Our trip to Knysna

At last, I have completed the travelogue of our weekend away in Knysna in May 2008. I apologise that it took so long, but then my Gran always said, “Gut Ding muss Weile haben.” As you may not speak German, this means: “You need time to create something good.” – Or as Richard’s Opa used to say, “Die Ruhe sei dem Menschen heilig, nur Verrückte ha’m es eilig.” (But I won’t translate that one.)

Well, I hope you enjoy reading about our trip to the beautiful town of Knysna on the Garden Route in May 2008! Just click your way through the links below. I’ve also inserted relevant links into the various ‘episodes’, so you don’t need to come back to this one all the time.

  1. Cape Town to Knysna
  2. Breakfast with a view
  3. Phantom Pass
  4. Knysna Heads
  5. Storms River Village
  6. Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours
  7. Elephant Sanctuary
  8. Bottle of milk
  9. Feline visitor
  10. Millwood forest
  11. Miner’s walk

As I said, we spent the weekend of Richard’s birthday (16-18 May 2008 ) near the town of Knysna on the beautiful Garden Route. And as the weather gods smiled favourably upon us, we had two awesome, spectacular days in an area of extraordinary natural beauty.

On Friday, we drove on the N2 from Cape Town towards Knysna. We didn’t want to stay in any the larger towns, so we headed inland, into the mountains, and into the indigenous forests that are still found around the small settlement of Rheenendal (the turn-off is on your left, just before you enter Knysna from the west). A few kilometres up this winding road you will find the Lazy Leopard Forest Retreat, where we had booked ourselves into a cosy little cabin in the woods called “Forest Moon”.

On Saturday, we had breakfast on the wooden deck around the pool. This was not just ANY deck – but a deck with a glorious view! After breakfast, we drove over Phantom Pass down to the N2, the national road that takes you into the town of Knysna. Phantom Pass is apparently named after a harmless moth (Letho venus) – not a phantom that terrorises road users!

We made our way to the famous Knysna Heads, a pair of jagged sandstone cliffs that guardthe entrance to the Knysna lagoon. The Eastern Heads are easily accessible by car, but the Western Heads can only be accessed by means of a guided tour, which is operated by the privately owned Featherbed Nature Reserve. At the East Heads Caffé, we fortified ourselves with a capuccino and a chococcino – before clambering along the rocky walkway right to the end to get the best possible view of the waves.

Then we raced from Knysna to Storms River Village, where we went flying through the forest on ziplines between huge old trees courtesy of Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours.

These ziplines are also called foefie slides, which is a South African English word that refers to a flying fox, a zipline or a zip slide. The more primitive rough-and-tumble version of childhood involves a long strong rope or steel cable between two trees far apart, with one being higher than another. Sometimes, it crosses a river or a rockpool. Another bit of rope or something you can grip onto is slung over the cable, and then you launch yourself into the air, holding tight, and slide down at rapid speed. The far safer commercial version involves a pair of steel cables (the spare is for additional safety), a harness, and a pulley onto which you and your harness are clipped, so that you can’t fall off. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s a great adrenalin rush!

The rest of the afternoon was spent more sedately, meeting the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary (Elephant Sanctuary) near The Crags, just outside Plettenberg Bay. Our guide Patrick taught us a bit about elephants and their ways of life, and he explained how the handlers interact with the elephants at the sanctuary every day. Afterwards, we all had a chance to walk ‘trunk in hand’ with one of the elephants. A couple of people had the opportunity to ride three of the elephants around a large open field, while the rest of us used the time to feed and interact with the remaining three elephants.

We ended our evening with a little bit of an adventure, searching for a bottle of milk in the Rheenendal area… this wasn’t as easy as one might think!

On Sunday morning, I made a new feline friend – she must have watched us bring home the milk the night before!

After breakfast, we drove through the Millwood Forest to find Mother Holly’s Cottage near the top of the mountain. This was a lovely tea garden, run by Don and Kate. One of the rooms also housed a fascinating museum about the history of the area – specifically the era of the gold rush and the time of the foresters. In order to earn our scones with jam and cream, we went looking for gold on the Miners’ Walk. This was a circular route around the mountain, with a short excursion down a steep track to some abandoned gold mines.

And after that, we said a very sad goodbye to one of the most beautiful places in the country, promising ourselves that we would return.