Knysna, in the centre of the Garden Route is one of South Africa’s best known travel destinations and was recently named as one of the Top 100 Destinations in the World and one of the Top 25 in Africa in the Trip Advisor Travellers' Choice Destinations Awards.
Surrounding Knysna are the towns of Sedgefield, Brenton, Noetzie, Rheenendal and Buffalo Bay. Indigenous forests, fynbos, lakes, rivers and mountains and beautiful coastlines combined with a moderate climate, make the Knysna area a natural Eden for flora and fauna lovers.
Here are some of the reasons why this destination is a world favourite:
Whatever the season, Knysna stays green. It’s warm, temperate climate makes it the perfect all-year-round destination.
The mild winters on the Garden Route, from May to August, ensure sunny and beautiful wind-still days and are often referred to as the "secret season". In fact, Knysna has a phantom autumn - it is certainly not a real one, but we have nothing else to call it. The forests do not loose its leaves, people don't hide indoors and children aren't dressed like overweight sleeping bags with limbs. Truth be told, day-time temperatures rival a balmy European summer, with an average winter temperature around 19°C.
In Knysna, nature quite literally knocks on your front door. The town nestles between the impressive Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, with the world-renowned forests encircling it like a protective mantle. This exceptional nature's playground of beaches, lakes, mountains, forests and rivers offers an unforgettable holiday. Whether you're an adventurous type or simply like it lolling around in the sun, Knysna has it all.
The 21ha estuary is protected from the sea by the monolithic sandstone "Heads" - silent sentinels down the centuries of the rich history of this unique part of "paradise of earth". Adding to the richness of this incredible region is the spectacular Fynbos vegetation, contributing 8000 plant species to the Cape floral kingdom. The Knysna forest measures some 80, 000 ha in size and is managed according to strict conservation principles.
Knysna boasts an array of unique, some of them sadly endangered, species including the unique Knysna seahorse, the delicate Pansy shell of the lagoon and the endangered dwarf chameleon and Brenton Blue Butterfly. Knysna is also home to the only forest elephants in South Africa.
The Humpback and Southern Right whales visit the coastline during the months of May and September to breed in the calm, warm waters of the Indian Ocean and present a spectacular theatre of breaching, rolling, playing with calves and just generally lolling about. Spectators sit for hours watching these giant gentle creatures enjoying life on their way around the most southern tip of Africa.
The Knysna area is home to a wealth of bird life. Near-endemic avian wonders include the famous Knysna Loerie with its bright red feathers highly visible in flight. Then there's the Narina Trogon, Knysna warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, chorister robin-chat and the forest canary. The lakes play host to a wide variety including the Malachite Kingfisher, the African Fish Eagle and our beaches provides the breeding grounds for the endangered African Black Oyster Catcher.
Come and play in our forests and dive into outdoor adventures like horse-riding, hiking, yachting, fishing and canoeing. For a pure adrenalin rush get into the more extreme sports of abseiling, paragliding, scuba diving or water skiing and some of the best mountain bike routes in the country. Knysna has something for everyone - from the very young to the well matured and for every size, shape and temperament.
In and around Knysna one will find a selection of fine restaurants, activities, cultural and heritage experiences, adventure and natural encounters to match your mood, age, physique and budget.
Wine and dine your way through a formidable array of fine restaurants, seafood taverns, pubs, coffee shops, delicatessens and other interesting eateries. From fusion food with an Oriental flavour to nouveau cuisine; from traditional South African dishes such as Cape Malay-inspired bobotie to a Xhosa delicacy known as umnqusho; from a meaty braai to a syrupy sweet koeksister, Knysna offers it all.
For the shopper, there are interesting outlets tucked away around every corner, including a quaint Waterfront shopping complex and authentic African traders.
If history and culture fascinate you, Knysna will intrigue you with a Gold Rush story of its own, a Timber Trade history interwoven with rich stories of early woodcutters and their special relationships with the forest elephants and the famous John Benn family whose sole responsibility was to navigate ships and boats through the treacherous Heads.
"Local is lekker" is a famous South African saying promoting the use of local products first and foremost. It Knysna this is quite easy to strive towards with two strong contenders, beer and oysters.
Mitchell's Brewery opened 25 years ago in Knysna and was one of the first craft breweries in South Africa. Whether it's Bosun's Bitter, Forester's Draught, Raven Stout, Ninety Shilling Ale or the new Mitchell's Gold, the "beer that made Knysna famous" is unmistakable. Whatever your choice you can be assured that Mitchell's Beers are unpasteurised, live ales, produced with the finest available ingredients of British mashing and German lagering techniques. Also enjoy the Red Bridge brewers products.
Oysters and Knysna are synonymous. The earliest records we have of the consumption and marketing of oysters in Knysna town are in newspaper cuttings of 1896. The cultivated Knysna Oyster is famous for its fresh, nutty taste – unique to oysters in this area. Of course the wild coastal oyster, more salty in taste - is ever popular and also readily available at local eateries. During July the annual Knysna Oyster Festival draws thousands to celebrate the little mollusc, and more than 200 000 oysters are devoured in 10 days!
Just arrive, the rest comes naturally So there you have it, six wonderful reasons why you should base yourself in Knysna on South Africa's famous Garden Route.
Courtesy: Knysna Tourism
If you are travelling, here is an idea of time and distance: