Written by Rose Bilbrough
For many travellers, a break consists of sunshine and beaches, tall cool drinks and fresh air. To escape to a place where you can rest your soul and recharge those batteries. Sunny South Africa is a destination that many yearn to visit due to its abundance of sunshine and beautiful days, especially on the Garden Route in the Western Cape, which has an oceanic climate, with mild to warm summers, and mild to cool winters. According to the Guinness Book of Records the Garden Route has the mildest climate in South Africa and the second mildest climate in the world, after Hawaii. Temperatures rarely fall below 10 °C in winter and rarely climb beyond 28 °C in summer.
To escape the crazy seasons and to explore the calm of a place is a perfect way to unwind. Knysna not only offers long white beaches and sunrises and sunsets that take your breath away at times, but also the luxury of time to spend exploring the fabulous viewpoints and activities that the area has to offer without having to stand in long queues just hoping to experience that special place or activity that you so much want to see.
What is there to do in the winter and what are the secret options that are available to you as a traveller in Knysna?
For the Beach Lover:
A visit to Buffalo Bay on a sunshiny day in winter is a truly special experience. Not far from the town of Knysna you will find this magical little bay that curves its way along the coastline and is mostly protected from the wind. At low tide, you will find it filled with beachcombers that love the brisk walk to Brenton on Sea and back. Pop a few rands in your pocket and enjoy a coffee at Brenton on Sea before returning to Buffalo Bay. A perfect morning or afternoon activity that will revitalize the soul.
Across the way from Buffalo Bay is the marine protected area, Goukamma, which stretches from the river mouth to Platbank near Sedgefield. At low tide, this stretch can be a great beach to walk or cycle. Visit the oyster banks or just enjoy the abundance of birdlife and the beautiful rock formations of fossilised dunes. Throw a backpack over your shoulder to ensure you have all the goodies you need to take with and start well ahead of low tide.
Gericke’s Point in Sedgefield is one of the most picturesque beaches you will encounter in the Knysna region. A short walk from Swartvlei beach at low tide with a camera in hand and some wet wear will ensure an hour or 2 of great exploration and fun.
For the avid fisherman, all 3 of these beaches offer great rock and surf fishing while the family or friends sit back and relax or swim in the warm waters that flow past this coastline.
For the Forest Hiker/Walker
For the walking or hiking enthusiast, the forest region of the Garden Route offers more than you could ever imagine. Nearby forests such as Goudveld in Rheenendal, Diepwalle, Harkerville and Tsitsikamma are filled with walking paths that will take you to the most magnificent old trees. The green lush environment is cool and filled with budding mushrooms and small forest life such as the Knysna Turaco, the Dwarf Chameleon and other little creatures. For the history lover, there is plenty to fill your curious mind if you like the mysteries of the past.
For the Ocean Lover
The Garden Route is a place filled with opportunities for adventure activities. In Knysna itself, you can take a trip through The Heads and out on the Indian Ocean, whether it is aboard a sailing yacht or a motorized boat. Enjoy observing the humpback whales on their migratory journey to the north or speed along the coastline on an adventure boat while watching the dolphins play in the breakers. Hop on a sailing yacht and feel the breeze on your face while the wind fills the sails. On your return, sip on a tall drink and watch the sunset over the beautiful Knysna estuary.
For the Adventurer
The Garden Route is filled with adventure. Canoe to a waterfall, Acro-branch amongst the trees, or tandem paraglide along the beach or at Cloud 9 in Sedgefield. Visit the great giants of the Knysna Elephant Park or the numerous museums of Knysna. Scoot around on an electric bike and visit all your favourite viewpoints. For more information about activities visit our website: www.exploreknysna.com
For the mountain bike enthusiast, there are trails galore, so get in that seat and ride to your heart’s content. For more information click on this link:
For the Foodie:
The Garden Route is known as the food basket of South Africa and it is here that you will experience the “pluck and plate” feel of food. With the support of the local farming community and their consciousness regarding the environment, you can indulge in the Wild Oats Farmers Marker on a Saturday morning in Sedgefield or the Harkerville market near Plettenberg Bay. For a foodie experience in Knysna try a food and history walking tour with Knysna Hike and Bike. Come hungry as this culinary experience is filled with flavours and taste. The short walking tour will take you along some of the most beautiful spots in Knysna and an empty tummy and a good camera is a must.
Winter is the time that the sun sets red over the estuary, almost like a gift to us. If you are a photographer and traveller that loves nature, beautiful Knysna is the place to be. We, locals, love Knysna and it’s easy to see why as we share our secrets with you, naturally.