The town of Knysna is a true pearl of South Africa. It amazes the tourists with its natural picturesque attractions, green mountains, sparkling blue water of the Indian Ocean, boutique shops, hotels, and gourmet restaurants. In my personal opinion, it is also a very friendly place, as everybody is so nice to each other. It is my favorite place in the country and the most charming city in my life as I have never seen before so many natural beauty. You definitely have to visit Knysna on your trip around RSA.
How to get to Knysna?
Normally travelers pass by Knysna while driving alongside the Garden Route. The town locates 500 km from Cape Town and 60 km from the George, where the nearest airport is. The airport serves only domestic flights in South Africa.
Also in South Africa, you can travel by bus. Many buses that drive from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town stop in Knysna. You can check it on the bu companies’ websites. Translux, Intercape, Springbok Atlas, and Greyhound.
Top places to visit in Knysna
1. The beaches nearby Knysna
There are no beaches exactly in the town, but if you drive 10-20 minutes outside Knysna you will see the best beaches in your life. Believe me, I know what I am talking about.
In most of the guides, you will read about the Buffalo Bay and Brenton on Sea beaches, which are very picturesque and are very popular spots for surfing and leisure. They are quite safe as there are life guards on the place that also look for sharks. The only disadvantage is that during the weekends these beaches are full of people. So it’s better to come here on the weekdays.
But if you want to walk around the wild totally empty beach, watch the big waves. You know, and just be in peace. Then you will be very grateful as during my trip to Knysna I found one inhabited beach. It is called Noetzie beach or Knoetzie beach and it is a real paradise. The beach is located 10 km away from Knysna on the east. You can just search the direction in google maps.
2. The Heads of Knysna
“The heads of Knysna” is the name of two cliffs that guard the entrance to the bay. On the east cliff, there is a small nature trail and some view platforms, from which opens a magnificent panorama of the Indian Ocean and the bay of Knysna.
This Heads of Knysna viewpoint locates 7 km from the town and can be reached either by car (incl taxi) or by a ferry. There are ferry tours that start from the Knysna Waterfront. I wrote about them below.
3. Knysna city center
Actually it’s just a small promenade with dutch style houses, shops and restaurants and a small harbor with ferries. You can walk around it in 20 minutes. But I highly recommend visiting almost every shop as you can buy very unique and stylish souvenirs, presents and local design clothes, that you won’t find in other places.
Most interesting experiences in Knysna
1. Featherbed Nature reserve tour
Featherbed Nature Reserve is a privately owned territory it locates on the west cliff of the Heads of Knysna and can be reached only by a ferry tour. Follow the link to see the official website of these tours and book one online.
The tour to the Featherbed nature reserve is 4 hours long and includes a ferry cruise, 4×4 drive, 2.5 km of the guided nature walk, and an outdoor lunch. You will fully enjoy the breathtaking views, see the hidden lagoons, and learn more about the flora and fauna of the place.
2. Township Tour
I am not a supporter to walk around the poor districts. For me, it is just a disrespectful thing. But maybe it is also a way to watch and to show your kids, how life can be.
Many tourists are very interested in the insight of the Township district. Of course, it is much safer to come there with a guided tour. Some tourist companies offer township tours, they pay the locals, so they show you around. You will visit local schools, houses and try authentic African cuisine. Also, the Township tours are the way to point society’s attention to the poor districts. Emzini is one of the companies that organize the tour.
3. The ferry trip across the lagoon
I already told you that you can reach a Heads of Knysna viewpoint by car and I told you about the Featherbed ferry tours. You can also take the cruise around the lagoon, reach the Heads of Knysna, watch the sunset. On your way, you will pass by the Thesen Islands, Leisure Island, Featherbed Nature Reserve, and the Eastern and Western Heads.
These spectacular cruises start at the Knysna Waterfront in front of Cruise Café restaurant.
4. Try the famous Knysna Oysters
If you have never tried Oysters, then it’s your chance. Knysna is very popular in South Africa for its oysters. They are absolutely great and good value for money. You can even order oysters of different sizes. So Knysna is just the best place to try oysters. The city even holds the annual oyster festival in the last week of June and the first week of July.
5. Go whale or dolphin watching
Whale and dolphin watching is the popular tour in some places of Garden Route. So if you head to Plettenberg Bay, you can take this tour there. However, you may notice the whale only during a certain period: from June to November.
If you are lucky you can also notice a whale from the Knysna Heads, but the chances increase on a whale-watching boat tour. Choose your tour here.
6. Take an educational elephant tour
In Knysna Elephant Park live the orphaned, abandoned, and abused African elephants, They are well-cared and well-treated. So it is a different thing to elephant safari in Thailand. The park is located 10 km away from Knysna and you can get there only by car or taxi.
They hold daily educational tours, where you can hang out with elephants. The tours go every half hour at the Elephant visitor’s center from 9 am till 3 pm. Guests are brought to the area where they have a chance to interact, feed, and walk amongst the African elephants.
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