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Discovering Knysna at the Knysna Oyster Festival #KOF2014

I love oysters. They are my favourite thing to eat (well, tied in first place with risotto and mashed potato) so when I was invited to spend a week at the Knysna Oyster Festival, I was ecstatic.
The Knysna Channel, taken from Featherbed Nature Reserve

It was only once I arrived, that I realised the Knysna Oyster Festival is about so much more than eating oysters. It’s about discovering the area, meeting the locals, drinking the local wine and spending time in glorious, unspoilt nature.
These were my favourite things to do in Knysna during the 10 days of the oyster festival.

Stay

Not far from Knysna Hollow – a beautiful walkway with this view
We stayed at the Knysna Hollow, where the rooms were warm and comfortable, the breakfast was good and the bar was a vibe. The owner was also around a lot, and his hospitality added to the experience. It’s not far from the festival area, but far enough for you to escape the masses and traffic on the big weekend.

Experience

Bungy Jump at Bloukrans
This experience made me feel alive. It was exciting, petrifying and absolutely wonderful all at the same time. The view and the thrill of falling through the air is something that you have to experience. And like I always say, if you’re going to bungy jump, why not do it from the highest bungy bridge in the world? Read more about my experience here.
Visit Judah Square
Brother Zeb, qualified tour guide and lovely human
Pretty much the only thing I knew about the Rastafari movement was “one love”, rasta colours and marijuana (grown from https://shop.ilovegrowingmarijuana.com/products/girl-scout-cookies-xtrm-feminized and similar seeds). But a visit to Judah Square opened my eyes to their unique way of life and now using something like TheCBDinsider.com coupons for cheaper medical marijana oils and other products seems like it could be a good health and wellness plan. I was amazed at the work the Knysna Tourism Board is doing to help them make it easier to live their religion in peace. We met our qualified tour guide, Brother Zeb at the Tourism office and he accompanied us to the gated Rasta community in the township. Book directly with Knysna Tourism to visit. A really interesting and beautiful experience.
Have Dinner in the Township
The owner and chef at Roosterkoek Kaya Restaurant, Mawanda Khondlo started his township tours and restaurants as a way to introduce tourists to the township community, and demystify the township township way of life. His restaurant served some of the best food we ate all week – along with bottles of cold Zamalek. He’s recently opened up a guest room at his renovated home, where tourists can spend the night to immerse themselves in his hospitality.
Knysna Wine Festival
I got to try some wines I’d never seen before, from places further flung from Cape Town than my staples – Stellenbosch and Paarl. My favourite of the night was The Fledge Vagabond, which is now being poured at Publik in the Cape Town city bowl (try it next time you’re there). This is a fun night out and a good excuse to buy a few bottles of wine.

Eat

Lunch at Conrad Pezula was a foodie highlight for me
Laid Back Lunch: The service at 34 South is slightly too laid back, but the food makes up for it! Everything we ate there was tasty and affordable (much cheaper than Cape Town) and the vibe is great. Visit them for a chilled, wine-fuelled lunch or for a relaxed but delicious dinner.
Fancy Lunch: Conrad Pezula is beautiful and luxurious, perched on the top of the famous Pezula Golf Course. They served the most delicious dressed oyster dish; fresh oysters served with a pineapple granite and lime zest. In fact, everything we ate was delicious! This is the perfect place for a more fancy lunch or dinner.
Must-do Treat: If there’s one place you absolutely must eat, it’s Ile de Pain, the famous bakery on picturesque Thiesen Island. Freshly baked sourdough breads, flaky croissants, quality coffee… I went back three times! The selection of treats basically crippled me with indecision and I ended up eating far too many delicious things.
Flavours of Knysna is really where you get to the “oyster” part of the Oyster Festival. Restaurants from all over Knysna put their best recipe forward with a signature oyster. We had oysters with tequila and chilli, oysters poached in bubbly and I can’t even remember what else! Tickets are only R165 and include a tasting booklet for 12 oysters, wine and more.

Spend Time in Nature

Nature being nature
The Knysna forest is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Thick, lush greenery and the smell of pure clean air instantly lifts your spirits as you step into the ancient forest. You feel a sense of, I don’t know, history I suppose. Just this sense that many thousands of things have happened there and grow there and you are so insignificant.
We signed up for the FNB Family Forest Hike and somehow managed to miss the path that would take us 6km and instead hiked for 10km through the vivid green trees and bushes. The hike was amazingly very well organized – we arrived to a short briefing, followed by breakfast, organic coffee and warm blankets. Afterwards there was lunch and treats on offer. I really loved this beautiful walk and I recommend it for anyone with legs – big people, small people, unfit people etc.

The Featherbed Nature Reserve is one of those places that you can’t stop thinking about, long after you’ve left. We crossed the channel in a ferry and disembarked onto the shore of this natural paradise. If you’re looking for eye-poppingly beautiful views or rocky shores where mermaids are likely to sun bathe, you’ll find them here. Our experience included a ferry ride, a guided 2.2km walk with information on fauna and flora along the way and a delicious lunch under the milkwood trees. More information on their website.
The East Head from Featherbed Nature Reserve
If ever you’re heading through to Knysna, give the Knysna Tourism Board a call or go visit them. They are super friendly and know all the insider secrets.

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