If you are looking for the synonym of the saying “heaven is a place on earth”, then head over to Knysna.
Knysna is the eden of South Africa with its jaw-dropping natural beauty from coast to forest. It’s the place where you can spot whales from its dramatic heights. It’s the place where history and magic are still very much alive in the lush Outeniqua forest; where loeries and elephants carry fairy tales and mysteries deep into the roots of an old Yellowwood tree. It’s a place you need. It’s the place to be.
“I had some terrific experiences in the wilderness – overpowering, overwhelming, but since then I am always being overwhelmed. I require it to sustain life”
Jon Krakauer – Into the Wild
Where to go in Knysna
Whenever someone asks me where to go in Knysna, Millwood is always my go-to response. In the vicinity of Millwood you can go for a hike (Drupkelders), for a Sunday drive or head there for a picnic at Jubilee Creek. Millwood is one of the overnight spots for the Outeniqua Hiking Trail and full of history: search for gold at the old mines, grab a bite at Mother Holly’s Tea Room, smell the fynbos and visit the museum. Whatever you do…don’t miss it!
Read more about Millwood in An Outeniqua secret.
Judah Square – Rastafari Community & Tours
Judah Square is a Rastafari Community (the largest in South Africa) situated in Khayalethu South, a suburb of Knysna. At Judah Square you can learn about Rastafarian beliefs and way of life. You can also go on a guided hike and there is the opportunity to overnight at Judah Square.
Diepwalle is another overnight stop of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail and you can reach it easily from Knysna. There are some beautiful hiking trails (called Elephant Walks) and a coffee shop to visit.
The Heads are two cliffs at the opening of the Knysna Lagoon and also synonymous with a lot of shipwrecks due to the strong currents. The viewing platforms give visitors some dramatic views of crashing waves and if you’re lucky you might even see a whale in the distance.
‘Die Gieter’ Restaurant
When I lived in Knysna in 2014, Die Gieter was my favourite coffee spot for two reasons – they had a beautiful view and the best coffee! Die Gieter used to be an old farm but the house, barn and stables were converted into a guesthouse and a restaurant.
*Edited 2015: Die Gieter’s management (and name) changed and is unfortunately only open for Sunday lunches now.
Buffalo Bay – also known as Buffs – is about a 10-15 minute drive from Knysna. The beach is not only great for swimming but it’s also a surfer’s playground. Goukamma Nature Reserve offers visitors the chance to go on canoe or horse rides and hiking trails. The abundance of bird species makes Goukamma a popular spot for birdwatchers and photographers. Don’t miss out on Riverdeck – a restaurant with good food, a unique vibe and tons of activities to keep young and old busy.
Knysna Waterfront is quite petite with a relaxed atmosphere where you can throw fresh oysters down your throat, use the luxury yachts to fuel your daydreams and enjoy a sun downer with a loved one. There are a lot of boutique stores, restaurants and souvenir shops at the Waterfront and it’s also the departure point for a lot of boat tours.
Leisure Isle is a great place to watch the sun set or to go for a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon. You can park your car at one spot and walk around the isle, gawk at the beautiful houses, swim, go for a canoe ride and end the day with a cup of coffee under the large fig trees’ shade of Leisure Isle’s Coffee Shop.
The drive to Brenton-on-Sea and Brenton-on-Lake gives you a bird’s eye view of Knysna. From the various viewpoints you get a glimpse of the massive body of water surrounding the town. You can visit the beach or hang out at the lake. Don’t forget to stop at Belvidere where you can see the beautiful old Cape-style architecture, stroll around the west shore of Knysna’s lagoon and visit to the Belvidere Holy Trinity Church which was built in 1855.
Outeniqua Hiking Trail
This is my favourite hiking trail in South Africa and I’ll go back to it time and again! It’s a 7-day trail (108 km) and you can also make it shorter and basically choose your own point of departure/arrival. This trail will reward your aching feet and muscles with unsurpassed scenery at every mountain top and in every forest valley. If you want to get away from it all or have a digital detox, this is the place to do it!
These are my suggestions of where to go in Knysna – what do you suggest? Comment below and tell me!