Abseiling

Take a 45m (148-ft.) abseil next to a waterfall in the Kaaimans River Gorge, then canoe your way out. This and other great experiences can be found by exploring the area with Eden Adventures.

Art

Naturally, living in an artist’s beach home, you may be inspired to procure your own artwork. Aside from Nora the Garden Route is home to a number of very talented artists. The Strydom Gallery in George offers an eclectic combination of classic and contemporary South African artists, across all price and period spectrums.

Beach and Forest Walks

The beach stretches for miles on your doorstep, but beach lovers may wish to explore Gericke’s Point, another endless beach and the part of the wonderful guided Moonlight Meander & Starlight Stroll, offered by local expert Judy Dixon (+27 (0)44 883 1015). At low tide the exposed rock pools here are fascinating. Or opt for any number of forest or lakeside trials in the Wilderness National Park www.parks-sa.co.za.

Birdwatching…& more

Wilderness falls within the 2600ha Wilderness National Park, which is host to over 230 different bird species. An absolute must-visit, particularly if you are traveling with children, is the World of Birds – with over 3000 birds and 400 species, this is one of the largest in the world. It is located just beyond Plett, about 90 minutes drive east. Opposite is Monkeyland, the world’s first free-roaming multi-species  primate sanctuary, and well worth making time for. This is a full day experience.

Canoeing

There are also some 15km (9 miles) of inland waterways you can explore in a canoe – guests can hire canoes from Eden Adventure in the Park. For sea-kayaking tours, the marine-rich Plettenberg Bay is the ideal day trip. 

Day Trips: Two Fabulous Drives

Wilderness and its scenic surrounds make for wonderful day trips.

Daytrip 1: Knysna Roundtrip If you’ve headed off to Knysna along the scenic N2, which features panoramic lake and sea views, consider returning via the Seven Passes Road. This, the original road linking George and Knysna takes you through dense indigenous forests, crosses streams via Edwardian bridges, and finally traverses the Homtini Pass, another engineering feat by the famous Thomas Baines. Approximately 2 hours driving.

Daytrip 2: The Four Passes This is a highly recommended (but long) inland day trip. Take the Outeniqua Pass (or R29) to Oudtshoorn (an hour away). Either stop for lunch here at the award-wining Jemima’s, or immediately set off to traverse the hair-pin gravel road that is the Swartberg Pass – arguably the most spectacular in the country – to the charming village of Prince Albert (2 hours from Wilderness), where you should stroll around to admire the unique Karoo architecture. Stock up on traditional Karoo fare before returning via Meiringspoort Pass, a road that follows a natural ravine, and flanked with soaring cliffs, to Oudtshoorn, Time allowing, return to George via the Montagu Pass, a gravel road dating back to 1843, before the finally returning home via the Kaaimans River Pass to Wilderness. Approximately 4 hours driving.

Elephant Experience

The 80-ha Knysna Elephant Park in Knysna affords you the opportunity to really get up close with a pachyderm. The park has 14 elephants, and you can touch them, feed them, ride them or take a sunrise or sunset walk with them through the forests. Tip: If you intend to ride them, wear thick trousers.

Game Viewing

Botlierskop is a 3000-ha reserve near Mosselbay (about 60 minutes drive from Wilderness Beach Cottage) that offers 4-hour game drives to view a large variety of game, including rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra and various kinds of antelope. Also lion and elephant though do note that these are not free-roaming. Day visitors can also take horseback safaris, helicopter flights and elephant rides.

Golfing

Golfers are spoiled for choice on the Garden Route, often referred to as South Africa’s “Golf Coast”. Our recommendations, all within easy striking distance, are: the George Golf Club course (+27 (0)44 873 6116), still one of the most scenic, and offering excellent value. Pezula (+27 (0)44 384 1222), designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale, enjoys a glorious location perched atop the Knysna East Head cliffs. Deeper inland, on undulating hills that overlook the Knysna river and lagoon, is the perfectly groomed Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Simola Estate (+27 (0)44 302 9677); this course has an interesting configuration: 5 par-threes and 5 par-fives.

Horseriding

There are a few stables in the vicinity, such as Garden Horse Trails. The best outrides lead you through the forests, with horses to suit riders of various abilities.