Situated in the heart of the Garden Route on its famous scenic lagoon, Knysna is renowned for its natural beauty. Centrally located in gorgeous surroundings, the town is also a perfect base for exploring the area.
Here’s our guide to visiting Knysna:
Explore an ancient forest
It is believed Knysna’s name stems from a Khoisan word meaning “place of wood” or “fern leaves”. It’s not hard to imagine why.
As early as 1880, the town’s timber industry was born in the dense forest surrounding it. Today, much of the forest is fortunately still intact and it offers the perfect excuse for a long walk or hike in the shade of indigenous trees.
The Garden Route National Park lies on arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the world. Expect towering forests, outlined by dramatic seacliff views. The park is a popular hiking destination, with trails including the famous Otter Trail. If you can’t commit to a strenuous hike, there is also a number of nature walks on offer, as well as guided forest excursions.
The Garden Route Botanical Garden is another attraction to add to the list. The garden is located on the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains (about 55km from Knysna) and presents a great opportunity to learn about the area’s indigenous flora. Through a tree identification project, almost 120 species of tree have been discovered in the park!
See the lagoon
Sitting on the centre of the estuary known as the Knysna Lagoon, Knysna has incredible water views. Visit The Waterfront to spend the day watching the yachts, and maybe even hop on a charter to be part of the action.
Featherbed Co offers a number of great maritime activities on the lagoon. The John Benn is a double-decker floating restaurant with a wooden finish and old-world atmosphere that offers cruises to the picturesque Knysna Heads Another must-do is the Paddle Cruiser, South Africa’s only paddle-driven vessel. The cruiser offers a lunchtime trip, as well as a sunset trip that is perfect for a romantic outing!
Spend the day at a beach
Being so close to so many beautiful natural attractions, Knysna’s beaches are something to admire.
To take in the sights of the lagoon as well as to dip your toes, visit Bollard Bay. Set on the lagoon, its water is fairly warm and calm, making it ideal for families. The beach is largely frequented by locals, making it less busy than more touristy spots. It is also the departure point for a number of adventure activities. Who knows, you might just end up kayaking!
Noetzie is another stunning beach to visit. Bordering on the Sinclair Nature Reserve and protected by the Noetzie Conservancy, this beach is as pristine as you can find. Pack a picnic so that you can spend the whole day on this gorgeous beach.
Attend a famous festival
Knysna is home to several major festivals, with people travelling from far and wide to attend and tickets usually selling out in a flash.
One of the most popular is the annual Knysna Oyster Festival, held over 10 days in June and July. With more than 100 activities crammed into the festival, including music and entertainment, adventure sports and – of course – copious amounts of oysters, you’ll certainly not be bored.
Knysna is only 55km from George Airport. Fly to George, hire a car and start your adventure.
Mango has partnered with a number of car-hire services to make travelling easier and more affordable for Guests. If you’re flying to a destination with Mango and need a set of wheels to get around, be sure to update your booking online and add this service.