Hidden within the beauty of the Garden Route, in South Africa’s Western Cape and regarded as a place where God would choose to live by Nelson Mandela in his book, Conversations with myself” is a little paradise known as Knysna.
Though small, covering about 58.35 square kilometers and located between George and Plettenberg Bay, Knysna has come to be a premiere holiday destination in South Africa.
Entering Knysna from the town of George, which is about 72km to the west, the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, majestic landscapes, green lush mixed vegetation, calm lakes, twirling rivers and architecture will make you feel relaxed and refreshed in no time.
And in as much as Knysna is refreshing and relaxing, do not be fooled that this holiday destination is not for the wild at heart as it is full of adrenaline rushing activities. I had an opportunity to do some of the extreme sports this town has to offer. Knysna strikes one as a mountain biking destination with cyclists seen in every corner of the town. The mountainous environment offers a lot of mountain biking trails. One of the things I picked up was that it’s probably the best place for cyclists as there are cyclist’s paths and parking pots everywhere even in luxury hotels.
One of the most striking features of this town is the Knysna Heads. Measuring 300 meters wide and an entry to the lagoon, Knysna heads are the most dangerous entry port in the world and only 70 meters can be navigated. Along the road from Knysna to Sedgefield is the only fresh water lake called Groenvlein where most people enjoy boating activities and it happens to be a fisherman’s dream.
I have always overlooked abseiling when planning extreme sports but this time my host had it in the itinerary. When watching abseiling on television it looks so easy. Just hang from a rope on a cliff and hop down like the marines we see in war films. I must say that all changed the moment I stood on the edge of the cliff at Kaaimans River. With the harnesses strapped to my waist, looking down below the cliff was a waterfall dropping down a river from 25 meters. I stood high above it at 45 meters hanging on the cliff ready to do the descent. What freaked me out was that the water below seemed shallow should anything happen and I fall. The guide with the safety rope was least of my concern since he was also hanging from the cliff to make sure I took instructions correctly. I made my descent slowly, avoiding contact with the waterfall and occasionally taking my eyes off the rope to enjoy the beauty of Kaaimans River. It is when you hanging on that rope that you get to appreciate nature’s beauty.
The highest bungee bridge in the world is on the Bloukrans Bridge along the Garden Route in Tsitsikamma. A short walk from registration and harness point to the jump off point on the bridge is a torture on its own. You follow a narrow path on some mash wire for about two hundred meters and below is the Bloukrans River, which has a spectacular view. But you’ll not appreciate the view at this point. Reaching the platform where the jump is made is exciting. There’s a disk jockey playing loud house music. This is where I danced like crazy to drive away the fear. I had bungee jumped before only at 111 meters but this time I was to do it at 216 meters. My heart began to beat fast as the jump coordinator tied me to the bungee rope. I stood up with my legs tied and asked to hop to the edge of the bridge. It was at this point that I asked the jump coordinator if I could back flip jump and he gave me thumps up. All I recall is falling off the bridge at high speed estimated to be about 120km/ hr. The music faded away and I swung from side to side as the bridge has a pendulum system. While hanging upside down, I thought to myself: there’s more to life and why do we bang our heads when things don’t go right.
Other adrenaline rushing activities include, zip line tours, paragliding, quad biking, skydiving, whale watching, surfing, high speed boating and elephant back safaris.