Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail – A Forest Canopy Experience

Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail – A Forest Canopy Experience



The Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail starts in the small village of Duiwe River, just behind Island Lake. It forms part of the many trails in the Wilderness National Park (Between George and Sedgefield)


How to get there

Whilst the start of the hike is in Duiwe River (Clickety click on this link for the Google Maps location for the start), you will need to first get a permit from the Wilderness National Park Ebb & Flow rest camp reception.  It is situated along Waterside Road, near the railway bridge – here is a link for directions.

The permit is only valid for 1 day and the fee differs depending on the age and nationality of the hiker:

SA Citizens  Adult R40    Child R20  [2 – 11 yrs]
SADC Nationals  Adult R80    Child R40  [2 – 11 yrs]
Foreign Nationals  Adult R130   Child R65 [2 – 11 yrs]

If you have a Wild Card, you do not need to pay for entry, but a permit is still required.


Opening Times and contact information:

The Ebb & Flow Rest Camp Reception is open daily from 07h00 – 17h30.

Contact numbers (044) 389 0252   /   877 1197

For enquiries e-mail [email protected]


Types of Trees on the Trail

Some of the trees along the trail have been marked with green perspex tags. You will encounter the following tree species, some with very unusual names:

  1.    Candlewood
  2.    Ironwood
  3.    Kamassi
  4.    Cape Beech
  5.    Bladder-nut
  6.    Forest Elder
  7.    Glossy Currant
  8.    Common Lightning Bush [Afrikaans: Gewone Bliksembos]
  9.    Bushmans Poison
  10.    Blossom Tree
  11.    White Alder
  12.    Cat-Thorn
  13.    Red Currant
  14.    Forest Num-Num
  15.    Common Spike-Thorn
  16.    Common Turkey-Berry [Afrikaans: Gewone Bokdrol]
  17.    Common Saffron
  18.    False Saffron
  19.    White Pear
  20.    Sagewood


The Speedy Review [tl;dr]

This is one of my favourite trails in Wilderness, and I walked it many times over the years I lived there. It is a forest trail, so you can expect the terrain to be slightly more rough underfoot, but you won’t need more than a pair of regular hiking shoes.  There are a few river crossings which range from a bridge/stepping-stone crossing, to large boulders that you need to climb across.  It is not very long, just under 5km in total and will take you between 2-3 hours to complete the out-and-back route.

The reward at the midway, turn-around point is a beautiful, deep rock pool that you can swim in.  Depending on the time of year you do this trail, there is also a large waterfall flowing into the rockpool.

Make sure you take the detour to the viewpoint (see details in The Nitty Gritty section of how to get there) as you will have views over the forest canopy.  Essential items to pack include: A book, a towel, swimming costume, towel and picnic.  You will want to spend some time at the rock pool before heading back.

For the Geocache enthusiasts, there are one or two caches along this trail.



Trail Ninometer




Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints, because there are no dogs allowed in the Garden Route National Park – Wilderness Section.  She spent a few days with her grandparents in Cape Town instead, and was spoiled rotten (as usual)




The Nitty Gritty

Belinda and I travelled to the village of Wilderness in the Southern Cape to spend time with her family. We decided to try and get in a few hikes while we were down there. Belinda grew up in Wilderness and had done her fair share of hiking while living there including the Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail. We had also done the trail together as a married couple quite soon after tying the knot. 

On Monday 08 January 2018, we started the hike at 07h26. We were 6 adult persons in the hiking party, including Belinda, myself, her siblings and their partners. The trail ran through an arch of trees and foliage and after about 6 minutes, we crossed a raised wooden bridge [370 m]. The first part of this hike is out in the open.



At 07h34, we crossed a river on concrete stepping stones after covering a distance of 500 m. After crossing the river, the trail turned top the right and we climbed a set of wooden pole stairs. At 07h41, we crossed the river again [720 m].

At 07h51, we crossed the river again after walking a distance of 1.1 km. At 07h58, we stumbled upon a lily pond on the right side of the trail with a large tree that had fallen across it. Belinda took a closer look and I was close by to record the short expedition.



At 08h10, we reached a fork in the trail. The main path continued on slightly to the right and a second path went off to the left to the view point. We chose to take the main path and explore the view point on the way back. Shortly thereafter, we crossed the river. We took the opportunity to do a Beetles Abbey Road impression while crossing the river on the back of a large tree trunk.

At 08h23, we crossed the river again [1.7 km] and climbed a wooden staircase. I took the opportunity to look for frogs. Belinda spotted the first one and took a photo which you will see later in this post where we show you the different kinds of animals we encountered on and near the trail.

About 2 minutes later, we crossed the river yet again and again climbed a wooden staircase after covering a distance of 1.75 km. At 08h37, just after the 2km mark, we crossed the river again. Five minutes later, we came across a green pond on the right of the trail. I spotted a dragonfly perched on a tree branch. Several minutes later and many many photos taken from various angles, I managed to get a good shot of the dragonfly. It is included in the animal album later in this post.



At 08h44, we reached the furthest point of the trail where we needed to turn around. We reached it by negotiating our way through a tricky section of the forest and ended at a beautifully secluded waterfall and rock pool. The distance covered to that point was 2.2 km. Belinda’s brother, Adrian, was the only brave one among us to have a dip in the pool.  The pool is quite deep, but watch out for slippery rocks, and branches which may not be easily visible in the dark water.



At 09h00, we headed back along the route we had come. At 09h21, we reached the fork in the trail from the opposite direction. The distance covered to that point was 3.28 km. We turned right and headed up to the view point (You will pass this point on the way to the rock pool, so can decide to go to the view point then if you prefer). After a couple of minutes, we reached the view point. It is perfectly placed in the forest to see all around you across the forest canopy. We spent a few minutes there taking in the view and managed to hear a lone Knysna Loerie calling somewhere off in the distance.



We left the view point at 09h29 and quickly rejoined the main path back to where our cars were parked.

At 09h50, we encountered a fairly large fresh water crab along the trail. I managed to take an awesome close up photo of the crab as it faced off against my camera lense. He may well have seen a similarly sized fresh water crab looking at him from the lense.

At 09h55 and near to the end of the trail there is another type of view point that is located on the right of the path. The landmark is a concrete path that turns right out of the trail and climbs a short hill to a metal barrier. It offers you a bird’s eye view of a green pond with what looks like a small cave below.

We completed the hike at 10h06 after walking a distance of 4.90 km.




The Animals on the Trail

This trail is advertised as being rich in bird life and a bird watcher’s dream. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many birds. What we did see though were various kinds of (very) small creatures along the route. Here is a small album of some of the creatures that we encountered while in Wilderness:

A huge thank you to Johan Huisamen of CapeNature for identifying the animals in this blog post!

The Stats

The Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail in the Garden Route National Park – Wilderness Section is well signposted. This is an out and back route that should ideally be done in the early morning or the late afternoon.

Here are the hiking stats for this trail:

Trip Odometer 4.90 km
Total Time 02h40
Elevation Gain 85 m


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