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WESTERN CAPE: Our insider’s guide to Wilderness

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This quaint village is said to be one of the Garden Route’s best kept secrets and its property prices paint a pretty picture

Situated midway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Wilderness offers some of the finest birding, hiking, beaches and golf courses along the famous Garden Route. There are myriad things to do in a relaxed ambiance amid a mild climate.

Snug between the Kaaimans River and Goukamma Nature Reserve, Wilderness is a quaint coastal village, but a highly sought-after destination for residents, tourists and visitors, with residential property prices reflecting this desirability.

“I relocated to Wilderness a few years ago and will never swop,” says resident Estee Neumann. “It’s inspiring natural beauty, with its pristine beach lagoon and spectacular coastline on one side, rivers and lakes on the mountain side, surrounding indigenous forest, waterfalls, caves, abundant bird life and hundreds of hikes to discover and explore all year round, make it one of the Garden Route’s best kept secrets.

“The quaint village is often referred to as the culinary one of the Garden Route with awardwinning restaurants aplenty. There’s a plethora of adventure sports on offer – paragliding, kayaking, kloofing and abseiling immediately spring to mind.”

This home is an example of one for sale in the popular Wilderness Garden Estate. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

One of the smaller towns on the 300km Garden Route, Wilderness is less than a 20-minute drive from George, the area’s regional hub with extensive shopping, schools and medical facilities and a bustling airport.

George Airport, the first in Africa to be solar-powered, acts as an export point for commodities such as flowers and oysters. “Wilderness is attractive to various buyers,” says Schalk van der Merwe, broker-owner at Re/Max Coastal.

“Aside from those who work in the village, it’s not uncommon for business people, even with young families, to make the weekly commute from George to Joburg. The village is served by a primary school in Hoekwil and medical services are more than adequate.

“Excellent government schools and medical facilities are available in George, plus extensive private offerings of both. The Garden Route is also popular among foreign buyers, particularly for seafront homes.

“These properties have seen a significant price uptick. In the past, properties in one of the exclusive beach areas sold for around R8million but today prices begin at R12m. While there are two gated coastal estates, the majority of properties is freehold. Older houses in central Wilderness go from around R2.35m but climb to about R13m when facing Island Lake, Langvlei or Swartvlei.

“More affordable properties in Kleinkrantz range from R3m to R5m on the seafront. Smaller plots are available from R275000 to R1.6m on the beach,” says van der Merwe.  

Estee Neumann’s favourite things to do

The quaint village is often referred to as the culinary one of the Garden Route, with award-winning restaurants aplenty. There’s a plethora of adventure sports on offer – paragliding, kayaking, kloofing and abseiling are a few that spring to mind. – Estee Neumann, resident Picture: Supplied

1 Outdoors

In a freak of nature, the Kaaimans River has carved out the shape of the continent at the Map of Africa, a viewing point at Wilderness Heights. It’s an amazing sight. Across the road is a paragliding launch spot overlooking a spectacular long stretch of the Wilderness beaches and Indian Ocean. For those seeking more of an adrenalin trip, kloofing and abseiling along the Kaaimans River and Gorge should get your pulses racing. (0448770179).

2 Eat

The Girls on the Square, an Africanthemed restaurant where the focus is on combining interesting flavours with an award-winning wine list. A favourite for locals and foreigners situated in beautiful gardens and nearby park. (0445771648)

Fláva Café offers restaurant-quality food in a café environment. Pass the time enjoying the quirky sayings and fun surrounds while keeping an eye on the village’s happenings. Open daily from early until late. (0448770345)

The Ultimate burger at Flava is a 200g homemade patty layered with Camembert, bacon, rose geranium jelly and rocket. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

3 Drink

The Views Boutique Hotel and Spa provides one of the most beautiful views anywhere along the Garden Route for a sundowner. It is also the home of an award-winning spa. (0448778000) For something a bit more relaxed and a huge selection of craft beers, the Blind Pig is recommended. 0836405403)

4 Shop

Timberlake Organic Village is a collection of local independent businesses offering a wide range of goods and services. There’s a selection of food, all subscribing to the slow food principles of good, clean and fair; clothing from a local designer; wines; mohair products; leather goods and some of the best coffee on the Garden Route. (0448821240)

In keeping with the water theme of the area, the Pearl Shop has become a popular destination for those seeking cultured fresh-water pearls. (0823793487)


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