One of the commitments that I made to myself 2 years ago, was that I would explore South Africa as much as I can. Travelling overseas is fun, but we live in such a gorgeous country too, with so much to see! I try and visit beautiful bits of our country regularly, and 2 years ago my family and I did the Garden Route, and I fell in love with Knysna. Steve has never visited that part of the country (can you believe it!) so we decided to visit Knysna for our 9th anniversary. The lovely team from Chez Pierre in Knysna invited us to spend 2 nights with them, so we booked our tickets, and off we went! We had the most amazing time exploring Knysna and staying at Chez Pierre.
Knysna is one of the Garden Route’s best known travel destinations and deserves its own moment in the spotlight when travelling through the area. Located in the Western Cape province, Knysna is a buzzing vibrant town throughout the year. Knysna’s indigenous forests, fynbos, lakes, rivers and mountains, combined with a temperate climate, makes this area an absolute must to visit in South Africa!
We stayed at the loveliest Bed and Breakfast on Leisure Island called Chez Pierre. On arrival in the guesthouse, you feel like you are arriving back home because the hosts are so friendly and welcoming. Belgian-born Pierre Deckers moved to Johannesburg 30 years ago and more recently discovered the gem of the Western Cape, Knysna, with his wife Lynn. Together they restored and curated a gorgeous, nautical-inspired haven for you to enjoy the romance of Leisure Isle and its surrounding beauty.
Chez Pierre is a gorgeous guesthouse with a beautiful, covered terrace and a deck going all the way to the pool. The guesthouse consists of 5 double rooms with bathroom-en-suite, and I like that the guesthouse is not too big, so you still get your privacy. Leisure Island itself is such a gem, with a beautiful lagoon on it, and we really enjoyed riding around on bicycles all over the island. Chez Pierre has complimentary bicycles for you to use, and it was such a pleasure to ride around Leisure Island, and I don’t ever ride a bicycle at all!
All rooms include an en-suite bathroom, ceiling fan, Wi-Fi, smart flat screen TV with satellite DSTV, hairdryer, and coffee and tea station. The guesthouse is decorated in a beautiful nautical theme and the hosts do everything to ensure that you have anything that you might need during your stay. A highlight for me were also the resident pups, Chichi and Noodle. They are so cute and friendly, and as an avid animal lover, I just wanted to stay outside on the deck with them and play all afternoon! Chez Pierre is also home to some cute-as-a-button bunnies, so if you like animals as much as I do, this will be an added bonus during your stay!
What I enjoyed the most about our stay, is feeling like you are at home, but still on vacation. You could do fun holiday things, but then still feel like you are coming home after a long day. One of the nights we just stayed in watching Netflix while getting a takeout after a long day, and sometimes that’s exactly what you want on vacation! In the mornings, the Chez Pierre team makes you delicious breakfast, with a mouth-watering spread of croissants, breads, jams, cheeses and fruit. You also get a choice of eggs and bacon, and delish coffee and juices. We had breakfast on the deck and it felt like we were having breakfast at an old friend’s house.
So what to do once you are in Knysna? Besides Leisure Island (seriously, cannot recommend it enough) Knysna is actually buzzing with fun and adventurous things to do!
Have breakfast at East Head Café
This café was recommended to us by the Chez Pierre team, and what a gem it is! Situated on the rocks of the famous Eastern Head, East Head Café has the most spectacular view – looking directly through the Knysna Heads, and delicious food to feast on, while you are admiring the view! The food is simple but really delicious, and we actually went back to this café twice because the coffee was this good!
Go for a Lagoon Ride to see the Knysna Heads
The Knysna Lagoon is more accurately an estuary where the waters of five different rivers flowing out of the Outeniqua Forest merge together and meet the ocean at the landmark sandstone cliffs which are known as the Knysna Heads. We took a nice and slow ride from the Knysna Waterfront, and a lot of the boats allow you to bring your own drinks. It’s a great way to see the sunset, and see the gorgeous Knysna from a different angle.
Visit the Knysna Elephant Park
This was a highlight from 2 years ago, and wow was it an experience! The Knysna Elephant Park was established in 1994 and at that time it was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for orphaned African elephants. Today, it has become a world class facility, having cared for and raised more than forty elephants. These animals include relocated animals, orphaned calves, elephants rescued from culls and ex-circus animals. Some have become part of the resident herd, others have moved onto other reserves and facilities in the Western and Eastern Cape, depending on their personalities, bonds with other animals and welfare needs. This is absolute must-do when travelling along the garden route.
Admire the Wolves at Wolf Sanctuary
This is something I really wanted to do this time around, so when we were driving past the sanctuary, I begged Steve to stop so we could go in, and it didn’t disappoint! It’s situated between Knysna and Pletteberg Bay and the interactive tours take you through the wolf enclosures for what is a unique experience that gets you up-close to these amazing animals. You get to interact with the friendly wolf dogs, gorgeous huskies and meet the young cubs! Every single animal in the sanctuary is a rescue, and if you love animals, then you will love this special place.
Enjoy a drink at the Knysna Waterfront
Boasting a marina, a base for luxury yachts and Knysna’s gateway for cruises and luxury charters voyaging into the lagoon, the Knysna Waterfront is one of the most popular attractions in town. While the Waterfront itself is rather simple, I found it to be really nice to just chill and have a drink, while watching the sunset. There are some great restaurants and cute shops, so make sure you visit the Waterfront during some leisure time.
Catch some rays on the gorgeous beaches
Knysna has some great lagoons and beaches, and when the weather is right it makes for a perfect day. Schedule some time in to just chill and relax, and I must mention that very close to Knysna is also Buffalo Bay and Plettenberg Bay, which also have some awesome beaches. Honestly, I don’t even know if I want to carry on going to Balitto for our yearly beach breaks, or rather come to the Garden Route!