Boating in Knysna
In addition to running the ferry to the nature reserve, the Featherbed Company operates sightseeing boats on the lagoon (trips start at R75 per person), as well as a Mississippi-style paddle steamer that does lunch and dinner cruises. Ferry Terminus, Remembrance Ave., Knysna, 6570. 044/382–1693. www.knysnafeatherbed.com.
Springtide Charters operates a luxury 50-foot sailing yacht for scenic cruises on the lagoon and through the Heads (weather permitting). You can have breakfast, lunch, or a romantic dinner on board—or even spend the night. The boat takes a maximum of 12 passengers, and dinner and overnight trips are limited to one party with a maximum of four people. Rates start at about R390 per person for a two-hour sail or R590 for a three-hour trip with snacks. Knysna Quays, Knysna, 6571. 082/470–6022. www.springtide.co.za.
Perched on the cliff top of the Eastern Head, the challenging 18-hole Pezula Championship Golf Course is one of South Africa's most scenic courses, designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale. It costs R695–R795 per person, including a compulsory golf cart. Also available are a comfortable clubhouse with a great restaurant and lessons from resident pros. Lagoon View Dr., Eastern Head, Knysna, Knysna, 6570. 044/302–5300. www.pezula.com.
The two-day Harkerville Trail passes through the indigenous forests, pine plantations, and "islands" of fynbos, as well as fairly taxing sections on the coast. (This is not a beginner's trail.) Homesick Californians can hug a familiar tree in a small stand of huge redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), planted as part of a forestry experiment years ago. Overnight accommodation is in a hut with beds and mattresses, water, and firewood, but you'll need to bring your own bedding and food provisions. The trail costs R100 per person. N2, 15 km [9 mi] east of Knysna, Knysna, 6570. For more information, contact SANParks. 044/302–5600.
If you'd like to sample the Harkerville Forest but don't want to commit to a strenuous, two-day hike, try the easy stroll in the Garden of Eden. The short trail goes into the forest on a wheelchair-friendly wooden boardwalk. You'll see some big old trees, plus tables where you can picnic. The kiosk at the Garden of Eden is open daily 7:30–4, and entry is R6 per person. Contact SANParks for more information. 044/302–5600.
Diepwalle Elephant Walk is a lovely forest walk that's about 20 km (12 mi) long. It takes six to seven hours to walk but has been split up into three shorter routes of about two to three hours each. Entrance is free, except on school holidays when it is R14. Off N2, Uniondale Road, Diepwalle Forest Estate, 24 km [15 mi] east of Knysna, Knysna, 6570. For more information, contact SANParks. 044/302–5600.
If you don't fancy heading off on your own, take a guided walk through the area with Knysna Forest Tours. Prices are about R350 for a half day and R450 for a full day including lunch. 044/382–6130. www.knysnaforesttours.co.za.
The Garden Route is ideal for mountain biking. There are four circular trails of varying length and difficulty at Harkerville, starting and ending at the Garden of Eden if you bring your own bike; at the Outeniqua Biking Trail office if you rent one. All the trails are great, but the last 6 km (4 mi) of the Petrus se Brand Trail is widely considered to be the most fun (but not challenging) piece of single track in South Africa. Unlike the others, Petrus se Brand is not circular; it can be done either way between Diepwalle and Garden of Eden. It's tight and twisty, and you'll zip downhill (if you start at Diepwalle) over the springy forest floor, dodging enormous trees. N2, 15 km [9 mi] east of Knysna, Knysna, 6604. You can rent bikes (R125) from Outeniqua Biking Trails, which is conveniently located right on the forest edge and close to the trails. The SANParks entrance fee is R25. Harkerville. 044/532–7644 or 083/252–7997.
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