Information

Adventure Café (1® 044-382 4959; 1 Gray St; per hr US$5.50; ® 9am-7pm) High-speed internet access. Knysna Tourism (I® 044-382 5510; www.tourism knysna.co.za; 40 Main St; ® 8am-5pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am-1 pm Sat year-round, plus 8.30am-1 pm Sun Dec, Jan & Jul) Look for the enormous elephant skeleton in the storefront.

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES Knysna Lagoon

Although regulated by SAN Parks (I® 044-382 2095; www.sanparks.org; Long St, Thesen's Island), Knysna Lagoon (13 sq km) is not a national park or wilderness area. Much is still privately owned,

and the lagoon is used by industry and for recreation. The lagoon opens up between two sandstone cliffs, known as the Heads. There are good views from a lookout on the eastern head, and a private nature trail on the western head.

The best way to appreciate the lagoon is to take a cruise. The MV John Benn (i§ 044-382 1697; www.featherbed.co.za; Waterfront; adult/child US$11/4.70, with lunch USS34/15; ® departs 10am, 11.30am & 12.30pm) riverboat offers the recommended Featherbed cruise, a four-hour affair that includes lunch and takes you to the privately owned Featherbed Nature Reserve, where you'll be driven around.

Township Tours & Homestays

Sprawling above and behind town is the township of Concordia, best visited on an excellent tour run by Ecoflfrika Tours (i§ 082-925 0716; tours SUS27) or The Heads Adventure Centre (s 044-384 0831; the Heads; tours US$34). Homes here are built mostly with timber from the nearby forests. The two-hour tours are led by local guides and take you through the usual township sites but then add a twist. You'll also get to visit the Grass Routes neighbourhood, the largest community of Rastafarians in the country.

If you want to stay overnight in either the Rastafarian community or in the township, contact Glendyrr at Knysna Tourism.

Knysna Forest Trails

There are excellent hikes in the Knysna forests, and you can book walking trails and collect maps and information at the regional office of SAN Parks (@ 044-382 2095; www.sanparks.org; Long St, Thesen's Island). Overnight hikes cost US$6 per day including the use of trail huts.

Other Activities

There are plenty of other activities on offer in the area; start by making inquiries at The Heads Adventure Centre (@ 044-384 0831; the Heads). Among the possibilities are boat and short-entry scuba dives (US$11 to US$16) to some of South Africa's best spots. Snorkelling equipment can be rented for US$12.

Quad-biking trips in the Featherbed Nature Reserve are available with SEAL Adventures (lg 044-382 5599; Shop 1, Protea Hotel, Knysna Quays; 2tthr tripUS$38; ® departs11am&3.30pm). The company also runs an Awesome Foursome adventure trip - quad biking, abseiling, canoeing and cliff-jumping for US$54.

SLEEPING Budget

Knysna Backpackers (044-382 2554; [email protected] netactive.co.za; 42 Queen St; dm US$9.50, d with shared bathroom from US$24) You'll find mainly dorm beds at this large and spruce Victorian house on the hill a few blocks up from the main street. It's quieter and more relaxing than other places.

Highfieid Backpackers (s 044-382 6266; www .highfieldbackpackers.co.za; 2 Graham St; dm US$9.50, d without/with bathroom from US$27/34) Located in a spacious old house, Highfieid, with its focus on attractive doubles with brass beds, feels more like a B&B. Potjiekos dinners are often served.

Woodbourne Resort (lg 044-384 0316; w48<a>mweb .co.za; George Rex Dr; camp sites US$16, chalets from US$44) Here you'll find spacious, shaded camping and simple chalets with TVs. It's a quiet place a little way out of town. Follow the signs to the Heads.

Midrange

Yellowwood Lodge (i§) 044-382 5906; www.yellowwood lodge.co.za; 18 Handel St; s/d from US$54/108; g) ®) A traditional and sumptuously decorated guesthouse, Yellowwood boasts a lovely garden setting and views of the lagoon. There's one room with air con.

inyathi Guest Lodges ((H 044-382 7768; www.inyathi -sa.com; 52 Main St; s/d from US$59777) This is the most imaginatively designed guesthouse in Knysna, with accommodation in uniquely decorated timber lodges - some with Victorian bath tubs, others with stained-glass windows.

Graywood Hotel (044-382 5850; reservations;® thegraywood.co.za; cnr Gray & Trotter Sts; s/d US$64785; lg) [email protected]) The recently rebranded Graywood, the former Caboose Hotel, has rooms about the size of sleeping compartments. Still, the upgrading is impressive and the furnishings top-notch.

Top End

Under Milk Wood (lg 044-384 0745; www.proteahotels .com; Waterfront Dr; cottages from US$245; g]) A poetically named place, this is a series of highly impressive self-catering log cabins on the shores of Knysna Lagoon.

Phantom Forest Eco-Reserve (HI 044-386 0046; www.phantomforest.com; s/d US$270/323, dinner US$30; (g S ) This 137-hectare private ecoreserve 6km west of Knysna overlooks the lagoon and comprises 14 cleverly designed and elegantly decorated tree houses. At least visit for the award-winning six-course Pan-African dinner served from 6.30pm to 8.30pm daily; booking is essential.

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