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Birding, Wilderness National Park RAMSAR site, Garden Route

Birding, Wilderness, Garden Route

Wilderness Birding Spots

The 2 500ha Wilderness National Park consists of 5 lakes, 5 rivers, 2 estuaries and 28km of beach. and is a RAMSAR site that cover Forest, River Wetland, Tidal Estuary, Forest and Wetland Habitats.

This sensitive ecosystem creates a wetland of international importance. Adjoining this is the Goukamma Nature Reserve.

The park’s rest camp is at Ebb and Flow (get the map), a 1km drive north of the N2 national road (turn inland at the signs just east of Wilderness village). The hutted camp and campsite, particularly at Ebb and Flow North (adjacent to Ebb and Flow south), offers good birding (including nightly Wood Owls) and is a rewarding place to base your explorations into the surrounding forests.

You can easily record 85 species of birds, specials include: Knysna Turaco, Giant Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Half Collared Kingfisher, Grey Cuckooshrike, Black Backed Puffback, Narina Trogon, Cape Batis, Yellow Throated Woodland Warbler, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Paradise Flycatcher, Olive Woodpecker, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin, Cape Robin.

Leading from Ebb and Flow are four walking trails which offer excellent birding, all named after local kingfishers:

Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail

  • This trail is through the forest and leads to the river.
  • Trail distance: 5km
  • Trail time: 2 – 3 hours 

Half Collared Kingfisher Trail

  • This trail is a nice shady walk through the forest and you are likely to see most of the birds like the Knysna Loerie, Giant Kingfisher and the Fish Eagle. You will also see the Yellow Wood Trees.
  • Trail distance: 7.2km
  • Trail time: 3 – 4 hours 

Pied Kingfisher Hiking Trail

  • This trail is mainly used for bird watching. It is a flat circular route which takes you through the Serpentine which consists mainly of Fynbos. It is an open trail with no shade. There is a section of the trail which combines with the beach. You’ll be able to walk along the beach to Wilderness Village and back to the Camp.
  • Trail distance: 11.5km
  • Trail time: 3 – 4 hours 

Giant Kingfisher Hiking Trail

  • It is a little strenuous in the beginning of the trail but it does get easier. It is the only trail that leads to a waterfall. You are allowed to swim and picnic at the waterfall. This trail is on the opposite side of the Half Collard.
  • Trail distance: 3.5km
  • Trail time: 3 – 4 hours
Other Birding Spots

Lagoon (Touw River): White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, African Darter, Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, Blacksmith Plover, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Pied Kingfisher.

Waterfront Road (alongside Lagoon) down to Fairy Knowe:  Knysna Touraco, Sombre Bulbul, Cape White-eye, Forest Canary, Black-headed Oriole, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Burchell’s Coucal, Chorister Robin, Olive Shrike, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Black Sawwing Swallow, Terrestial Brownbul, Streaky-headed Seedeater.

Fairy Knowe to Sewerage Works along the railway line/trail:  Yellow Bishop, Cape Grassbird, Little Sparrowhawk, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Swee Waxbill, Common Waxbill.

Vleis (use Bird Hides):  As in Lagoon species + Black-winged Stilt, African Fish Eagle, Kittlitz’s Plover, Malachite Kingfisher, African Purple Swamphen, Egrets, Southern Pochard, Cape Teal.

Big Tree Circular Walk (Hoekwill)  Knysna Warbler.

Getting There

Turn left into Dumbelton from the N2 just outside Wilderness (Knysna side).  Follow the paved road to Ebb & Flow rest camp. There is parking at the offices. You will be able to find out which trails or spots to visit best suited to your birding goals.

More info on the town of Knysna More info on the Garden Route area



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