Wilderness coastal village, a stone’s throw from the N2 highway, has a long sandy beach backed by dunes and holiday houses. Canoes can be hires to explore the nearby Kaaiman’s River gorge. However, the main attraction is the Wilderness National Park which stretches from the Touw River mouth to the Swartvlei estuary, beyond which it joins with the Goukamma Nature Reserve. As per the village, please don’t expect to feel in the ‘wilderness’ (it’s too close to the N2 and tourist centres for this) but it is a picturesque park with beach frontage and is a fine example of coastal and montane fynbos with wetlands and waterways that attract around 250 species of bird including five species of kingfisher and the brightly coloured Knysna loerie.
South Africa’s only species of seahorse, the Knysna seahorse, is found in the Swartvlei estuary. It is the most endangered seahorse in the world with the smallest-known geographic range of any seahorse (only living in the Swartvlei, Knysna and Keurbooms estuaries along the Garden Route of South Africa). The beach at Wilderness has endemic pansy shells (an attractive type of flattened urchin). Activities include self-guided walking trails which take in rivers, dunes, lakes, forest and fynbos which is carpeted by colourful flowers in spring (around September), canoeing and pedal boating.