Waking up in Wilderness
Last weekend Guy McDonald and I travelled to the Garden Route area for the final round of the National Rally Championship. Friday’s stages were in George while Saturday’s were to be in Knysna so we decided to stay in Wilderness, right in the middle of the action. Set behind the seaside village, along the banks of the Touw River is the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park where you can either camp under the stars or stay in the log cabins like we did.
There is something about the smell of a log cabin that reminds me of holidays and these were no exception. With two bedrooms, a bathroom with a surprisingly decent shower, a spacious lounge, fully appointed kitchen and a deck in the front on which to relax and enjoy the view.
We had left Cape Town just before lunch time on the Thursday but because of road works we only arrived after 5pm that afternoon just in time to collect our key. Unlike other National Parks though, the Wilderness Section has 24 hour access so we could still pop into George to stock up on food without having to rush back.
The next morning I got up before sunrise and took a stroll around the park. The camping grounds are spacious with plenty of open spaces for kids to play in as well as some smaller log cabins that look very cosy along the water’s edge.
The highlight for me though was the hiking trail I explored on the second day. There are several hiking trails you can do from the park ranging in length from an hour to five hours. We had to get to Knysna that morning so I didn’t have time to complete the 3 hour Halfcollared Kingfisher Trail but I got as far as I could in 45 mins before turning back.
The trail then turned upwards with a board walk to prevent erosion of the mountain side while incorporating the existing vegetation as you can see.
And then a clearing, from where I had this elevated view of the Ebb & Flow Rest Camp (North) which has more budget 2 bed Rondavel accommodation but with this setting hidden slightly up the valley along the river still a magic get away.
Further along the river, around several corners, I came across this pontoon. A sign on the tree by the waters edge explained that it had been donated and built by the honorary rangers. It was also an alternative route to get to the waterfall. All alone with no one watching, the kid inside me came out as I pulled myself back and forth across the river. It was so much fun. I was going to continue on to the waterfall but a glance at my watch brought the realisation that I had to turn back if I was going to make the start of the rally in Knysna.
I was walking back at a rather brisk pace when I caught movement up in a tree out of the corner of my eye. It took a while to spot this very camouflaged Knysna Loerie. These are such beautiful birds when they fly as you get to see their primary flight feathers that are bright red.
I stood patiently waiting for this bird to fly and after characteristically hoping from branch to branch it eventually flew over straight over my head and I managed to catch this shot, despite the low light conditions, where you can clearly see its distinctive red wing tips and long tail.
I only wish I’d had more time to explore the other hiking trails in the Wilderness park, taken time to just sit and observe in one of the bird hides or hired a kayak and paddled down the Touw river but as they say you have to leave something for next time and I’m sure I’ll be waking up in Wilderness National Park again soon.