Noetzie, Garden Route

Noetzie is a hamlet - some people describe it simply as a beach - just east of the Garden Route town of Knysna. The Khoi people, who lived here, called it Noetziekamma – referring to the darkness of the waters of the Noetzie River, into which tannins of the surrounding Knysna forests leach.

Noetzie is a conservancy. It is one of few places where natural beauty remains untouched, and where you can find the rare African black oystercatcher, as well as bushbuck, otters, and birds living as they should.

Most people, though, know it as the place of the castles. Overlooking the beach are a few castles - odd, yet delightful, and almost everyone wants to know who built them? Despite the tendency of the odd local to spin a yarn and attribute them to pirates, they're little more than an eccentricity. A man called Herbert Henderson built one in 1932 as a holiday home (Noetzie has been used from as early as the 1800s as a holiday space in which people came to camp).

There is a story attached to it. He apparently didn't intend building a castle, but was using local stone to build the home when a friend commented on how like a castle it looked. This apparently prompted him to complete the idea. The original has been demolished. He then built what has become known as 'the castle' in 1942, his son built Montrose in the 1970s and the Lindsays built Perekuil in the 1960s.

Noetzie has been voted one of the top beaches in South Africa. Swimming isn't particularly safe because of unpredictable currents, but the lagoon, the incredible rock formations and remoteness of the space make it a haven.

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