Knysna is situated in the heart of the Garden Route. Knysna is an idyllic town of sheer beauty blessed with awesome scenery. Nestled between the lovely Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, the town lies about 260km from Port Elizabeth along the N2 Garden Route.
The town’s history dates back to 1804, when the mysterious and legendary George Rex arrived in the area. Rex was rumoured to be the illegitimate son of King George III. He purchased the estate Melkhoutkraal on the shores of the lagoon, where he decided to settle with his entire family. The town quickly became renowned for its timber and fishing, with later developments including a harbour at the lagoon to transport the wood around to the Cape. Although the harbour is no longer functional, timber is still the most important industry in Knysna.
Knysna’s most famous visitor was George Bernard Shaw, who loved the town so much that he stayed for five weeks and it was in this period that he wrote “The Black Girl in search of God”. For those interested in the history of the town, or perusing through interesting nuggets of George Rex’s life, the Knysna Museum at Millwood House in Queen Street should be a fascinating outing. To soak up the local culture, a pre-booked walk called ‘The Greater Knysna Cultural Experience’ which includes a walk and a ride through Knysna’s township, along with a visit to the local Sangoma (traditional healer) can be enjoyed.
Also included in the walk is the opportunity to enjoy Xhosa dancing and storytelling.
Knysna is a place of incredible natural phenomena, the two famous sandstone cliffs guarding the entrance to the lagoon, known as the Heads, being the most interesting. At the lagoon is one of the few places along the coast (and in the world) that supports an oyster hatchery, and the oysters are reputedly the tastiest in the world! Timber is the principal industry, and furniture and splendid woodwork of the highest quality can be bought at galleries, workshops and factories along the Timber Route.
Knysna is a vibrant town, buzzing with creativity and energy. Annual events include the Oyster Festival and the famous Forest Marathon, which both take place in July. The Waterfront is a development that encompasses marinas, shopping malls and residential complexes.
The luscious forests of Knysna, with their streams, narrow country roads, stinkwood and yellowwood trees and amazing bird life offer a great opportunity for hikers, walkers and mountain bikers to get out and about. The beautiful Knysna loerie may be spotted along the way.