10 epic things to do in Wilderness – Garden Route

While most people visit the Kruger National Park for a weekend getaway in order to enjoy the a South African Safari with its wildlife and untouched landscape, I think a lot of people miss out on many of the other gems that South Africa has to offer like the Garden Route is one of these gems. You could easily spend weeks road tripping back and forth, enjoying the lush and dramatic scenery that comes at you from every angle. If you don’t have time for a long trip you could simply visit one of the little towns like Wilderness for a weekend getaway

The Garden Route is a part of South Africa with incredible views and lush vegetation that you wont see anywhere else in the world. It's one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa, and there are so many ways you can explore it...

The calm, slow pace here is a welcome break for anyone looking for an escape, but even though you can spend your whole trip with a book in hand and your toes in the sand, there is plenty to do for the adventure seeker in you too.

I first visited the Garden Route a few years back and stayed at one of the boutique hotels in Wilderness. It was rainy season so I took the opportunity to simply unwind, watch the scenery and go for spa treatments. This time around things were very different.

Visiting Wilderness in the Garden Route in the sunny season meant I got to cram more into my day before the sun set.  The seemingly endless beaches were incredibly inviting, and we spent a whole day hiking up a coastline. The tranquil rivers became our playground and we canoed and swam up the Touw river. This was an experience I won’t forget since I have never swum in a river before, but the water was so clear and calm that I just couldn’t resist.

The towns are quite close to each other so you can stay in Wilderness and still do a whole lot of exploring and adventuring in the nearby towns. Over the weekend we visited the biggest craft market I have ever seen, and explored the neighbouring towns and all the little craft shops full of handmade trinkets that make for lovely gifts. It seems the Garden Route is the perfect place to inspire your creative side too.

When you first enter Wilderness, or any of the other little towns in the Garden Route, you may wonder what on earth there is to do there, but a little planning can help you make the trip one of the most memorable you’ll ever take.

Wilderness in South Africa is one of the most beautiful and lush spots in the whole country. Not only are there pristine beaches and rivers, but it’s also an artistic hub. There is something for everyone here, but here are some of my favorite, more ‘epic’ adventures to be had in Wilderness. While some of the activities listed might not be in Wilderness itself, most of them are a short and scenic drive from Wilderness.

1 Water sports

canoeing the Garden Route South Africa

The lush vegetation that you see all around you when you are in the Garden Route is fed by a series of slow flowing rivers and lakes. Slow flowing being the key word here. These make for an epic playground. You can SUP or canoe even if you are a beginner, there is no risk of being carried off by a heavy current if you are in the rivers. If you are more hard core you can try your hand at canyoneering too.

Be careful when you are at any of the beaches though, the currents are particularly rough and can easily sweep you out to sea.

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2 Paragliding

paragliding in South Africa

If you aren’t afraid of heights you can try paragliding to get a bird’s eye view of the Garden Route below. I haven’t personally tried this but I did enjoy watching the paragliders floating in the sky like colourful jellyfish.

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3 Horse riding

horses garden route

Experience the lush wilderness up close and without the roar of an engine.

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4 Hiking

hiking garden route

One of the things I love about hiking is that you can take it at your own pace and really get to absorb the environment around you. You can do beach hikes, inland hikes and even board walk hikes to get in touch with nature and totally calm your mind.

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5 Have a beach day

Garden route beaches

Those long stretches of dramatic coastline all along the Garden Route are incredibly inviting and no visit to Wilderness would be complete without a visit to the beach. The beaches are pristine and very well taken care of, and it can easily feel like you are the very first to explore the coastline. A long walk on the beach is all I really need to totally calm down.

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6 Visit the wildlife

Garden route safari

You can still get your South African safari experience. If you want to see the wildlife of the Garden Route you can do so at a couple of places.

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7 Camping

camping garden route

Camping is a budget friendly way of getting even closer to nature in the Garden route. There are plenty of popular camping spots around Wilderness. Many of these are close to rivers or lakes so you can jump out of bed and go for a swim or canoe first thing in the morning and end the day with roasted marshmallows and a braai next to your campsite.

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8 Visit the markets and craft shops

craft shop garden route

I found it really interesting that people in the Garden Route seem to be very creative, and you can see this in the craft shops and market stalls available. You can easily find one of a kind jewellery, organically grown veggies and beautiful pieces of art in the same market. I could easily spend hours browsing for the perfect gift for someone (or myself). I took the picture above and the cutest little craft shop in Knysna, it was filled with all sorts of lovely trinkets a goodies.

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9 Ziplining

ziplining fun

If you like the idea of having a bird’s eye view of the lush scenery, but you would rather be attached to something to do so, then ziplining is a must. You soar through the trees and get a view like no other, with an adrenaline kick too.

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10 Caving

If you have never been caving before then a trip to the Cango Caves is a perfect way to get to explore the world beneath. Make sure, though, that you have everything you need for your caving trip, like proper gear and torches.

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If you are looking for a tour company that can help you plan more than one event for your trip these links may help:

Did you find this article helpful? Do you have any travel tips that work for you?

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