Knysna, on the Garden Route
, offers an eclectic mix of attractions and activities - something for everyone.
Diverse in its mix of people and its surroundings, this diversity is reflected in a range of choices of eco-tourism, cultural-tourism and heritage-tourism.
Knysna is situated on South Africa's only National Lake, which is also the country's largest permanent estuary. The waters of the Indian Ocean channel through two large sandstone cliffs, The Heads, forming the gateway to the old harbour (Thesens Jetty) from where ships carried timber to the far corners of the globe, into the wide lagoon basin.
The enchanting town of Knysna is surrounded by the Outeniqua Mountain range, engulfed by indigenous indigenous forests
and the protected 21 square kilometre marine reserve, locally better known as the 'Lagoon'.
The Knysna Lagoon is best known for its most unique industry, oyster farming. To the oyster lovers this could only mean sheer self-indulgence. Activities and places of interest
• Adventure sports.
• Lagoon cruises.
• Scenic beauty.
• Nature – fynbos, forests and endangered species.
• Bird watching – and spot the elusive Knysna Loerie.
• 3 Championship golf courses.
• Extravagant arts, culture and heritage experiences.
• Fabulous shopping.
• Wining and dining and an abundance of seafood, including the renowned Knysna oysters.
Fishing, boating, bait-collecting and all watersport activities on the lagoon are regulated, which ensures the protection of, and creates a sanctuary for, the threatened Seahorse (Hippocampus capensis), which breeds in the estuary, and the rare Pansy Shell, found along the flat sandbanks.
There are many fabulous Scuba diving
and snorkelling spots, such as the wrecks at the Heads.
Canoeing, kayaking, a trip on a pleasure cruiser, or a ferry trip to Featherbed Nature Reserve, can be enjoyed on the Lagoon. Other activities include visiting Wilderness, Sedgefield and George, or Oudtshoorn, as well as bird-watching, with over 200 identified species, including the famous Knysna Lourie and the evasive Narina Trogon.
The varying and contrasting habitat found here is a haven for birds. These include marshland, vlei, rushes, fynbos, grassland and farmland.
Then there's the magnificent nature surrounding Knysna, whether you do scenic drives, mountain biking or hiking on the various hiking trails, exploring the mystical aura of the indigenous forests. These trails are clearly marked by interpretive boards, with information on forest ecology and management.
Among the 4 meter tree ferns and some 600-year old Outeniqua Yellowwood trees, such as the King Edward VII , one encounters beauty without equal. Here the Knysna Elephants still roam.
The other `delicacy' that has made Knysna famous, is its local brew. Various pubs, restaurants and cafes offer a tankard of the local draught beer - once tasted, you'll definately order another.
Knysna is also well known as the mecca of indigenous wood furniture, and the beauty of the area serves as an inspiration to artists, working with only the finest indigenous timber, carefully selected with pattern, grain and texture in mind, making every piece of furniture a masterpiece.
Over the years, Knysna has embraced many well-known creative people - writers, sculptors, potters, painters, jewellers, etc., and the art-lover will find delight in browsing through the many arts and crafts studios and galleries and shops.
For the culture-lover, the area is steeped in romantic history. Myth and legend unfold under the Oaks of Belvidere, with its old Manor House and Chapel, and will lead you through forest glades and glens, listening to the intrigue of Knysna's now legendary founder, George Rex, believed to have been fathered by King George lll of England.
Knysna will not fail to capture your imagination and sensitise you to this beautiful and fragile area, whose destiny hangs delicately between the very sensitive issues of development and conservation.
It is a place where past, present and future merge as one, and capture you in their web, forever.