While it is certainly tempting not to want to budge once reaching Phantom Forest Eco Reserve, with Knysna a mere seven kilometres away, you may decide to go exploring in this beautiful region…and there is plenty to do and see. It is no surprise then that many visitors return here time and time again.
Recently named as one of the Top 100 Destinations in the World and one of the Top 25 in Africa in the Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice Destinations Awards, Knysna is one of the Garden Routes’ most popular destinations.
Surrounding Knysna are the towns of Sedgefield, Brenton, Noetzie, Rheenendal and Buffalo Bay. Indigenous forests, fynbos, lakes, rivers and mountains and beautiful coastlines, combined with a moderate climate, make the Knysna area a natural Eden for flora and fauna lovers.
Perfect weather all year round
Whatever the season, Knysna stays green. It’s warm, temperate climate makes it the perfect all-year-round destination. The mild winters on the Garden Route, between May and August, ensure sunny and beautiful wind-free days, and are often referred to as the “secret season”. In fact, Knysna has a “phantom” autumn – the forest trees do not lose their leaves, people don’t hide indoors and children aren’t dressed like overweight sleeping bags with limbs. Truth be told, daytime temperatures rival a balmy European summer, with an average winter temperature of around 19°C.
A natural paradise
In Knysna, nature quite literally knocks on your front door. The town nestles between the impressive Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, with the world-renowned forests encircling it like a protective mantle. Nature’s playground of beaches, lakes, mountains, forests and rivers, offers visitors an unforgettable holiday. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, or prefer lolling around in the sun, Knysna has it all. The 21-hectare estuary is protected from the sea by the monolithic sandstone “heads”, which have stood like silent sentinels down the centuries of the rich history of this unique part of paradise of earth. Adding to the richness of this incredible region is the spectacular Fynbos vegetation, contributing 8,000 plant species to the Cape floral kingdom. The Knysna forest measures some 80,000 hectares in size and is managed according to strict conservation principles.
Knysna boasts an array of unique, some of them sadly endangered, species including the Knysna seahorse, the delicate pansy shell of the lagoon, the endangered dwarf chameleon and the Brenton Blue Butterfly. Knysna is also home to the only forest elephants in South Africa. The Humpback and Southern Right whales visit the coastline during the months between May and September to breed in the calm, warm waters of the Indian Ocean, and present a spectacular theatre of breaching, rolling, playing with calves and just generally lolling about. Spectators sit for hours watching these gentle giants enjoying life on their way around the most southern tip of Africa. The Knysna area is also home to a wealth of bird life. Near-endemic avian wonders include the famous Knysna Loerie, with its bright red feathers which are highly visible in flight. Then there’s the Narina Trogon, Knysna warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, chorister robin-chat and the forest canary. The lakes also play host to a wide variety of birds including the Malachite Kingfisher, the African Fish Eagle while the beaches provides the breeding grounds for the endangered African Black Oyster Catcher.
Adventure and sport
Come and play in the forests and dive into outdoor adventures like horse riding, hiking, yachting, fishing and canoeing. For a pure adrenalin rush, get into the more extreme sports of abseiling, paragliding, scuba diving or water skiing. Knysna also offers some of the best mountain bike routes in the country. Knysna has something for everyone – from the very young to the well matured and for every size, shape and temperament.
Chutzpah Restaurant at Phantom Forest Eco Reserve
Shopping, food and culture
In and around Knysna you will find a selection of fine restaurants, cultural and heritage experiences, adventure, activities, and natural encounters to match your mood, age, physique and budget. Wine and dine your way through scores of fine restaurants, seafood taverns, pubs, coffee shops, delicatessens and other interesting eateries. From fusion food with an Oriental flavour, to haute cuisine; from traditional South African dishes such as Cape Malay-inspired bobotie to a Xhosa delicacy known as umnqusho; from a meaty braai to a syrupy sweet koeksister, Knysna has it all.
For the shopper, there are interesting outlets tucked away around every corner, including a quaint Waterfront shopping complex and authentic African traders.
If history and culture fascinate you, Knysna will intrigue you with a Gold Rush story of its own, a Timber Trade history interwoven with rich stories of early woodcutters and their special relationships with the forest elephants and the famous John Benn family whose sole responsibility was to navigate ships and boats through the treacherous Heads.
The Phantom Forest Team