11 Reasons to Visit Knysna in South Africa

Short answer: wildlife, food, amazing hotels, extreme activities and beautiful scenery.

Long answer: I’m just back from a few days in Knysna in South Africa. It’s on the south coast, to the east of Cape Town and along the oh so famous Garden Route. Until I was invited to explore by South Africa Tourism I hadn’t actually heard of it, which I now realise was a massive gap in my world knowledge.

When I wrote on my Facebook that I was going, everyone was all like “oh it’s amazing!”, “you’re going to love it!”. And now I know it is too.

reasons to visit Knysna

I visited a month after forest fires ravaged the area. It was a strange time to be there with everyone still wanting / needing to talk about it, initiatives being set up to raise money for the thousands who’d lost their homes and blackened ground where houses and trees once stood. This isn’t something that happens often, it was an incredibly unlucky combination of weather, drought and wind, but now’s the time that your tourist money can really make a difference in Knysna.

I thought Knysna was great – loads to see and do either as a holiday in itself, or as part of a longer trip along the famous Garden Route (definitely want to drive that one day).

Here are a few reasons why Knysna is definitely worth visiting if you’re planning a trip to South Africa.

11 Reasons to Visit Knysna in South Africa

1. Plettenberg Game Reserve

reasons to visit Knysna

reasons to visit Knysna

In the space of about three hours I saw lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, springbok, rhinos, elephants and just as we were leaving, by the main gate, giraffes. The guide was so informative and had loads of interesting facts to tell us about the animals, and the way they live.

We were in the jeep with a few kids, which was great, as they asked the questions I would never have thought of. Going to the Plettenberg Game Reserve is a great way to see many animals roaming in a short space of time. And if you’ve got time to stay, the accommodation sounded pretty amazing too.

2. Conrad Pezula Hotel and Spa

reasons to visit Knysna

The Conrad Pezula Resort & Spa is definitely in my top 5 hotels of all time. It was incredible. The views, the room, the spa that I had to myself, the breakfast choice, the bath! I loved it all. Oh, and the log fire too. After a chilly day at Plettenberg and on the RIB boat (it’s a comin’) I came back, had a hot bath and someone came round to build the fire for me, and I was honestly in heaven. I slept with the curtains over so I could see the sun rising from the comfort of my bed.

I loved it here. I need to also mention the balcony, where I spent an hour on a sunny afternoon just soaking up the vista and sinking back into that chair with a glass of Brut (free at reception!).

3. Chilling with Cheetahs at Tenikwa Wildlife Reserve

Reasons to Visit Knysna

At the Tenikwa Wildlife Reserve you can go on a cheetah walk, where you get in the enclosure and just hang out to walk with the cheetah. How cool is that?

Tenikwa was set up to help educate the locals, and tourists, in better animal protection. It’s kind of split with two main aims, one is as a sanctuary for animals to come and stay in a safe environment after trauma and then they stay and visitors can learn from them. The other side is for recuperation and re-release into the wild. People bring in injured wild animals they’ve found and the vets there make them better.

Visitors cannot be around these animals as they don’t want them to get used to the human world, or it will affect their abilities back in the wild.

I saw a white lion, a leopard, the cheetahs, meerkats, caracals and penguins. While I was here I was also given a behind the scenes tour of the veterinary practice, and the penguin rehabilitation process. So cute how much they care about all the animals that come in.

Tenikwa is a brilliant place that hires locals to work with the animals, helps around 450 animals a year and has a 65% success rate of releasing animals bought in back into the wild.

4. All the festivals!

Reasons to Visit Knysna

Knysna is known as a bit of a festival town, and I visited for the Knysna Oyster Festival. The festival runs for ten days with a different theme each day. There’s all sorts going on from marathons, to braii cook offs and oyster tasting. I’m going to write a whole post on this.

But basically…

I went for the Pick and Pay Flavours night, where we got a book of tickets that allowed us to try an oyster from every stand (around 8ish) and to try lots of wines (6ish) from the region too. It was only £10 to get in and for the booklet, which also got us a starter, main and dessert sponsored by Heinz too. It was a feast!

We went again the next night for the Comedy Chuckle too. I was worried about not finding it funny and not understanding the cultural references, but both of the acts were hilarious (Kagiso Mokgadi and Nik Rabinowitz). There was loads of food and drink to buy and we were all sat outside around the heaters laughing the night away.

5. RIB Trip

Reasons to Visit Knysna

The South Africa coastline is just absolutely stunning. Beautiful. We took a RIB (rigid-inflatable boat – just had to Google that) from Knysna Waterfront out to the Two Heads, which is where the sailors used to struggle to get in. No problem for us though, with him ^ at the helm.

The waters were blue, we saw the caves you can walk through at low tide and, always enjoyable, we had a little tour from the boat around the huge, huge houses in the area. We also saw a Cape Fur Seal and two whales playing about in the waves – loved it.

Thanks Knysna RIB Adventures!

6. Belvidere Manor Hotel

Reasons to Visit Knysna

The view from the Bevidere Manor Hotel was beautiful. It was in a pretty area around the lake and is home to one of the smallest pubs, the Bell Inn. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go in but… next time. Stay here and you get a cottage – perfect for groups of friends or families.

Unfortunately in July, their winter, it was pretty cold in there and we had to get electric blankets and a heater, but I’d totally recommend it for summer. Or, if you have more time there you can load up that log fire and just sit and relax. Breakfast here was delicious, and the staff were lovely.

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Visit Kynsna

7. Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour

Reasons to Visit Knysna

Ok, so the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is one of the best tourism initiatives I’ve heard of, and is apparently used in tourism schools and education as an inspiration worldwide. As well as being an awesome tour through the treetops of the Tsitsikamma National Park (where Velvet Monkeys were jumping about in the trees when I was zip lining!), the way the company is set up serves to help the community and staff.

With education and shares in the company when you’ve been there so long, it’s in the staff’s best interests to make it work, because they own the place.

During the zip lining / canopy tour you’ll go on 10 zip lines, all different lengths and speeds, and get a little tour of the wildlife and fauna of the area. You also get a tasty toastie at the end. I’d definitely recommend you do this when you visit Knysna.

8. Bramon Wine Estate

Reasons to Visit Knysna

Reasons to visit Knysna

Absolutely delicious tapas, all served at a wine estate with a huge hunk of salty bread – I mean, what more do I need in life? The food here was so good, all of it. The piece de resistance was definitely the tiramisu fudge though. Absolutely delicious. Wish I’d bought some to take home, although I definitely would’ve scoffed it in the car.

Do NOT leave Knysna without eating here, but make sure you book in as they fill up day and night. You can also do wine tours. It was the middle of the day, but I still just about managed to drink a tasty red pinotage. Must go back in the evening and try more.

9. Dinner at Kilzer’s Kitchen

Reasons to Visit Knysna

Good food, great company, a lesson in wine and a little lesson in cooking meat too. The Kilzer’s Kitchen experience is a real treat in Knysna, and again, books up fast. Jenny & Albin Kilzer host the night in their home / restaurant and like to take you through what they’re cooking, as well as tell a few jokes along the way.

The food here was incredible, and there was so much of it. Everyone is served the same and you sit on a table with the other guests. There was a duck starter, seafood pasta second starter, perfectly cooked steak main and then a deconstructed jaffa cake dish for dessert. All was delicious.

Lucky for me I went on the night that they were partnering with Lanzerac wines for the evening – usually it’s bring your own. I tried a good range from Lanzerac, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Syrah and their MCC – rude not to.

As you can imagine, I had a brilliant night :).

10. Knysna Waterfront

Reasons to Visit Knysna

The Kynsna Waterfront is a hub of activity. We visited briefly for the RIB and then again to go to Tapas and Oysters (yum sushi). There are a few shops down here and when we were there, a brass band performance from a local school. You can play mini golf, water polo and there are many restaurants to try (definitely recommend JJs – that butternut squash soup, YES).

The Kynsna Waterfront is such a nice place to chill in the sun for an afternoon and just people watch, before you go on the RIB boat. Go on.

11. The WORLD’S highest bungee jump

Worlds highest bungee jump

Yeah there’s no chance I was doing this, but if you fancy launching yourself into a gorge for 216 metres the Face Adrenaline bungee jump is your big opportunity.

Getting there with South Africa Airways

Reasons to visit Knysna

I flew with South Africa Airways on a Tuesday at 9pm and arrived 11 hours later, at 9am local time into Johannesburg. I then got the 11:50am flight for 90 minutes to George, which is just an hour’s drive from Knysna. I slept for about 6 hours on the flight and with the time difference just being an hour, I was ready to go when I arrived!

I was invited to visit Knysna with South Africa Airways and South Africa Tourism. I would definitely go again, as part of a longer trip along the Garden Route. I’ll let you know when I manage to fit it in!

Follow me on Instagram @VickyFlipFlop

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  1. by Angie on July 19, 2017  8:58 am Reply

    OMG I'm so jealous of this trip. I actually visited the Garden Route about two years ago and we had literally all this planned but the weather was so bad that we couldn't leave the hotel. I did get to see the Cheetahs though on the last day when the weather cleared up!

    • by Vicky on July 23, 2017  4:09 pm Reply

      Oh it was so good Angie! That's annoying about the weather – hate it when it ruins your plans. Bet it was kinda nice just chilling in the hotel though, right? Glad you managed to see the cheetahs :)

  2. by Elle Croft on July 19, 2017  10:17 am Reply

    Ah, I love Knysna - I was there when I was 12 and have such great memories - including watching my cousin bungee jump from that crazy bridge! I really do need to go back one day, probably when the Oyster Festival is on!

    • by Vicky on July 23, 2017  4:11 pm Reply

      The Oyster Festival was so good – such a good idea and I liked the way they had a different theme every day. Definitely recommend it. Glad you loved Kynsna. There was no way I was doing that bungee jump!

  3. by Rachel on July 21, 2017  1:44 pm Reply

    This looks like such an awesome place. If I was to go I think I'd be most keen to check out the Plettenberg Game Reserve to see all those cool animals and to do the RIB trip.

    • by Vicky on July 23, 2017  4:18 pm Reply

      Oo yeah, both good choices!

  4. by Sarah on October 10, 2017  9:50 am Reply

    Even though I live in Knysna, I still have to tick a few of these off my list. But like you, I won't be bungee jumping anytime soon!

    • by Vicky on October 10, 2017  4:48 pm Reply

      Ooo you live there?! That's fun. I thought it was such a cool place :).

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