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A 125-mile stretch from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route was added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2017. 

Situated on the Garden Route, approximately six hours drive from Cape Town, the town of Knysna boasts one of the loveliest settings on the east coast. Surrounded by the lush green vegetation that this region is known for, it also benefits from its position on the edge of a lagoon. Much of the town is positioned around the water, with lovely views of the lagoon, the Knysna Heads and the Featherbed Nature Reserve. Featherbed and the Heads mark the point where the lagoon enters the ocean beyond.

The town has a village feel, even though its population is close to 100,000, and its setting on the coast, surrounded by serene forests, makes it feel like a holiday town – no matter the time of year. Once at the centre of South Africa’s timber industry, today Knysna is a tourism hub, with many options for things to do. The Knysna Quays is the name of the waterfront, which has numerous shopping opportunities, as well as several excellent restaurants overlooking the yacht club. There are a number of boat trips on offer, and there are many walking trails within the immediate vicinity. Walks around the lagoon, beach walks and trails into the ancient indigenous forests are some of the options available.

Established in 1985 to protect local wildlife, the Featherbed Nature Reserve is spread over 150 hectares on the western head of Knysna. Wildlife here includes the Cape Mountain tortoise, African black oystercatcher, blue duiker and blue crane. To visit the reserve, you can take a short ferry ride across the lagoon, then drive up to the headland and walk through the coastal forest and fynbos into ancient sea caves.

Another popular daytrip is to Tsitsikamma National Park, where you can admire the beautiful scenery around Storms River from the suspension bridge, accessed via gentle pathways with multiple viewpoints. Originally built in 1969 and spanning 77 metres, the bridge serves as a lookout point over the stormy seas and precipitous cliffs.