Knysna, along the Garden Route

Commonly known as the most scenic drive in South Africa, the Garden Route stretches along the entire southern coast of the Atlantic seaboard. Contrary to what its name implies, the Garden Route is not about gardens. Along the Garden Route are several coastal towns such as Port Elizabeth, Pletternberg Bay, Knysna, etc, and a popular choice among travelers is driving the entire route and spending a couple nights at each coastal town along the way in order to get a flavor of the different towns. Since that option was not feasible for us time wise, we decided to pick a town and plop ourselves there for 3 nights. The ultimate decision to pick Knysna was not a difficult one. Knysna is the oyster capital of South Africa and as oyster lovers, that was a no brainer! Also as one of South Africa's top golfing destinations, Knysna is excellent for many other types of outdoor activities which was an added bonus for us.


We flew in to George airport and the drive along part of Garden Route towards Knysna was nothing short of breathtaking. The views were of the Atlantic seaboard and the waves crashing onto the shores were spectacular. We were in awe throughout the drive as we past the smaller coastal towns of Wilderness and Sedgefield before finally arriving in Knysna.

Knysna is a sleepy little coastal town with a very laid back lifestyle and far from being hectic. After the safari and time in Cape Town, coming to Knysna ultimately was the perfect choice for us to really unwind and relax. We spent most of our time at the waterfront where the boats dock. Each of the many seafood restaurants look out to the views of the serene waterfront and the lagoon head. We treated ourselves to oysters everyday. How could we not? We were at oyster and seafood paradise.

Nestled along the waterfront are also homes which lead directly into the water. These are not just all vacation rental homes. People live in these houses permanently. With such a gorgeous location, we wondered how people living in these homes have the motivation to leave the house and go to work everyday. In the stretch of calm waters, we saw people swim, kayak, and also taking their motor boat out.


There are cute locally owned stores ranging from clothing boutiques to antique stores. Bakeries and cafes, each with its own character, are also scattered around Knysna.


Just a short 15-minute walk from the Knysna waterfront is Thesen Islands. We found ourselves coming back to Thesen Islands everyday as we could not get enough of breakfast at Ile de Pain bakery. At Thesen Islands we saw more residential homes situated near the lagoon and again wondered how those people have the will to leave home and go to work everyday given that home is like vacation everyday in a scenic paradise.


A lot of the commercial properties at Thesen Islands are seafood restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and spas. We ended up visiting a spa two days in a row; pampering is addictive! As many of the stores are located by the water, we had changing views twice a day at the same location. During low tide in the morning, we saw the shore and sand. Come about 1:30pm when high tide is coming in, the water comes all the way underneath the stores (these buildings in particular are built elevated to allow the water to flow underneath during high tide).


We had gorgeous weather with clear blue skies the entire time we were at Knysna. However, as luck would have it, the day we were scheduled to go hiking started off with grey overcast skies and a drizzle before raining. We were on our way to Goukamma Nature and Marine Reserve when Ricky, our professional hiking guide from Knysna Forest Tours, joked about the weather and low visibility, "It looks like you guys would need to imagine what the scenery would look like during the hike". Fortunately we got a little luckier when we arrived at the nature reserve. The rain had totally stopped although the skies were still grey, but we will take this weather anytime instead of rain.

We parked the car, walked to the river, and took a small boat to cross over to the side. It was all manual handling for the boat, to a certain extent. The small boat was tied to a rope with ends on both sides of the river and continuous tugging and pulling along the rope would bring the boat to the other side of the river. That was the start of our 9km hike.

We walked along the shores of the Atlantic ocean for the first 2-3km and spotted many of the same sea creature, called blue bottle, left to die on the shore. Everyday during high tide, blue bottles are washed ashore and when the water recedes during low tide, the blue bottle creatures are left on the shore before gradually dying from being out of the water. This cycle happens everyday and as mother nature works in its own way, there are plenty of blue bottle creatures in the ocean so there will never be an extinct issue for this beautiful looking sea creature.

Blue bottles have similar characteristics to jellyfish and these sea creatures can sting and cause allergic reactions in people. Blue bottles also have tremendously long tails that stretch far from its body.

If we had been luckier, we could have possibly seen the whale migration in the ocean as it was the season for this migratory process.

We walked through amazingly big rocks which was one of my favorite parts of the hike. The rocks were huge and close to the shore. During high tide, many of these rocks are submerged under water. Nature is incredible.

We left the shore, hiked up a steep slope, and went along the forest trail with various elevation types and along the way saw different types of flora species include sweet pea and sage.

We hiked across and up very steep vegetated sand dunes reaching up to about 70 meters above sea level. We had enormous views of the dune fields and could not see the end of the horizon. The dunes were originally surfaced with sand and over the years as a natural process, vegetation grew on the sand dunes resulting in so much greenery over the once-sandy views.

Ziplining (also known as canopy tours) is also very popular at the famous Tsitsikamma National Park which we wished we had more time for. We are planning on that for our next trip perhaps.

Knysna was perfect for us in so many ways. It slowed us down from our everyday quick lifestyle pace. This sleepy coastal town allowed us to unwind, wake up to fresh seafood, have beer and oysters everyday by the water while enjoying the winds on our faces, and with outdoor activities at our door step.

No comments:

Post a Comment