Choose your country and language:
TThe next time you pass a sprawled jumble of 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.
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 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 Mapurisa 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-cake 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 the 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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 1087
Cell: +27 (0)82 338 6289
How to get here
Your tour will depart from Knysna Waterfront.
Best time to visit
It's an all-year-round destination.
Things to do
The Garden Route and Tsitsikamma area is packed with adventure options and day-drive choices.
Either in your guide's vehicle or, if you prefer, in your own.
What will it cost?
The tour costs about R400 per person. You can also choose to add on a traditional lunch to your tour at around R150pp.
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 to pack
Pack comfortable clothes and shoes.