The Best National Parks on the Garden Route
Looking for the the best National Parks on the Garden route? If you are planning going on visiting a lot of national parks. Please read up on the Wild Card. The Wild Card gives you for 1 year unlimited access to all the national and regional parks in South Africa. Even though for internationals it’s a lot more expensive, it's still worth it. As all the park entries are more expensive for internationals. So if you are planning going to Kruger, Cape Point, Table Mountain and Addo Elephant Park it’s always a good deal. For us personally just the Western Cape was enough to be break-even on the cost - now Kruger, Eswatini etc... are all free!
The Wild Card for South Africans is (2023):
Family’s (max 2 adults) R1,590.00
The Wild Card for Internationals is (2023):
Singles: R3,575.00 (roughly €175,- p.p.)
Couples: R5,585.00 (roughly €140,- p.p.)
1. Garden Route National Park - Wilderness Section
If you are driving from Cape Town, this is the first park that’s going to scream: “Welcome in the Jungle!”. It’s a very lush green park around a river going upwards towards the waterfall. You have the opportunity to sleep in the park at one of the campsites with huts (Ebb & Flow). We chose to stay a little bit outside at the TAO Camp Site (1 night - highly recommend) and Beach house Backpackers (3 nights).
The park is famous for two trails: Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail and the Giant King Fisher Trail. You can rent the Canoe at the National Park Entry (Ebb-and Flow rest camp) for 1, 3 or 8 hours. 3 hours should be sufficient for the hikes. The cost of renting the Canoe is R200 (fits 2 people).
Giant King Fisher Trail (own experience)
Giant King Fisher Trail - Wilderness National Park
We did the Giant King Fisher trail. You first paddle for about 45 minutes along the river upwards. Around you you will be amazed with beautiful bird life. We spotted the Half-Collard Kingfisher, Black Cormorant and White breasted Cormorants and many famous Knysna Lorries. After a while you will notice a rope bridge for people walking the trail, and you might be tempted to stop here with the Canoe. But don’t. Just keep going until you reach the point (canoe drop-off) - you can’t go further at this point, so you won’t miss it.
After you drop-off the canoes there is another 20-30 minute hike towards the waterfall. The hike is well doable for anyone with a general fitness. When you arrive at the waterfall make sure to climb up the rocks for the - a little bit hidden - real waterfall with swimming pond. We were the only ones there so we went for a little swim. The water is freezing - but you’ll warm up very quickly on the warm rocks. After a short picknick we hiked back.
Half-Collard Kingfisher Trail - Wilderness National Park
If you are keen to hike a bit further, you can combine the Giant Kingfisher trail with the Half Collared Kingfisher trail. This part of the trail is a bit more challenging as you climb steeply up the mountain to a beautiful viewing point. We didn’t have the time for it, but heard great stories about this part of the trail.
Practical Information about the Garden Route National Park - Wilderness Section
For latest updates, bookings and information check the Sanparks Wilderness Section Page.
Location: Ebb-Flow Rest Camp (Google Maps). It’s about 5 minutes drive off the N2 highway. Can be accessed with any type of car or bike.
Things to do in Wilderness National Park:
- Bird watching
- River bathing
Keep in mind
There are no ATM’s (park is Cashless)
There are no shops or restaurants at the rest camp - so bring your lunch!