Walking in The Wilderness, South Africa

Wilderness has miles of beaches. What's not to like?
Wilderness has miles of beaches. What’s not to like?

Touch down George. Not the NFL player, the town in South Africa!  George is gateway to the some wonderful small towns along the southern Indian ocean seaboard.  Mostly unspoilt by over-development, my base for the weekend was the small village of Wilderness, 20km east of George.

My wife & I had 2 days to take in the magic of this place.  The weather in April was unseasonably warm. In the mid 20’s – thats celsius! And there wasn’t a breath of air.  Ironic, because my reason for coming to Wilderness was to paraglide!  Strong sea breezes, and a mountain range called the Outeniquas make for a thermal, soaring paradise.  With no wind I had to come up with a plan B.  Hiking!

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This out and back trail is 8km long. 3-hours at a brisk pace. Entry is R41 per adult (SA Resident)

The starting point for this well-advertised trail is 3km out of town.  And with the promise of a waterfall at the end I quickly laced-up and paid the R41 entry fee.

SANParks website link of the The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail 

The first 2km had promise.  Set within a semi-tropical gorge, the dirt path ran parallel to the river.   Amazing.  There was even a pontoon river crossing to spice things up!  What fun!  But then the monotony set in.   I try to find the silver lining to every cloud, but when you start wondering when the walk will end, you know the ADHD has set in.

This is partly to do with the flatness of the walk, but more to do with the 4km of boardwalk that interrupts the illusion of seclusion!  (The board walk has been built to protect the main raw-water supply pipe that lies beneath!)  Another break in the illusion of seclusion!

But I never give up.  The challenge was set.  See the waterfall.

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The last 2km section of the hike is on boardwalk. (Total 4km of walking on wood!)
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The pontoon crossing is the single highlight of the walk
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Amazing fern and floral textures break up the monotony

And just when I thought the end was in sight I was confronted with this nonsense.           A “No Entry, Private Property” sign.  WTF!  I was under the illusion I was walking in a South African National Park. Long story, but the land rights to the final 70 meters of this hike have been contested.  This passive-aggressive sign doesn’t seem to stop anyone.  Tourists and locals alike merely carry on! As we say in Africa, “Kyk noord en fok voord!”

A land dispute between SAN Parks and a Grinch have resulted in this passive-aggressive nonsense 300m before the waterfall
A land dispute between SAN Parks and a Grinch have resulted in this passive-aggressive nonsense 70m before the waterfall. The boardwalk is open, and unblocked, so this sign does little to dissuade explorers!
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SAN Parks’ official position is stated. Most hikers ignore this and reach the end.

If the sign was meant as a deterrent then the unobstructed boardwalk without a barrier indicates the contrary.  Okay, so the waterfall was a tiny trickle down some boulders.  The area is in drought so I had little expectation.  I was more concerned some angry farmer had his scope set on my back, so I cut the pit-stop short and got the hell out of there!

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The end destination is a rocky outcrop, with a mini-waterfall that flows after heavy rain

A long 4km walk back to the car went by mostly uneventfully.  Some loud, inconsiderate tourists screaming like baboons ruined the peace.  But the walk was ruined hours ago!

In total the 8km walk should take around 3-hours.  If you don’t dawdle.   I had not given up hope because what had caught my eye in the tourist map was a giant tree that I just had to find.  I’ll tell you all about this beauty of a yellow-wood in my next post.  Faith in humanity and nature is restored.

An 800-year old beauty!
An 800-year old beauty!
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