Did you know?
The proposed name for the original Rheenendal Farm was Fescue Meadows.
Dairy farms, hikes, beekeeping courses, art workshops, quirky restaurants and cosy forest cottages – this area close to Knysna offers visitors so many experiences and activities that the community decided it needed to curate them.
The result is the Rheenendal Ramble, a route that highlights what’s on offer along the road through the rural community of Rheenendal, just a dozen kilometres from the town of Knysna. As well as promoting local businesses, the clearly mapped ‘ramble’ helps visitors plan their itineraries according to their interests.
Food lovers have lots of country fare to choose from. The first attraction on the route is the Leeuwenbosch Factory and Farm Stall, which serves a spectacular clotted cream tea special. Close by, VegTable, a vegetarian restaurant, serves up organic, seasonal fare, including local treats like forest-foraged mushrooms. Then there is the historic Totties Farm Kitchen and Country Store. Both have remained in the family since 1922, when Florence Eleanor van Reenen started the original general dealer store and butcher shop in Rheenendal.
Heatherhill Herbs grows and sells organic herbs and offers courses to teach you how to use them. At HoneyChild, you can not only buy the finest raw honey, you can also complete a beekeeping course or do a field tour of the hives. There are also various other tearooms and restaurants dotted along the way.
If you’re looking to feed your soul, you may want to stop at Angel Connection, which offers spiritual workshops and meditation groups. You can also drop in at Yoga Inside Out, a weekly yoga class at Candlewood Farm.
Further along, you can visit Nourish Soaps, where Pauline Susman creates natural, handmade soaps using locally sourced ingredients. Local artist Lyn Beaton runs painting and drawing classes for adults from her home studio on a smallholding along the route. However, if you prefer to be model rather than artist, you can do a fun and creative forest photo shoot with Kevin Factor Photography.
Those in search of a more active experience can organise horse-riding lessons at the DP Equestrian Centre.
Heading into the Millwood section of the Knysna Forest, there are hikes and trails to discover. Nature lovers may enjoy the guided options that bring to light the history of the area as well as its lush fauna and flora, but there are also many trails you can follow yourself, either on foot on or on a mountain bike.
History buffs will want to visit the Dalene Matthee Memorial, which commemorates the well-loved South African author and her special relationship with the forest and woodcutters who worked in it. Right towards the end of the route, you’ll discover Mother Holly's Tea Garden and Museum, which will teach you about the Millwood gold rush, another intriguing era in the area’s history.
You will learn more about the community living in the area with each stop you make, but it’s also worth popping in to the 7 Passes Swap Shop. This initiative encourages community members to bring in their recyclable waste (up to 1.5 tons every month) and swap it for goodies from the shop.
In addition, there are several other shops to visits, activities to experience (including forest massages and skydiving!) and restaurants to eat at. There are also many accommodation options that range from forest cabins to quaint farm stays. All take full advantage of the beautiful rural setting.
Be warned, though: many of the people who live in the area were just like you; but in Rheenendal, a casual ramble sometimes results in a permanent move.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The best source of information on this route is the Rheenendal Ramble website.
How to get here
The Rheenendal Ramble starts at the signposted turn-off to Rheenendal on the N2 just south of Knysna.
Around the area
The Knysna area is beautiful and diverse, with a spectacular coastline offering beaches and various water-based activities. There are also large natural lakes, dense indigenous forests, fynbos, golf courses and a well-developed service industry that ensures there are many places for you to stay, as well as a long list of activities to do and sights to see.
Where to stay
There are almost a dozen self-catering and B&B accommodation options mapped along the route.
To stay up to date with events on the Rheenendal calendar, which range from forest marathons to local markets, visit the Rheenendal Ramble facebook page.