Hi, I’m John McIldowie from Wilderness in the Garden Route.
WILDERNESS IS BEST KNOW FOR its long golden beach, extensive lakes, waterways and lush indigenous forests. That combined with casual continental sidewalk restaurants and a village atmosphere makes Wilderness the ideal base from which to enjoy the Garden Route.
GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT Dolphin Point with the spectacular Wilderness Bay and kilometres of beach as a backdrop.
THE BEST PARAGLIDING PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN from the Map of Africa viewpoint.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD I LIKE TO get out and enjoy hiking along one of the numerous trails through indigenous forests or along the beach and cliffs that make up the coast line to the east of Wilderness. Or force myself to have 18 holes on one of the 14 challenging championship golf courses situated within easy driving distance along the Garden Route …
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD I LIKE TO meander through the numerous galleries and artefact shops –my favourite is The Pharaoh Gallery where the internationally renowned artist, Peter Pharaoh, displays his latest originals.
I THINK THE BEST TIME TO VISIT IS towards the end of summer – April, May and June. It is a time of the year when winter is biting in the Highveld and the driving rains have arrived in Cape Town. But in Wilderness the days are still lovely low to mid twenties and the nights cool to cold – at worst forcing us to open a bottle of red and light the big log fire.
FOR BRUNCH OR LUNCH, I SUGGEST Pomodoro Restaurant, a viby Italian option with a large outdoor section. One of the two owners, Werner or Claudio are always in attendance and they offer great pastas, pizzas as well as a variety of meat & fish dishes.
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS The Girls, try the Beef Fillet with Chocolate Chilli sauce, The Prawns or even the great selection of curries. Roxanne & Cheri offer superb food, personal service and they have a mezzanine craft section for you to peruse while your meal is being prepared.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK FROM Monks where every night is a party night and Des or Bridget don’t close until the last guest is satisfied.
IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, GO TO Joplins Pub & Steak Grill where the beers are always chilled, the wine is reasonably priced and Rose’s well matured juicy steaks are to die for.
WILDERNESS’S BEST KEPT SECRET IS the winter. People think beach and sea when they think Wilderness, but not only are winter days here generally warm and dry (we do not share Cape Town’s winter rainfall) but many of the Wilderness activities such as whale watching, hiking, mountain biking and golfing are ideally suited to our cooler winter temperatures.
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS to pack a picnic hamper with a cold bottle of wine and head down to the waterfall at the end of the Kingfisher Trail – beautiful rock pools and the waterfall making a perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon with friends. And if that is not on then a ride into the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains on one of Perdepoorts well trained horses where Amanda will usually point out various buck (deer), baboons and birds as she gives both novices and experienced riders an exhilarating experience.
IF YOU’RE FEELING ADVENTUROUS, TRY a day of Kloofing (canyoning) with Eden Adventures. There are challenging kloofs in the vicinity which ensure a mix of scrambling, climbing, swimming, plunging, jumping, bumsliding & abseiling – not for the feint hearted!
MY FAVOURITE DRIVE IS over the Montague Pass towards Oudtshoorn with a stop at Herold Winery to enjoy some of the award wining wine they are producing.
MY FAVOURITE GIFT SHOP IS The Heart Shop in the Milkwood Centre. Tanya & Jacques design and manufacture their own range of costume jewellery which is very unusual but very wearable. They also have a range of stones and crystals which people come around the globe to purchase.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING IS renting a canoe from Eden Adventures and paddling the waterways and lakes. Or if they feel like a ride on one of the top ten steam trains in the world then head on down to Mossel Bay for lunch.
BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING IS a visit to one of the numerous markets in the area. Wilderness hosts two Sunday morning craft markets every month, Timberlake Village and Milkwood Centre both hold Friday evening markets and the Wild Oats Market in Sedgefield is renowned for their superb fresh produce.
FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL, I LIKE TO take Judy to dinner at Serendipity. It is a 5 star restaurant offering a 4 course set menu (each course offers 2 or 3 choices) with well known international dishes each given a South African Flavour by Lizel, the award winning chef. Lizel’s husband Rudolph is Maitre “d and a wonderful raconteur – who also has an excellent knowledge of the wines on offer.
I Love Wilderness because it bears no pretence. I spent many years in many cities where the deciding factors were the car you drove, the whisky you drank or the label on the clothes you were wearing. To arrive in Wilderness and be judged solely on who you are is an absolute privilege.
Useful Wilderness Links
- Wilderness Attractions
- Wilderness Accommodation
- Wilderness Hotels
- Garden Route Hotels
- Garden Route Accommodation
- South Africa accommodation
Pharoah Gallery +27(0)44 877-0265
Pomodoro Restaurant +27 (0)44 877-1403
The Girls restaurant +27 (0)44 877-1648
Monks +27 (0)44 877-1072
Joplins Pub & Steak Grill +27 (0)73 347-8896
Eden Adventures +27 (0)44 877-0179 or +27 (0)83 628-8547
Herold Winery +27 (0)72 833-8223
Serendipity +27 (0)44 877-0433