiting this spot!
Make your own gin at the Wilderness Hotel
The Inverroche Gin School is operated by RPRX (Real People Real Xperiences) from The Wilderness hotel, conveniently situated just off the N2 highway. I would happily categorise the gin-making experience as one of the definite things to do in Wilderness purely because it’s such an interactive and fun process. The steps to making your very own craft gin include:
- Choosing your base recipe
- Selecting complimentary botanicals
- Distill gin
- Dilute your gin to the correct strength
- Bottle, label and brag!
Besides the actual gin-making process, you’ll also learn a lot about the properties and history of gin which is all quite interesting when coupled with making your very own handcrafted gin!
Stay at AfriCamps Wilderness on Oakhurst farm
AfriCamps have just added their newest addition to the Western Cape glamping family – AfriCamps Wilderness at Oakhurst farm. The luxury glamping tents sleep five persons each and are fully equipped – all you need to bring is your food! And if you don’t feel like bringing that along, you can pre-order a breakfast basket and braai pack which will be delivered straight to your tent. Situated in Hoekwil along the Seven Passes road, this is a great Wilderness accommodation option as it’s a good base from which to explore the surrounding area.
www.africamps.com/tag/wilderness | firstname.lastname@example.org