Knysna Forest

Forests / Landmarks in or near Knysna, Garden Route in the Garden Route, South Africa.

Garden Route Tourist AttractionsKnysna Forest

Where? Knysna, Garden Route, South Africa

How? Call +27 (0)44 382-5510

Overnight? Stay in Knysna, in Garden Route

Across Africa are only a handful of sheltered, remote pockets of Afromontane forest; all that remains of huge tracts of ancient forest that covered large parts of the continent.

On the Garden Route is one such forest. Knysna Forest, in some places so dense it borders on impenetrable, is a marvellous mix of ancient trees, both local and exotic. Tree ferns, creepers, flowers and the elusive Knysna loerie, its call heard more often than it is seen, are also part of the forest.

The thick canopy of ironwood, stinkwood, Outeniqua yellowwood, real yellowwood, Cape holly, white pear, wild fig, milkwood, Cape beech, bastard saffron, assegai and kamassi trees covers 568 square kilometres between the Krom River and Mossel Bay, sprawling across the southern slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains.

Described best by local author Dalene Matthee in her series of books set in the forest, Knysna Forest is beautiful, bestrewn with forest walks and hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its perimeters.

Together with the Amatole forests, further inland, it makes up Africa's southernmost Afromontane forest. Today this thick, sweeping forest rich with bird life and a collection of animals that include the endemic Knysna dwarf chameleon is protected. But its history is not quite as tame.

Timber harvesting left the habitat degraded, for back then the forests were considered so big that nothing could exhaust them. The forest area was probably about 2 500 square kilometres before 1 900 square kilometres were destroyed by the combination of logging, development and a huge fire.

Many of the larger mammal populations like the buffalo, elephant, and possibly leopard, were largely destroyed. The elephant are of the forest's most famous inhabitants; there is continuous debate as to their whereabouts, if indeed they are about at all (a photographic sighting in 2014 raised hopes).

The last buffalo was shot in the forest in 1883, whilst of the roughly 500 elephants of 1860, only 4 remained by 1990. Any attempt at re-introduction to strengthen their numbers has failed. It does not help that their previous migration passage is no longer possible because of human development.

Explore the forest along demarcated walks and hikes.

Why not overnight? Find Accommodation in Knysna

Amanzi Island Lodge

Guest House

Amanzi Island Lodge

On the shores of the Knysna Lagoon you'll find Amanzi Island Lodge, a tranquil beach house on Leisure Isle, with ... more

Abalone Lodges

Bed & Breakfast / Self Catering

Abalone Lodges

Situated only 5 minutes away from town centre and 4km from the Leisure Isle beach you'll find Abalone Lodges. Abalone ... more

Paradise Found

Bed & Breakfast / Self Catering

Paradise Found

Paradise Found offers comfortable b&b or self catering accommodation with a heavenly view of Knysna Lagoon and the ... more

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