Knysna – place of wood or place of ferns – no-one knows exactly what the name means but anyone who’s been lucky enough to go there knows one thing: it’s lovely and deserves its oft-awarded title of “South Africa’s favourite town” and Trip TripAdvisor’s recent ‘Third favourite South African destination’. There’s more to Knysna than the town, restaurants and bustling waterfront (although we love those too). There are forests to explore, old gold mines, arts and crafts, back roads, hill tops and .. the other side of the Knysna heads.
The famous Knysna headlands, or ‘heads’ as they are known, form the entrance to the lagoon which is a very delicate eco-marine reserve, home to the famous Knysna Turaco, or loerie, the endangered Knysna Sea Horse (Hippocampus capensis) and the tiny Blue Duiker. Sadly, oysters are no longer farmed here but because the area is famous for oysters, you can find them on almost all menus, brought in from nearby Mossel Bay.
The Eastern Head is home to some of the area’s largest and most expensive homes with magnificent views, and one can drive to the top and take a short walk to view the magnificent views from the clifftop. You can have a drink at the restaurant situated at the foot of the cliff and watch the boats that dare to enter the lagoon through the notoriously dangerous heads with their currents so strong they have a rich history of shipwrecks. Apparently Lloyds will not insure a boat for navigating this channel.
The Western Head is something altogether different. The Featherbed Nature Reserve is 150 hectares of private land, has no accommodation, access it limited and it can be reached only by boat. If you don’t have your own boat, a Featherbed cruise is the best way to enjoy this beautiful spot and we like to include it on our Roadtrip tour. After a ride across the lagoon you are taken to the top of the cliff in an old tractor and walk back down with a guide to give you more insight, and then enjoy a sumptuous buffet lunch overlooking the lagoon.