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Hiking the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail

King Fisher Trail in Wilderness

Hiking the magnificent Half Collared Kingfisher Trail in the Wilderness National Park, Garden Route

An awe-inspiring 7.2km densely wooded forest walking/hiking trail where you may spot the beautiful Knysna Loerie, the stunning Giant Kingfisher and a myriad of other winged beauties, amongst indigenous trees to reach the sparkling Waterfall.

I finally decided to write a blog about the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail in Wilderness since it is one of my favourite routes in the area and also the one that I usually run/walk at least once a week on my own. Firstly to keep fit, and secondly because it’s so much more fun than getting on a treadmill in the gym. Thirdly you get to experience the fresh forest smells and sounds in the early morn, you hear and see the birds, fresh spider webs in the morning sun, and a while ago, I was thrilled to spot a little blue duiker hiding in the bushes.

Another contributing factor was that I have taken dozens of family and friends on this hike and always recommend it to my guests staying at Dolphin Villa, and thought it’s about high time I put pen to paper on this one.

This hike/walk comes highly recommended especially if you are a family or a group, and people even take their babies and little ones along, even if they do need to be carried when they get a bit tired, but with plenty of picnic spots and rest areas, you can always turn back at any point if need be.

Please note that there are WC facilities at the entrance of the park.

   

Being well prepared is always the key to an awe-inspiring experience. Make sure you take enough drinking water, a minimum of 500ml per person, some nice snacks or even a picnic basket to enjoy at the waterfall. For the more daring, take a refreshing swim between the rocky pools.

It is important to take a careful note of the map below to see the 2 different sections. I am not covering the Bosduif trail in this blog as it is a slightly rougher terrain and not really suitable for families with smaller children. The Bosduif offers you the option of crossing the river at THE STEPPING STONES.

Cost:

Park fees are: R43.00 per adult and R22.00 per child, payable at the gate of the Wilderness National Park or at the main entrance of the hike, which is reached by taking Waterside Road from the village. You will be given a map with all the important details. It’s free if you have a Wild Card of course. Fees collected at the gate go directly to SANParks conservation.

Trail Distance:

3.6 one way (7.2 km return). Give yourself 3 to 4 hours, but nothing less, unless you plan to run it, which will naturally depend on your speed and level of fitness.

Difficulty:

Easy, but not for an old dog. In fact this is not a route where dogs are allowed as the boardwalks can cut their feet in the wet slippery conditions. It’s practically flat the whole way, with a very super fancy board walk to guide you on your adventure through this beautiful forest. No need to worry too much about a map or a guide, as this route is as clear as you can get. It is however, nice to have that map handy to get a better understanding of your location when you get to forks on the trail, the pontoon or the waterfall.

Directions – How to get there

There are two options to do this trail:

Option One – Walk the full trail from start to end

Coming from George, follow the N2 past Wilderness village, across the Touw river and 2.5km further there will be a sign to the left marked Dumbelton Road, Garden Route National Park.

This road will lead you to the entrance of the park where you will be asked to pay the entrance fee, collect your map and continue through the Ebb and Flow Rest camp park to reach the exit on the south side of the rest camp.  Find secure parking on your left and walk about 100m over the single lane railway bridge over the Touw river to find the entrance to the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail. The entrance is directly opposite the Wilderness water purification plant.

Option Two – Rent a Kayak

Follow the winding Waterside Road from the circle in front of the Wilderness Hotel, all along the lagoon, until you reach the turnoff to the right indicating The Fairy Knowe Hotel, Backpackers and Eden Adventures. Rent a kayak from Eden Adventures and do half the trail by kayak and walk the rest. The kayak adventure is so stunning and is definitely a fun option. For a full compliment to your adventure, you could also pre-book a picnic (a minimum of 3 hours notice) from The Wilderness Picnic Co which is delivered 30 minutes before your departure.

Paddle for about 40 minutes (1 km) until you reach the Pontoon crossing. Leave the kayak there, taking the rest of the trail by foot, which should take about another 1.5 hours or 2.6km to reach the waterfall.

Kayak Cost R86.00 for one hour or R195.00 for 3 hours.

  

When to go:

Most of this walk is done in the shade and on a wooden board walk. This should give you enough information to decide whether you would like to do it in summer or winter, on a dry or rainy day. “Slippery when wet” comes to mind here 🙂

Scenic views are around every corner. You will see the see the Ebb and Flow North Camp site on the opposite side of the river and  how the river meanders into the background, clearly marking the path ahead of you. You will find many well-marked picnic spots along the river.

This route hugs the Touw river all the way to a waterfall, with loads of singing birds to brighten up you day. Halfway there, you cross the lovely Touw river by means of a fun pontoon. Each to their own here. A good spot for selfies!

A short distance after crossing the pontoon, you will find the kayak stop. This is where the paddlers leave their kayaks to continue their journey on foot to the waterfall which is another 2.6km further along.

The tranquillity of the river is the perfect spot to take a short break and enjoy the moment. When I took my 4 year old grandson last year he loved the cool water and throwing rocks to watch the ripples.

It takes about 2 hours on a relaxed walk to reach the waterfall, where you could linger to enjoy your picnic and climb between the rocks to find a perfect swimming spot.

This well maintained board walk is always an absolute pleasure, and one will have to travel a long way to find another well-kept trail such as this.

If you are making it a family outing, it is advisable to start earlier rather than later, depending on the time of year, as there are stipulated closing time for different seasons.

Feel free to ask questions on my website.  I will be happy to help where I can.

Happy Hiking!