Giant Kingfisher Trail

pontoon over river on Giant Kingfisher Trail

By Vicky · Published Jun. 11th, 2021 · Updated Nov. 23rd, 2022

The Giant Kingfisher Trail follows a jungly river to reach a lovely picnic and swimming spot by a waterfall in Wilderness National Park.

Start of the Giant Kingfisher Trail, South Africa


This hike starts from Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park. Find out more about Ebb & Flow Rest Camp here. It’s 20 minutes from George and 40 minutes from Knysna along the N2 highway. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town.

Giant Kingfisher Trail Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the bookmarks.

Head to the bridge between the northern and southern sections of Ebb & Flow Restcamp. There are lovely views of the river from this bridge.


  • Take: sunhat and sunscreen, water and swimming stuff.
  • This is a SAN Parks reserve. If you are not camping here you have to pay for a permit or use your WildCard.
  • Extend this hike by climbing up the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail for wonderful views of the forested hillside and sluggish river below.
  • Find out more about Ebb & Flow Rest Camp here.

Head to the western side of the river (not through the northern part of the rest camp) and you’ll find a small trail. Almost immediately you’ll reach a permit checkpoint where you can buy a hiking permit or show your park permit if you are camping.

River and jungle in Wilderness, South Africa
Pontoon on the Giant Kingfisher Trail, South Africa
Waterfall at the end of the Giant Kingfisher Trail, South Africa

The trail follows the river until you head the water and reach a pontoon crossing. You have to use your own arm strength to pull yourself across the river. If the pontoon is on the other side when you arrive, it’s easy to pull it over to your side.

On some maps, it shows another route across the river further up, but these are stepping stones and can often be covered in water if the river level is high.

Knysna Turaco in Wilderness, South Africa
Flowers in Wilderness, South Africa

Once on the eastern bank of the river, continue upstream. There is an elevated boardwalk a large part of the way. This brings you slightly closer to the trees where you can find colourful birds and sometimes monkeys.

Mushrooms on the Giant Kingfisher Trail, South Africa
Jungle on the Giant Kingfisher Trail, South Africa

After a while you’ll turn the corner and descend to a waterfall. There’s plenty of space here for a picnic and a refreshing swim. It can get crowded on sunny summer days and especially at the weekends. Try to set off on this hike early to enjoy the peace of the waterfall.

River in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa

The route returns the same way and there shouldn’t be any difficulty following the path back.


If you want to hike further, combine this Giant Kingfisher Trail with the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail which climbs steeply up the mountain to beautiful views. This extension can be added either on the way out or on the way back.

Discover what else you can do at Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness National Park. If you’re heading east, make sure to go hiking at Robberg Peninsula, then stop off at Storms River Rest Camp. If you’re heading west, explore Mossel Bay or De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Ebb & Flow Rest Camp was a stop on our two-month road trip around South Africa which we wrote up as a book, Chasing Ostriches*. Discover many other amazing places in South Africa and see more photos here.

Jungle in Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa


    1. Hi Mandisa, you can get a permit either from the little hut right at the start of the trail, or at the main Wildnerness Rest Area Reception. The permit fee is R50/25 per adult/child for South Africans, or free with a Wild Card. It’s R100/50 for SADC and R170/85 for international visitors.

  1. Good day
    Myself and a friend want to do the trail on Saturday, do we have to pre-book and is the amount still R50 per person and would we need our I.D’s as well.Thank you

  2. Hi Angelia,
    You do not need to prebook, just turn up at the trail and pay there. It is still R50 per person for South Africans. You almost certainly won’t be asked for your ID, but if you have it you should bring it just in case.
    Enjoy your hike!

    1. Hi Marian,
      the total walking distance is about 8 km. It takes roughly 1 hour to walk each way if you don’t have any long breaks,

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