A short drive from the centre of Knysna, Rheenendal is a peaceful community of farmers and nature lovers, many of whom are also artists or artisans. This picturesque hamlet in the countryside presents a delightful ramble spiced with beautiful scenery, history, forest walks and cycling, giant trees, picnics and a charming farm kitchen!
Rheenendal is at the centre of it all - we are mere minutes away from the top tourist spots in the area, yet we are lucky enough to enjoy the sweeping countryside of Rheenendal . On a clear night spectacular night skies show off the Milky Way leaving both locals and visitors in awe!
- A hike or cycle in the forest in the area
- A model train ride with the kids on Sundays
- A visit to Totties Farm kitchen
Top things to do in Rheenendal
- Visit the Portland Mini Market to stock up on locally grown produce, homemade preserves, freshly baked goods and items for a picnic in the forest.
- Stop for breakfast, tea or lunch at Totties Farm Kitchen and enjoy delicious home-style cooking in a country garden setting. The restaurant’s Sunday buffets are legendary, and the kids will enjoy the painstakingly restored model railway which offers train rides on Sundays.
- Picnic in the Goudveld Forest – follow the signs along the Rheenendal Road to the Bibby’s Hoek turnoff and continue to the SANParks access gate to get your permit. Through the boom and into the forest there are a number of well-maintained picnic sites with wooden tables and benches, braai facilities and toilets. These sites include Krisjan-se-Nek, adjacent to a giant, 800-year-old Outeniqua yellowwood tree and the Dalene Matthee Memorial, and Jubilee Creek, which has a meandering stream for children to play in. The Millwood picnic site is a grassed area close to the old Millwood mining town, the site of a short-lived gold rush in the 1880s.
- The Circles in the Forest trail starts at Krisjan-se-Nek and is a beautiful route past Knysna forest ferns under canopies of ancient yellowwood, stinkwood and white pear trees. Choose between the 3,1 km easy-to-moderate walk or the longer 9 km Woodcutters Trail.
- At Jubilee Creek there is an easy walk along Millwood Creek to a stunning waterfall and rock pool where you can swim. The round trip is 3,6 km.
- Mountain bike cyclists will find the Homtini Mountain Bike Trail scenic and challenging. It’s a 19 km circular route starting and ending at Krisjan-se-Nek through indigenous forest, with spectacular views of the Knysna Heads and a challenging 4 km hill.
- Hike down to the Homtini River rock pools at Drupkelders, a steep 2 km descent that requires some level of agility and fitness. Permits are essential as only 12 people at a time are permitted on this hike. These are available from the access gate at the Goudveld Forest entrance which you will pass on your way.
- If you’re self-driving to Rheenendal, keep to the speed limit of 80 km /hour and look out for cattle, baboons, horses and cyclists along the narrow winding road!
- Make sure to pre-book for Sunday lunch at Totties Farm Kitchen – this popular restaurant is often fully booked. The Knysna Model Trains for the kids are running from 10:00 to 12:00 on Sundays, weather permitting.
- If you’re hiking, biking or picnicking in the Goudveld forest, check the weather before you venture out and be sure to carry warm clothing and enough water with you.
- Permits to enter the forest can be bought at the gate or you can use your Wild Card which gives you one year’s unlimited entry to national parks, reserves and resorts around South Africa. You can buy them online or from the SANParks offices on Thesen Harbour Town. Check the access gates operating hours and make sure you plan this into your trip.
How to get there
For visitors looking for things to do around Knysna, Rheenendal is a lovely self-drive excursion. Setting off from Knysna, drive along the Knysna lagoon towards Cape Town. You then have a choice of two routes – turn right immediately after the bridge for the more scenic route along the steep and winding gravel Phantom Forest Road or take the second right turn off the N2 directly onto the Rheenendal Road.
If you are visiting Knysna without a car, there are numerous guides and operators offering tours to Rheenendal and activities in the forest.