Located just behind Main Road, Pledge Nature Reserve is a 10-hectare green oasis in the heart of Knysna. This local nature reserve is not only a haven of beauty with its forest, wetland, and fynbos, but also provides a peaceful retreat for visitors. With its indigenous plants, cool ponds, and streams, as well as a rich bird life, Pledge Nature Reserve is a must-visit for nature lovers and birdwatchers alike.
Mervyn Crous, the curator of the reserve, offers evening walks that are said to be fascinating and provide a unique perspective of the reserve. Visitors can take a stroll along the paths and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the reserve, or find a hidden bench and soak in the beauty of their surroundings. For those with limited time, there is one trail in particular that leads to a lookout point, offering breathtaking views of the reserve. Well-behaved dogs on leads are also welcome in Pledge Nature Reserve.
Pledge Nature Reserve has an interesting history. It was once a brickfield known as Bok-se-Kloof, situated on the edge of town, that closed around 1920. Over time, the streams were silted up by flash floods, and the area was used as a dumping ground for builders’ rubble and refuse. It was only rescued by a group of people who cleared invader species and declared it a reserve. Today, Pledge Nature Reserve is a non-profit community project and relies on grants and donations from the public. Donors can even adopt a forest tree to help support the reserve.
Although Pledge Nature Reserve is relatively unknown and not visited by many, it offers a sanctuary for those who seek peace and solitude. Over 90 species of birds have been spotted, as well as grysbok, mongoose, porcupine, and genet, making it a paradise for birdwatchers.
Popular activities and tourist destinations at Pledge Nature Reserve
In and around Pledge Nature Reserve, there are a variety of popular activities and tourist destinations to explore. Here are a few options for visitors to consider:
Hiking and Nature Walks
Pledge Nature Reserve is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with its numerous trails and paths that offer visitors the chance to explore the reserve’s beauty on foot. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a peaceful walk, Pledge Nature Reserve has something to offer.
With over 90 species of birds spotted in the reserve, Pledge Nature Reserve is a birder’s paradise. From the Knysna Loerie to the Cape Sugarbird, visitors can spot a variety of birds in their natural habitat.
Pledge Nature Reserve is also home to a variety of wildlife, including grysbok, mongoose, porcupine, and genet. Keep your eyes peeled as you explore the reserve and you may spot some of these fascinating creatures.
One of the must-visit attractions in Pledge Nature Reserve is the lookout point. This viewpoint offers breathtaking views of the reserve and is a great place to take photos or simply soak in the beauty of the area.
Just a short drive from Pledge Nature Reserve is the bustling Knysna Waterfront. Here, visitors can enjoy a variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as boating activities and scenic walks along the shore.
Knysna Elephant Park
Another popular tourist destination near Pledge Nature Reserve is the Knysna Elephant Park. Here, visitors can get up close and personal with elephants, watch them in their natural habitat, and even take an elephant-back safari.
Thesen Island is a picturesque and peaceful island located just a short drive from Pledge Nature Reserve. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing walk along the island’s paths, explore its charming homes, and visit the many shops and cafes that are located here.
Pledge Nature Reserve is surrounded by many other popular tourist destinations and activities in Knysna, one of which is Knysna Scootours. Knysna is a picturesque seaside resort town located on the Garden Route in the Western Cape, known for its stunning beaches, expansive lagoon, mountains, forests, and fynbos. For nature lovers and adventure seekers, there are a variety of walking and hiking trails, as well as Jeep tracks and 4×4 trails, that take visitors through the local forests and mountains, showcasing the beauty of the region.
One of the unique experiences offered in Knysna is the Knysna Scootours. These non-motorized scooters are eco-friendly and suitable for all ages, with children between three and nine years of age needing to go as passengers with their parents or guardians, while anyone 10 years and older can take their own scooter. The tour includes a two-hour journey through pristine forests and clear streams, with breathtaking views of waterfalls and ancient yellowwood trees, and the possibility of encountering various wildlife such as bird species, bushbuck, or wild boar. The tour begins at Quay Four Restaurant in Thesen Island Harbour Town and includes a fun descent through the stunning fauna of the area.
In addition to the Scootours, Knysna is also a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts, with activities such as kite surfing, fishing, and sailing. Located only five hours from Cape Town and three hours from Nelson Mandela Bay, Knysna is a convenient and accessible destination for those looking for a mix of nature, adventure, and relaxation.
Ocean Sailing Charters
Ocean Sailing Charters offer visitors to Pledge Nature Reserve an opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Garden Route and Knysna. They provide the ultimate sailing experience on their two luxurious catamarans, the LaraBella 55ft and Ocean Rhythm 44ft, which are the largest and most magnificent in the area. The catamaran cruises depart from the Jetty at Sirocco restaurant on Thesen Island where you will be greeted by your captain and crew.
Once you set sail, you’ll venture out into the Knysna Lagoon, navigate the famous Knysna Heads and head out to sea (weather permitting) to explore the diverse marine and bird life of the Indian Ocean. You may even be lucky enough to spot pods of dolphins or friendly seals, making the experience all the more special. During the cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to bask in the sun, paddle board, swim, and snorkel (depending on the duration of the trip). The crew will also treat you to a glass of ice-cold champagne and you’re welcome to purchase additional drinks at their cash bar onboard.
On the return to the Knysna Lagoon, you’ll be treated to light snacks or a traditional braai (barbecue) if you book one of their private charter options. Private charters are perfect for those looking for a personalized experience and Ocean Sailing Charters will help make that happen by arranging for a musician, DJ, private chef, mixologist for cocktails, or photographer to be a part of your sailing adventure. They strive to provide an unmatched experience with the best value, luxury, comfort, space and fun that cannot be found anywhere else.
Springtide Sailing Charters
Springtide Sailing Charters is a popular tourist destination in the Knysna area, offering a variety of day sailing experiences on the 50ft yacht Outeniqua. The Outeniqua is a hand-built mono-hull yacht made with local indigenous woods like Yellowwood and Hard Pear, and has been operating as a luxury sailing yacht since 1998. With an experienced crew on board, visitors can take a thrilling sail through the Knysna Heads, one of the world’s most challenging sea passages. Whether it’s a sunset cruise, a full day sail, a champagne breakfast, a honeymoon charter, or a dinner charter, the Outeniqua offers a unique and unforgettable sailing experience.
Visitors can also participate in the sailing experience and take a turn at the helm of the yacht. During the lagoon cruise, the Outeniqua will venture out through the Knysna Heads towards Buffalo Bay, and then anchor in the calm waters of the lagoon for a swim and a spread of Mediterranean delicacies.
The Outeniqua is a luxurious sailing yacht that is perfect for those looking for an adventurous and intimate sailing experience in the beautiful Knysna area. Whether you are a seasoned sailor or a first-timer, the Outeniqua offers a unique and unforgettable day on the water.
The Drumming Experience
The Drumming Experience – Find Your Rhythm is an immersive activity that combines traditional African drumming with fun and entertainment. This experience is designed for everyone, regardless of age or musical ability, and offers a unique opportunity to create dynamic music and express yourself through rhythm. The experience includes African drum circle activities, gumboot dancing, and boom-whacking on brightly colored plastic tubes that are used in African music.
Under the guidance of professional facilitators, participants can discover their inner rhythm through simple clapping and foot-stomping in groups. African cultures have long used music as a way to unify tribes, and this experience continues that tradition by providing a social and therapeutic outlet for creative expression. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a self-confessed cynic, you’ll be amazed at your progress in a single session.
The drumming experience can be hosted at a Drum Café venue or at a private event of your own choosing. For a truly authentic experience, throw a ‘Shebeen’ (unofficial local liquor outlet) themed party and let the drums fill the air with energy, or sit back and enjoy a professionally staged performance. With this experience, you can lose yourself in the rhythm, open your soul, and find the beat that speaks to you.
Knysna Heads Oyster Experience
The Knysna Heads Oyster Experience offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and beauty of Knysna from the water. The experience begins with a relaxing cruise from Thesen Island Harbour to the Knysna Heads, one of the most famous landmarks in the area, known for its beauty and danger. Your knowledgeable guide will point out various places of interest and share insightful information about the Knysna Lagoon, making this tour both educational and entertaining.
While on the water, enjoy light snacks and drinks, and take in the stunning views of the Knysna Heads. After the tour, the cruise will return to the harbour via the Knysna Waterfront, giving you a chance to see the lively waterfront area and its various attractions. This tour is perfect for those who love history, culture, and nature, and want to experience the beauty of Knysna in a unique way.
Knysna Friday Market
The Knysna Friday Market is a must-visit for those looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture of this Garden Route town. Held annually from October to April during the warmer months, the market is a lively hub of local cuisine, drinks, and unique crafts. Visitors can savor a range of mouth-watering dishes such as gourmet burgers, Thai cuisine, pancakes, fish or calamari and indulge in a sweet treat or two. The bar serves up a range of refreshing drinks including ice-cold beers, spirits, and warm glasses of red wine to enjoy on a cooler evening.
In addition to the food and drinks, the market also offers a lively atmosphere with live music and a cozy fire for visitors and locals to gather and catch up with friends. The market is located at the school fields of Knysna’s Montessori, providing plenty of room for families with little ones to run around and play in the small play area. This lively and welcoming market is a great place for both locals seeking to unwind after a busy week and visitors looking to get a taste of the vibrant Garden Route.
The Lunar Café is a charming and intimate coffee shop located in the heart of Knysna Mall. It’s a popular destination for coffee lovers and those looking for a relaxed and unique atmosphere. The café’s deep commitment to coffee is evident from the moment you step inside, with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sounds of the coffee machine grinding beans in the background. The eclectic décor, which includes monochromatic furniture and a brightly colored Persian rug that is over 80 years old, creates a funky and lively atmosphere that attracts both local regulars and visiting tourists alike.
As a popular stop along the Garden Route, Knysna is known for its stunning natural beauty and bustling tourist scene, making it an ideal location for the Lunar Café. Visitors to this charming coastal town can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee while taking in the vibrant energy of the area. Whether you’re a local looking to unwind after a busy week or a traveler on a road trip between the Eastern and Western Cape, the Lunar Café is a must-visit destination in Knysna.
Chatters is a popular dining destination located in the heart of Knysna, along the picturesque Garden Route in the Western Cape. It is renowned for its made-to-order pizzas baked to perfection in an authentic pizza oven. The restaurant, run by dedicated owners, is known for its fun, inviting atmosphere and contemporary décor.
In addition to its famous pizzas, Chatters also serves up a range of other international cuisine, including Italian favorites like burgers, pastas, salads, potato bakes, and sandwiches. All pizzas can be ordered on a regular base, wheat-free base, or gluten-free base to accommodate different dietary needs. The restaurant is fully licensed and features an extensive dessert menu to satisfy sweet cravings.
Whether you are a local or a tourist visiting Knysna, Chatters is an ideal place to relax, enjoy a delicious meal, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
Café Z, also known as Zachary’s, is a popular destination for those looking for a relaxed dining experience that is rooted in fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant is located within the picturesque Pezula Resort Hotel and is a perfect blend of sophistication and comfort.
Zachary’s is dedicated to offering an ever-changing menu that incorporates the freshest ingredients, whether it be seasonal produce or local specialties. The menu offers a diverse range of dishes, including burgers, grills, Knysna oysters, and duck confit, all made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
The restaurant also prides itself on using in-house ingredients, such as its own cured meats, to offer unique and high-quality flavors. The wine list is extensive and includes options for purchase by the bottle, glass, or carafe, and there is also an adjacent champagne bar perfect for pre-dinner cocktails. Café Z’s commitment to using the freshest ingredients and offering a diverse menu is what sets it apart and has earned it a reputation as a must-visit dining destination in Pledge Nature Reserve and the surrounding area.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a chance to connect with nature, Pledge Nature Reserve and the surrounding area offer something for everyone. So why not add these destinations to your itinerary and experience all that this beautiful area has to offer?
In conclusion, Pledge Nature Reserve is a hidden gem in Knysna that provides visitors with a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. So, if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat and a chance to connect with nature, Pledge Nature Reserve is the perfect destination for you.