The locals have a saying that in Knysna nature literally knocks on your front door. With two nature reserves in the midst of the town it is easy to see why.
Pledge Nature Reserve
Pledge Nature Reserve is justifiably described as one of Knysna’s best-hidden gems and known as the “green” heart of Knysna. A 10-hectare nature reserve only a couple of minutes’ walk from the Main Road, here you can take a two-hour walk and the experience is like being teleported to a faraway place in the midst of nature.
A view to write home about
Follow the meandering trails through the forest along the stream to the reserve’s highest point, where the view over the town and across the water to the distant Knysna Heads is the ultimate reward.
The reserve falls within the Cape Floral Kingdom, which, with its 8 600 plant species is the one of the world’s richest floral kingdoms. The reserve was damaged by the 2017 Knysna fires but there has been a miraculous healing of the plant life – especially the unique Western Cape fynbos, which the reserve is famous for.
A sanctuary for animal life
Before reclamation work on the nature reserve began, bird-life was essentially non-existent because of the sterile wattle thickets. In the early 1990s, some 47 species were recorded while by the end of the 1990s some 80 species had been sighted. Take binoculars and watch sunbirds collecting nectar from one of the fynbos plants. You might see the famous Knysna Loerie in all its glory.
From casual sightings, it is obvious that animal and reptile life in the reserve is growing and there are small buck, porcupine, mongoose, spotted genet and a breeding colony of francolin.
Open 7 days a week
The reserve is open every single day of the week with a small entrance fee of R20 for adults and R10 for children – and this includes a very informative booklet. Permits can be bought from Polvo’s Coffee, the Wayside Inn or Visit Knysna in Main Road. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
For more information please visit http://www.pledgenaturereserve.org/.
Steenbok Nature Reserve
Steenbok Nature Reserve is on Leisure Island, approximately 4km from Knysna town, a small detour on the way to the Knysna Heads.
Once a nine-hole golf course, it was converted to a nature reserve in the 1990s. The 17-hectare reserve is an open grassland that stretches all the way to the salt marshes and then the sea and is a mixture of original salt marsh, coastal dune and coastal thicket vegetation while it also boasts an indigenous garden featuring flora representative of the Garden Route coastal regions.
Wide variety of fauna & flora
It is a much-loved destination for families, and especially young kids. It is a cricket and soccer pitch for the children, a favourite picnic sport and a large alien tree (Myoporum tenuifolium) has been retained as a jungle gym for the younger kids. There are board walks to explore from and a little sandy beach for the kids to play. It is also a popular spot for anglers, and a favourite with dog walkers. It’s free and it’s a fabulous walk.