When you take the direct route on the N2 from Cape Town to KNYSNA through the famous Garden Route, it opens up vistas of the most scenic landscape in the world. With infinite shades of green and brown, the Garden Route boasts of quaint yet picturesque countryside houses, expansive golf courses, evergreen forests, stunningly verdant backdrops, a rich fusion of flora and fauna, spectacular bridges, straight-drop cliffs, valleys and coastal towns. The best of Mother Nature can be witnessed in this dream drive route and the existence of world’s highest bungee does not hurt either! The unparalleled biodiversity here gives you a chance to take canopy tours, visit wildlife and bird sanctuaries and swim with whales and dolphins too! You can see many travelers covering this scenic route by hiking and cycling too….if you have time why not?
With picture perfect houses on the foothills, and the Indian Ocean running parallel to the road, I was completely mesmerized by what lay in front of my eyes. When I found myself at a loss for words, I wondered if it was because I was a naïve traveler or truly, there were very few such locations in the world. I cannot stop raving about my South Africa road trip. This road trip along the Garden Route and Eastern Cape was, hands down, one of the best trips of my life. The journey is enchanting on the Garden Route. A couple of months bank, it was Stellenbosch- another gem of a town on this garden route that I presented to you. This time its Knysna!
Knysna- Best of Garden Route
Welcome to Knysna, the beating heart of the Garden Route. No matter where you come from in the world, Knysna is sure to steal your heart. Nestled on the banks of a shimmering lagoon in the heart of the Garden Route is the quaint yet splendid town of Knysna- a destination, which one may not have heard of before . But we were hooked by its raw beauty and the amazing array of outdoor activities in its vicinity.
Knysna is positioned right at the intersection of lush forests at one side and the marvelous shores of a gorgeous estuary on the other. The area is easily one of the most scenic in the world and offers beaches and lakes for some fun time and woods to explore!
As we entered Knysna, My eyes were glued to the stunning surroundings growing even more beautiful and Knysna River added its own enigma to the setting. A scene straight out of a movie! Knysna has everything for a traveler- it provides a much-needed peace in its tranquil environs if you are rushing away from the city life. But is Knysna boring? Hell No! This tiny little place offers adrenaline-inducing adventures and competitive sporting events for you to try! One can also take in the sights and shop in some countryside style food markets. Knysna has a perfect balance of abundant nature and social sophistication.
Knysna has one of the most temperate climates in Southern Africa; summers rarely go beyond 30 degrees Celsius and winters seldom below 12 degrees Celsius. The pleasant temperatures all year round allows for sporting and outdoor adventure activities, October to December are the wettest months though.
Row Row Row your Boat!
One can enjoy ample fine dining options around Knysna's waterfront overlooking a quay and also have a ferry ride. Our 2-hour ferryboat called The John Benn was a dream. Surrounded by a magical view of boats cruising along the river against the backdrop of mountains, forests and houses atop the hills, is something you want to capture and treasure forever.
No wonder the shutter on our cameras was exposed throughout the ride! The ferry ride took us a few meters towards Knysna heads as it is called, with two mountains facing each other on the lagoon and sea lapping up on the other side. The overall experience of eating and drinking on this floating restaurant was surreal and we just did not get tired of the view of the sea for hours.
A review sneaked in….Famous country hotel- St. James!
The place I am going to tell you about is the best you will experience in Knysna stay-wise. It is a five star country hotel- St James located on the shores of Knysna lagoon. The Suites & Rooms are luxuriously furnished and styled for ultimate comfort. They offer uninterrupted and spectacular views across the lagoon and over the magnificent gardens and pool.
All the rooms and suites feature en-suite bathrooms, mini bars, tea/coffee making facilities, satellite television, safes, direct-dial telephones, welcome fruit basket, iron and ironing boards, bathrobes and hairdryers.
The 4 superior suites are on upper floor with lagoon facing balconies and 3 deluxe suites are garden facing along with one double room
Two junior suites are nestled around the courtyard with a private swimming pool
Downstairs you have restaurants, bar, main lounge and reception. Country style breakfasts, light lunches, teas and snacks are also served on the various patios and terraces.
The impeccably maintained and manicured gardens offer peaceful walks. One can relax and unwind around large Koi pond, 2 swimming pools, and indulge in some angling off the private jetty. Since it is situated on the banks of the Knysna Lagoon, guests are offered fishing along with a few canoes for a paddle. Other activities provided by outside operators include Mountain Bike tours, fishing charters, Kite Surfing and SUP (Stand up Paddling), whale and dolphin watching!
The Eats and Drinks
The Paquita Bar at St James has a beautiful view over the lagoon and is adjacent to the pool area. A cozy bar with a fireplace is a corner where you can enjoy a variety of French Champagnes, local wines and choose from a great selection of whiskey.
The Twin Palms Restaurant at the St James offers a range of dishes with an emphasis on "Local" dishes and produce. Twin Palms also has a very good wine list to accompany these dishes. Vegetarian options are limited but desserts are lip smacking and sumptuous. There are two menus - one is terrace menu which is for the lighter meals that can be enjoyed in gardens and the other one is an a la carte menu. Guests can experience the exquisite cuisine served in the candlelit dining rooms and can relax in front of crackling log fire. The surroundings and ambience are soothing and absolutely heavenly!
The HIGHEST BUNGEE!
After a wonderful stay at St. James, we decided to travel on the garden route to Tsitsikamma to watch and witness the world's third highest commercial bungee jumping at 216 m at Bloukrans Bridge. When it comes to Garden route, it is not only the incredible and marvelous scenery but also this super exciting Bloukrans bridge bungee jumping!
The Bloukrans Bridge is an arch bridge located between Storms River and Nature's valley situated on the border of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape in an area known as the Tsitsikamma. It stands 216m tall above the Bloukrans river making it the highest single span arch bridge in the world. Commonly the bridge is used as a road bridge that is part of National route N2.
Bungee jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge is a must for adventure-seekers visiting South Africa. The jump will give you a rush of pride, adrenalin and accomplishment that one wouldn’t get any another way. Whats more, it is an easy stopover on the Garden Route. Face Adrenalin, is the company that operates the Bloukrans bungee, and it is well established and highly efficient operation that runs 365 days a year and does hundreds of jumps each day. It has been here and doing this for “fatality free” 25 years! The professional team is really friendly and makes enthusiasts comfortable and ready for the jump. Expect loud music, party atmosphere and jokes as you gear up for the feat! A full body harness, complete safety briefing and a pendulum jump…..an experience of a lifetime!
The Bridge is situated in a gorgeous forested area. If one wants to witness the incredible views but don't have the heart to leap from the bridge, option of a bridge walking tour is available. Let me tell you that two out of every ten people who go up the bridge don't jump! And we are not blaming them…..
There is a little bar and a cafe downstairs, with a view of the bridge. After check in, vistors can sit around, talk and watch the whole process which looks really quick! Whether old or young, famous or not, taking the plunge is a great leveler in the beauty stakes. The fear is our body's way of protecting itself. The mind recognizes a threat and evokes fear as a self defense mechanism. If the thoughts are channelled, the body is convinced that there is no Infliction of harm, then the whole process of jump becomes easy. Again easy said than done!
Bungee jumping has to be booked in advance an hour or so before. During peak season, Easter and Christmas holidays, it is advisable that you book two to three weeks before.
After this hair raising activity and a thrilling experience, we headed on the Garden Route to the small coastal town of Mossel Bay which is home to some of the best shark cage diving spots along the side of stunning coastline. Exciting isn’t it? Well, more on that on my next travelogue! Hope you enjoyed this trip to Knysna. Let me know if you have been there and I would love to share some love for this place with you. Stay tuned for my next adventure on the garden route of South Africa!