Knysna must rank as the best-known small town in South Africa: its beauty and its forests, lagoon, culture, and history draw visitors in their thousands – yet despite its expansion over the years it remains a place of great tranquility.

The outlying neighborhood of Belvidere oozes a sense of grandeur, with its characteristic church, manicured gardens, majestic homesteads and historic manor house.

Brenton-on-Lake and Brenton-on-Sea, only a few kilometers further down the road may seem sleepy but come to full life when holiday makers enjoy the tranquil lagoon and warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Buffalo Bay, on the other side of the same bay, is a surfers’ hotspot, while nature lovers will enjoy the marine life (especially when the Southern Right whales visit the shores, yearly between June/July and November/December) and marine protected coastal reserve including long stretches of beach, the Goukamma River mouth and the coastal fynbos in the dunes.

The lively Northern Areas include original townships known as White Location, Concordia and Dam-se-Bos and are a hive of liveliness, entrepreneurship, local cuisine and cultural festivities, especially over weekends.

The nearby village of Sedgefield (30 km west of Knysna’s CBD) is surrounded by lakes, beaches and fynbos that make it one of the Garden Route’s great family holiday destinations.

The hamlets of Karatara and Rheenendal, slightly further off the coast remind visitors of the woodworkers in the indigenous forest, allegedly still home to one or more elusive Knysna elephants. Mountain bike and hiking trails scatter across the forest, waiting to be explored.

Knysna was built on the economy of the timber that the old people used to harvest from its indigenous forests. Fortunately, though, that was stopped when people began to realise that they couldn’t go on cutting the yellowwoods, stinkwoods, and other trees (Cape Ash, boekenhout, and so on) forever. And so the axes and the bow saws were silenced, and peace returned to the forests in the 1920s.


Today, the forests that survived form the backbone of the 160,000 hectare Garden Route National Park – and they remain one of Knysna’s most important attractions. Visit them for walking, hiking, picnics, mountain biking, tree spotting, and birding – and, perhaps, to catch a hint of the world’s last free-roaming Knysna elephants.

But, of course, there’s much more to Knysna, too: superb restaurants, outstanding championship golf courses, tours of the Knysna Lagoon, art, culture, shopping, beaches…

The Slow Town of Sedgefield lies on a sunny plain between the Indian Ocean, the fynbos and sand dunes of the Goukamma Nature Reserve, and the tapestry of fynbos, forests, lakes, and mountains of the Garden Route National Park.

Spend your days lounging on the beach, or enjoy outstanding walking and birding – but Sedgefield also attracts the artist in us all, and a number of fine artists and crafters have set themselves up in the village. You will find many of those at the weekly Wild Oats Farmers’ Market (west of the village on the N2, next to the Engen Garage / petrol station), which brings hundreds of people together every Saturday morning: buying fresh produce from local farmers, catching up with friends over coffee and breakfast or browsing the next door crafts market looking for artisan gifts and products.

Mountain bikers and hikers will enjoy the many hiking and mountain biking trails set out in the indigenous forest near Karatara, Rheenendal, Knysna and Harkerville. Guided tours can be pre-booked, while mountain biking day permits can generally be bought through the SANPark offices when entering the forest.

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