Knysna boasts a list of accolades a mile long and features widely on travel itineraries for both local and international tourists. But what is it that makes Knysna one of the most celebrated coastal towns in South Africa? The reason for its popularity is not difficult to surmise. While the face of Knysna has indeed changed significantly over the years, (long departed is the sleepy coastal town which only sprang to life during the holiday hustle), it has retained its wealth of natural assets and today it is a vibrant eco-tourism hub and world class travel destination which serves to lure many in the quest of soul food and a good time.
Built on the northern shores of a vast estuary, Knysna is often dubbed ‘nature’s playground’ – and for good reason. It is characterised by tracts of forest and fynbos, a network of rivers originating in distant mountains which spill into its estuary and a rugged coastline with an ocean jam-packed with marine life. Knysna is also synonymous with festivals (the Oyster Festival being the longest running and most famous in South Africa), adventure sports, farmer’s markets, golf, whales, sailing, artisan beer, oysters, superlative restaurants and hotels and so, so much more. The estuary, or Knysna Lagoon as it is fondly known, is abuzz with activity of both the human and animal kind. This species rich waterscape is the most significant in terms of biodiversity in the country and on any given day it is enjoyed by many a nature and adventure fundi. This ever changing environment is directly influenced by the twice daily tidal dance that plays out at the mouth of this dynamic system.
Ocean Odyssey, Knysna’s only permitted whale watching operation, is passionate about showcasing the extraordinary environment of Knysna and the host of species that thrive here. They offer a fascinating and educational Marine Eco Tour which highlight the various natural wonders and year round marine life that can be found here. Dolphins are prolific along our stretch of coastline and three species prosper here: the in-shore bottlenose dolphin, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and the common dolphin. On most days seals and a host of pelagic birds can also be seen.
It’s the whales however, which serve as one of Knysna’s primary drawcards, and Ocean Odyssey offers unforgettable Close Encounter Whale Watching Tours. Many thousands of humpback and southern right migratory whales travel right past Knysna every year during winter and spring, and Ocean Odyssey brings visitors up close and personal to these magnificent animals. Our permit allows us to approach the whales to as close as 50m, but very often the whales are curious about the vessels and come to take an even closer look. Our skippers possess a wealth of knowledge about this marine environment so while the tour is spiritually uplifting, it is also very educational.
Viewing whales and other marine life in their wild environment is an experience not to be missed and is just one of the many reasons to visit Knysna!!