Descending the N2 from George (beware the speed cameras!), Wilderness rises up as a sweeping ocean vista, more often than not shrouded in a misty veil. The sight is so tempting and the beach so close to the road that it's possible to pull up for a dip and be back in the car without missing a beat. This very virtue is sadly also Wilderness's failing: the N2 bisects the town, separating the center and lakes from the beachfront and resulting in a somewhat disjointed atmosphere. For many years Wilderness lived up to its name, as a remote outpost asleep under a thick tangle of forest and mountain. While one can still find scattered evidence of this past, you'll need to hunt for it among the sprawl of retirement homes and holiday accommodation.
Things To Do
- Look left, then right, then left again, and dart across the N2 for your morning swim. The beach is a lovely stretch of sand backed by dunes and holiday houses. But take care in the water because the immediate coastline is notorious for dangerous currents. For jittery parents with young children, the adjacent lakes are a far safer bet.
- With five rivers, four lakes, two estuaries and 28km of coastline, the Wilderness National Park is the best hideout from the holiday throngs and rumbling N2. Less than the coastline itself, which never feels far from the highway, the Park's forests and inland waterways are the attraction, supporting several eco-habitats and 250 bird species. Several walking trails meander through the Park; alternatively, hire a canoe from reception and take to the water – you may spot the elusive Cape clawless otter or a shy bushbuck. For overnighting, Wilderness National Park offers bungalows, cabins and camping.
- Wilderness's commercial centre is a loose huddle of small shops, a tourist office, several restaurants and a petrol station. For a night on the town, many locals head to Knysna and George, but the local eateries aren't bad, with a couple of options available, including the newest hangout spot, The Views.
- Several local operators advertise a range of outdoor activities and equipment hire, from paragliding to horse riding, abseiling, canoeing and mountain bike hire.
- There are several excellent viewpoints above Wilderness. The Map of Africa road (birds-eye view of lakes, forests, mountains and coastline), Dolphin's Point (whale and dolphin watching) and the Kaaimans River Bridge are the best spots.
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Where You'll Also Find Us
Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) • Barrydale • Baviaanskloof • Betty's Bay • Bonnievale • Bredasdorp • Caledon • Calitzdorp • Cape Agulhas & Struisbaai • Cape Peninsula & Surrounds • Ceres • Citrusdal • Clanwilliam & Cederberg • Darling • De Rust • Elands Bay • Gansbaai • George • Grabouw & Elgin Valley • Greyton • Hermanus • Hogsback • Knysna • Ladismith • Malgas • Matjiesfontein • McGregor • Montagu • Mossel Bay • Napier • Oudtshoorn • Paarl • Plettenberg Bay • Porterville • Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay and Kleinmond • Riebeek West & Riebeek-Kasteel • Robertson • St Helena Bay • Stanford • Stilbaai • Sutherland • Swellendam • Tulbagh • Velddrif • Vermaaklikheid • Wellington • Wilderness • Worcester & Hex Valley • Yzerfontein