A gem of a seaside town, Knysna lies along the Garden Route, attesting to the magnificent beauty of this fishing town. The home of Oupoot, Knysna is well known for being the plot of Dalene Mathee’s Kringe in ‘n Bos (Circles in a Bush), which has brought the town much literary attention. A perfect culmination of forest life and beach life, Knysna has a lot to offer adventure seekers and beachgoers alike. Below is a list of things to do in Knysna, and certainly fun for the whole family.
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13 Fun things to do in Knysna
1. Go Beer Tasting
Mitchell’s Brewery shares its secrets of ale brewing in its fermentation cellars, as well as product tastings. Operating since 1983, Mitchell’s is renowned for using only natural ingredients in all of its craft beers, offering a wide selection to choose from. The brewery operates weekdays only and accommodates tour groups of up to six persons at a time. Pricing is available on request only. For more information visit their site: www.mitchellsbrewing.com. With a branch open in Cape Town, as well, you are sure not to miss the experience at different points along the Garden Route trail.
2. Dine Aboard South Africa’s Only Paddle Cruiser
For an inevitably unique experience, South Africa’s only Paddle Cruiser vessel offers a fine dining and cruise experience in one. The Cruiser departs the Knysna Lagoon twice daily, for lunch and supper, and cruises to the renowned Knysna Head whilst drinking a selection of award-winning South African wines and enjoying five-star service. The Paddle Cruiser is the only on-water restaurant boasting a four-star rating from the National Tourism Grading Council. Cruises are one and a half hours long and prices are available upon request. Availability is factor-dependent and is updated on their website: www.knysnafeatherbed.com/paddle-cruiser.html
3. Visit the Knysna Friday Market
The Knysna Friday Market is not your regular flea market. Operating throughout the warmer months (October to April), this Friday Market is always bustling with both locals and tourists in anticipation of the wide selection of wines, mouth-watering foods, and crafts on display. Depending on the weather, the market operates from 16:00 to 20:00 on Fridays.
Check out some great tours in and around Knysna:
4. Visit the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve
Home to some of the rarest butterfly species in the world, Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve is neatly situated within one hectare of coastal fynbos. A rare national treasure, the Reserve has been coined one of the Special Nature Reserves in the country for its unique habitat. Although visitors are not allowed on a walk-in basis, the Reserve allows limited booked midday tours daily. For more information visit http://www.brentonbluetrust.co.za.
5. Break bread at Ile De Pain
Famous for its wide selection of freshly baked wood-fired artisanal breads, the passion that goes into Ile de pain makes it an atmosphere certainly worthy of mention. Situated along Thesen Island, the bakery and café duo owes its success to using only the best ingredients often sourcing fresh locally grown ingredients.
Contributing to the rustic feel, Mon Petit Pain is the sister concept store which occupies the old Fine Art Gallery. This is a perfect one-stop-shop store for those just stopping for a quick snack with the same quality as offered in the restaurant.
6. Go Mega Hiking
The Eden to Addo hike is considered the longest and most rigorous hiking trail in South Africa. For those adventure seekers up to an on-foot challenge of endurance, the Knysna to Addo hike is an 18-day trek which passes through various mountain ranges. The scenic beauty of South African soil and biodiverse nature makes conquering the 26-kilometre daily walk well-worthwhile. Starting in the lush Knysna forest of Kranshoek, the trail passes through three mega-reserves. Hikers can go it on their own, or do the annual September trail. For more information visit www.sa-venues.com/things-to-do/easterncape/eden-to-addo-hike.
7. Enjoy the View from the Top
Aeronautica offers scenic flights along the Garden Route for those who wish to enjoy the beautiful views from a distance, too. This is a perfect way to observe ocean life, offering a bird’s eye view of the Indian Ocean, home to schools of dolphins, Great White sharks and whales. The chartered services make is possible to tailor your own trip, with stops at lodges, bush strips, and other activities along the way, including touring into Botswana and Namibia. Flights depart from George airport, the closest airport to Knysna. Start your trip with a view from the top by making an appointment with Chris on +27 (0)71 492 7828.
8. Take a Scootour through Knysna
Scootours offer an environmentally-friendly alternative to touring Knysna. Fun for the whole family, tours are typically two hours in duration and the non-motorised scooters make a trip through lush forests and streams easy and enjoyable for all without disturbing the rich fauna and flora that grows in the vicinity.
Tours start at Quay Four Restaurant at Thesen Island, the harbour section of Knysna, where you can enjoy seafood right at the ocean followed by an opportunity to work it off afterwards. All details are available upon request or you can ask the restaurant to contact you directly via their website: www.quay4.co.za.
9. Go Horse Riding in the Forest
Enjoy a guided horse-riding tour through the Knysna forest with Southern Comfort Western Horse Ranch. The tour runs twice daily and passes through a plethora of fauna and floors, streams. Spot the strelitzia plants, an indigenous and protected plant species unique to South Africa, on horseback. For that added farm feel, cut out some extra time in your day to make dust in the 4×4 play pit. The play-pit is an obstacle course for 4×4’s, quad bikes, and off-road bikes. Bring your own, or join a guided quad bike trail at the Ranch. Visit www.schranch.co.za for more information.
10. Experience a Deep-Sea Fishing Adventure
Great fun for reel heads or families, the deep-sea fishing adventure is a cruise and onboard fishing adventure hosted by Southern Yachting Academy based at Thesen Harbour. Whether you are an experienced at fishing or not, the talented skippers provide a guided cruise through fishing spot favourites which also make for wonderful sight-seeing and a chance to see Knysna Heads from the Indian Ocean. With assistance and tips for hooking a deep-sea variety, fish for recreation or for your supper. Boat rides operate daily and bookings can be made on www.knysnadeepsea.co.za.
11. Go on a Picnic
Situated in the heart of greenery and lush forest, it is understandable why Knysna is home to some of the most attractive picnic sites. Enclosed picnic sites such as Ysterhoutrug Picnic Site have wooden tables, benches and barbecue sites. Picnic locations such as Velbroeksdraai are home to ancient forest trees such as 600-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood. It is often necessary to obtain a permit at the boom which comes at a small charge for access to ablutions and facilities. Enclosed sites are safe, with guards on-site, and at the foot of popular hiking trails into the forest. This is affordable fun for the whole family or couples, with there never being a shortage of beautiful picnicking sites along the coast.
12. Go Skydiving
Popular for its Tandem skydiving experience, Knysna is the best place to overcome a fear of heights. This is another way to experience the beauty of Knysna from the sky, accompanied by an adrenaline rush. The Knysna Heads and Lagoon can be viewed from the exhilarating 10 000-foot and 200 kilometres per hour jump, as well as magnificent views of the Indian Ocean. Skydives are led by trained tandem masters who facilitate the whole process to the ground. Visit www.skydiveknysna.com for more information.
13. Experience a Rastafarian Township Tour
The outskirts of Knysna is home to the biggest Rastafarian community in South Africa. Enjoy a unique cultural experience by going on a coastal township tour into Judah Square Rastafarian Village, a small village within Khayalethu township. Easy to spot, the red, yellow and green-striped Rasta flag blows proudly above the township making it impossible to miss.
Tours are typically 2.5 hours long and delve directly into the reality of township residents. Established in 1993, this tiny village has become a melting pot of culture, putting aside demographic difference to enjoin folk who share the Rastafarian way of life. Tours are guided at a small fee which goes towards funding the building of communal facilities such as those visited along the walking route. Tours can be booked directly with Brother Zebulon on +27 (0)76 649 1034.
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Where to Stay in Knysna
Perfectly located along the southern coast, accommodation options offer exquisite views of the ocean and along primary transport lines, making it possible to travel from town to town with great ease.
Accommodation recommendations include the Premier Resort: The Moorings which is perfectly located along the banks of the Knysna lagoon. Hotel guests have private lagoon access where boats are launched and docked, and its one- or two-bedroom suites and alternative waterfront villas offer flattering views of nature.
Rooms are contemporary and spacious with a burst of colour adding to the energising scheme for that at-home feel. The pool and gardens can be observed from the balcony of each unit and offer facilities conducive to a working environment and a lounging environment. Each room has an en-suite bathroom with amenities, offers in-room dining and beverage facilities, complete with a safe, telephone and satellite television. The stay is complete with free high-speed internet throughout the hotel.
The aptly named Salmon Restaurant caters to the culinary needs of guests and will soon introduce Kosher facilities. There is a cocktail bar and lounge area for those who prefer to relax from “home”. Adding to “at home” service, Premier features laundry and valet services, babysitting, 24-hour reception and wheelchair access, contributing to the enjoyment of all guests. Business guests can enjoy conference facilities and the business centre, as well as a shuttle service and on-site parking for guests.
For those seeking a great guest house alternative, book your stay at Kanonkop Guesthouse, the Traveller’s Choice 2019 Winner and a worthy recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Perfectly located along the coast in Thesen Island, the harbour section of Knysna, Kanonkop offers access to popular landmarks without having to travel too far.
Rooms have amazing ocean views best observed from the balcony and offer basic amenities such as a television, minibar, and air conditioning. Kanonkop boasts further service offerings including a laundry service, dry cleaning, and, of course, no stay will be complete without free high-speed internet.
Kanonkop offers free on-site parking for those travelling by car, as well as visitors. A simple free breakfast accompanies accommodation packages, or opt for a filling buffet breakfast or enjoy sundowners at the bar and lounge area. Alternatively, enjoy a meal at one of the 99 restaurants situated within a 10-kilometre radius from the guesthouse. For those who prefer to do some relaxing “at home”, guests have outdoor pool access. Regrettably, smokers will have to nip their habit in the bud as Kanonkop is a smoke-free accommodation.
Kanonkop Guest House has bragging rights as the number one bestseller of accommodation in Knysna for 2019, and ticks all the boxes as the number one best value offering suiting all filters. Staff are regularly commended for their assistance and keen attitude, and the food will have you eating the crumbs, too. Reservations can be made online and payment can be made instantly or upon arriving at the Guest House. Visit their website for more information: www.kanonkophouse.com.
Other than its numerous activities, Knysna is home to one of South Africa’s blue flag beaches, Bollard Bay Beach, a great place for the whole family including pets. The Garden Route boasts the most beautiful coral blue oceans, sandy beaches and natural archipelagos. Seasonal and annual activities are commonly hosted at this seaside town, including the Knysna Timber Festival and the Classic Boat Show in October. Water sports and adventure experiences may comprise the vast majority of activities, however, being situated in the heart of the Knysna forest is a relaxing and therapeutic experience on its own, making it suitable for all travellers.