Wind: 14.48 km/h
Knysna. The name alone conjures up happy memories of holidays spent with family and friends, adventures had on her rivers and beaches, but to me the allure will always be the forest. Dalene Matthee, iconic author of many award-winning books, Circles in The Forest and Fiela se Kind in particular, encapsulates the essence of forest life in all its beauty and intricacies. A staunch conservationist at heart, her love for the Knysna forest, in particular, with its animals and people, inspired a generation of nature lovers to take up the baton and run with it. What it must have been like to be the first settlers of the area, discovering the richness of the Knysna Forest!
I had the privilege of getting into the thick of it with entrepreneur Matt of TripOut Adventures, http://tripout.co.za/. A mine of information, Matt took me on a trip through the byways and craggy dirt roads of the Knysna Forest. We headed off on our intrepid adventure by way of the Old Cape Road and headed for the Simola Hill. As we traveled, with an open car window mind you on a freezing cold day, it was the smell of the forest that caught my attention. Every forest has its own unmistakable smell and by the time we reached Gouna, I hardly noticed the cold air streaming in but rather focused on the perfume of the flora. It was through a childhood friend of Matt’s, ecologist Dr Jasper Slingsby, that he cultivated his love and knowledge of the indigenous growth in the area. He regaled me with stories of how the witchhazel that grows in abundance, cools down the forest on a hot day and how the indigenous trees formed a natural firebreak. So serious are SanParks and Cape Nature about preserving this pristine ecology that even when a tree falls in the area, it may not be removed. This ensures the health of the forest floor as decomposition generates new life.
In the early 1800s, immigrant Italian silkworm farmers made this forest their home. In Gouna, stands a little Roman Catholic church, the San Ambroso Chapel, built in 1891, as a reminder of their lives. Now a museum, with a beautiful fresco on the main wall, photos of those who once worshipped here and the two rooms filled with memories, she is a reverent step back in time. We drove on through Kom se Pad and Petrus se Brand, all the while chatting about the wonder of it all the rich history of the place. Next stop, Forest Legends Museum at Diepwalle. The museum is dedicated to the legendary Knysna elephants, and also to the woodcutters of the 19th and early 20th Centuries who harvested the indigenous forests. I was thrilled to gaze up at the mounted skeleton of a male elephant discovered in the forest in 1983. Old photographs and woodcutter documents and equipment can be viewed in the museum and once all of the history has washed over you, it’s a good time to wash it down with a cuppa and a snack at the tea room. Alas, my forest adventure was at an end.
Making my way to Thesen Island, my head still somewhere in the forest, it occurred to me how versatile the region is. From the thick verdant forest kingdom to a cobalt blue ocean, there is just so much to see and do on the Garden Route. From the giants of the forest to the giants of the ocean, the whales. I hopped on a beautiful Ocean Odyssey, https://www.oceanodyssey.co.za/, boat and headed for the big blue, for a spot of whale watching. Our informative, bubbly guide took us through the history of the Heads and the stunning properties that line the shore. Our exit through the mouth at The Knysna Heads was as smooth as you like and before I knew it, we were atop the great blue sea, searching intently for whales. What we did see was a host of cheeky, playful seals, following our every move. Peering back to shore from this watery abode, it’s easy to see why Knysna is so popular. Beautiful from all angles. Rough and dangerous in some places; smooth and peaceful in others, the town is a gem. We came upon a whale just as it was diving, tail up in salute to us. So graceful they are, despite their size. The sea is host to immeasurable life.
As we returned to terra firma I was excited about meeting one of Knysna’s celebrities, the seahorse, and yes...it’s a fish! A peculiar looking darling, that looks more like it belongs on a chess board than in the ocean, the Knysna Seahorse is only, on average, around 7 cm long. The Knysna Basin Project has on display on Thesen Island, an aquarium teeming with these interesting little creatures. I was fortunate enough to spot a tiny baby and marveled at the beautiful, varied colours of the adult seahorse. If you are ever in the area, please go and meet these unusual, petit locals.
It was time to meet passionate young local, Anita Best of Hashtag Tours Knysna, https://www.facebook.com/hashtagtoursknysna/, for a little mozey through town. A fascinating and very knowledgeable young lady, she leads visitors and school pupils through all the historic sites in town. She also conducts a Nature Tour and a Meet My Community Tour. Walking through town, learning more about the roots of this vibrant community, makes one appreciate the sacrifices made in the sculpting of a great community. Anita has a genuine love for her community and the history that has permeated every corner of every street and historic building. I shall never look upon it in quite the same way. Thank you, Anita.
The day was coming to an end and I was looking forward to spending an evening soaking up a little Knysna afterhours hospitality. And where better than at the picturesque Brenton on Sea, at Brenton Haven Beachfront Resort, https://brentonhaven.co.za/. What a fantastic venue! Virtually on the white sand, the accommodations are spacious and elegant and with the picture-perfect Butterfly Blu Restaurant, https://butterflyblu.co.za/, on-site, I couldn’t wait to kick back, relax and enjoy a good meal. I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I was talked into being a member of a quiz team at dinner. Being ever so slightly competitive, I absolutely had to be on the winning team. It was wonderful fun and the hotel staff made it a thoroughly entertaining experience. We even managed to win a bottle of wine, always exciting.
I had the pleasure of being treated to a gin tasting whilst at Brenton Haven. The dynamic young husband and wife duo who have created the phenomenally good, locally crafted, four times distilled Phanton Craft Gin, http://www.phantomcraft.co.za/, blew me away. Apart from the fact that the gin is the colour of the rivers of the local forests, almost black coffee like in appearance, the taste is velvety smooth. Deliciously fragrant, spicy notes of ginger and coriander filled my senses as I tried it, first neat and then with both plain tonic and then ginger ale and various citrus peels and fresh rosemary. Listening to their passionate story of the humble beginnings of a copper still invasion in their living room, to the fulfilment of a dream, I can only wish them all success with their gin making journey. Don’t take my word for it though, do yourself a favour and order a bottle of this craft gin and get hooked!
After a fantastic night’s sleep, dreaming of gin and delicious dinner, I was ready to hit the road once more. Sedgefield is one of those places you hardly notice when driving through via the N2. But turn off and explore a little more and you will be amazed at what you find. Home to one of the largest Saturday Markets, The Wild Oats Market, http://www.wildoatsmarket.co.za/, Sedgefield is packed with charm. In its 15th year of thrilling visitors with fantastic food, crafts, art and of course a few adventures thrown in, this is a must for the whole family. So, what does a girl like me do when you throw her at a market with all its fun? She grabs a handcrafted bow and takes a stab at archery. Like maid Marion in the Sherwood forest, I donned the gear and tried my hand at traditional archery and boy did I have fun. The team at Primal Shot, http://www.primalshot.co.za/, showed me a few moves and then I showed them a few of mine! Nothing like the sound of an arrow leaving a bow to get the heart pumping with excitement. A fantastic activity for birthday parties and corporate events, Primal Shot offers hours of fun for the whole family. In no time at all you can be transported back to a time where men wore tights and forest creatures were nervous. Fantastic fun and well worth taking a shot at it.
From the forest to the ocean to market fun, Knysna and Sedgefield are beautiful destinations for those who live for adventure. See you on the Garden Route!
Orange Inn Knysna has been refurbished to create the perfect place to stay whilst you explore Knysna and it’s beautiful surroundings. If you are looking for a holiday destination that provides endless opportunity for the whole family this is the destination to travel to. Orange Inn offers you stylish accommodation with excellent facilites. We offer both bed & breakfast and self-catering options.
Knysna Pocket Breaks offers well appointed, affordable self-catering one and two bedroom apartments.
BookinEasy Software (PTY) ltd are in the business of creating innovative new online booking platforms and strategic partnerships, starting off with the launch of BookinKnysna.co.za, the new official Knysna Tourism booking portal, which promises to have a positive and far reaching impact on both our Greater Knysna tourism sector, and the broader economy as a whole.
The programme architects of this exciting new booking platform have a clear vision, and that is to assist in achieving a symbiotic partnership between tourism establishments and the various Special Tour Operators in each niche. Most accommodation service providers are using various online booking platforms where the money generated from commissions for each booking, ends up leaving the local economy. BookinEasy seeks to change that!
“We created BookinEasy.com because we saw a need in this highly competitive marketplace for an easy to use, but socially and locally committed online booking system. It has been designed for both the establishment service provider, the potential guest and each individual tourism office”, says Brett Vorster, online marketing specialist and developer of BookinEasy.com.
While guests certainly want to get the best price and maximum value out of their stay, BookinEasy believe that increasingly, discerning guests also want to know that their decision to stay at a certain establishment is adding value in a more holistic way, whether it be social or environmental. The vast amount of money which has previously left our Knysna economy via commissions for each booking, will now be used more beneficially within our own local economy for operations, social upliftment and destination marketing campaigns.
This technologically advanced online booking system has been programmed with precision; for ease of use for service providers and potential guests alike. Providing a win/win situation for all parties.
More reasons to list on BookinKnysna.co.za:
• Listing on BookinKnysna.co.za will help drive the future of marketing Knysna as a tourism destination locally and abroad – with pooled resources we are able to compete against the bigger, longer established Online Travel Operators.
• The supplier user interface allows for a range of payment methods
• We currently offer Book Online (Instant Bookings + Payment Processing)
• For those who want more control Booking Enquiries (Email System – through the site. Which allows owners and guests to communicate before giving a quote and either accepting or declining it)
• Establishments listed on any of the BookinEasy Partner Platforms or main site: bookineasy.com are able to easily “Opt-in” for any of the Partner Platforms – such as the various niche market Special Tour Operators (STO’s) soon going-live on the system. Which means they have much more opportunity to get bookings.
The Knysna Inn Boutique Hotel recently opened in Knysna. It offers modern, beautifully appointed self catering units that can sleep two persons each.
Our newly-refurbished Houseboats are your floating home away from home. We have outfitted them to a high specification, so it is truly a comfortable experience.
Knysna Houseboat Myrtle in the heart of the Knysna Lagoon, self catering accommodation for romantic getaways, rejuvenatng times and family fun!
Our 4 star accommodation includes self-catering wooden chalets, self-catering wooden cabins, a wheelchair friendly chalet and a laundry on the property. The chalets have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge and a fully equipped kitchen.
Hidden away under milkwood and yellowwood trees, this property is a well kept secret. It is situated on the shore of the lagoon in Lake Brenton. 5 minutes drive from the beach and 15 minutes drive from the town centre.