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Knysna

January/February Holiday

Lene, Elke & Cara
Lene, Elke & Cara at Knysna Heads

After another hectic season we eventually went on holiday for 8 days. We stayed at Dune Park resort between Keurboomstrand and Plettenberg Bay. It is a very nice spot and the duplex units (2 bedroom, double storey) are very attractive, neat and certainly big enough for a family of four, like ours. It is just a 5 minute drive from the beautiful Keurboomstrand and 10 minutes from Plettenberg Bay. We paid R650 per night for the whole unit which I felt was actually good value. It must be said that their occupancy while we were there seemed to be no more than 10%.

I swam at Keurboomstrand near the beach house of an old friend (an ex-boyfriend of my sister and his sister Caroline). We spent a summer there which was really unforgettable. I don’t know if the house still belongs to their family though.

We visited the Knysna heads again. It is always a special place, but I am disappointed that Knysna Municipality doesn’t keep it clean. Now and two years ago when we were last there the caves and path leading to the caves stinks of urine and worse. Considering what a spectacular and popular spot this is they really should control this better.

We stopped at the Wolf Sanctuary between Plett & Knysna. Elke wasn’t really that keen on the wolves, but I literately had to drag her away from the petting zoo. She loved the “skapies” and bunnies. In fact she loved the bunnies too much – some of them were definitely winded after being held by Elke. Adorable really. They had African Wild Dog there as well. I never realised how big the animals are. They are as big as a big German Shepard; I always had the impression they were the size of a Labrador or such.

We also visited the Plettenberg Bay several times. The highlight was probably Le Forniel Bakery & Coffee Shop right in the centre of town. It is not that well advertised or signed, but do look out for it; you will not be disappointed. Their croissants are legendary. They definitely gave us some ideas for The Red Apple.

Keurboomstrand is a stunning holiday town with amazing vistas and awesome swimming. We had pasta at Enrico’s, probably one of the best located restaurants in South Africa. Their catchphrase, which I love, is “If it were any closer [to the sea], you’d get wet.”!

The rest of our holiday we spent lazing about at Lene’s parents’ house on the Kromme River. This was probably the most uneventful part of the holiday, but we really did need it.

The holiday was good and necessary, but kids make things complicated. Elke was really difficult the whole trip, partly because she was sick and I think partly because she’s acting out against all the attention Cara is now getting. Inevitably one feels sorry for the elder child, but I guess it is part of life.

Our Knysna holiday

Last week Lené and I had our first decent holiday in 18 months. We took a four-day trip to Knysna. We asked Lené’s parents to look after Elke and predictably they were more than happy to oblige.

We stayed at the 4-star Knysna Quays hotel. I would say the Hotel is OK. The ground staff were friendly, but the receptionist wasn’t. I don’t know if it was because we spoke Afrikaans or because we’re South-African (maybe they’re more used to foreign tourists). The rooms are nice, but other 4-star hotels I stayed in had much bigger rooms. The best thing about the hotel was its proximity to the Knysna Waterfront. It really is a 2-minute walk.

Places we visited were:

Knysna Heads
Knysna Heads

The famous Knysna Heads. It is really beautiful area, but I find it depressing that the whole Eastern side is so built up. There are these ugly jutting mansions all over the stunning rocks. I wouldn’t want to live there and I probably won’t go there again. I think this demonstrates pretty well where we are going wrong with residential developments.

Leisure Island. A very pleasant place. Large properties with really classy houses and big lawns. Also very close to the water. And a nice art gallery as well.

Knysna Waterfront
Knysna Waterfront

Knysna Waterfront. Nice vibe, but surprisingly quiet. The eateries were good. The shopping was very touristy. Not the way I like to shop. I don’t think the area works as well out of season as anticipated. In season I’m sure it goes nuts.

Knysna Town Centre & Information Office. Very impressive. The centre feels alive even in the middle of week. There is much to do and to see. The shopping is excellent and the well-looked after displays make you feel as if people care about the environment. The Knysna tourism office is the benchmark. The location is excellent and the office itself has strong branding and a good layout. It works! People meander in and out as if its another shop. It makes me green with envy.

Thesen Island. I wouldn’t live here in a million years! Not a blade of grass to be seen and no swimming access to the water (even if you did want to swim in the dirty water). The flats are one on top of the other with no character. The mind boggles as to why someone would want to live there. The only good thing is the shopping and the eating. They have some impressive but expensive shops. The restaurants are the same. We ate at the famous Ile de Pain (means Bread Island). Food was awesome, but outrageously expensive.

Lake Pleasant
Lake Pleasant

Knysna Meuseum. Not that much to see, but still worth a visit. It used to be the old gaol and they have restored one of the cells. This and the plan of the original goal gives you a real sense of what it used to be like. There is also some interesting stuff about Knysna, George Rex & The Thesens. The old photographs are also worth a look.

Belvidere. Beautiful place next to the lagoon on the Western side. Not much to do, but I expect that is what the locals want. There are some stunning houses on huge properties.

Lake Brenton. A very nice campsite on the shores of the Knysna Lagoon. We might visit this again with the kids and family in future.

Brenton-on-Sea. Reminds me of Cape St. Francis, one of my favourite places. Also the signage is Afrikaans; which warms my heart right up. 🙂 Only negative is how far away from the beach you are. Because of this Cape St. Francis still wins hands down.

Millwood
Attie in Millwood

Sedgefield & Lake Pleasant. A nice place with a fantastic beach. Quiet when we were there. The Lake Pleasant Bistro was recommended to us by a friend. It turned out to be a winner. The food was outstanding; the staff was friendly and the view was unbeatable. I can definitely recommend it.

George Pro Shop. A strange place for a holiday I know! But I needed some gear and well… we were in the vicinity. 😉 The staff were great – much better than Port Elizabeth’s Pro Shop – and they allowed me to test out some equipment on their driving range before I bought. I ended up buying a whole lot.

Millwood. I did the Outeniqua Hiking Trail 15 years ago so I was really keen to see if it was still the same. To me the Knysna Bush, as written about by Dalene Mathee, is one of the most beautiful parts of the world so I love it here. Millwood now has a charming coffee shop combined with a museum that is definitely worth a visit.

All in all it was a very rewarding trip. I will visit the area again, but next time I’ll give Thesen Island and the Waterfront a skip. The one disappointment was that the Knysna Choo-Choo (a scenic train troute) was out of action. Hopefully next time that will work again.

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