We had never met but still made ourselves at home in each other’s house for a couple of weeks. It was my first Home Exchange and I lucked out in a stylish, spacious and very neat holiday home in Knysna’s des-res Leisure Isle.
So what to do in Knysna? As a sporty hedonist I love a bit of physical activity followed by something sublime on a plate. Encouraged by Knysna Tourism I achieved both every day.
Here’s my 5-Day Guide to Happiness in Knysna……..
Do: Tony Cook Adventures has a garden full of toys on Leisure Isle for messing about on the water or in the woods; stand up paddle boards, kayaks, surf skis, kite surfing kits, mountain bikes…with lessons to go with all the gear. I headed out onto a flat calm Knysna lagoon on a stable, unsinkable kayak and paddled in a sort of meditative trance brought on by the beauty.
Eat: I haven’t been to anything else quite like Kilzer’s Kitchen’s hilarious ‘Cook ‘n Look’ evenings, where Jenny (the funny one) and Albin (straight-faced) spar while cooking up a feast in their sunken kitchen as guests look on. It’s easy to get into the happy-go-lucky spirit of the evening (with the help of your own BYO) at this family culinary event that caters for up to 70 dinner guests.
Do: Biomimicy Walk in Knysna Forest. Sue Swain of Biowise had to get us thinking laterally about how the genius of nature can inspire design. We started by matching photos of engineering, design and architecture with nature’s original and better version; like how the shape of the high-speed Japanese bullet train had to be revised after it was built, to mirror a Kingfisher’s beak because the train created a sonic boom when the front was too rounded. This was just the start of a new look at the world around us while walking through the famed Knysna Forest.
Eat: Nutrilicious Kitchen; Modern research now acknowledges that bad guts are the cause of a whole lot of ills. This is where Dr Geraldine of Nutrilicious Kitchen comes in. Her cookery workshops demonstrate how you can love what you eat while cutting out the worst culprits to good gut health like, gluten, sugar and dairy. Try her Snack Attack, Hormonal Harmony or Deserts with Benefits workshops for inspiration to eat well all the time.
Do: Knysna Heads Walkabout. The path that wanders up and down the rocks at the base of the East Heads cliff has to be walked before or after eating at East Head Café (below). It’s impossible to take a bad photo from this path as the golden sandstone is the perfect contrast against the blue sea and white waves. Then drive (or puff your way) up to the top of the East Head and witness added scenic drama from up high at dedicated viewing platforms looking out over the lagoon and through the narrow heads out to sea.
Eat: East Head Café became my ‘go-to’ eating place for breakfast or lunch in Knysna because it offers great service, a lusty lagoon view and food that never fails to hit the spot. Expect to queue on sunny weekend mornings (still worth the wait).
Do: Anne of Knysna Hike & Bike is one fit veteran sportswoman who has nothing to prove and everything to share about the places she loves in and around Knysna. I’m more of a hiker than a biker, but reckon I could mount a bike if it’s got wine and food interspersed with the effort, as in the Crags Wine and Bubbly Cycle. You could do this as a walking tour, but a bit of effort makes it more worthwhile.
Eat: The only way is up, to reach The Mount Knysna 5-star boutique hotel perched on the East Head with vertiginous views. Sit on their pool terrace drink in hand before heading to your table in their small and exclusive restaurant for food and service that leaves nothing to want. It’s on par with any international experience, no….it’s better! And they have their own private cinema.
Do: Springtide Sailing Charters; seen the heads, been on the lagoon, now it’s time to sail it! There’s effort in watching someone else pull ropes, haul sails and navigate through one of the narrowest, most difficult sea entries/exits along the Cape coast. Come winter the migratory whales arrive giving heightened chances of seeing them.
Eat: Ile de Pain is a Knysna food institution of the French sort on designer-clothed Thesen Island. It’s created by foodies, fundi’s, artisans and dreamers who conjure up irresistible breads and patisseries, delectable breakfasts and lunches, but not dinner. They are generous enough to put some recipes on their website, so I’ve cheekily asked for the recipe of the roasted cauliflower puree dish that I devoured and now dream about!
This just scratches the surface of things to do in Knysna? Help me complile the full list…tell me what are your favourites in Knysna?