Overview of Knysna Forest and Coastal Walks

Knysna Forest and Coastal Walks- the best of South Africa’s Garden Route. Experience the mysterious beauty of the Knysna forest and discover incredible coastal scenes, indigenous plants, birds, animals and geology. The area offers unparalleled scenic beauty, modern infrastructure, upmarket shops and endless adventure options.


TypeSelf-guided walks (Guide for half-day introduction to area)
LocationKnysna, South Africa
Group size1+ people
Duration4 days/ 3 nights
GradingModerate/Easy grade
Day Stages8- 15 km
Distance34 km (3 days)
TerrainForest and coastal
Hotels4 star
MealsBreakfast each day
CostAvailable on request
DatesOct to April is “High season”

Trip details

Knysna is situated in the heart of South Africa’s Garden Route. It is a quaint town located on the edge of a vast estuary which flows into the Indian Ocean through two giant sandstone heads. 


Knysna Forest

The picturesque setting and mysterious beauty of giant trees, clear streams, vegetation, a variety of birds and wildlife make the forest a unique experience. There are eight giant Outeniqua yellowwood trees, some 800 years old, a variety of fungi, fynbos, mushrooms, bushbuck, baboons and vervet monkeys playing in the tree tops.


The Garden Route offers incredible coastal scenes and views, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. It offers beautiful beaches and also lagoons, making it a haven for water sports.

Fynbos plants and wildlife

Coastal fynbos, numerous bird species such as Cape Robins, Cape white eyes, Red-winged starling and Orange-breasted sunbirds and animal species such as Cape grysbok, Bushbuck, Bush pigs, Caracals, Mongoose and Otters.

Nature Reserves

Experience the beautiful Robberg- and Goukamma Nature Reserves. Discover and learn about the various indigenous plants, animals, geology and the colourful and entertaining history of the area while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Garden route coastline.


Magnificent and unequalled views of the Tsitsikamma and Outeniqua mountains and the Garden Route coastline

Accommodation and restaurants

4 star hotel or guest house and a range of restaurants and bars

Interesting town

A cosmopolitan town with a variety of shops, markets, boutiques, art and artists, creating a vibrant atmosphere.

Other activities

Other activities in the Knysna area can be added to the walking trip. Knysna is a haven for the outdoor enthusiast. Golf, canoeing, cycling, etc can be enjoyed.

Day 1: Arrival in Knysna for overnight.

Day 2: The Elephant Walk

The Elephant Walk is in the heart of the Knysna forests. It is home to the Knysna Elephants, but the chances of seeing these animals are very slim. Even if you do not see them, the giant forest trees will enchant you. The hiking trail is ideal for anyone who wants a real forest experience with all the forest birds, the variety of Fungi, Fynbos, Mushrooms, Bushbuck, Baboons and Monkeys playing in the treetops. If you are lucky, you may even spot the elusive Knysna Loerie.

Note the Stinkwood trees that fall over and keep growing and the Outeniqua yellowwood trees. There are eight giant trees, some 800 years old. King Edward VII Tree is a well known example.

The hiking area offers a number of trail options ranging from 7km to 20 km. The short routes are fairly easy and require only moderate fitness. The hiking trail is in a picturesque setting with clear streams, vegetation, trees and animals that make the mysterious beauty of the forest a unique experience.
This is the ideal environment for tree lovers.

Distance 15 km  (5 hours). Option to choose 7, 8 or 9km or to increase the distance to 20km.

Day 3: Robberg Peninsula

This circular route is along the Robberg Peninsula, which is a nature reserve and a national monument. It offers incredible coastal scenes and views of Plettenberg Bay, has interesting geological and archaeological features, an intertidal zone, a large seal colony, seabirds and wildlife.

You will climb a steep rocky slope to “The Point”, on the north side of Robberg, and return along the southern coastline to “The Gap”

The Nelson Bay Cave, on the Robberg Peninsula, was first occupied 120,000 years ago. Hundreds of seals gather on the rocks at Grasnek and are easily seen from the cliffs. You will probably hear them barking before you see them. Look out for Dassies hiding under the rocks. Other animal life includes Cape grysbok, Duiker and Bushbuck. Cape clawless otters and Mangooses are sometimes seen. Robberg is the ideal vantage point for Dolphins, Penguins and Whales (whales only in season).

There are also numerous bird species such as Cape Robins, Cape white eyes, Red-winged starling and Orange-breasted sunbirds. Enjoy breathtaking views of the majestic Tsitsikamma Mountains and watch the vast array of Swift Terns and Kelp Gulls at “The Point”
The magnificent Fynbos and rocks dating from the early Cretaceous period (130 – 110 million years ago) make it an extremely pleasant hiking trail with spectacular coastal landscape.

It is moderately strenuous walk with incredible coastal scenery.

Distance 11 km (4 hours). Two shorter variations of 2km and 5km available.

Day 4: Goukamma Nature Reserve

Hiking in the reserve offers diversity: the Goukamma River, the river at Buffalo bay, the Platbank stretch of pristine beach, extensive dune fields with some of the highest vegetated dunes in South Africa, milkwood forests, coastal fynbos, the unique Groenvlei Lake (which has no in-flowing rivers and has no link to the sea, it is fed by a freshwater fountain), a variety of bird life and animal species such as Bushbuck, Bush pigs, Caracals, Mongoose and Otters.

The trail is an easy circular walk and starts by crossing the river in a small boat. You will then walk through a beautiful dune forest to the top of the dunes for 360 degree views of the pristine beach, Goukamma river mouth, dune forest, the indigenous Milkwood forest and the George mountains in the distance. Note the fynbos that grows on this extensive dune field. It is one of the highest vegetated dunes in South Africa. When you walk in the fall, you smell the scent of the Buchu flowers. Other times of the year there are a multitude of flowering plants to behold- especially in September and October
From July to December, Southern right whales can be seen near the shore. Other animals include Cape grysbok, Bushbuck, Bush pigs, Monkeys, Caracals and Otters.

Listen to the characteristic cry of the African fish eagle or the excited chatter of the Black oystercatchers on the beach. A Knysna Turaco in flight is a special sight.

It is an easy coastal walk with fantastic scenery.

Distance 8 km (3 hours). Distance can be increased to 13 or 15 km

Knysna Forest and Coastal Walks is a “centre based” walking holiday. It allows you to stay in a great location for the duration of your trip and enjoy local hikes before returning back to your guesthouse or hotel each day. 

Knysna has a great selection of excellent places to stay, scattered around town. It caters for any taste, budget and need. It can be an area with beautiful views, a central location, near the waterfront, a scenic, quiet area, etc.  We have picked the two 4 star examples below to calculate the minimum rate for the Knysna Forest and Coastal Walks. If you prefer more luxury or a different location the impact of alternative accommodation options will be quoted.

Knysna Log-Inn in central location
Knysna Log-Inn Hotel
Waterfront Lodge on edge of Knysna Lagoon
Waterfront Lodge


Rates and dates

The rate of our package depends on your accommodation and guiding preference. Choice of Standard or Superior accommodation and a guide for half a day or more. Rates will be quoted on request.  A minimum of 2 people per group.Costs for single accommodation or extra nights or more than four people per group, available on request. 

3 nights accommodation in selected  guesthouses incl breakfast.
Guide for half-day introduction to the area. Additional guiding services can be arranged.
GPS trails for electronic navigation as well as PDF maps.
Information about the area.
Not included
Items not mentioned above:
Transport to and from Knysna and to and from the walks
Other lunches, snacks, drinks with meals.

Overall rating is Moderate. You do not need to be ultra-fit but certainly able to walk between 12 and 20 km per day and be able to cope with undulating countryside and some hills. The route takes you along forest trails, sand, along field and tracks. See Walking grades for more details about Moderate rating.

Easy version of the trails available

Day 1 – arrival:  Day 2 – Moderate:  Day 3 – Moderate:  Day 4 – Easy


Qualified marine biologist with global scientific employment and hiking experience, extensive background in ecology and the environment, both as guide and field researcher. An astute naturalist and an active field researcher (ornithologist, marine biologist and ichnologist)

Additional options- special interests

The Knysna area offers a wide range of attractions and activities that can be included in your itinerary. Let us know if you have a special interest in birding, mountain biking, canoe trips, snorkeling or other adventure.

Your trip can be extended or amended to include additional adventure activities to suit your outdoor abilities. Your tailor made program will be conducted by an experienced guide with a  passion for nature and scientific field research background. The costs of these options are available on request.

When to go to Knysna

Knysna stays green in all seasons, and its temperate climate makes it a tourist destination all year round. The best times to visit Knysna for ideal weather are March to end of May or September to end of December. This is based on average temperature and humidity.


Knysna has an oceanic climate. Summers are warm and winters mild to chilly. Temperatures feel very enjoyable all year with a low chance of precipitation but you can experience rain at any time of year. The area is more temperate than most. It is in the 72nd percentile for pleasant weather, compared to tourist destinations worldwide. If you’re looking for the very warmest time to soak in some sunshine at one of the glorious beaches, the hottest months are January, February, and then March. The warmest time of year is generally late January where highs are around 30°C with temperatures rarely dropping below 18°C at night.

Getting there
The nearest domestic airports to Knysna are in Plettenberg Bay (34 km), George (71 km), and Port Elizabeth (272 km). You can connect to these domestic airports from any of South Africa’s international airports. The nearest international airport to Knysna is Cape Town International Airport (473 km).
By road: Knysna is situated on the N2 which runs from Cape Town via George through Plettenberg Bay to Port Elizabeth and beyond to the East. 
What to take

Comfortable, well aerated clothes in keeping with the season. Always bring a pullover / windbreaker, good walking boots (already worn-in) and several pairs of cotton or wool socks. For your daily needs, you are advised to have a day-bag, a plastic bag to line your day-pack (to protect the contents from rain), rainwear, a sun-hat, sunglasses, sun block, a water bottle, plastic picnic boxes (for transporting your lunches), first-aid kit , camera and film, torch/flashlight and an extra plastic bag for litter.


We recommend that you arrange appropriate holiday insurance giving you cover against illness, injury, and loss or damage to luggage. This insurance should also cover the possibility of your having to cancel your holiday for any reason.

Availability and Booking

To enquire or reserve a date, go to: Availability request

For general information: Contact us, or

email: info@trailsandtravel.co.za, or

Booking process and -conditions – Go to  How to book

Map of Knysna


Pictures of Knysna can be viewed in Knysna Walks Gallery 


Comments by guests who have experienced a self-guided walking/hiking holiday offered by WalkingHolidays.co.za in South Africa- “Overall, the holiday was invigorating-  You certainly went out of your way to make the whole time memorable- We are recommending it to our walking community in the States- Fantastic walks, wines and accommodation” For details, go to Reviews

More about Knysna

Knysna is a very attractive  tourist destination and one of the best ways to experience it is on foot.  Knysna Forest and Coastal Walks tour was structured to offer the best of Garden Route around Knysna. For more information about Knysna, Contact us

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