With neither Chantelle nor myself being ‘boat’ people (despite living in a small harbour-rich coastal town like Gordon’s Bay), we don’t exactly ever get around to taking the girls out for an ‘on the water’ adventure – something we thought that maybe we should address come the last December school holiday break. After all, with us soaking up the Summer sun in Mossel Bay, the still blue waters of the Knysna Lagoon were certainly within driving reach!
The famous Knysna Lagoon is of course more accurately a big estuary, taking in water from five fresh water rivers flowing out from the surrounding Outeniqua Mountains, which it then lets out into the Indian Ocean through its iconic twin sandstone headland cliffs, the Knysna Heads. This large, calm body of water makes for a truly sheltered space (the massive number of leisure craft, yachts and even houseboats easily attests to this), though journeying through to the rough sea on the other end is of course a whole different story.
One of the heads is taken up by the privately owned Featherbed Nature Reserve (a registered nature reserve and coincidently a South African Heritage Site), which in turn is managed by the for profit Featherbed Co., which over the years have expanded their operations and turned the Featherbed Nature Reserve as one of the must do Knysna tourist attractions.
To reach the nature reserve (where they conduct tours and have built an incredibly inviting restaurant area), you can take any one of their boat options (which generally also offer cruise to nowhere and onboard dining options), the likes of which include the very special Paddle Cruiser (not a type of boat commonly seen in South Africa anymore), the famous John Benn yellowwood ferry, the Heads Explorer luxury catamaran yacht, and the cheeky Three Legs Rivercat open ferry.
We opted to take the girls for a cruise aboard the Three Legs Rivercat over to the heads, and after killing some time at the very inviting Knysna Quays Waterfront area, we shuffled over to Featherbed Co’s base of operations and boarded the cheeky little blue, yellow and all metal ferry. Its open sides and shaded seating area made of the perfect ‘wind in our hair’ ride out on the still waters of the lagoon, with the us all enjoying the sights and sounds of this very special piece of water play paradise. (Well okay, I can’t really talk for the others but I certainly enjoyed it!)
The little narrated jaunt took us past all manner of yachts, houseboats and sailboats, before the heads loomed up before us and we got a glimpse of the little coves and caves around the edges of the famed Knysna Heads. For the most part the girls thoroughly enjoyed this experience on the water though as with any relatively non interactive experience, they did get a little bored towards the end. Next time maybe I’ll put a little more money together and make them walk the nature reserve instead – by all accounts the regrowth in the nature reserve following the devastating 2017 Knysna fires is looking amazing!