Hotels in and around the Knysna suburb
Knysna is one of South Africa's most prestigious and beautiful seaside villages, characterised by magnificent ocean vistas, imposing cliff faces, stunning homes and an array of shops, boutiques and galleries. Many of the restaurants enjoy prime positioning on the rocks of the shore or along the banks of the extensive lagoon.
Knysna is situated along the acclaimed Garden Route. This route extends unofficially from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay, although its official borders are Mossel Bay and Storms River. The Garden Route is undoubtedly one of the world's most scenic road trips as it follows the coastline and passes through many cities, towns, villages and tourist attractions. This means that Knysna is conveniently located and accessible to and from other popular destinations in both the Western and Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Knysna is unique in many ways. However, its range of landscapes and, therefore, activities certainly sets it apart. Lush, dense forests are juxtaposed by stretches of white sandy beaches, the tall cliffs of The Knysna Heads (forming a treacherous pass from the lagoon into the ocean) by the rows of vineyards in nearby wine farms. This makes for an ideal holiday destination for all travellers, whether families, honeymooning couples, backpackers or pensioners.
Native Africans inhabited many areas of southern and South Africa for centuries, and possibly longer, before the European settlers arrived in the mid-1600's. These settlers ‘discovered' Knysna in the 18th Century, and immediately recognised the value of this beautiful spot. It was richly wooded, central, and along a coast teeming with fish. Knysna's most valuable property was sold from one family to the next until 1804, when George Rex bought it. He is also recognised as the founder of the harbour. The official founding is listed as having taken place in 1825. Knysna was named a municipality in 1851 and a town in 1881.
The railway for steam trains was commissioned in 1928, winding through forests and along the shore. These tracks are still in use by the famous Outeniqua Choe Tjoe today, which is a popular tourist attraction and a fantastic way to experience Knysna and much of the Garden Route.
Knysna does not make use of public transport like busses or trains. There are minibus taxis available, but it is not recommended that visitors make use of these as they can be unsafe and uncertified. Knysna is small and many of the main attractions are accessible on foot. In fact, exploring the shops, roads and shores on foot is the ideal way to experience the charm that Knysna exudes.
There are several airports within the Eastern Cape, the most notable of which is in Port Elizabeth, as well as one in George. The Port Elizabeth Airport is recognised as an international one, but is limited in terms of destinations. Therefore, most travellers will arrive in Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town and drive or fly locally from there.
Knysna is ideal for water-sport lovers. Not only are beautiful beaches within close proximity, but the lagoon offers safe swimming, fishing and boating conditions. In addition, this area is ideal for surfing, canoeing, sailing, fishing, SCUBA diving and snorkelling.
A trip up to the top of the Heads is manageable on foot, and the views are breath-taking. These cliff faces form a treacherous passageway for boats to pass through before entering the wild waters. This area is well-known for taking the lives of fishermen and swimmers and it is not safe to swim or dive in this channel. But, from these impressive heights, the whole of Knysna and the lagoon lie beneath you in tranquillity while the ocean thunders against the rock.
The Knysna Elephant is one of the area's primary attractions. There are reserves, such as The Elephant Sanctuary (at The Crags) and The Knysna Elephant Park (between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay), that offer visitors the unique opportunity to touch, feed, walk and ride these magnificent animals. This delights young and old as they are humbled by the intelligent gaze and gentle handling of these giants.
This area of the Garden Route benefits from cool, wet winters that sustain the ample foliage, and hot, sunny summers to warm the soul. The summer extends from December to March, and winter is from June to August. Summer temperatures average a noonday high of about 30 degrees Celsius and winters drop to about 15 degrees Celsius during the day. The mountains around Knysna and the Garden Route experience far more extreme weather conditions.
Summers in South Africa are generally sunny with clear skies. Sun damage is a very real concern and visitors need to be prepared with a high-factor sunscreen, sunhat, sunglasses and light, cotton clothing that covers any exposed areas of the skin.
Always apply insect repellent, particularly during summer, night time and when walking in the bush or mountains.
Bring your prescriptions for spectacles and medication with you to South Africa so that you can restock at a local pharmacy without having to consult with a doctor or hospital during your stay. Ensure that your tetanus shots are up-to-date as some areas in and around the towns are fraught with litter, including broken glass, cans and metal.
Knysna's small-town charm permeates every aspect of life and exploration of the town. However, as with any other destination in the world, certain precautions should be taken. Consult your travel agent, some of the locals, or your hotel to ensure that you are aware of any areas to be avoided. In addition, do not walk around the city centre or tourist attractions carrying large amounts of cash or photographic / video equipment, and do not accept unwanted help from strangers. It is advisable that you stay in a group and do not stray off on your own. If you are travelling around by car, do not leave any valuables in the car. Do not go on long walks or hikes alone, and always ensure that you have a means of communicating with someone who can assist you should you get lost. Because of the multitude of water activities in Knysna, it is essential that you apply normal water safety principles, and avoid the area of water between the Heads.