The next time you pass a sprawled jumble of tumbledown shacks at the entrance to Knysna, book a tour to this fascinating village and meet some of the most enterprising souls on the Garden Route. Your guides will feed you, house you and introduce you to the inner life of Khayalethu Village.

Did you know?

Khayalethu Township is also home to a Rastafarian community in a section called Judah Square.

Khayalethu, the township that lies cheek-by-jowl with the Garden Route town of Knysna is a tumbled jumble of wooden shacks that are easy on the eye but hard to live in.

That's why, as your guide takes you through this large and colourful settlement, you'll come across swathes of recently built, modern houses beginning to replace the higgledy-piggledy timber dwellings of old.

Looking down from your lookout point in Khayalethu at the upmarket lagoon developments, you will see why they call Knysna the playground of the rich. And if you follow the journals of 18th Century naturalist Francois le Vaillant, you will know this is where adventurers sat around large fires and cooked exotic dishes like elephant foot for breakfast.

Today, Knysna is a popular tourist spot, with many seasons and festivals.

Penny Mainwaring and Ella Mhlalu are the people behind Emzini Tours. They met at the local Baptist church, hit it off as friends and then formed a business partnership. Penny markets, Ella guides and between them they raise funds for a soup kitchen and a safe house for abused women and children.

Another accomplished Khayalethu guide is Mawande Kondlo, who runs a B&B and a restaurant called The Roosterkoek Shack, named after a kind of griddle caked cooked over coals. This young, enterprising Denzel Washington-lookalike, will feed you chicken, chops and the local delicacies of pap (polenta) and chakalaka (spicy pickle) before you embark on your drive to the schools and projects of this vibrant township.

One of the highlights of a Khayalethu township tour is a visit to a place called Nekkies ('Little Necks'), also known as Little America. Here you'll meet a Ghanaian who cuts hair for a living, a Malawian tailor who has dreams of being a big businessman, Somalian shopkeepers and a Nigerian restaurateur who married a South African woman 10 years ago, and adds a touch of Lagos magic to his lunches.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Emzini Tours
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 1087
Cell: +27 (0)82 338 6289

How to get here

Your guide will meet you at your accommodations in Knysna.

Best time to visit

It's an all-year-round destination.

Around the area

The Garden Route and Tsitsikamma area is packed with adventure options and day drive choices.

Get around

Either in your guide's vehicle or, if you prefer, in your own.

What will it cost

About R450 per person negotiable, depending on how much time is spent.

Length of stay

Knysna is good for a whole week's holiday. Khayalethu is a half-day tour.

Where to stay

Knysna has many accommodation options. If you want to stay in the township, your guide will find you the best B&B.

What's happening

Knysna has a long festival and event calendar. Check with the local tourism office.