Knysna – pronounced ‘nice-nah!’ – is the heart of the Garden Route, famous for its scenic beauty and mild Mediterranean climate all year round. Originally two separate hamlets of Melville and New Haven in the early 19th century, Knysna has since then grown into the favorite town of both South African and international visitors alike. Situated on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon, fed by several tidal rivers, with the famous Knysna Heads separating the Lagoon from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean it is easy to see why.
Spectacular views over the lagoon and town from the viewpoints at The Heads or Featherbed Nature Reserve – which can only be reached by boat – will create unforgettable memories to all who visit. The dramatic backdrop of the indigenous forest and the Outeniqua Mountains offer great options for the active outdoor type as well: from hikes in the forest looking for the elusive free-roaming Knysna Elephants, a visit to the by now long-abandoned gold mines, or just a visit to the old manor house which was the home of the original dignitaries of the Knysna area.
The forests of Knysna further offer great mountain biking trails, including the ones open to the Oyster Festival riders, or the different routes at Harkerville – proclaimed to be some of the most spectacular mountain biking trails South Africa has to offer. Harkerville is also home to the ‘Garden of Eden’, a short walk through the forest on a wooden platform, particularly good for those with push- or wheelchairs and/or limited time at hand.
Beaches in Knysna include the one on Leisure Isle, especially popular with little people, or those who do not want to pushed over by the big waves at surfers’ paradise Buffalo Bay or nearby Brenton on Sea. The spectacular ‘castles’ on the Noetzie Beach or the rocky shores at the bottom of the Knysna Heads are a great alternative for those wanting to explore the coastline rather than laze on the beach.
For those interested in experiencing township life, Knysna is a great place to do so! Knysna probably has one of the friendliest communities including the biggest Rastafarian community in South Africa. The cultural, very popular and interactive tours will be a real eye-opener!
Recently Knysna has also become a preferred destination among golfers with different capabilities and handicaps. The town boasts several world class golf courses including Pezula Golf Course, Simola Golf Course and the well established Knysna Golf Course situated on the shore of the Knysna Lagoon. For more information about other courses in the area and discounted rates for our guests, please see the Golf pages or send us an email.
Day tours outside Knysna
Visit world renowned Monkeyland, the Tenikwa Cat Sanctuary, Birds of Eden and the giant relatives of the Knysna elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park or the Elephant Sanctuary. In season (between June and November), see the whales frolic in the bay, watch a polo game or sample the local wines (and bubbly!) at the most eastern winery in South Africa.
Tsitsikamma National Park is a destination in itself, with several hikes through the indigenous forest – the one to the suspension bridge being the most popular. Spectacular views into the Storms River mouth can also be enjoyed on one of the boat trips along the coast line, where the marine reserve forms part of the National Park as well. En-route you may swing high up in the trees on the ‘foefie slides’ (or zip lines) on the spectacular Treetop Canopy Tour or – for the real dare devils – do the bungy jump. At 216(!) meters, the highest in the world….!
Across the dramatic Outeniqua Mountains lies a totally different landscape, vegetation and way of life altogether. The harsh environment of the Klein Karoo with its many succulents, wide horizons and – not to forget! – ostriches offers a steep contrast with the lush and green surrounds of the Garden Route.
The secrets of the Cango Caves, hidden away in the deep inners of the Swartberg Mountains are partially open to the general public and will have you marvel at the stalagmites, stalagtites, drop- and flowstone formations that were discovered by early farmers of that area. And while you’re there, visit one of the working ostrich farms to learn about this peculiar flightless bird, including the possible option of riding one?
Safari and game viewing – the Big Five and more
You don’t have to travel all the way to the Kruger Parks of this country to see the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) can be spotted right here in the Garden Route as well. Several game reserves in the area offer guided game drives on open safari vehicles, but the more adventurous can also go out on horse back, elephant back, or even by mountain bike or on foot!
Phew, that was a long story…. If you’re still with us at this point, you may have realized there is more to see and do in the greater Knysna area than you imagined. Of course we are biased, but we REALLY recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights, at any time of the year! You’ll be happy for having followed our advice!
P.S. Check out our long stay special HERE….:)