Knysna, as a tourist destination, offers an eclectic mix of attractions
and activities - something for everyone. Diverse in its mix of
people and its surroundings, this diversity is reflected in a
range of choices of eco-tourism, cultural-tourism and heritage-tourism.
Knysna is situated on South Africa's only National Lake, which
is also the country's largest permanent estuary. The waters of
the Indian Ocean channel through two large sandstone cliffs, The
Heads, forming the gateway to the old harbour (Thesens Jetty)
from where ships carried timber to the far corners of the globe,
into the wide lagoon basin.
The enchanting town of Knysna is surrounded by the Outeniqua
Mountain range, engulfed by indigenous forests and the protected
21 square kilometre marine reserve, locally better known as the'Lagoon'.
The Knysna Lagoon is best known for its most unique industry,
oyster farming. To the oyster lovers this could only mean sheer
Fishing, boating, bait-collecting and all watersport activities
on the lagoon are regulated by the Parks Board, which ensures
the protection of, and creates a sanctuary for, the threatened
Seahorse (Hippocampus capensis), which breeds in the estuary,
and the rare Pansy Shell, found along the flat sandbanks.
There are many fabulous Scuba diving and snorkelling spots, such
as the wrecks at the Heads. Canoeing, kayaking, a trip on a pleasure
cruiser, or a ferry trip to Featherbed Nature Reserve, can be
enjoyed on the Lagoon. Other activities include visiting Wilderness,
Sedgefield and George, or Oudtshoorn, as well as bird-watching,
with over 200 identified species, including the famous Knysna
Lourie and the evasive Narina Trogon.
The varying and contrasting habitat found here is a haven for
birds. These include marshland, vlei, rushes, fynbos, grassland
Then there's the magnificent nature surrounding Knysna, whether
you do scenic drives, mountain biking or hiking on the various
hiking trails, exploring the mystical aura of the indigenous forests.
These trails are clearly marked by interpretive boards, with information
on forest ecology and management.
Among the 4 meter treeferns and some 600-year old Outeniqua Yellowwood
trees, such as the King Edward VII , one encounters beauty without
equal. Here the Knysna Elephants still roam.
The other `delicacy' that has made Knysna famous, is its local
brew. Various pubs, restaurants and cafes offer a tankard of the
local draught beer - once tasted, you'll definately order another.
Knysna is also well known as the mecca of indigenous wood furniture,
and the beauty of the area serves as an inspiration to artists,
working with only the finest indigenous timber, carefully selected
with pattern, grain and texture in mind, making every piece of
furniture a masterpiece.
Over the years, Knysna has embraced many well-known creative
people - writers, sculptors, potters, painters, jewellers, etc.,
and the art-lover will find delight in browsing through the many
arts and crafts studios and galleries and shops.
If you simply wish to sit back and watch this beautiful world
drift by, there are daily excursions on the old steam train, the
Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, that runs between Knysna and George, via
the Lakes area - a trip not to be missed.
For the culture-lover, the area is steeped in romantic history.
Myth and legend unfold under the Oaks of Belvidere, with its old
Manor House and Chapel, and will lead you through forest glades
and glens, listening to the intrigue of Knysna's now legendary
founder, George Rex, believed to have been fathered by King George
lll of England.
Knysna will not fail to capture your imagination and sensitise
you to this beautiful and fragile area, whose destiny hangs delicately
between the very sensitive issues of development and conservation.
It is a place where past, present and future merge as one, and
capture you in their web, forever.