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Article: 9 of the best hikes in Wilderness

9 of the best hikes in Wilderness

9 of the best hikes in Wilderness

No matter where you go in South Africa, you're guaranteed beautiful natural spaces and spectacular views. And what better way to appreciate the nature around you than a hike in the mountains? Luckily for us at Nima Lodge, we have an incredible selection of trails right on our doorstep. 

You can practically roll out of bed and find yourself enjoying the fresh air in the shade of the lush indigenous forest. Whether you're an avid hiker or just keen for a quick leg-stretch, you're guaranteed to find a path that works for you.

Read on if you're planning on adding a hike to your Wilderness itinerary and you're struggling to decide which to choose. We get it - it's a tough decision when you have so many amazing options. But rest assured, you can’t go wrong. No matter which trail you choose to take, we’re certain you'll love it.

1.     Nima Lodge Kingfisher Waterfall

We couldn’t write an article about the best hiking trails in Wilderness and not start with our own waterfall hike. Nima Lodge borders Wilderness National Park, and we are incredibly lucky to have direct access to this trail. The route is a moderate hour-long stroll along wooden boardwalks under the shade of magnificent indigenous trees. Just shy of 3km, this path is perfect for a quick out-and-back trip from your door at the lodge. On a hot day, a dip in the pool beneath the waterfall is a great way to cool down, and you can catch some rays on one of the warm rocks. We’re always happy to provide advice on the best hike to suit your tastes, and can even arrange guided hikes right from Nima.

Location: Length: 2.9km Difficulty: Moderate


2.     Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail

This is a great option starting right next to the railway bridge near the Touw River. It’s a fan-favourite, so a word of warning if you prefer quieter trails: this one can be busy, and for good reason.

The route is incredibly beautiful and well maintained, with great views and plenty of shade. Even better are the display boards, helping you to identify some of the birds and animals hiding in the woodlands. One particular bird to look out for is the brilliant blue half-collared kingfisher which gives the trail its name. If birds aren’t your thing, there is also great labelling of all the indigenous plants and trees along the route - make sure to look out for the yellowwoods, stinkwoods and milkwoods.

The trail isn’t too strenuous and should be manageable for younger children. And if you need to stop for a break, there are plenty of great picnic spots alongside the river. The trail includes a fun trip over a pontoon bridge and ends at a waterfall with rockpools to cool off in. In total, it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours to complete and you can even shorten the walk by canoeing part of the way. It’s important to note that this hike requires a permit and you have to pay for entrance at Ebb and Flow. 

Location: Length: 7.6km Difficulty: Moderate

3.     Bosduif Trail

This is a loop off the Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail and is more strenuous, climbing the ridge on the western bank of the river. While it might be a steep climb, the viewpoints make it worth it. You’ll find yourself at the top of a cliff overlooking the Touw River and campsite. It’s the perfect spot for a breather and a moment of quiet reflection to take in the natural beauty all around you. Take a picnic and enjoy the view from here, or carry on to the rest of the Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail and make your way to the waterfall. 

Location: Length: 4.2km Difficulty: Moderate


4.     Groeneweide Trail

Aptly named, this is the perfect lush and green forest experience. There are three distances to choose from: 13km (red), 11km (blue) and 9km (green), all marked with signs along the route. Parts of the route can be quite thick with undergrowth, and parts of the path are sometimes hidden by vegetation or flood damage.

The hike isn’t incredibly long but can be tiring due to a number of steep ups and downs. Luckily, there are plenty of great spots to stop and have a snack and a cool-down. The first is at the crossing of the Kaaimans River, where you can find a shallow pool for a quick splash. Another great place for a break can be found by following the swimming sign to a section along the Silver River, where the surrounding nature creates a magical feeling. Don’t forget to listen out for the birds, and try to spot wildlife such as blue duiker, vervet monkeys and bushpigs. Previous hikers have also reported lots of spiderwebs, so have a stick to clear your path! 

The trail has a new entrance at the Saasveld Campus of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. You’ll need to park your car and then reception for the combination code to access the trail.

Location: Length: 13/11/9km Difficulty: Easy

5.     Pied Kingfisher Trail

Another trail starting from Ebb and Flow Rest Camp. This is an easy route, perfect for an early-morning wander. Although the distance of 11.5km will still take you 3-4 hours, it is pretty much flat. You may find yourself sweating, however - it is an open trail with no shade, so lather up with sun cream!  The route takes you along the edge of the Serpentine River floodplain, where you’ll be able to enjoy beautiful fynbos and plenty of birds in the reeds.

Beyond the railway bridge, you’ll be on the outskirts of Wilderness and will make your way along a path between the houses to a  boardwalk that takes you along the banks of the Touw River. This is a great opportunity for a quick rest, enjoying the milkwood trees and the sound of the lapping water. You can also take your time reading information boards about kingfishers in the area. The pied kingfisher, after which the trail is named, can be identified by its black and white feathers and noisy call.

Once you get to the centre of Wilderness, it’s a hop, skip and a jump through the subway under the N2 and onto the beach. If you still haven’t managed to wake up, or you just need to cool down, now is the time for a dip in the ocean. Another 2km along the sand and a scramble up the dune will take you back home in the direction of Ebb and Flow. Once again, you’ll need to pay a conservation fee unless you have a Wild Card.

Location: Length: 11.5km Difficulty: Easy


6.     Breidal Path Trail

If you’re up for a scramble and a bit more of a workout, this is the hike for you! Another out and back trail, at 2.6km in distance, it isn’t long but it’s definitely more on the technical side. Starting at Hoekwil Road, you’ll quickly lose elevation as you make your way down the steep path along the edge of the gorge to the river. Wear good hiking shoes and watch your step as the path is narrow at points. Your reward at the end, before heading back the way you came, is the beautiful waterfall and its natural swimming hole. Take some time to rest before the trek back up the hill! Previous hikers have advised that this one is less suitable for children.

Location: Length: 2.6km Difficulty: Moderate

7.     Woodville Big Tree Trail

No Wilderness activity list is complete without this trail. It’s about 16km from Wilderness but well worth the journey. Before heading into the forest, you’ll be treated to a stunning view over the Wilderness valley. From the parking area, it’s only a short trip to the Big Tree, a giant Outeniqua Yellowwood that towers over the rest of the forest. It’s estimated to be 850 years old and is a natural wonder. Beyond the tree, you can continue on a short and easy 2km circular path through the trees, many of which are labelled, and over little streams. Take a picnic and don’t forget your free self-issue permit at the entrance to the forest, as you may be asked to present this to officials. Bonuses of this trail are that it has wheelchair-friendly walkways and ablution facilities. 

Location: Length: 2km Difficulty: Easy


8.     Brownhooded Kingfisher Trail

Are you a birder? If so, this one is a popular choice, with the long-crested eagle and peregrine falcon often sighted along the route. The trail is a leisurely 5km stroll along the Duiwe River to a beautiful rock pool and back. You’ll cross the river several times on stepping stones and a wooden bridge. Have a swim and a snack at the turnaround point, listen for the birds, and check out some of the plantlife before heading home. The route is child-friendly, except for the optional detour to the viewpoint, which is slightly trickier and includes a bit of a climb. However, it’s worth it for the spectacular views over the forest canopy. Remember to get your permit and pay the conservation fee at the Wilderness National Park Ebb and Flow Rest Camp reception before setting out. 

Location: Length: 5km Difficulty: Easy

9.     Cape Dune Molerat Trail

Another easy walk, this route takes you on a rather sandy trail through the Wilderness Lake Area. There isn’t much shade, so it’s best to do this one as a morning hike to avoid sunburn if you’re visiting in summer. It will take you 2 to 3 hours to complete the loop, with stops along the way to take in the beautiful proteas and other fynbos. Make sure to look out for the mounds made by the Cape dune molerats, and try to spot one of the animals that lend their name to the trail. 

Location: Length: 3km Difficulty: Easy


We hope this provided you with some inspiration for your next trip to Wilderness and/or your next hiking adventure. All the trails above boast fantastic views, great wildlife and a healthy dose of exercise – it’s just a matter of choosing the right one for you. You could even make it your goal to tick several off the list. Ddon’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes and take snacks and plenty of water. A camera is also a great idea – you’ll definitely want to capture some of the incredible views. 


Get in touch with us if you need any help deciding - and we hope you’ll choose to stay with us at Nima Lodge!

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