Knysna (pronounced ‘NIZE-nuh’), in South Africa’s Western Province, is one of the southern Cape coast’s best-known holiday destinations, situated between lush forests and the shores of a pristine tidal estuary. This natural paradise of lush, indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches – complemented by a comfortable, moderate climate – make the area a natural Eden.
The Knysna Heads must be the most striking geological features along the entire southern African coastline. These tall sandstone cliffs flank a deep, narrow and potentially treacherous channel through which the sea pours in to flood the wide and breathtakingly pretty ‘lagoon’ estuary at the mouth of the Knysna River.
A highlight is a visit to the Featherbed Nature Reserve. This eco reserve on the western head is accessible only by boat, and a visit includes a trailer ride to the reserve summit to enjoy amazing views, followed by a guided hike back down to the sea through coastal forest and ancient sea caves. The surrounding areas are worth exploring, too: Knysna Forest is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa, comprising tall, ancient yellowwood, ironwood and Cape chestnut trees, as well as ferns, creepers and colourful wild flowers. The forest is vast and extremely dense in places. Animal life is limited to a few small antelope and a large variety of birds, such as the famous Knysna turaco. Home to once large herds of elephants, it is believed that only two or three Knysna forest elephants remain today.
No visit here is complete without sampling Knysna’s legendary oysters and a glass of bubbly, or shopping for beautiful hand-carved wooden birds at the busy and buzzing Knysna Quays.
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