Travel

Knysna: the ideal Christmas getaway

Hi weirdos. Knysna is an ideal getaway location for many people across South Africa and is a particular favourite for those who stay in the Western Cape. If you’re not too familiar with the small city, it’s essentially a quant but modern setting. It sits along the southern coast. Knysna hosts an array of activities to keep you busy. I indulged in some of these over the course of the festive season.

It’s about a five-hour drive from Cape Town. We stopped there on our trip to Port Elizabeth earlier on which you can read about here. I knew I needed to return for a getaway to Knysna once I saw the Knysna Waterfront. My mom says I have been to both places as a child but clearly I was too young then as I cannot remember it. We stopped at Peregrine for a yummy breakfast and also in Sedgefield to see some classic cars that Nikesh couldn’t resist.

Peregrine
Peregrine breakfast

My adventure in Knysna began at our cosy Airbnb located in the depths of the suburbs; our choice of residence was made special by the fairy-tale garden and our welcoming hosts. Shortly after we settled in we decided to explore the famous Knysna Heads which act as borders for the town’s lagoon.

Airbnb
Airbnb

The Heads is a natural phenomenon that provides a clear view of the lagoon and the ocean it connects to. Just make sure you aren’t afraid of heights before going because some sections have a straight drop that can make you feel uneasy if you look down. It’s an excellent spot to watch the sunset but the beauty of the landscape is best enjoyed during the day. We ate dinner that evening at a kind of seafood but everything restaurant at the waterfront known as 34 Degrees South. It’s quite different from other places I have been too but in a good way.

We headed over to Monkeyland the next morning; a safe haven for monkeys located in Plettenberg Bay. Monkeyland is a franchise that forms the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance that safeguards a host of animals across SA. For just R260; you get a lengthy tour of the sanctuary and an up-close view of four different species. Bear in mind that, although tempting, you should never interact with the monkeys as they are wild animals. It’s rather unlikely that they will interact with you as you walk by.

    

Following this, we headed further down Plettenberg to get a taste of the south coast ocean at Lookout Beach. Despite it being the festive season, the crowd was fairly small which means there was enough space to set up comfortably. With it using the Indian Ocean current, the water was warm enough to swim in but the current was quite wild. As a result, we couldn’t spend much time in the water before being called out by the lifeguard which turned out to be for the best because we could barely manage the force of the high-tide waves.

We decided to transition to the fittingly named Lookout Deck restaurant which specialises in seafood but also offers a variety of vegetarian pasta and pizzas. As the name suggests, the Lookout Deck offers a view of the ocean and is a perfect spot to view the sunset. With everything on this side of the world closing fairly early we decided to head back to our accommodation and call it a night.

 

The next day we were up bright and early to experience some of what Thesen’s Island had to offer. We started off with breakfast at Turbine Boutique Hotel which was one of the few restaurants serving breakfast at the time with the other being ile de pain which we attempted to experience the following day but we’ll get back to that in a bit. Turbine offers a colourful take on steampunk design and makes for a photogenic location; it’s just a pity that the breakfast was not too memorable.

We headed off to our cruise along the lagoon after that on which we opened a bottle of wine. This charming tour provided some interesting facts and history about Knysna. It allowed us to see the small own from another perspective. Seeing that the cruise takes place in an enclosed part of the ocean, there isn’t a lot of motion. Those with sensitive stomachs shouldn’t suffer from motion sickness. I would definitely recommend you do this cruise to see the opulent views and learn more about Knysna.

Seeing that we were so impressed by this lagoon we decided to enjoy it ourselves. We went for a swim the following day. Thanks to it using the waters of the Indian Ocean, the water was wonderfully warm. It was a busy time for the area so finding a clear spot to sit was a challenge. This was the perfect way to end our stay in Knysna.

We headed off to Oudtshoorn that next day as we wanted to see the Cango Caves. If you know me you would know it wouldn’t be a holiday if I didn’t go wine tasting. So we found Karusa wines in the area and decided to visit. They were quite busy so we didn’t get much attention but it was a beautiful estate with interesting wines so I am glad we did make it there.

The next day we visited Cango caves which is about a 29 km drive from Oudtshoorn. This is the largest show cave in Africa and it was my first time here. I believe it was cheaper for students but the heritage tour is R150 for adults. In this tour, you get a bit of information from a tour guide and apparently the easier side to a walkthrough of the formation. Cango Caves is a marvel to see; one of the highlights of the entire trip for me.

You may notice the faint odour in the caves and the higher humidity. The most terrific part is Van Zyl’s Hall where ancient stalactites, known as the dried tobacco leaves of Oudtshoorn, cover the grey-blue of the limestone ceiling. Over 90 metres long, 50 metres wide at its widest point, and between 14 and 18 metres high.

Van Zyl’s Hall has giant organ pipes; your eyes are bewildered to see tall, slender stalagmite that rises nearly 10 metres towards the ceiling – Cleopatra’s Needle. Still quite active and growing, the Needle is known to be over 150 000 years old. Spectacular and not scary as it may look, these caves show you why they are apart of the seven wonders of Southern Africa.

We then sneakily found a waterfall nearby that had tons of gravel and decided to brave it. Albeit quite pretty it definitely was not necessary to drive two hours in gravel back and from it. I guess at this point we were ventured out and it was time to travel home sweet home Cape town.

Overall we had a fabulous time in Knysna and Oudtshoorn and I really hope I can return.

Have you been to Knysna or want to visit? Let me know if you have any questions.

xx Miss Dhanusha

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