The beautiful town of Knysna, situated 73kms from the George airport, is situated within 157 000 hectares of the proclaimed Garden Route National Park. It is nestled between the shores of the pristine Knysna estuary, Indian Ocean and thousands of hectares of beautiful indigenous forest, home to a myriad of wild- and birdlife as well as the famed Cape fynbos.
Knysna is synonymous with its magnificent oysters, and visitors can explore its natural beauty through mountain biking and hiking trails, whale watching and boating charters. A wide variety of accommodation is available all year round.
The town offers three magnificent golf courses. Simola Golf Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus (The Golden Bear), Pezula Champion Golf Course and Knysna Golf Course all lie within 6kms of the town’s centre.
Bordering on the Pezula Estate the historic Noetzie offers real castles, a sandy beach and fascinating bird watching.
The quaint coastal town of Sedgefield, first Citaslow accredited town in Africa and the slow-town of Naturally Knysna, is surrounded by a magnificent coastal lake-system and five sandy beaches along the Indian Ocean shoreline
Sedgefield has abundant fishing, kayaking, bird-watching, paragliding, suerfing and safe swimming areas.
Besides the natural beauty that surrounds this tranquil village, Sedgefield’s Saturday markets showcase the wealth of its talen and organic oods produced by the close-knit farming community.
Karatara, situated 27.8kms from Knysna and 22.6kms from Sedgefield is steeped in rich history dating back to 1939 when the indigenous forests were closed to local woodcutters. The then government provided housing to these ousted woodcutters and Karatara was born. As with many historic South African towns, the spindle of the Dutch Reformed Church stands as a beacon, welcoming visitors to share in the history of this village.
The beautiful Outeniqua Mountain Range forms a perfect backdrop to this rural village. When gold was discovered in the Karatara River in 1875 Thomas Bain was tasked with providing a route to accommodate the ensuing gold rush.
Bain engineered the beautiful Homtini Pass when the Homitini Gorge needed to be crossed by the many prospectors. Today this magnificent pass still amazes all who pass through it. Travelling from Karatara it curls to the bottom for 2.5kms before rising through dense indigenous forest. An absolute must for the traveller, be it by bicycle, motorcycle, horse, foot or motor-vehicle.
Buffels Bay, better known to many as Buffalo Bay, is situated 21.2kms from Knysna and 23.3kms from Sedgefield within the beautiful 2 500 hectare Goukamma Nature Reserve. It is home to the special protected Oyster Catchers, which nests on the expansive white sandy beaches. These beaches are safe for swimming, surfing, kayaking and other water-sports. The beautiful rock pools around this grassy peninsula lends itself perfectly to snorkelling.
Buffels Bay has two beaches, one that stretches West to Sedgefield and beyond. The other beach leads to Brenton-on-Sea to the East. While walking along these you are bound to see dolphins playing in the surf and, during the season, whales frolicking just beyond the breakers.
Hikers can enjoy several walks beginning in Buffels Bay. Several include the experience of crossing the Goukamma River by pont. The magnificent circular bush Pig Trail meanders inland up and along dunes, through pristine coastal forest down to the sea. This trail then doubles back, ending with the pont crossing the Goukamma River.
Rheenendal, a short scenic 12km drive West of Knysna, showcases both the magnificent Knysna Estuary and Outeniqua Mountain views. The area is rich with green pastures, indigenous forests, vacated mine shafts, crafters and artists. The area is further known for its wonderful biodiversity of flora and fauna on the many walking trails.
Many famous and talented artists have made Rheenendal their home. The recently established Rheenendal Ramble allows visitors to experience art and several home industries established along the route.
Experience the nostalgia of yesteryear and stay overnight in one of the renovated Rheenendal Woodcutters Forest Cottages. Exploring the Materolli Museum will certainly take you back to the Millwood Goldfield Gold Rush of 1876. Wander through the ghost town of the Old Millwood Mining Village and see the restored Bendigo mining equipment.
Brenton-on-Sea, 13.8kms from Knysna and 71.7kms from the George Airport derived its name from Sir Jahleel Brenton, who declared Knysna a harbour in 1818. This area is home to the endangered Brenton Blue butterfly.
It lies behind the majestic Western Knysna Head and is virtually encircled by the Goukamma Nature Reserve with its fynbos filled slopes. Brenton-on-Sea’s Blue Flag accredited beach enables visitors to safely walk while enjoying the natural beauty of the area. As in Buffels Bay, dolphins can often be seen surfing the waves while whales frolic in the bay.
Article by Fran Kirsten / Out There