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Island Calm Guidebook

Wendy

Island Calm Guidebook

Food scene
Coffee shops and restaurants
Situated on the rocks, at the famous Eastern Head, is East Head Café – the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch, with breathtaking lagoon views. This restaurant has become a favourite among locals and visitors. Open: 8-3. 0443840933
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East Head Café
25 George Rex Dr
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Situated on the rocks, at the famous Eastern Head, is East Head Café – the perfect spot to enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch, with breathtaking lagoon views. This restaurant has become a favourite among locals and visitors. Open: 8-3. 0443840933
Whitewashed is a charming cafe near Leisure Isle. Candice makes scrumptious food, ranging from light lunches to delicious treats. Be sure to visit. 8-4, Mon to Fri. 044 382 1494.
White washed
5 Noble St
Whitewashed is a charming cafe near Leisure Isle. Candice makes scrumptious food, ranging from light lunches to delicious treats. Be sure to visit. 8-4, Mon to Fri. 044 382 1494.
Bodega Cafe moved to Leisure Island in 2018 and offers delicious international, European, contemporary and healthy meals. There is a little deli, called Harvest Room, on the side - selling home-baked bread & biscuits and other home-cooked items. Lots of vegan options. A popular newcomer to the island. 076 496 1600. Mon-Fri, 8-3
Bodega Cafe
61 Waterfront Dr
Bodega Cafe moved to Leisure Island in 2018 and offers delicious international, European, contemporary and healthy meals. There is a little deli, called Harvest Room, on the side - selling home-baked bread & biscuits and other home-cooked items. Lots of vegan options. A popular newcomer to the island. 076 496 1600. Mon-Fri, 8-3
Leisure Island. Nadine’s Corner is a family coffee shop & restaurant, with a peaceful outdoor seating area. There is often fresh produce for sale, as well as basic supplies like coffee, tea, sugar, bread, milk, rusks, locally produced jams, biscuits and cold drinks. Also open Wed & Fri evenings in season, 6-9pm. 0443841746. Tues-Sat, 9-5. Sun, 9-4.
Nadines Corner on Leisure Island
12 Kings Way
Leisure Island. Nadine’s Corner is a family coffee shop & restaurant, with a peaceful outdoor seating area. There is often fresh produce for sale, as well as basic supplies like coffee, tea, sugar, bread, milk, rusks, locally produced jams, biscuits and cold drinks. Also open Wed & Fri evenings in season, 6-9pm. 0443841746. Tues-Sat, 9-5. Sun, 9-4.
On Thesen Island causeway...Have you ever eaten fish cooked on the braai? Enjoy a wide selection of seafood dishes at this very popular & well priced outdoor, beach sand restaurant. Perfect for a simple, casual but scrumptious meal. Bring your own alcohol. Booking essential in high season. 044 382 3131. Pizzas and red meat options are also available. Closed Sundays.
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Freshline Fisheries
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On Thesen Island causeway...Have you ever eaten fish cooked on the braai? Enjoy a wide selection of seafood dishes at this very popular & well priced outdoor, beach sand restaurant. Perfect for a simple, casual but scrumptious meal. Bring your own alcohol. Booking essential in high season. 044 382 3131. Pizzas and red meat options are also available. Closed Sundays.
With Mozambican flair, O’Pescador delivers an excellent Portuguese feast – from exquisitely grilled delicate hake to outstanding seafood and red meat options. Sit on the verandah and enjoy sunset’s beauty over the picturesque yacht harbour. (Waterfront, upstairs. 044 382 3476). Open every day from morning till night.
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O Pescador Restaurant
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With Mozambican flair, O’Pescador delivers an excellent Portuguese feast – from exquisitely grilled delicate hake to outstanding seafood and red meat options. Sit on the verandah and enjoy sunset’s beauty over the picturesque yacht harbour. (Waterfront, upstairs. 044 382 3476). Open every day from morning till night.
Plettenberg Bay, 38 mins drive - Emily’s Restaurant is a special - experience for lunch or dinner. The entire setting, including dining halls, summer decks, winter fireplaces and, not least of all, the plated creations, is exquisite. 044 501 2500. Booking essential.
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Emily Moon River Lodge
1 Rietvlei Rd
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Plettenberg Bay, 38 mins drive - Emily’s Restaurant is a special - experience for lunch or dinner. The entire setting, including dining halls, summer decks, winter fireplaces and, not least of all, the plated creations, is exquisite. 044 501 2500. Booking essential.
Plettenberg Bay, 38 mins drive, Simon’s Bar, at Emily Moon River Lodge, is beautifully designed with boat engines decorating the walls and in the centre a wood-fired pizza oven that, according to many, produces the best artisan pizzas in the Garden Route. The bar stocks beautiful Cape Wines. Tues-Sat 5-9; Sun 12-2:30. 0445012500.
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Emily Moon River Lodge
1 Rietvlei Rd
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locals recommend
Plettenberg Bay, 38 mins drive, Simon’s Bar, at Emily Moon River Lodge, is beautifully designed with boat engines decorating the walls and in the centre a wood-fired pizza oven that, according to many, produces the best artisan pizzas in the Garden Route. The bar stocks beautiful Cape Wines. Tues-Sat 5-9; Sun 12-2:30. 0445012500.
Knysna Waterfront. Bustling Italian style family-owned restaurant. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Great pizzas. The outside seating is along the canal edge, with a great atmosphere provided by the boat traffic. Mon-Sun, 8am-10pm. 044 382 7250
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Caffe Mario
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Knysna Waterfront. Bustling Italian style family-owned restaurant. Enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Great pizzas. The outside seating is along the canal edge, with a great atmosphere provided by the boat traffic. Mon-Sun, 8am-10pm. 044 382 7250
Thesen Island. Vibe with a view. Bar / Restaurant. Casual, loud & lively!
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Tapas & Oysters
31 Safron Lane
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Thesen Island. Vibe with a view. Bar / Restaurant. Casual, loud & lively!
Knysna Waterfront. Huge menu, definitely something for everyone, and of course great oysters, plus plus. A few verandah tables have a canal view - book early for these. 34 South has a warehouse / market place feel. Can get busy. Good ambience. Great wines. Open every day until 10pm.
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34 Degrees South
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Knysna Waterfront. Huge menu, definitely something for everyone, and of course great oysters, plus plus. A few verandah tables have a canal view - book early for these. 34 South has a warehouse / market place feel. Can get busy. Good ambience. Great wines. Open every day until 10pm.
Knysna Main Street, near Woodmill Lane. Coffee cafe with great coffee & food, fresh tea treats and newspapers. Popular with locals & visitors. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free friendly. Mon-Fri: 8-5. Sat: 9-2.
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African Bean
29 Main Rd
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Knysna Main Street, near Woodmill Lane. Coffee cafe with great coffee & food, fresh tea treats and newspapers. Popular with locals & visitors. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free friendly. Mon-Fri: 8-5. Sat: 9-2.
When I think of Ile de Pain I think of beauty, art, coffee, architecture, great food, simply sophisticated meals, good energy & vibe. Open 8-3. 0443025705. Closed Sun & Mon. Location: Thesen Island
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île de païn - lunch & breakfast restaurant & artisan bakery
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When I think of Ile de Pain I think of beauty, art, coffee, architecture, great food, simply sophisticated meals, good energy & vibe. Open 8-3. 0443025705. Closed Sun & Mon. Location: Thesen Island
Neighbourhoods
Thesen Islands is a multi-award winning marina development located in the Knysna estuary. The marina consists of 19 man-made islands linked by 21 arched bridges and surrounded by tidal waterways.
Thesen is home to 512 individual homes and 56 apartment units, called the Dry Mill apartments - situated on a separate island within the marina. All the homes are built in a colonial maritime architectural style. Thesen Islands is linked by a causeway and bridge to the mainland, and is within walking distance of the waterfront, yacht harbour and town centre of Knysna. Steeped in the history of the Southern Cape, legend has it that the San – or Bushmen – were the earliest inhabitants of the island. Later, settlers made the area their home, tempted by the rich indigenous forests where herds of the famous Knysna elephant roamed. The island first became known as Paarden (Horse) Island. The name Thesen has its origins in faraway Norway. In July 1869, Arndt Leonard Thesen, a prominent timber merchant from Stavanger in Norway, left his hometown with his wife and nine children, planning to start a new life in New Zealand. After their ship, the Albatross, ran into difficulties near Cape Town, Arndt Thesen decided to stay on in South Africa. The Thesens settled in the picturesque town of Knysna, surrounded by indigenous forests, where they started a timber trading company. In 1904 his son Charles Wilhelm Thesen bought Paarden Island, located in the Knysna River estuary. In 1922 he established a timber processing plant on the island, which soon became known as Thesen Island. In the early 1980s Barlows, one of South Africa’s industrial conglomerates, purchased the island and its timber treatment plant from Thesen and Company. Barlows soon realized that the timber processing activities could not be continued on this island located in the midst of such a scenic and eco-sensitive lagoon. At the same time there was growing community concern about the environmental and industrial pollution caused by the factory's activities. As a result, the plant’s doors were finally closed. In the ensuing years the abandoned derelict buildings, machinery and waste dumps increasingly turned into an eyesore and a health hazard. In 1991 Dr. Chris Mulder, a South African environmental engineer who received his doctorate in environmental design in Houston, USA, proposed a complete redevelopment of the island into a unique residential marina. As the Knysna River estuary is one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the country and a major tourism attraction, the development of Thesen Islands called for extremely careful and sensitive planning. After eight years of research and planning by Dr. Mulder and his team, approval was finally granted in December 1998 – but with over one hundred strict and complex conditions. In all, ten years passed from initial concept to completion.
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Thesen Island
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Thesen is home to 512 individual homes and 56 apartment units, called the Dry Mill apartments - situated on a separate island within the marina. All the homes are built in a colonial maritime architectural style. Thesen Islands is linked by a causeway and bridge to the mainland, and is within walking distance of the waterfront, yacht harbour and town centre of Knysna. Steeped in the history of the Southern Cape, legend has it that the San – or Bushmen – were the earliest inhabitants of the island. Later, settlers made the area their home, tempted by the rich indigenous forests where herds of the famous Knysna elephant roamed. The island first became known as Paarden (Horse) Island. The name Thesen has its origins in faraway Norway. In July 1869, Arndt Leonard Thesen, a prominent timber merchant from Stavanger in Norway, left his hometown with his wife and nine children, planning to start a new life in New Zealand. After their ship, the Albatross, ran into difficulties near Cape Town, Arndt Thesen decided to stay on in South Africa. The Thesens settled in the picturesque town of Knysna, surrounded by indigenous forests, where they started a timber trading company. In 1904 his son Charles Wilhelm Thesen bought Paarden Island, located in the Knysna River estuary. In 1922 he established a timber processing plant on the island, which soon became known as Thesen Island. In the early 1980s Barlows, one of South Africa’s industrial conglomerates, purchased the island and its timber treatment plant from Thesen and Company. Barlows soon realized that the timber processing activities could not be continued on this island located in the midst of such a scenic and eco-sensitive lagoon. At the same time there was growing community concern about the environmental and industrial pollution caused by the factory's activities. As a result, the plant’s doors were finally closed. In the ensuing years the abandoned derelict buildings, machinery and waste dumps increasingly turned into an eyesore and a health hazard. In 1991 Dr. Chris Mulder, a South African environmental engineer who received his doctorate in environmental design in Houston, USA, proposed a complete redevelopment of the island into a unique residential marina. As the Knysna River estuary is one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the country and a major tourism attraction, the development of Thesen Islands called for extremely careful and sensitive planning. After eight years of research and planning by Dr. Mulder and his team, approval was finally granted in December 1998 – but with over one hundred strict and complex conditions. In all, ten years passed from initial concept to completion.
Sightseeing
The Knysna Heads are a pair of sandstone cliffs that separate the Knysna Estuary from the sea. The Eastern Head is accessible by car and there are many view points from which to see the Indian Ocean, the Knysna lagoon and the Outeniqua Mountains beyond. The famous East Head Cafe is on the Eastern Head, as is the National Sea Rescue Institute's Observation Room. Easy access to rock pools and the small cove, Coney Glen beach. The Western Head is accessible only by ferry, and forms part of the privately owned Featherbed Nature Reserve.
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View point Eastern Knysna Head
4 View Point
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The Knysna Heads are a pair of sandstone cliffs that separate the Knysna Estuary from the sea. The Eastern Head is accessible by car and there are many view points from which to see the Indian Ocean, the Knysna lagoon and the Outeniqua Mountains beyond. The famous East Head Cafe is on the Eastern Head, as is the National Sea Rescue Institute's Observation Room. Easy access to rock pools and the small cove, Coney Glen beach. The Western Head is accessible only by ferry, and forms part of the privately owned Featherbed Nature Reserve.
Monkeyland (Plettenburg Bay) - the world's first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary. Enjoy the info presented by the knowledgable guides and a forest walk where the monkeys are having fun watching you - perhaps from one of their rope bridges. See a generous variety of monkeys, gibbons, lemurs at work, play and sharing food. Garden of Eden, alongside, is a free-flight bird sanctuary over a gorge of indigenous forest. Home to over 3500 birds from 220 species - the main focus being African birds. Identify birds from the guide book. Guided walks on request.
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Monkeyland and Birds of Eden
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Monkeyland (Plettenburg Bay) - the world's first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary. Enjoy the info presented by the knowledgable guides and a forest walk where the monkeys are having fun watching you - perhaps from one of their rope bridges. See a generous variety of monkeys, gibbons, lemurs at work, play and sharing food. Garden of Eden, alongside, is a free-flight bird sanctuary over a gorge of indigenous forest. Home to over 3500 birds from 220 species - the main focus being African birds. Identify birds from the guide book. Guided walks on request.
This comment was written by a visitor to the Sanctuary: 'I have grown up with wildlife but had never before TOUCHED an elephant. I was not prepared for the emotion. The guide told me to allow the elephant to put her trunk in my hand and we would walk together. Firstly, you do not walk an elephant. The power of this magnificent animal overpowered my senses and she walked me ...What a wonderful sanctuary for these previously destitute gentle giants'.
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Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
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This comment was written by a visitor to the Sanctuary: 'I have grown up with wildlife but had never before TOUCHED an elephant. I was not prepared for the emotion. The guide told me to allow the elephant to put her trunk in my hand and we would walk together. Firstly, you do not walk an elephant. The power of this magnificent animal overpowered my senses and she walked me ...What a wonderful sanctuary for these previously destitute gentle giants'.
An unforgettable eco experience. Juggle the many cruise options on offer, including ferry / catamaran / paddle cruiser, plus 4x4 vehicle & trailer drive, plus optional 2.2km reserve walk to Khoi Khoi caves and along the sea shore, outdoor lunch under the canopy of milkwood trees, or on the floating John Benn. Lunchtime, sunset, or somewhere in between. Featherbed Nature Reserve is a Natural Heritage Site. It is across the water from Island Calm Private Garden Suite (easily seen). It’s a top rated, value for money, Knysna experience for all ages.
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Featherbed Co
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An unforgettable eco experience. Juggle the many cruise options on offer, including ferry / catamaran / paddle cruiser, plus 4x4 vehicle & trailer drive, plus optional 2.2km reserve walk to Khoi Khoi caves and along the sea shore, outdoor lunch under the canopy of milkwood trees, or on the floating John Benn. Lunchtime, sunset, or somewhere in between. Featherbed Nature Reserve is a Natural Heritage Site. It is across the water from Island Calm Private Garden Suite (easily seen). It’s a top rated, value for money, Knysna experience for all ages.
Favourite Walks
A settlement and resort town 15km west of Knysna. It's part of the Garden Route. Home to the endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly, and therefore a Special Nature Reserve. A stunning, blue flag beach & an absolute favourite for jogging or walking the pristine stretch of sand all the way to Buffels Bay. Good coffee at Brenton's little Indigo Deli (at the beachfront) or treat yourself to extraordinary views from the hotel's Butterfly Blu restaurant - which is perched on a dune top.
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Brenton-on-Sea
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A settlement and resort town 15km west of Knysna. It's part of the Garden Route. Home to the endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly, and therefore a Special Nature Reserve. A stunning, blue flag beach & an absolute favourite for jogging or walking the pristine stretch of sand all the way to Buffels Bay. Good coffee at Brenton's little Indigo Deli (at the beachfront) or treat yourself to extraordinary views from the hotel's Butterfly Blu restaurant - which is perched on a dune top.
Buffels Bay (Buffelsbaai) is a small seaside village 20km from Knysna on the Garden Route. A family beach with safe swimming and good surfing. Ideal for walking (**at low tide with hard sand**) all the way to Brenton for a great breakfast or coffee, then back again! 5.5kms one way.
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Buffels Bay
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Buffels Bay (Buffelsbaai) is a small seaside village 20km from Knysna on the Garden Route. A family beach with safe swimming and good surfing. Ideal for walking (**at low tide with hard sand**) all the way to Brenton for a great breakfast or coffee, then back again! 5.5kms one way.
One hour east from Island Calm. Nature’s Valley is paradise - sea, lagoon, estuaries, rivers, fynbos, forests, valleys, mountains. There are 5 great walks: 1. The Grootrivier Trail (4,5km - 1hr30), 2. The Kalanderkloof & Uitsig (5kms, 2hrs), 3. The Point (1km, 1hr), 4. Picnic Site to Salt River Mouth (5kms, 2hrs), Keurpad & Rugpad to Salt River (8kms, 5hrs).
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Nature's Valley
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One hour east from Island Calm. Nature’s Valley is paradise - sea, lagoon, estuaries, rivers, fynbos, forests, valleys, mountains. There are 5 great walks: 1. The Grootrivier Trail (4,5km - 1hr30), 2. The Kalanderkloof & Uitsig (5kms, 2hrs), 3. The Point (1km, 1hr), 4. Picnic Site to Salt River Mouth (5kms, 2hrs), Keurpad & Rugpad to Salt River (8kms, 5hrs).
Drinks / Night Life
Rated : Magical. Bohemian decor. Lounge... restaurant.... interesting nightclub. Unique. One of a kind. One visitor offered: 'We stumbled upon this gem!!! Good food and a lovely, lively, interesting atmosphere... Menu was small but the chosen meals were outstanding, with the nachos being the best I've ever tasted... Congratulations, you are doing a splendid job'
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Bloo Bistro / World Cafe / Bar
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Rated : Magical. Bohemian decor. Lounge... restaurant.... interesting nightclub. Unique. One of a kind. One visitor offered: 'We stumbled upon this gem!!! Good food and a lovely, lively, interesting atmosphere... Menu was small but the chosen meals were outstanding, with the nachos being the best I've ever tasted... Congratulations, you are doing a splendid job'
Wine Estates
Certificate of Excellence winner for 5 years in a row. Both wines and restaurant rated top in the Plettenberg Region. One recent visitor offered "What an amazing place! Where in the world can you sit down in a Vinyard and get served the most delicious foods? The atmosphere is mesmerizing and the staff outstanding. We love this place - and hot homemade bread makes me think of my mom when we were still young. I will highly recommend this special venue".
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Bramon Wines Restaurant & Wine Tasting
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Certificate of Excellence winner for 5 years in a row. Both wines and restaurant rated top in the Plettenberg Region. One recent visitor offered "What an amazing place! Where in the world can you sit down in a Vinyard and get served the most delicious foods? The atmosphere is mesmerizing and the staff outstanding. We love this place - and hot homemade bread makes me think of my mom when we were still young. I will highly recommend this special venue".
Hikes
Robberg is a Nature Reserve, National Monument and World Heritage Site! There are three circular routes: 2.5km (45min) - easy, 5.6km (2 hours) - more difficult, 9.2km (4 hours) - most difficult. The first walk is to The Gap - the gap between the mainland and the peninsula. Delightful view. The second walk is 'The White Sands' and goes from The Gap, up a rocky path, on to the ridge above, and on to the White Sands. The third route takes one to the furthest tip of the peninsula and back along the southern shoreline. It's a walk, climb, scrabble. There are fairly long sections of rocky coastline on the return journey. Don't be put off but be prepared. Wear proper walking shoes, take water and watch the weather. You should be rewarded by dolphins and seals, as well as the full emersion of nature's unsurpassed beauty.
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Robberg Hiking Trail
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Robberg is a Nature Reserve, National Monument and World Heritage Site! There are three circular routes: 2.5km (45min) - easy, 5.6km (2 hours) - more difficult, 9.2km (4 hours) - most difficult. The first walk is to The Gap - the gap between the mainland and the peninsula. Delightful view. The second walk is 'The White Sands' and goes from The Gap, up a rocky path, on to the ridge above, and on to the White Sands. The third route takes one to the furthest tip of the peninsula and back along the southern shoreline. It's a walk, climb, scrabble. There are fairly long sections of rocky coastline on the return journey. Don't be put off but be prepared. Wear proper walking shoes, take water and watch the weather. You should be rewarded by dolphins and seals, as well as the full emersion of nature's unsurpassed beauty.
Wilderness. A lovely, shady trail through the forest. Includes Knysna Loerie, Giant Kingfisher & Fish Eagle sightings, Yellowood trees, boardwalks, a pontoon river crossing and a waterfall at the end, with the opportunity of a swim. 3-4 hours, 7.2kms. This is one of 5 trails. Find the others on sanparks.org
Half Collared Kingfisher Trail (permit required)
Wilderness. A lovely, shady trail through the forest. Includes Knysna Loerie, Giant Kingfisher & Fish Eagle sightings, Yellowood trees, boardwalks, a pontoon river crossing and a waterfall at the end, with the opportunity of a swim. 3-4 hours, 7.2kms. This is one of 5 trails. Find the others on sanparks.org