Knysna has not only been voted as one of the top 100 towns in the world, thanks to a combination of rural charm and cosmopolitan verve; it also boasts magnificent forests with scenic walks. A trip to Knysna is well worth a road trip along the Garden Route.

Did you know?

The Knysna sea horse, found in the Knysna lagoon, is the rarest sea horse in the world.

Located along South Africa's famous Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Knysna is famous for its lush forests, which attract nature and outdoor enthusiasts from across the globe.

While there is debate about the direct translation of the meaning of the name Knysna, a Khoi word, the most popular thinking is that it means 'place of wood', a reference to the dense forests of the region.

Some of the tall yellowwood trees in the area are believed to be around 800 years old. Other prominent tree species include stinkwood and the pink-flowered Cape chestnut.

During the 19th century, the Knysna forest was home to hundreds of elephants. These were however poached to near extinction by mine workers who lost revenue due to the failure of the Millwood gold mine. Today it is believed that a few isolated individuals may still roam these dense forests.

Knysna offers endless forest walks and hiking trails. Highly recommended are the 9km Woodcutters' Walk and the 5.6km Millwood Mine Walk. Exploring the area on horseback is also an option if you don't fancy doing so on foot.

In the forest of Knysna you'll discover rivers, waterfalls and a mass of flora amid the giant trees. Keep an eye open for various antelope species that roam the forests during the day.

Mountain bikers also have an ample selection of routes and should certainly consider the 24km Petrus-se-brand Route, which ends at the aptly named Garden of Eden.

Bird watchers should keep a lookout for the Knysna loerie with its distinctive white-tipped crest.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Knysna Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 5510
Email: info@knysna-info.co.za

Phantom Forest Eco Reserve & Spa
Tel: +27 (0)44 386 0046
Email: info@phantomforest.com

How to get here

The closest airport to Knysna is in George, less than an hour away and with connecting flights to all of South Africa's international airports. You could also drive along the beautiful Garden Route from Cape Town (six hours) or Port Elizabeth (three hours) to Knysna.

Best time to visit

If you wish to avoid the local holiday rush, visit Knysna between March and October. The best weather, however, is during holiday season, between November and February.

Get around

Hiring your own car is the most convenient option, allowing you to explore the area at your own pace.

Length of stay

To explore the forest, a few days. To explore the area, a week at least, preferably longer.

What to pack

A camera and binoculars are essential items. A good pair of walking shoes is also advisable.

Where to stay

The Phantom Forest Eco Reserve & Spa, located in a forest setting 7km from the town of Knysna, has featured prominently in the World Travel Awards in recent years.

What to eat

Oysters are a speciality of the area, so indulge.

What's happening

The Knysna Oyster Festival takes place annually in July.