Clichéd, we know - but Knysna really is the jewel in the crown of the Garden Route. And the Garden Route is the jewel in the crown of South Africa.
Eating out in Brenton-on-Sea - and within walking distance (1 km) of our door:
- Brenton Haven Beachfront Resort - Butterfly Blu Restaurant (elegant, spacious dining room and lounge) and Indigo Deli (breakfast, lunch, coffee, beach treats)
- Nautical South Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge - relaxed, family-style food; beach shop
Eating out in Knysna
- The Knysna Waterfront - a selection of restaurants 20-minutes drive from our door: South African, Chinese, Portuguese, & Italian cuisine - all featuring seafood, of course. Also a stall selling home-made ice cream (don't miss it!)
- Thesen Harbour Town - a joyous (and often raucous) Tapas & Oysters bar as well as various seafood restaurants
- East Head Café - on the Eastern Head, about 30 minute's drive from Brenton Bushbuck Lodge. Possibly the best-sited restaurant in South Africa
The Knysna Waterfront
Thesen Harbour Town
- Gift & clothing shops
- Lagoon adventures and licensed, boat-based whale and dolphin watching tours
- The NSRI's Alex Blaikie Museum
- Art galleries
- Historic, self-guided walk
- Garden Route National Park regional office (they have an aquarium displaying Knysna Seahorses, in case you want to see them without having to swim in the lagoon!)
Museums and Galleries
Knysna has always drawn the artists and dreamers - that's what makes it such a special place to be.
- Knysna Museum - maritime history, the story of gold mining in the area, an old house from the mining era, etc.
- Knysna Fine Art - possibly the leading contemporary art gallery in South Africa. Specialises in local artists, and the South African Masters. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, applied arts, etc.
- The Motorcycle Room - a private collection of nearly 100 bikes. Every one of them with its own story to tell. Droolworthy.
The Knysna Lagoon - managed by the Garden Route National Park - is one of the country's most important biodiversity hotspots. It's also a magnificent place for play
- Leisure Isle - visit Steenbok Nature Reserve, and relax on Bollard Bay Beach, or explore this unique suburb in the middle of the lagoon on foot or by bicycle - on your own, or with Knysna Hike & Bike
- For boat cruises on the lagoon, visit the Featherbed Company (John Benn, Paddle Cruiser, Three Legs, Heads Explorer) - all of which depart from the Featherbed Ferry Terminal at Cruise Cafe on Remembrance Drive
- Featherbed Nature Reserve Eco-tours of the Western Head at the river mouth: these four-hour excursions include a boat ride, a land-train journey to the top of the headland, a guided 2.2 km walk, buffet lunch (on selected tours) and return boat trip. Departures: Featherbed Ferry Terminal at Cruise Cafe on Remembrance Drive
- Stand-up paddle board hire: Ocean Odyssey at Thesen Harbour Town
- Contact Tony Cook Adventures for kite boarding, SUP, cycling, canoeing, surfing, ocean kayaking, and other excitements
- And don't forget to visit the mouth of the lagoon: the Eastern Head is one of South Africa's most famous scenic spots
Please remember that you will need a license if you're planning to go fishing in the lagoon - they're available from any branch of the South African Post Office (there's one in Main Street, opposite the police station at the eastern end of Knysna's CBD)
You really have to visit the enigmatic and tranquil Knysna Forests while you're here. Some of our favourite spots:
- The Forest Legends Museum and tea room at Diepwalle (and yes, there are still elephants in these forests)
- Jubilee Creek picnic area and the Millwood Goldfields (site of South Africa's first modern-era gold rush). At just 28 km away from Brenton Bushbuck Lodge, this is probably your closest forest attraction
- The Garden of Eden - situated right next to the N2 on the road to Plett, and 32 km from Brenton Bushbuck Lodge. This is an excellent example of the high wet forests. Wheelchair-friendly boardwalks and low bridges over the streams make it easy to stroll around and enjoy the yellowood, stinkwood, hard pear, and other trees, as well as the ferns and undergrowth that are typical of the area.
- And if you want a really amazing introduction to the forests and their creatures, join author Gareth Patterson (Where the Lion Walked (1991) Dying to be Free (1998) The Secret Elephants (2009)) for a Secret Elephants Forest Experience - usually on the weekends, but also at other times by arrangement. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the 60,000 or so hectares of indigenous forests in our area are incorporated into the Garden Route National Park, and you may be required to pay for access to some of its attractions. Please note that you will need a tag if you want to cycle (MTB) on the trails - you can buy one at SANParks' offices on Thesen Island in Knysna. Phone +27 (0) 44 302 5600.
Garden Route National Park
The Garden Route National Park protects around 155,000 ha of wilderness here in the Southern Cape - including lakes, lagoons, forests, beaches, fynbos, mountains, and catchment area.
The Park isn't one contiguous area, so it's managed in three sections (Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma), each of which has its own unique attractions. You can explore all of them while staying at Brenton Bushbuck Lodge - the Wilderness is only about half an hour's drive away, and the Tsitsikamma's around an hour and 15 minutes away.
- Birding - if you stay in our area long enough, you'll be able to record more than 280 species on your life list. (Download a checklist of birds of the Garden Route here (.xls 51 kB)). For really rewarding birding, you can't beat the hides in the Wilderness section.
- Hikes and nature walks - we suggest the day walks at Jubilee Creek in the Knysna section, or next to the Touw River and in the Serpentine area of the Wilderness section
- The Rooted in Time self-drive tour of historic sites in the Knysna Forests - download a map here (.pdf 5.8 MB)
- River tubing, canoeing, a kayaking and lilo adventure, snorkelling, scuba diving, or a boat cruise in the Tsitsikamma section
Cycling & MTB
With some of the best trails on the planet, the Garden Route is heaven for mountain bikers!
- Garden Route National Park MTB trails in Harkerville, Farleigh and Homtini (forest, fynbos, plantation; Jeep tracks and single track) - but remember that you'll need a tag. More information here, or download an 'Awesome Knysna MTB Routes' brochure here (.pdf 1.6 MB)
- Garden Route Trail Park - manicured single tracks and multiple loops for beginners and pros alike. Picnic area, pump track, BMX track, Trail Cafe, and bathrooms and change rooms with hot water showers
- Your closest bike shops and bike service centres: Knysna Cycle Works and Ultimate Cycling
- Knysna Golf Club: 18 holes, par 73. Kikuyu fairways. Length: championship 5,924 m, club 5,924 m. Probably the only golf course in South Africa with holes below sea level. www.knysnagolfclub.com
- Pezula Championship Golf Course: 18 holes, par 72. Kentucky Blue and rye fairways. Length: championship 6,281 m, seniors 6,198 m, ladies 6,218 m and 5,027 m. Links course designed by Ron Fream.
- Simola Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course: 18 holes, par 72. Kikuyu fairways. Length: championship 6,033 m, ladies 4,595 m, seniors: 5,189 m, pro Ts 6,318 m. Parklands course designed by The Golden Bear himself.
- Sedgefield Links: 9 hole short course.