The Phantom Forest Eco Reserve is an enchanted oasis, nestled deep within the mystery of the spectacular Garden Route, along the southern Cape coast of South Africa. Knysna's Afromontane Forest is home to these captivating 'tree suites', where relaxation and comfort meet on a platform of sheer luxury. Guests of the Phantom Forest Eco Reserve share their piece of paradise with the local Fish Eagles, and the views boast Africa's true beauty in the form of endless panoramas.
This premier situation allows esteemed guests to be involved in a real, tactile way in the sights, smells and essence of the forest around them.
Phantom Forest Eco Reserve is privately owned and occupies space within 137 hectares of nature reserve, along the banks of the Knysna River. Notably, the reserve enjoys significant biodiversity - a mixture of Afromontane forest, fynbos (a species unique to this area) and estuarine wetland. Wildlife abounds with over 150 species of birds soaring above bush pig, bushbuck, grysbok, the rare blue duiker (one of Africa's smallest antelope), and a variety of smaller game that explore the rich vegetation below.
At Phantom Forest Eco Reserve, sustainable construction is a major priority. For this reason, alien vegetation was collected from the co-restoration programme in the area, and used for the construction and manufacture of floors, furniture, roofs and boardwalks. Thatch roofs extend right up into the canopy created by the tall forest trees, cooling the freshwater pool below. By incorporating such natural elements in such an effective way, the boundary between the natural environment and the construct of Phantom Forest Eco Reserve is reduced to being almost imperceptible. We have allowed nature to inspire every aspect of this magical getaway.
Soft cotton sheets are indigenous to Swaziland and carpets are hand-woven using coir. Glass-end gables and a bathroom hidden under the forest canopy ensure a spectacular, unforgettable experience of all that is the glory of South Africa. This forest bathroom offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bathe to the soundtrack of the local birds, under the tall African sky.
Moroccan Tree Suites
These Tree Suites enjoy a Moroccan look and feel without compromising on the opulent comfort of Phantom Forest Eco Reserve. Rich silks and velvets abound amongst mosaics. Double showers, twin baths with a mosaic design and double-ended baths ensure that guests are treated to absolute comfort during their romantic getaway.
In the Boma
Modern cuisine delights the discerning palate, and intrigues the eye with its fresh, colourful ingredients. After-dinner coffee or liqueur is best enjoyed around the fire, where guests are encouraged to interact with other travellers from around the world.
At the Chutzpah
Reminiscent of Morocco, this dining area is also a great place to unwind after a busy day spent exploring the exciting offerings of Africa. This interesting venue offers an eclectic mix of styles, from outlandish North African baroque, to mosaic chameleons, from exotic cocktails to tagines, from fresh palm dates to delectable Turkish delight, from candelabra to mellow hubbly bubbly pipes. The list of harmonious juxtapositions is endless.
"Knysna" is the Khoi San word for "place of wood". The lagoon is a popular retreat for weary travellers as well as the local residents. This lagoon, the tidal estuary of the Knysna River, was once a hiding place for pirates who preyed on trading vessels, as it is not very visible from the ocean. "The Heads" is the name of the treacherous passage between this lagoon and the Indian Ocean and is flanked by imposing cliffs. In addition to this secluded spot, pirates benefited from the forests of hard-wooded trees that served to repair and careen their ships, and also provided fresh water and game. Featherbed Bay proved to be a welcome sanctuary for these violent robbers. George Rex (a bastard son of England's George III and a Quaker named Sarah Lightfoot) was banished from England in 1797. He made his way to this very spot and introduced colonial ideas and culture. His grave in "Old Place" is a National Monument.
It is remarkable to reflect on the access that people from times past accessed this area. By land, people had to negotiate deep ravines, rivers and dense forest with ox wagons or on horse back. In addition, they had to maintain vigilance against the wild game of the area, which includes elephant and herds of buffalo. Driving along these roads from the comfort of a car today cultivates a true appreciation for what these settlers and guests must have endured to experience the beauty and richness that is Knysna. Some of this colonial history is still evident in the local woodwork, using the famous Knysna Yellowwood and Stinkwood.
Activities and Attractions
Phantom Forest Eco Reserve boasts a range of exciting activities in the nearby vicinity, including sailing trips along the coast, paragliding off the coast at Brenton, horseriding around the Sedgefield Lakes, golf on magnificent courses along the Garden Route coast, trips around the Knysna Lagoon and the Heads, looking on as whales and their calves frolic at the Heads, a unique train ride on the Outeniqua Tjoe-Choo, visits to pristine beaches, as well as fishing and surfing.
Phantom Forest Lodge is on 7km from Knysna, one of the most beautiful towns along South Africa's famous Garden Route. From Cape Town side, turn left onto the Phantom Pass road. The Phantom Pass turn-off is located just before the bridge over the Knysna River. From Knysna's side, turn right immediately after crossing the Knysna River. Follow the Phantom Pass road for about 1.2km. The Phantom Forest's entrance will appear on the left and is indicated by a wooden sign. The Phantom Pass road is tarred until just beyond the entrance to the lodge. Turn left into the entrance and follow the cobbled track up to the gatehouse. You will leave your car in this parking lot and Phantom Forest's staff will transport you to the lodge.