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Knysna: Not Just a Stop-off Point Anymore

Dec 14, 2007
The town of Knysna spent the time between the 1960s and the mid 1990s gaining a reputation as a retirement destination and a place to buy supplies and curios on the way to Plettenberg Bay. However, over the last decade the town has grown into a thriving tourist destination, with stunning holiday homes and guest cottages available in the city, on the lagoon or on the famous "Knysna Heads". The Heads are where the warm water estuary joins the ocean, passing between large headlands that give the region its name.

Knysna has become famous as the ideal spot along the far end of the Garden Route for fishing and water sport enthusiasts. In the morning and evening hours the massive lagoon becomes still as glass, and is perfect for water skiing and wakeboarding. Many of the guest houses on the lagoon and the Heads open out onto the water where you can fish for local fish from your front garden, as well as moor a small ski-boat. These guest houses are all luxury, five star self-catering establishments and in the busy season can charge fairly high rates.

In the town you will find more affordable accommodation that has the benefit of being close to the shops, which is one of the main reason tourists come to Knysna. Browse through local African curio shops and designer furniture and clothing outlets, or have a bite to eat in one of the charming road side cafes. The town itself still has only one main road, which is merely the portion of the N2 that runs through the town. Suddenly the major highway turns into a busy town main road that is safe for pedestrians.

Being in Knysna during the December-January holidays can sometimes be a bit hectic. The town is confined by the mountains and the lagoon, and can sometimes seem too small for the hundred thousand people who pass through it every busy season. If you want to experience Knysna at its very best, you need to be fortunate enough to be there for the famous Oyster Festival. This generally occurs in the second week of July, but can vary slightly depending on weather.

The Oyster Festival changes from year to year, and includes events like cycle tours, sales, live music and restaurant specials. The actual events you might find yourself at will differ from year to year, and will depend on the weather and the days you are in Knysna. Whatever the Oyster Festival has for you when you go, it is bound to be an unforgettable experience. There is a lot of excitement to be found on the water as well, and private boat tours or ski boats can be hired from just about anywhere along the lagoon.

If you are going for a trip on the Garden Route, Knysna is the one town that you simply cannot miss out on. Even if you take a quick walk along the main road and a drive up to the Heads, you will never regret taking the time out of your trip to see this jewel of the southern coast.
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