Knysna's Best Kept Secret

Last updated: Oct 04, 2016

Michael-John recently spent two nights in Knysna at the picturesque Blackwaters River Lodge where he enjoyed a fun-filled weekend playing golf on the mashie course and paddling down the river.

We left for Knysna way too early. Like probably 4 hours too early. I'm not entirely sure why. I think it was because I was nostalgic for early morning family road trips. The difference is that those road trips were usually cross-country, and not the 5 hour drive to Knysna. Somehow I managed to rouse myself at 5am and after a quick coffee stop at the Engen we were on our way to Knysna.

The trip to Knysna from Cape Town is always a beautiful one. After climbing over Sir Lorwy's Pass, there's the welcoming stop-over at Peregrine Farm Stall. Obviously because we'd left ridiculously early Peregrine was still closed. Once we started entering into the Garden Route proper it became all too clear why this is one of South Africa's favourite holidaying spots.

We were staying at Blackwaters River Lodge located between Knysna and Sedgefield, just up from Buffalo Bay. Thanks to our unnecessarily early start we arrived at the lodge well before check-in time, but we were still greeted by the friendly and helpful Winnet. While the staff finished preparing our room we took a walk around the beautiful grounds.

Blackwaters is perched on the banks of the Goukamma River. They have a restaurant that looks out onto the river and a mashie golf course which winds its away along the one side of the property. There is also a swimming pool and a lounge/bar area with books, board games, a big screen television and comfy couches.

Once we'd gotten settled into our room we decided to head out for a round of mashie. We'd heard the rain was coming, and so we wanted to try and experience as much as possible before the rain set in. The mashie was a lot of fun - it's an 18 hole course, with some of the holes sharing tee boxes. The nice thing about a mashie course is that most people can enjoy it, and although there are a few challenging holes, it's still a lot of fun even if you aren't a regular golfer.

When we had finished our round we grabbed a late lunch at the restaurant. There is plenty of choice for food and the leek and potato soup comes highly recommended by me, especially on an autumn afternoon.

After lunch we decided to take a paddle down the river. We hired a canoe from Blackwaters and set out. I wanted to try and paddle to the ocean, so we started paddling downstream, or at least what I thought was downstream... The Goukamma River is actually quite a gentle river, so gentle in fact that it took us about 10 minutes before we realised we were paddling upstream.

Once we realised the glaring mistake in direction we headed downstream, but with the sun ebbing its way to shine on other people, we decided to not attempt to get to the ocean. Which is a good thing, because the ocean is actually quite a lot further away than I thought. Not very far, but if like me, your exercise routine involves watching football and eating chips, then it's quite far.

Anyway, we ended up paddling down the river through some pasture lands which was quite fun. We pulled over and had a look around to see how much further it was to the ocean, but we weren't nearly far enough down the river. We then paddled back as the sun began to set - which was beautiful with the water reflecting the pinky sunset from the sky above.

The evening was spent relaxing and watching a movie. The next morning we went down to have breakfast at the restaurant, which was a wonderful spread of hot and cold breakfast options with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, croissants, fruit salad and more.

On the way to Blackwaters we had passed through Sedgefield and saw they were having a festival on called the Sedgefield Slow. We decided to pop in and see what the festival was all about. There was an 'anything that floats' competition, and a flea market with plenty of tasty treats and local arts and crafts. After browsing the stalls and enjoying some nibbles we decided to head through to Buffalo Bay.

The drive down to Buffalo Bay is quite beautiful, as you pass farmland and after a few minutes come out the beautiful seaside. We decided to take a walk along the beach passing teenagers flying their kites and parents watching on as the kids built sandcastles. It was all very idyllic. After the walk we headed back to the Pizza Den for a cold beer.

While we were sitting on the deck the promised rain started coming over and so we decided to head back to Blackwaters for a relaxing afternoon indoors. The rain kept getting heavier and heavier and so the rest of the day was spent watching movies and sport. That evening we went to dinner at the restaurant (a convenient quick dash in the rain from our room) where we were greeted with warmth and good food.

The next morning we set out for home, but this time not ridiculously early. We took our time, enjoyed another amazing breakfast before having a walk along the river. What I really enjoyed about my stay at Blackwaters River Lodge is that there is so much to do and enjoy, from paddling on the river to the mashie golf course. But there is also plenty of space given to just relaxing and unwinding which I appreciate. If you're looking for the ideal Garden Route holiday, then make sure to check out Blackwaters River Lodge.

To find out more about Blackwaters River Lodge and to book a weekend away in Knysna, click here.