Knysna holds a special place in my heart. I spent many family holidays there, and lived there for two years.
Getting there: Knysna is 500km up the N2 from Cape Town.
Funnily enough, Knysna was for many years just another town passed through on the way to family holidays in Plettenberg Bay: Plett had beaches, and only when the weather was less than perfect would we be dragged by parents to Knysna so that could slowly torture us to death (they called it shopping). Later holidays were spent at Waterways in Knysna, and as we came of drinking age and could jump off the jetty fully clothed into the lagoon after too many beers at Tapas, did Knysna finally become bearable.
Now, Knysna is to me the very heart of the Garden Route. The area consists of rugged, forested mountains on a beautiful coastline.
Over the last 10 years, the small town has seen some dramatic development, with the new waterfront being built, as well as the Thesen Island marina.
The Knysna Lagoon is in fact an estuary, with its entrance to the ocean through the dramatic, iconic Knysna Heads.
This is Dalene Matthee country: if you have not yet read her books, get you hands on a copy of Kringe in ‘n Bos (translated into English: “Circles in a Forest”) and Fiela se Kind (translated into English: “Fiela’s Child”). I read both as Afrikaans set-work books at school, and have since re-read and enjoyed them immensely.
The Garden Route is successfully establishing itself as the adventure sport mecca of South Africa, and there are many fabulous sporting events held each year in Knysna, such as the Knysna Forest Marathon and the new X Lakes Summer.
There is also the famous Knysna Oyster Festival in July each year which is always well supported.
The area has a rich and colourful history, still reflected in modern times in the names like Thesen Island, named after the Norwegian family who established a thriving business, Rex Drive, named after George Rex, founder of Knysna, and the John Ben Ferry, named after the famed harbour pilot.
Knysna is a holiday town through-and-through, and boast a large and varied range of accommodation.
Things to do
- Walk the walkways and viewing decks on the East Head
- Take a ride out to the Heads on one of the ferries
- Visit the fairy-tale castles at Knoetzie
- Visit the gold-fields of Millwood and the Dalene Matthee Memorial
- Eat fresh oysters overlooking the lagoon
- Enjoy a pint of Mitchell’s, the local brew
- Run the Knysna Forest Marathon or Half-marathon