Reading in Gremlin News, our local online newsletter, I recently came across a link that pointed me to the following news item:
“Knysna is a world popular destination, labeled 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.”
The article, although probably written for search engine optimization, gives some interesting information about Knysna. Among other, the author lists 6 reasons for declaring Knysna a “world destination”. These are:
Climate, Nature, Animal Kingdom, Adventure and Sport, being a “Mecca for the Gourmand”, our local Beer and Oysters.
I agree with three of the six, but my personal choice here would be: Nature, Climate, Adventure and Sport, People, Sundowners as well as Oysters and Champagne. And the accommodation choice would off course be – Zauberberg Cottage 🙂 . And yes, Knysna also has its own brewery, Mitchell´s – which is by the way one of the first businesses in town trying to become greener (through innovative recycling ). As for the farmed and wild oysters, these are as delicious as South African champagne and therefore the possibilities for sundowners are indeed plenty – may they take place at idyllic Buffalo Bay or atop the cliffs at Brenton on Sea, or on a boat in the lagoon, or off course on one of our patios at Zauberberg Cottage as you enjoy the views onto town and lagoon.
And still, for myself the short list really boils down to “nature and people” and my husband surely will add “sport activities”, and both of us “adventure”! Sport can be everything you can imagine, be it on water or land. Most of these opportunities are easy to reach and can be found either just around the corner, or less than an hours drive away. A favourite with our guests is surfing and walking in Buffalo Bay, which also has some fine examples of tidal pools with all the hidden sea creatures we don´t even know to exist. And let us not forget hiking in the Knysna forest with its mythical elephants (yes, there are still some left – no, I haven’t seen one yet!). A bit further away you can visit the Raptors at Harkerville and closer to Tsitsikamma lies Monkeyland (a primate & monkey reserve). Last not least, let me mention sailing trips on the Knysna lagoon which also take you out onto the Indian Ocean, through the famous Knysna Heads (weather and swell permitting). If this all sounds a little bit too adventurous for your taste, well there are many other options to choose from. You may not be fit enough for hiking, so take a scenic drive along the coast to Plettenberg Bay or up into the forest – or do a day tour into the Little Karoo via one of the stunning Outeniqua passes. This excursion is often a good choice should you happen to experience one of the few rainy days in this area.
But now let me come to one of the lesser mentioned points on my list: “People”. You will meet many of them and they come in all colours. Unfortunately, Knysna´s townships are still geographically separated from the rest of the town. Luckily that does not mean that you cannot visit them. Most of our overseas guests feel a certain hesitation to consider a township tour. My response has always been: “But why? The township people here are proud of what they have, even if it is little in our eyes….”
And there are indeed remarkable people living in these poorer areas of our town. Take for instance Ella; together with Penny she runs Emzini township tours. These two ladies managed not only to start a most interesting tour business through the township, but also to open a safe house for abused people, mainly women and children, which is a first as far as I know. And a good portion of their tour fees goes back into the community. But it is better to let them speak for themselves: take a look at www.emzinitours.co.za or http://www.knysnalivinglocal.co.za/ for more colourful photos. In addition they also offer so called heritage tours which are a further option for all historically interested visitors.
Where else can you meet people? Well, why not visit one of the markets in the area, for example the Saturday farmers markets in Sedgefield or Harkerville, or the Friday night and the Thesen rooftop markets in Knysna. All of them demonstrate a remarkable gift the Gardenroute folk has: creativity! You do not only find delicious food for all different tastes but also have the opportunity to meet or just watch the locals doing their thing! They are a colourful bunch of people from all walks of life, but with three things in common: they all love where they live, they are very friendly and easy to talk to, and they never fail to invent a chance to earn money in the most sustainable and beautiful ways you can imagine. May they be gourmet chefs, flower arrangers, fashion designers of all kinds, or producers of handicrafts with no end to imagination! You missed something about the Gardenroute, if you did not visit one of these markets.
Another way to meet more people is to visit one of our festivals, namely the Knysna Oyster Festival in July, the Sedgefield Slow Festival or the Whisky, Whales and Jazz festival in Plettenberg Bay in September. These take place in the quieter times of the year and add to an autumn, winter or spring visit.
Autumn and spring are also my favourite times of the year – stable weather patterns in autumn and gorgeous fynbos in bloom from about August to early October, which is of course also the best whale watching and hiking time of the year. Lately, the whales stayed longer into the summer – one of the wonders of nature – everything is always in transition, nothing ever stays the same. Being so close to nature here, you will become a witness to this and feel truly rejuvenated coming home to start a new phase of your life :). More to come here, on my Knysna blog!