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Knysna

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Knysna, pearl of the scenic Garden Route, sits between George and Plettenberg Bay. Perennially green thanks to a Mediterranean Maritime climate with rain falling throughout the year, Knysna is mantled by indigenous forests extending into the Tsitsikamma National Park area. Nestled between the impressive Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian ocean, the culinary capital of oysters and other delectable seafood is a compulsory stopover on every traveller's itinerary. At the heart of Knysna is a lagoon protected from the sea by the monolithic sandstone "Heads" Webcam– best explored on board a catamaran or from along hiking paths in the Featherbed Nature Reserve. A hotspot for art and craft, as well as adventure activities such as tree canopy gliding, kloofing and abseiling, Knysna offers something to everybody.

The peculiarity of the origin of the place-name Knysna is commonly explained with a light-hearted joke of two German tourists travelling to Knysna, and upon reaching the lookout point on the eastern Knysna Head, the one says to the other: 'Nice, na?'. On a more serious note, Knysna is believed to be derived from a Khoi word for place of wood, or fern leaves, but most probable straight down or hard to reach - referring to the steep Knysna Heads.

Annual events

Knysna hosts a variety of events annually, which draw local and international visitors alike. Such events include the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival (late June/early July); the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras (end of April/beginning of May); Gastronomica lifestyle festival, which promotes healthy eating and organic principles(September); and the Rastafarian Earth Festival held at the end of July, celebrating Rastafarian religion, culture and lifestyle.

Knysna Oyster Festival

The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival, held annually in late June/early July, is the town's biggest event. The duration of the festival is ten days, first held in 1983. Oysters, the festival's namesake, are a large component, and approximately 200 000 are consumed over the 10-day period. Many sporting activities take place too, such as rugby, golf, bowls, squash, cycling and marathons. The Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon, as well as the Rotary Cycle Tour draw many a sporting enthusiast to the town.

Get in

By car

Located in the middle of the Garden Route Knysna is easily accessible from Cape Town (about 500 km) and Port Elizabeth (about 270 km).

By bus

  • The major bus companies serve Knysna on their run from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
  • Dmj Transport has the lowest fare from Knysna to Cape Town at R210. And from Knysna to Port Elizabeth Dmj transport has a fare of only R150.
  • Intercape has a sleepliner bus from Knysna to Johannesburg/Pretoria every day 3PM with a fare from R569.
  • The Baz Bus stops in Knysna.
  • There are minibus taxis from Knysna to George and from Knysna to Plettenberg Bay. The minibus station is outside the Shoprite supermarket Nelson street.

By plane

The nearest airport is in George, while for international flights you have to go through Cape Town.

By train

There is no passenger train service to Kynsna. Classic Rail is working to restore service on the steam train line to George. The old railway station is adjacent to the waterfront shopping and restaurant complex, a couple of blocks from the centre of town.

There is a railway heritage museum in George, alongside the train station.

Get around

Walking around is the best option or rent a bicycle for longer distances. Except the minibuses there is no public transport so you have to take a taxi if you want. Traffic can become extremely busy during the tourist high season and long queues in and out of Knysna are common.

See

  • The lagoon: about 18 km² and home to at least 200 species of fish is connected with the Indian Ocean through a turbulent channel between "The Heads", two sandstone cliffs. Tour around on one of several boats or just take a coffee at "the Heads". Take a boat across to the Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Heads (this is an organised tour because it's a private reserve, but it's a good way to spend some time on the lagoon then take a walk in the reserve).
  • The Knysna Forest: about 80,000 ha are now under conservation. The 'King Edward VII' tree (at Diepwalle forest station) is an estimated 600 years old, 39 m at height, and has a circumference of 6 m. The most famous animals are the Knysna elephants. Research involving DNA testing of dung is being done to see how many of them may still rumble in the jungle, please report any "dung" sightings! Remember to always take care. There are several hiking trails but you need a car to access the forest. Don't forget the conservation motto "Take only photographs, leave only footprints!".
  • Pledge Nature Reserve: offers 3½ km of pathways through scrub forest and hillside fynbos with fine views over the lagoon and is 500 m from the town centre. A nice place for a walk in the afternoon.
  • Millwood Gold Fields: Site of one of the first gold rushes in South Africa, the Millwood Museum and Materoli Tea Room (be sure to try a piece of Jayne's World Famous Chocolate Cake) offers a unique and fascinating view of the greed, entrepreneurship, energy, and ultimate failure of the first gold discovered in South Africa during the late 1800s. Tours through the old gold diggings are available.
  • 1 Jubilee Creek, ☏ +27 44 302 5600. Picnic site in forest.

Do

  • Knysna Houseboats, ☏ +27 44 382-2802, ✉ info@knysnahouseboats.com. Hire a fully equipped self-drive Knysna houseboat and spend your holiday gently floating along on Knysna's tidal lagoon. No experience or skipper's licence is required.
  • Walk along the lagoon, take a coffee at one of the many shops at the waterfront and head straight on for The Heads.
  • There are many golf courses around, often with stunning settings or views. Pezula Championship Course and Golf Club Simola Golf and Country Estate, and Knysna Golf Club.
  • Knysna Elephant Park (Halfway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay on the N2), ☏ +27 44 532-7732, ✉ kep@pixie.co.za. Offers the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with African elephants. The elephants here are orphans from various SAN Parks and further afield, and they are so used to humans now that it is possible to feed them and actually touch them! Buy a bucket of fruit at the entrance and the elephants will pick up bits of fruit that you offer to them in your hands, or far more likely, they will take it straight from your bucket when you're not looking! You can also (if you book well in advance) take an evening or morning walk with the elephants. If you have the time, this is an experience not to be missed.
  • Orbit Day Trips, ☏ +27 44 382-1546, fax: +27 44 382-1549, ✉ info@orbitdaytrips.co.za. Departures daily from Knysna at 8:30AM. 4 Safaris in the Knysna and Plettenberg bay area. Safari 1: Monkey, Bird & Elephant Safari. Safari 2: Game, Whale & Dolphin Safari. Safari 3: Site-seeing Day Tour (ideal for rainy or drizzly weather days). Or a customised tour (minimum 6 people).
  • GoVertical Mountaineering Adventures, Waterfront Knysna, ☏ +27 82 731-4696. Abseiling, rock climbing, kloofing, trekking, hiking and slackpacking adventures in the Garden Route Knysna.
  • Millwood Mine walk.
  • Forest Walks.
  • Mountain bike in one of the beautiful forests.

Events

  • Knysna Oyster Festival. Mid-July every year.
  • Gastronomica Festival Knysna. End September to first week of October every year. Food, wine festival
  • Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, ✉ john@pinkloerie.co.za. late April.

Buy

Knysna has two shopping malls, and there are shops along the Main St. and at the Waterfront.

  • Pep Store, St Georges Street. 9AM-6PM. Low-cost clothing, shoes & cell phones. low price.

Supermarkets

  • Spar, Main Road. 8AM-7PM.
  • Checkers, Rawson Street. 8AM-7PM.
  • Shoprite, Crn Grey & Nelson Streets. 8AM-7PM.
  • Savers Lane, 1 Nelson Street (over the street from Shoprite). 8AM-7PM. Low cost supermarket.
  • Pick N Pay, Woodmill Lane. 8AM-7PM.
  • Game, Main street. 8:30AM-5PM. Part of Wal-mart USA.

Banks & ATMs

  • First National Bank, 41 Main Street. ATM 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM. no fee at the ATM for overseas cards..

Eat

Many restaurants line the main street and the waterfront area.

There are so many good restaurants in and around Knysna that you will be spoilt for choice!

  • The Dry Dock, Waterfront. Great ambiance and delicious food.
  • Ile de Pain, Thesens Island. Delicious dishes with various kinds of home-made bread.
  • Zachary's Restaurant'. The highly acclaimed Zachary's is a sophisticated world-class gourmet restaurant under the helm of Executive Chef Geoffrey Murray, who delights in serving up local ingredients inspired by global influences.
  • Persello's Pizzeria, Memorial Square (By Knysna Public Library), ☏ +27 44 382-2665. Italian pizzeria with wood-fired ovens, home-made pasta, lasagne, cannelloni, crostoli, crisini and other gourmet treats all under a charming atmosphere.
  • Freshline Fisheries, ☏ +27 44 382 3131. Open from 11:30AM – kitchen closes at 8PM – restaurant closes at 10pm.. Probably the best value for money seafood in Knysna.
  • Tapas and Oysters Knysna, TH 29, Thesen Island, Knysna, ☏ +27 44 382 7196. M-F 11AM-10PM, Sa Su 11AM-10PM.
  • 34 South, Shop 19, Knysna Quays, ☏ +27 44 382 7331.

Drink

  • Mitchell's Brewery, Arend St, ☏ +27 44 382-4685. Offers tours around the brewery and tastings of their beer.

Sleep


Many Backpackers hostels, guesthouses, hotels and B&Bs compete for the visitor in off-season, but in high season prices rise and places fill early so book ahead. There are also several nice options out of town (like Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay) for those with their own transport.

Budget

  • Monks Caravan Park and Camping (1 km from the centre of town towards the Port Elizabeth side of town), ☏ +27 44 382-2609, ✉ info@monkscaravan.co.za. Monks Caravan Park is on the edge of the lagoon. Camping from R250 for two person.
  • Island Vibe, 67 Main street, ☏ +27 44-3821728. Dorm beds, free internet, has a swimming pool. Dorm bed per person R140.
  • Knysna Backpackers, 42 Queen street, ☏ +27 44-3822554. Dorm bed per person R175.
  • Jembjo"s Knysna Lodge & Backpackers, 4 Queen Street (2 min walk to town and waterfront), ☏ +27-44-3822658, ✉ info@jembjosknysnlodge.co.za. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Single/double rooms and dorm beds, free breakfast, free Wifi & DSTV. Book 3 nights get 10% off the price. Dorm bed per person R140.
  • Knysna Glampackers at 52 on Main, 52 Main Rd (One road off N2), ☏ +27 443 824 141, ✉ info@knysnaglampackers.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. 11 Cosy wooden chalets set within a forest garden each with either bathroom or shower in single, double or family options. Breakfast is not included. From R500 for 2 people, per night.

Mid-range

  • Under Milkwood Chalets, ☏ +27 44 384-0745, ✉ admin@milkwoodco.za. Has 16 log chalets nestled amongst the Milkwood trees on the shore of the Knysna Lagoon. Rate from R825 per person per night.
  • Amber Guest Lodge, 11 Duthie Street, Rexford, ☏ +27 44 384-1478, ✉ info@amberguestlodge.co.za. Four-star bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation. From R350 per person.
  • Bamboo Guest House Knysna (info@bambooguesthouse.co.za), 9 Bolton Street, Hunters Home, ☏ +27 44 384-0937, ✉ info@bambooguesthouse.co.za. Check-in: 2-5PM, call ahead if you wish to arrive earlier or later than that, check-out: 10AM. Accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, 14 en suite rooms are individually styled and decorated with a distinct African touch. From R640.
  • Big Tree House self-catering, 56 Milkwood Drive, Upper Old Place, ☏ +27 44 382-5604, ✉ info@bigtreehouse.co.za. Timber-frame double-storey home. 6-person unit R850.
  • Forest Valley Cottages, Rheenendal, ☏ +27 84 606-0813, ✉ forestvalley@mweb.co.za. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Cottages sleep 4 to 8, with valley views. From R550 per unit.
  • Inyathi Guest Lodges, 52 Main Road, Westhill, ☏ +27 44 382-7768, ✉ info@inyathi-sa.com. A most unusual guesthouse: although it is right in the centre of town, once you enter the premises you have the feeling of being in the middle of the African bush. 3-star. From R350pps.
  • Knysna Houseboats, TH 34 Long street, Thesen Islands, ☏ +27 44 382-2802, ✉ info@knysnahouseboats.com. Offers 4- to 5-berth luxury self-drive houseboats on the lagoon. From R550 per person.
  • 1 Knysna Manor House, 19 Fichat Street, Central, ☏ +27 44 382-5440, ✉ manor@absamail.co.za. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. 3-star guesthouse offering B & B accommodation on the Garden Route. The old Victorian mansion was built in the 1890s as a residence for Knysna's mayor, and overlooks the beautiful lagoon. R330 - R440 pps.
  • Knysna River Club, Sun Valley Drive, Costa Sarda, ☏ +27 44 382-6483, ✉ info@knysnariverclub.co.za. On the edge of the lagoon, the multi-award-winning Knysna River Club is a private enclave of self-catering log chalets. Surrounded by shady trees and well-tended gardens, the resort offers security, privacy and comfort. From R900 per unit.
  • Knysna Terrace (just off the N2 from George), ☏ +27 44 382-6460, ✉ info@knysnaterrace.co.za. 4-star guest house.
  • Lagoona Inn, 22a Dikkop St, ☏ +27 44 382-4656, ✉ info@lagoona.co.za.
  • Lazy Leopard, Rheenendal, ☏ +27 82 965-5765, ✉ stay@lazyleopard.co.za. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Especially the 2 smaller cottages (just 2 persons) are very nice, both have bathrooms with lots of glass, as if you are outside. From R600 per unit.
  • Log-Inn (3 Star Hotel), 16 Gray Street, Central, ☏ +27 44 382-5835, ✉ info@log-inn.co.za. "Indigenous" concept. From R625pps.
  • 2 Sandybanks, Thesen Island (On Thesen Island, take the first left turn to the gatehouse), ☏ +27 44 382-4904, ✉ info@thesenisland.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Sandybanks is a self-catering holiday home built in the style of a contemporary boathouse on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon. Views and bird watching. Swimming pool. Kayaks and bicycles available. From R800per unit.
  • Saffron Self-catering Holiday House, Thesen Islands, ☏ +27 44 382-0089, ✉ info@knysnahouse.co.za. The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen, scullery, single garage and patio directly over the lagoon.
  • Wayside Inn, 48 Main St, ☏ +27 44 382-6011, ✉ wayside.inn@pixie.co.za. A very nice B&B in the centre of the town. From R355pps.
  • Zauberberg Cottage, 28 Ridge Drive, Paradise, ☏ +27 44 382-5357, ✉ zauberberg@knysna.info. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. In a quiet suburb above town and offers self-catering and B&B in two traditional timber cottages surrounded by a lush indigenous garden and with a view onto the Lagoon. From R300pps.
  • Under Milkwood Chalets, ☏ +27 44 384-0745, ✉ admin@milkwoodco.za. Has 16 log chalets, nestled amongst the Milkwood trees on the shore of the Knysna Lagoon. Rate from R825 pppns.

Splurge

  • 3 Elephant Hide of Knysna Accommodation, Cherry Lane, Welbedacht, ☏ +27 44 382-0427. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. On top of the Welbedacht Cliff Tops 3 km from Knysna Town, the Lodge overlooks the Knysna Lagoon and the Outeniqua mountains. The theme of the Lodge is one based on natural beauty with stone and wood architecture combining to give that comfortable earth feel. The surroundings attracting numerous bird species. All the suites have double showers with views and are private. The lodge is a family run business that prides itself on personal service. from 740.00.
  • The GrayWood Hotel, Cnr Gray & Trotter Streets, Central, ☏ +27 44 382-5850, ✉ reservations@graywood.co.za. The three-star Graywood Hotel has 49 en-suite timber log rooms with a licensed bar, secure parking and a full breakfast available. From R690pps.
  • Hide-Away Guest House, 114 Keerom, Paradise, ☏ +27 44 382-3317, ✉ info@hideaway.co.za. 4-star guest house. Two Executive Rooms on the ground floor and three Superior Rooms on the first floor offer views of the lagoon and Heads. From R560pps.
  • 4 House Hammond, 47 Howard Street, Hunters Home, ☏ +27 44 384-1524, ✉ info@househammond.co.za. 4-star guest house. Each custom built individual unit, with feature en suite bathroom, is equipped with luxury bedding and stylish décor. R450-R1200 pp Bed & Breakfast.
  • The Lofts Boutique Hotel at the Boatshed, Thesen Islands, ☏ +27 44 302-5710, ✉ thelofts@theboatshed.co.za. From R525pps.
  • Parkes Manor Knysna, 1 Azalia Street, Paradise, ☏ +27 44 382-5100, ✉ parkesmanor@mweb.co.za. A four-star rated guesthouse. From R1045.
  • Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa, Lagoon View Drive, Sparrebosch, ☏ +27 44 302-3333, ✉ reservations@pezula.com. From R3025pps.
  • Tonquani Lodge, Welbedacht Lane, Kanonkop, ✉ tonquani@mweb.co.za. Rated best B&B/Guesthouse with Self-Catering in South Africa three times in a row. 5-star accommodation. Family rooms from R395pp and double units from R795pp.
  • 5 Villa Afrikana Guest Suites, 13 Watsonia Drive, Paradise, ☏ +27 44 382-4989, ✉ concierge@villaafrikana.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Spacious suites with combined sleeping and seating area averaging 32 square meters of living space. R2500 to R3200 Double Occupancy.
  • Milkwood Bay Guest House, ☏ +27 44 384-0092, ✉ milkbay@milkwoodco.za. A Mediterranean villa situated on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon. Rate from R799 pppns.

Connect

The town has rolled out municipal wifi provided by Uninet. Access is restricted to 45 minutes per user per day.

Go next

Hike in the Kynsna forest or take a tour in the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam-train to Knysna. Other options are a day tour to Oudtshoorn or the Noetzie castle a few km north east of town.

  • Noetzie Castle - East of Knysna some Britons lost their castles on the beach. Worth some hours or more if you like the beach.
  • Brenton-on-Sea - Less crowded than Knysna this sea-side village offers endless beaches
  • Continue up the Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay or down towards Wilderness


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