Thursday, October 22, 2009


Knysna is a spot of exceptional beauty.  A tourist attraction of note and you have only to look at this photograph to see why.
The town and suburbia of Knysna are mostly built around the estuary.  Known by locals and overseas tourists as The Knysna Lagoon, it is actually the estuary of Knysna River.  Despite the misnomer, the lagoon (as we shall call it too) flows in and out of The Knysna Heads with the ebb and flow of the tides of the sea.  It is a wonderfully sensitive aquatic eco-system which has a huge amount of varied sea life.  It is unusual for a shark to come into the lagoon or a whale to be stranded as the tide goes out but it does happen.  Pretty Knysna Seahorses live in the waters of the lagoon and form part of a carefully conserved environment.  Take a boat on the lagoon and watch stingrays swimming along beside you or take a fishing charter such as JJ's Fishing Charters.  The Knysna local who runs this exclusive charter will not only enlighten you to the other wonders of Knysna, but also introduce you to good old South African hospitality.  You won't be disappointed.  He follows a "catch-and-release" policy.  Take a look at his link for details of the types of fish you can expect to catch and don't be afraid to take your non-fishing partner along with you - the view and fresh sea air is really relaxing.
Musselcracker Fish

Knysna is a place of huge diversity - dense forests, lovely beaches, stunning scenic views, marshlands, dunes - you name it, Knysna probably has it!  Per capita, it is said that Knysna has the most artists and authors than almost anywhere else on the Garden Route.  Since it is also a popular retirement place as well as being a top-notch holiday spot, that would not surprise me.  The fresh, well-oxygenated air and general laid-back attitude in Knysna makes the locals feel as if they are on holiday half the time!

Let's have a look at the Garden of Eden.  Yes, surprisingly it does still exist - without Adam and Eve, but here is where you will find it. The Garden of Eden is a lovely peaceful place to visit and has covered walkways which are great for prams or wheelchairs.  Take a picnic along with you and enjoy the tranquility.

Like to see some exquisite (and I mean exquisite) and unusual pottery?  Don't miss out on a visit to The Potter.  You will not be disappointed and you will come away with a thing or two of beauty which as they say, is a joy forever.  Here's a sample of their high-quality products:

You will definitely not be short of things to do in Knysna!
Visit Knysna Castles on Noetzie Beach - very unusual castles and great photo opportunities:

Brenton-on-Beach Accommodation overlooking a simply gorgeous beach (which gets quite busy in season).  Life-guards in season.  Toilet and shower facilities.  For the intrepid walkers - a great walk right along the beach to Buffalo Bay - great walk for breakfast but remember, you will need to walk back again unless you can get someone to pick you up at Buffalo Bay.  Lovely photo opportunities and nice little rock pools for children to watch crabs, sea anemones and a variety of molluscs.
Fabulous opportunity for paragliding from the highest dunes.

More accommodation at J&C's Beach House- to quote directly from this website link: 
"Situated in the Garden Route town of Knysna, we offer luxurious B&B & light self catering accommodation in Brenton-On-Sea, Knysna’s only beach resort.
Beautifully appointed Guest House, 5 spacious en-suite studio rooms, sheltered pool, tropical garden & braai facilities.
Enjoy magnificent views, walk to famous Brenton Beach, golf, walks, horse riding, whale watching in season & dolphins all year.
Enjoy a Sun Downer and watch the sun set over the sea.
Have fun in bustling nearby Knysna but escape to the peaceful beauty of Brenton on Sea. “J&C’s Beach House” offers relaxing, scenic, upmarket accommodation in one of South Africa’s hidden pearls". 

Brenton-on-Lake (a misnomer as it is actually a lagoon):
Drive around the holiday homes and see the amazingly tame bush buck population.  You will probably also come across some Knysna Loerie birds here.  Enjoy watching the boats leaving from the jetty.  

You might like to stay in one of the chalets.  Lovely swimming pool facility, amongst other things - The Lake Brenton Holiday Resort.  Absolutely ideal for families with children!
Travel up the Knysna Heads for unbelievable views of the lagoon, the maritime passage through the Heads (one of the most dangerous in the entire world) and walk along wooden structures set against the cliffs for phenomenal views out to the sea.

At the foot of The Knysna heads lies Coney Glen - a nice little beach, quite private.  On the other side at the bottom of The Heads facing the passageway, you'll find some excellent restaurants with great vibes and right next to the sea.  There are a number of short walks to be enjoyed, with boardwalks which lead to interesting caves on both sides of The Heads.  At the front of the Heads facing the Knysna Lagoon, there is an awesome diving opportunity to go below the sea and find the wreck of The Paquita with the use of Wanna Dive

"The Paquita - a German iron barque - sank in 1903, after running ashore and filling with water. She now lies on the eastern side of the famous Heads in Knysna.
The wreck is in beautiful condition with anchors clearly visible and many other things to discover. The reefs boast beautiful corals especially on the iron plates. Invertebrate life and plenty of marine growth inhabit the area. Seahorses can at times be seen here. Night dives can be done on this dive site, which I have done and can sincerely recommend it!!"

(Direct quote from their web-site, linked above).

Featherbed Nature Reserve lies on the opposite side of The Heads just mentioned.  Featherbed is a protected nature reserve and you can only get there by using one of the gorgeous ferries from the Knysna Waterfront - such as The John Benn, Spirit of Knysna, Old Three Legs and the Paddlecruiser.  

On arrival, you can take the opportunity of visiting the great restaurant for refreshments or meals and take a walk along this private reserve to visit the caves along the shore-line or even absail.  The area is famous for the Brenton Blue Butterfly (endangered), indigenous plants, oysters and blue cranes.

Do not miss the opportunity to go for a tandem paraglide with Windmaster Paraglides - it will be a totally unforgettable experience - take a look at my own personal experience of a tandem paraglide by clicking this link.  Windmaster not only provides tandem glides, but can also arrange your accommodation, paragliding tours and scenic motor flights.  If you have time on your hands, do the full basic training course which can be completed within 14 days and promises to get you airborne on your very first day under close supervised instruction.

Paragliding over the Wilderness
For more information, contact:
Roland +27 (0) 72 152 6093
Kristy +27 (0) 72 725 8510
Don't forget the sun cream!

Some more must-see places in Knysna:
  • The Old Gaol and Art Gallery (in same building)
  • Mother Holly's Tea Room
  • Goldfields
  • Jubilee Creek walk and picnic spot
  • A sail around the Dry Mill Apartments and Thesen Islands
  • A visit to Thesen Harbour Town
  • See Knysna Waterfront for shopping and great restaurants
  • Leisure Isle
  • The Heads Lookout Walkway
  • Pilot's View
  • Simola Golf Course
  • Knysna Quays
  • Pledge Square
  • Monument Square
  • Friday Evening Market for a variety of good food, great company and live music
  • Woodmill Lane Shopping Centre - also offers great restaurants and live music
  • Many beautiful hikes for the novice and the experienced
Contact Knysna Tourism for more information, accommodation and even MORE places to visit.  You will enjoy your stay especially between the months of October to June when weather conditions are optimum.

NB:  There's talk about a huge International Eco University going up in Knysna soon.  Planned to be the biggest in the world that deals with ecology - so very soon now, Knysna will have students from all over the world come to study here.  Should you fall in love with Knysna, contact Edward Alant at Knysna Properties for assistance with purchasing valuable property in this area.  His e-mail address is

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plettenberg Bay

If you were to take a look at the history of Plettenberg Bay, you would find that Plettenberg Bay has gone under a plethora of names in the past.  (See 'Timber and Tides' by Winifred Haw Tapson).  Even now the municipality of Plettenberg Bay is called Bitou Municipality and it would not surprise me if "Plettenberg Bay" were to be renamed "Bitou Bay".  Whatever name it goes by, Plettenberg Bay is a spot of exceptional beauty and an absolute must-see.

Beacon Island Hotel stands out from the beautiful sandy beach of Plettenberg Bay.  The hotel has stupendous restaurants - well known amongst locals for their delicious seafood.  Relax in the bar-lounge with a view facing the waves as they break on the rocks surrounding the hotel.

It is well worth visiting Plettenberg Bay from September when spring heralds the reproduction of whales and dolphins in the Bay.

Take your time relaxing at one of the stupendous beaches of Plettenberg Bay - in fact, try them all. 

Lookout Beach, Plettenberg Bay
Surfers enjoy Lookout Beach for its expansive waves.  The beach is enormous.  Wonderful for beach ball games.  Near Beacon Island Hotel on Central Beach there is a lovely wave pool shallow enough for children to enjoy and to the right of Plettenberg Bay is Robberg Beach which forms part of the Robberg Nature Reserve.


Robberg Beach

Watch the colourful boats of the fishermen anchored just off shore at Central Beach, while you catch some rays from the sunshine.

Things to do in Plettenberg Bay:
*Take a walk through the quaint town and do some unusual shopping.  You will find things in Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas which you may not find anywhere else in the world.

*Take a deep sea fishing charter with Ocean Encounters or a kayak into the bay. 

*Go Sea Kayaking in Plettenberg Bay.  All equipment is provided and newcomers are welcomed.  You will have an experienced guide from Central Beach to Robberg Nature Reserve.  If you are fortunate, you will have some friendly dolphins accompanying you on your way and at Robberg Nature Reserve you will kayak in the midst of the seal colony.

*Visit Birds of Eden just east of Plettenberg Bay.  It is the world's biggest single-span aviary and won't disappoint.  Don't be surprised if you collect some friendly fellows on your shoulders as you view tropical birds in all their splendour.  Here you will also see the magnificent and elusive Knysna Loerie.

*Visit the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Here you will be taken on guided tours to meet wild cats such as Cheetahs, Leopards, Black-Footed Cat, Serval Wild Cat and others.  Learn about their struggle for survival.  Walk with Cheetahs through Cape Floral Fynbos and the Tsitikamma Indigenous Forest.

*Enjoy a hike through Robberg Nature Reserve.  The scenery is amazing.  There is a large diversity of bird life and indigenous floral fynbos.  You will also be able to see the Robberg seal colony.  Three trails ranging from 45 minute to 5 hour hikes means that you can choose one to suit your hiking capabilities.

*If you are really into hiking, try out the Harkerville Hike.  This hike is not for the faint-hearted as there are narrow ledges with steep cliff-faces and drops with metal chains for footing.  It does offer spectacular views and is clearly marked and well maintained for those brave enough to try it out!

*Visit the Trumilk Dairy in Plettenberg Bay.  Taste award-winning cheese and fine Cape wines and liquers.  Taste their Feta, Cheddar, Camembert amongst other cheeses .  The shop is located in the Witterdrif area.

Taste excellent French style Camembert at Trumilk

*See the Noah's Park Wolf Sanctuary which offers a fun-filled outing for the whole family. Make direct eye-contact with a wolf and learn about this magnificent animal.  You will also be introduced to the African Wild Dog, the Black Backed Jackal and children can enjoy interacting with the touch farmyard animals.  

*Watch the monkeys playing at Monkeyland!

Walk through flora and fauna and see life through a monkey's eyes.  Resident monkey species include Black-Handed Spider Monkey, Black Lemurs, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, Golden-Handed Tamarins and Marmosets, to name but a very few.

*Take a leisurely horse ride through Horseback Safari at Plett Game Reserve or watch game at Plett Game Reserve

No doubt about it - you are sure to enjoy Plettenberg Bay!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Keurbooms and Natures Valley

Feel like boating?  The beautiful Keurbooms River is the place to go.  Situated right near the N2 freeway, you will find boats to hire.  Take one yourself or go with a group and travel up this peaceful river.  The river intertwines through hills full of wild birds.  Their calls echo up and down the river.  If you feel like stopping over, there are beautiful chalets for hire, swimming pools, tennis facilities, camping facilities and a miniature golf course.

We continue on our journey to Nature's Valley, which is a small village at the the Groot River Estuary.  Here the famous hike, Otter's Trail ends (or begins whichever way you choose to try it) through to Storm's River Mouth.  This area is great for bird watching and the famous (though elusive) Knysna Loerie can often be seen.  
Pretty bush-buck and odd-looking bush-pigs  may come quite close to welcome you.  Whales and dolphins can often be seen playing in the waves and just off the coast.
This is one of the spots the southern right whale frequents in early summer.

Take a canoe ride on the lagoon or have a swim before moving on to Plettenberg Bay, our next stop.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Storms River Mouth

Storm's River Mouth is definitely one of the places you will want to stop at on your way due south.  A very picturesque and beautiful place with plenty to do and lots of different types of accommodation.  It offers the visitor, day-tripper, weekender and tourist much diversity.

There are numerous walks/hikes to take which pass through the lush indigenous forests of the Tsitsikamma, past caves and exquisite scenery such as this suspension bridge.  Watch out for Vervet monkeys who being very inquisitive, will probably want to follow you some distance through your walks from the safety of the tree branches.
Tstisikamma is a Khoisan word meaning "Place of Much Water".  80km of rocky coastline with wonderful seascapes are incorporated in the Tsitsikamma Reserve. 
If extreme adventures are for you, you'll enjoy the Tsitsikamma Forest Canopy Tours - take a trip along the forest canopy that you will never forget.
Or you may like to choose from the following (contact Beach and Bush):
Canal Cruise in St Francis Bay
Helicopter Flips
Tsitsikamma Waterfall Cable Slide Tour
Even if you decide to stay at Storm's River Mouth just to relax and unwind as you tour, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Van Stadens and Bloukrans Bridges

The Van Stadens River Bridge covers a beautiful gorge called the Van Stadens River Valley and if you are a nature lover, it is well worth the effort to visit the Nature Reserve which is open each day and has walking and mountain biking trails, picnic facilities and an indigenous nursery.  Details can be obtained on this link.

An interesting note: 
Van Stadens Bridge has earned itself quite a reputation for being one of the world's most frequented suicide spots.  SOS Help telephones were installed on either ends of the bridge and security cameras as a preventative measure a few years ago.  These have possibly saved the lives of many, however, this odd phenomena remains.  See link.

With all due respect, if you would like to leap off a bridge - it would be advisable by far  to continue on South to the majestic Bloukrans Bridge, which is famous for  it's safely controlled and very high bungee jumping.  In fact this bungee jump is the highest commercial bungee jump in the entire world - 216 metres high!  

Before even facing the jump, your adrenaline gets pumping just by the view and then by using a catwalk installed at the bridge which is 216 metres long!  Even if you are not brave enough to take the exhilarating jump, it is definitely worth stopping to watch from the village, where you can obtain a bird's eye view and listen to the yells of the bungee jumpers as they leap.  Great photo opportunities!

Like to give it a try?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jeffrey's Bay

Jeffrey's Bay is well known as a top surfing spot.  So if you enjoy surfing or just watching surfers, this is the place to be.
You may be delightfully surprised to see dolphins playing in the surf or whales which come into the warm waters of the bay in September to reproduce.  These gentle creatures seem to enjoy playing with the surfers!

Visit and climb the huge sand dunes (great for photographs), see Addo Elephant Park, go deep sea fishing or take a kayak, visit nearby game farms, the flight school, the Sunshine Express or take some leisurely horse rides along the beach.  See Sabie Extreme Adventures.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mohair Route

Before leaving Port Elizabeth...
Consider going on the 3 Day Mohair Route  

This three-day visit to the Eastern Cape has been put together by Umzantsi Afrika Tours.

It not only includes visits to the Angora farms around Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas, but also includes :

The Valley of Desolation -Camdeboo National Park

Nieu-Bethesda - Owl House

You will also see:
You can find the tour itinerary at "3 Day Mohair Route".

The tour to these places takes up only three days and two nights of your agenda - and is well worth the trip.  You will be back in Port Elizabeth before 18h00 after your third day.  Suggestion:  Spend your last evening at Port Elizabeth wandering around the Board Walk and Casino.

(Tour departs from and returns to Port Elizabeth).

Port Elizabeth - things to do

Port Elizabeth offers you an enormous variety of things to do.

A small sample of interesting places to visit (which you will find on the above link):
  • St Croix Motor Museum
  • Whale Watching off the Port Elizabeth Coast
  • The Nelson Mandela Art Museum
  • The South African Air Force Museum
  • Travel on the Port Elizabeth Apple Express Steam Train
  • Seaview Lion Park
  • Baakens River Mountain Bike Trail
  • Bird Watching in Settlers Park
  • Bushbuck Walking Trail
  • Cape Recife Lighthouse
  • Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra
  • King's Beach
  • McArthur Baths Swimming Pool Complex
You will not be short of things to do in beautiful Port Elizabeth.  Enjoy the temperate climate and the people.  Port Elizabeth is known as "The Friendly City".  Take some time to spend here.  Visit the Boardwalk, Casino and Gaming Area.  Walk along the great beaches.  Don't forget to put Sea World on your to do list!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Garden Route of South Africa

Comprises the beautiful coastal N2 between Port Elizabeth to the North and Mossel Bay in the South.  Here's a map that enables you to  see The Garden Route proportionally towards the southern tip of Africa.

Even though the Garden Route ends formally with Mossel Bay, if you continue on this route all the way to Cape Town, you will be rewarded by seeing the Outeniqua and Overberg Mountains standing in their majesty along the edges of canola (oil) flower farms, dairy herds and sheep farms.  The countryside from Mossel Bay to Cape Town consists of undulating hills, lush and green - perfect for farming.  You will come across aloe farms as well and will drive alongside Elgin apple country, finally driving down the steep pass of Sir Lowry's Pass which is 450m high.  From the top of Sir Lowry's Pass, you will have an exquisite view of Gordon's Bay, The Strand, The Helderberg Basin and even far-off Table Mountain.  It would therefore be well worth your time to include not only the Garden Route on a visit to South Africa, but travel all the way to the Cape and wine routes.

View from Sir Lowry's Pass:

Starting from Port Elizabeth, let's take a look at the exquisite Garden Route and surrounds:

Port Elizabeth's Boardwalk: