Knysna is one of the famous holiday destinations on the Garden Route. This jewel lazes on the edge of the lagoon and the famous Knysna Heads, a pair of rocky sandstone cliffs.
Embracing an exquisitely scenic lagoon and surrounded by ancient forests, Knysna (pronounced ny-znah) played a huge role in South Africa's timber industry, supplying yellowwood and stinkwood for railway lines, shipping and house-building. The word ‘Knysna’ is thought to be derived from an indigenous expression meaning ‘place where the wood is’, but these days the trees are protected and instead tourists flock to its bustling waterfront to devour fresh oysters (there’s even a festival dedicated to the delicacy) and seafood.
A massive wildfire ravaged the area in 2017, destroying more than 1000 homes and devastating the forested landscape. It will take decades for the forests to fully recover, but the town is open for business as usual and nature always seem to bounce back and survive.
If you’re looking for a quiet retreat, don't stay in the town's centre, but rather look at the surrounding lagoon or forest areas as the vibey town does get crowded – particularly in the holiday season.