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View of the lighthouse in Knysna Heads South Africa

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Knysna - the Heart of the Garden route

Welcome to the most famous city on the Garden Route. Once the bustling centre of the wood industry, the charming town of Knysna now captivates travellers with its excellent hotels, restaurants and vibrant arts scene. Outdoor lovers will be enchanted by ancient forests, home to rare forest elephants and antelops, as well as wonderful beaches and a wild coastline featuring breath-taking, seaside cliffs. Not to be missed during a visit to Knysna is also the picturesque Knysna lagoon. Here you will find a wide array of water sports and activities to enjoy as well as the famous Knysna Heads, unique sandstone cliffs that guard the lagoon entrance.

  1. Featherbed Nature Reserve
  2. Knysna Forest
  3. Knysna Elephant Park
  4. Knysna Heads
  5. The Waterfront Knysna Quays
  6. Leisure Island
  7. Mitchell's Brewery Knysna
  8. Millwood House Museum

The Top Attractions in Knysna

1. Featherbed Nature Reserve

The Featherbed Nature Reserve is located on the western Knysna Head and accessible only by ferry. Here you can enjoy absolute peace as you enjoy a spectacular view of the Outeniqua Mountains and the wonderful Knysna Lagoon. Boat cruises and nature trails are activity highlights while visiting the reserve. In order to protect the splendour of this natural beauty, access to the reserve is controlled, with visits only permitted in the company of the reserve's specialist guides. A 4-hour excursion departs daily and reservations are essential.

2. Knysna Forest

The Knysna Forest is an absolute paradise for nature lovers. The largest forested area in South Africa offers you jungle-like landscapes just off the famous Garden Route. Gaze up at the majesty of 800-year-old Yellowwood and Cape chestnut trees as they tower above you. If you are lucky, you may come across one of the rare forest elephants or antelopes on your walk. Bird watchers will also be enchanted by the huge variety of birds that call the forest home. Be sure to bring along food and drinks and enjoy a picnic at one of the many picnic spots you’ll come across on your hike.

3. Knysna Elephant Park

At Knysna Elephant Park, you can get close to these grey giants - really close! Due to the constant care and attention from their caregivers, the elephants are habituated to people and will happily eat from your hand! The park, which is dedicated to the protection of these nearly extinct animals, offers them plenty of space and care in the midst of breath-taking nature. Do not miss out on this unique opportunity and join one of the daily, morning tours.

4. Knysna Heads

Knysna Heads are two giant sandstone cliffs that guard the harbour entrance of the city and offer an imposing view of the lagoon and the stunning surf of the Indian Ocean. The narrow lagoon entrance and pounding surf led the Royal Navy to once call this ‘driveway’ into the lagoon, the most dangerous in the world. The Western Head, which also hosts the Featherbed Nature Reserve, is only accessible by organized excursion. However, the eastern rock offers similar, spectacular views and is easily accessible by car.

5. The Waterfront Knysna Quays

The idyllic Waterfront at Knysna Quays is one of the most popular attractions in the Knysna area. The Quays offers a variety of shops and restaurants constructed around the harbour, with many restaurants offering stunning views overlooking the Knysna lagoon. Come here for unique souvenirs, wonderful food or to enjoy a harbour cruise to the famous Knysna Heads.

6. Leisure Island

Leisure Island is one of two island suburbs of Knysna and is surrounded on all sides by the waters of the Knysna estuary. Here you will find beautiful beaches, the Steenbok Nature Reserve and amazing views of the Knysna Heads. Once a year the island also transforms into "Treasure Isle", a two-day festival with local chefs, artisans and businesses.

7. Mitchell's Brewery

Created to better satisfy loggers from the nearby forests, Mitchells Brewery is an icon in Knysna and South Africa. Their award-winning beers have been brewed on-site since 1983, making Mitchell's the oldest independent brewery in South Africa. Be sure to stop by and visit their restaurant and tasting room!

8. Millwood House Museum

The charming Millwood House Museum is one of five buildings that make up the Knysna Museum. Once located in the small gold mining town of Millwood, the building was dismantled and relocated to Knysna once the mines were shut down. The timber industry is the main focus of the museum, though it also details Knysna’s involvement in the Anglo-Boer War and details the town’s founder, George Rex.

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