A year has gone by since I last set foot outside of Johannesburg. I haven’t been on a flight or road trip in what feels like forever!
The only travelling I have been doing were quick essential trips to the store for home supplies or laps around the garden with my pups.
I have been longing to get out of Gauteng, away from the city and just spend time somewhere with forests, beaches, adventures in the sun and happiness.
The moment South Africa lockdown travel restrictions were somewhat eased, I knew there was only one summer holiday destination that will allow me to escape the city and fully reconnect with everything I’ve missed – Knysna and the greater Garden Route!
I am sharing here my #SummerInKnysna travel bucket list with 13 of some of the best summer experiences in the Garden Route:
1 – Outeniqua Mountains from the plane
I love the view coming in for landing at George, flying over the Outeniqua Mountains and ocean.
I took the flight from OR Tambo International Airport to George. It was fairly empty and I had the entire row all to myself. The flight takes less than two hours, and then you’re in the Garden Route.
2 – Gericke’s Point / Swartvlei Beach
Before access to some of South Africa’s beaches got restricted again, I joined a tour with Garden Route Trail on the diversity of marine life on Swartvlei Beach. Check out the Moonlight Meander tour where you get to explore the beach at full moon.
3 – Pine Lake Marina
Pine Lake Marina is a self-catering holiday resort just outside Sedgefield. Ok, I think I could just stay right here!
Just look at my incredible views of Swartvlei Lake and the mountains. If you love adventure and nature, this is such a great family holiday spot.
4 – Knysna Ziplines
Bring on summer! When I heard about the new Knysna Ziplines by SA Forest Adventures, I knew I’m definitely doing this – ziplining across the huge Kranshoek Gorge with some of the most amazing views in the world. In the safe hands of my guides, Izak and Lucas, they took me across the 200m+ drop!
5 – Knysna Elephant Park
This has got to be one of the most incredible experiences! I’ve never been this close to an elephant before. I joined the “Meet Our Herd” guided walk with rescued elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park, the first in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants.
After walking with elephants, I had a delicious late lunch at Indlovu Café at Knysna Elephant Park.
6 – Judah Square Rastafari community
If you love adventure like me, stay over in Judah Square, a Rastafari community in the Khayalethu Township. Based on the principle of one love, I was welcomed with open arms and stayed at Jah Works B&B, run by Sista Kerri who relocated here from Australia.
This was the view from my room at Jah Works B&B.
I went on the “Rasta Tour” through the village. Judah Square is a community of Rastafari from across the world. The community does self-fundraising, run youth programmes and grow fresh produce in their food gardens.
All the art on the walls throughout Judah Square tell a story of Rastafari culture.
The murals and artworks around Judah Square are created by local and international Rastafari artists.
Chef and DJ, Ras Mau-Mau, invited me over for an African vegetarian feast at his dinner and live music spot, Rise & Shine Restaurant, that he runs with his wife, Sista Leah.
Ras Mau-Mau is standing here next to the menu. They only cook and serve vegetarian meals here.
An amazing vegetarian feast is served. Ras Mau-Mau prepares all the meals himself, and while guests eat, he DJs and plays us some hot tracks. I am fascinated by the murals inside his restaurant, and he tells me an artist from Ethiopia did these.
Until late in the evening, Ras Mau-Mau and I share stories of our travels to Ethiopia, regarded as the homeland of Rastafarians, and Sista Leah shares tales about growing up in Soweto.
7 – Emzini Treasure Tour
Next on my summer in Knysna list was an adventure filled day exploring Knysna with Emzini Tours, going to some of the most beautiful and historical sites. I am the very first person to go on the new Emzini Treasure Tour!
My guide is Zee. Everyone in Knysna knows him as the “President of Knysna”, or by his nickname – Zimzepzonkezikhonazaphalalagxumzatshonaemanzini.
Taking in the ocean views from the Knysna Heads.
8 – The Bell at Belvidere Manor
We stopped for lunch at this historic local favourite, The Bell at Belvidere Manor. How stunning is this? Built in 1849, the views of the Knysna Lagoon from here are beautiful.
9 – Boat trip on the Knysna estuary
I’ve always wanted to do this! I went on the Coquette, the oldest wooden vessel operating on African waters with Magic Lagoon Charters. We cruised across to the Knysna Heads cliffs separating the estuary from the sea.
10 – Totties Farm Kitchen
Late lunch at this spectacular gem just off Rheenendal road is an experience! The historic 1922 Totties Farm Kitchen has been a family institution for generations. Home style menu and afternoon tea in this beautiful setting is a must! They narrowly escaped the big fires of 2017.
11 – Peace of Eden
Peace of Eden is the carefree vegan forest retreat away from the city that I have been longing for since being confined indoors for the past months. I’ve stayed here before during the Greenpop Festival of Action.
This time I stayed in one of the forest tents tucked between the ferns and the trees where monkeys and other wildlife come to visit.
This eco lodge is all about treading lightly in nature and reconnecting with the earth and with yourself – in total comfort.
Here, it is also about giving back to the local community. Howard, who is one of the owners, is a music producer with a recording studio at the lodge. He has helped many aspiring young local musicians build a career with music.
Ok, so I ate the most delicious vegan cuisine that I’ve ever had, right here at Peace of Eden! Jen is the head-chef and owner.
I got treated to one of Jen’s “Secret Dinners” on the veranda, with vegan dishes inspired by the forest, made with love from locally sourced ingredients. For more inspiration and vegan deliciousness, take a look at Jen’s Instagram handle here where she shares some of her recipes.
12 – Wild Oats Market
Live music, fresh delicious food and all local produce. I love visiting the Wild Oats community farmer’s market on a Saturday morning in Sedgefield.
13 – Mosaic art in Sedgefield
I didn’t know that Sedgefield is South Africa’s mosaic art capital! I went on a tour with the Masithandane organisation, an ngo that trains locals with mosaic skills providing employment opportunities. They do amazing work supporting food security and caring for vulnerable children and women.
There is so much more to do in Knysna and the greater Knysna area than spending the day on the beaches, on a boat on the estuary or these 13 experiences. Whatever summer holiday adventures you have on your travel bucket list, you’ll find them in Knysna and the Garden Route. For more summer holiday ideas in the Garden Route, go check out https://www.visitknysna.co.za/