The land of oysters and pink loeries
A familiar favourite along the Garden Route, the charming lagoon town of Knysna has definitely progressed beyond ‘dorp’ status, appealing to anyone who loves nature (and oysters).
Host to such festival greats as the Knysna Oyster Festival, Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and the Knysna Cycle Tour, this little green gem is a must-visit for groups of friends and romantics looking to top up their travel list.
Here’s how to get the most of your next visit:
Cruise over to the Knysna Heads
Knysna’s most famous natural landmark comprises two dramatic sandstone cliffs (heads) located between the Knysna lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Only the most experienced (or downright crazy) sailors have attempted to pass through this narrow channel of water where the ocean waters surge and crash dramatically. Play it safe and view the Heads by car which will reward you with plenty of spectacular viewpoints overlooking the channel. Better yet, catch a glimpse via a leisurely lagoon cruise. Opt for a sunset or oyster cruise option with sundowners served crisp and cold.
Held between April and May, the annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has been described as a cross between the Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees and the Gay Pride festival, where attractions include visual arts, comedy, drama, cabaret, live music, dance and drag shows. If you’re wanting to head to Knysna, try to plan your trip around this event, then go grab a pink cocktail and join in the festivities over its four-day duration.
Indulge in the annual Knysna Oyster Festival
Our list would not be complete without trying some of Knysna’s fresh oysters. The oysters here are so good, the town devotes 10 days in July to celebrate them. Masses of lagoon-cultured oysters are consumed during the annual Knysna Oyster Festival, and at only 100 calories per dozen, if you’re watching your waistline, you don’t have to worry too much! But don’t wait till July — you can enjoy Knysna’s oysters any time of the year at one of the vibrant, waterside restaurants situated on Thesen Island.
Room with a View
Oaklands on the Knoll is fully self-catering and ideal for those Garden Route self-drivers who are keen on a flexible schedule. It’s nestled among oak trees and landscaped gardens with stunning views over the Knysna Lagoon. Once here, you can hop on one of their bicycles and head straight into town which is only 500m away. This is one of the best ways to explore Knysna — riding off some over-indulgence while taking in the sights!
Birding in Knysna’s forests
Stretching from Mossel Bay to Harkerville, the indigenous forests of Knysna cover about 45 000 ha of state and private land. Among the 125 species of trees, avid birders can experience an array of birdlife — 230 diverse species to be exact. If you see a flash of crimson skirting through the bush and hear a high pitched “kek-kek” alarm call, then you have been lucky enough to witness a rare sighting of the Knysna Lourie (now renamed Knysna Turaco). Look out for Knysna woodpeckers, Red-billed Wood hoopoes and Lesser Double Collared Sunbirds, too.