Knysna Tourist Attractions
Knysna is one of the principal centers on the famous Garden Route along the south coast of South Africa. It is delightfully situated between the forest and the sea on a lagoon which offers scope for a variety of water sports.
In 1985 this beautiful region of salt lakes and swamps was declared a National Lake Area, and it is now administered by the National Parks Board. Around the lagoon are numerous holiday houses, hotels and guesthouses. On the seaward side the mouth of the lagoon is flanked by two crags, the Knysna Heads. On the two islands in the lagoon, which are linked with the mainland by bridges, are numbers of handsome holiday homes. There are believed to be more than 200 species of fish and other marine creatures in the lagoon, including the rare seahorse (Hippocampus capensis). The local oysters are particularly prized by connoisseurs; they can be bought in the Knysna Oyster Company's shop in Long Street.The name of George Rex (1765-1839) keeps cropping up in Knysna. Rumor had it that Rex, who came to this area in 1803, was the illegitimate son of King George III and Hannah Lightfoot. This could never be proved, and is now regarded as historically improbable. Certainly the local people believed that his lavish life-style could be explained in no other way. He owned a large farm and was involved in a variety of other business activities. His supposed royal descent attracted many other settlers, and in 1825 the town of Knysna was officially founded by the Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset.The town's harbor, built on the initiative of George Rex, brought Knysna prosperity in the course of the 19th C; but in 1928 the railroad superseded ships as a means of transport, and in 1954 the harbor was closed.Knysna is a lively little town, with its main public buildings, restaurants and shops on its busy Main Road. There are also good shops and restaurants in the attractively laid out Woodmill Lane Shopping Centre in Long Street, which branches off Main Road.
Knysna Forest is the largest tract of forest in the country, although much of it is planted forest. Some areas do have giant yellowwoods, which are somewhere between 400 and 800 years old.
Millwood House Museum
The Millwood House Museum is a trim little house which originally stood in the nearby settlement of Millwood, where gold was discovered in 1876 - a small deposit which was almost worked out by 1895. This house was then taken down and re-erected in Knysna. It is now a national monument. The museum is mainly devoted to the town's founder, George Rex, and to the gold-mining operations in Millwood
Near Knysna is Pledge Park, a small nature reserve with an area of only 10ha/25ac. The park, which is freely accessible, has a fine show of indigenous vegetation and many attractive viewpoints.
Brenton-on-Sea, South Africa
6km/4mi south of Knysna church is Brenton-on-Sea, a charming little seaside resort on Buffalo Bay with magical, endlessly long sandy beaches.
Buffalo Valley Game Farm
To the west of Brenton-on-Sea, in the valley of the Goukamma River, is the privately owned Buffalo Valley Game Farm, with zebras and numerous species of antelopes and gazelles, which visitors can observe from their cars (on a 3km/2mi long track running through the reserve) or on short guided walks.
Featherbed Nature Reserve
There is a daily ferry service from Knysna to the Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Western Head. Here visitors can observe the local flora and fauna; there is a restaurant.The reserve is privately owned and visits are limited.
Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe (closed)
The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe, a narrow-gauge steam train, runs between Knysna and George.ATTRACTION CLOSED - The rail line was damaged by floods in 2006 and has not run since that time.