Festivals always cost more money than you think they will, with fuel, accommodation, meals and ticket prices leaving quite a dent in your wallet. Here’s some activities to enjoy at the 2016 Knysna Oyster Festival on a fairly tight budget.
- Places to eat and drink on a budget at the Knysna Oyster Festival
- Budget accommodation for the Knysna Oyster Festival
Budget things to do at the 2016 Knysna Oyster Festival
1. Pick n’ Pay Festival Pavilion
Entry to the pavilion (on Waterfront Drive) is free and it’s jam-packed with various activities and stalls from morning to night. The festival programme (found almost everywhere in Knysna and online) is also free and is your best friend during the Knysna Oyster Festival. You’ll find jumping castles and other entertainment for kiddies to night markets, fish braais, comedy shows and local bands. Some of the events require an entry fee, but most of the entertainment is free.
2. Canoe the Goukamma River
A Knysna local mentioned RiverDeck Restaurant as a good place to go for breakfast or sundowners – and it turned out I found the RiverDeck by chance when going for a canoe outing with Island Vibe Backpackers. With its grassy roofs, braai-pit and outdoor seating right on the river, RiverDeck has a casual African-bohemian feel. A serene relaxed spot on the water’s edge where you are likely to arrive for breakfast and only leave after sundowners.
They supply canoes (R80 per person), paddleboats (R75 per person) and hydroboats (R100 for an hour) allowing you to paddle up and down the tranquil Goukamma River – I can fully recommend this! They also offer tented accommodation (R100 per per person), so you don’t have to leave in a hurry – perhaps stay a night or two and have a manicure, pedicure or massage!
There’s plenty of activities for the kids, including sand art and cute little Shetland ponies for them to saddle up on.
The RiverDeck Restaurant serves breakfast, lunches, braai kos and even a Sunday roast buffet. They are also pet-friendly with a section for you and your hounds by the river.
3. Visit the township and have dinner with Mawande
Mawande Kondlo lives in the township (Khayalethu) just outside Knysna and he is a man with a vision and an inspiration to us all. Mawande hails from Oudtshoorn and arrived in Knysna in 1995 seeking his fortune. He started out as a petrol attendant and then worked as a porter at a local hotel where he developed a love for tourism. He studied at night to become a tour guide and started taking tourists around the area in his Toyota Tazz. But he wasn’t prepared to stop there. Increasingly being asked by tourists where they could eat in the township, Mawande decided to convert the top floor of a RDP home into a restaurant and bed & breakfast.
I ate dinner at Wandu@eKasi and relished (excuse the pun) the experience. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (I was slightly worried about being presented with a Smiley or chicken feet) but was pleasantly surprised at the delicious spread. When you arrive you wash your hands in a large enamel basin and then settle down at one of the tables to enjoy a glass of wine or a quart of beer. The walls have township photos from the 2010 World Cup and the wooden tables are neatly laid with mats and reed bowls.
Dinner was a buffet affair with chicken pieces (no feet!), lamb ribs, rice, mielies, samp and pap. There was a green salad with avo and biltong and even a bowl of oysters (Wandu@eKasi is also an Oyster Hotspot). Malva pudding smothered in home-made custard was dessert. Eating with your hands is optional and our serviettes come in the unique form of a toilet roll perched on a wine bottle. Mawande was utterly charming and it felt like sitting at friend’s house enjoying food off a tin plate from a braai. Dinner (including the shuttle to and from town) is from R250 per person and it will be one of the best nights out you will have.
You can take a tour of Khayalethu with Mawande where he’ll share local stories and legends, you’ll meet local residents and see the Township “Big 5”. Tours cost R350 per person, or for R450 you can enjoy lunch at Wandu@eKasi after the tour.
4. Meet a local Rastafarian community
I did a township tour with Island Vibe Backpackers (R290 per person) with one of the highlights being the view (some of those houses must be worth a fortune for the position alone!) and meeting the local Rastafarian community – the largest Rastafarian community in South Africa. Not knowing much about the Rastafarian culture – apart from the fact they smoke plenty of marijuana – I found the tour of Judah Square both enlightening and humbling. They are a true community – both looking after each other and assisting the rest of the community. They have a daycare centre and distribute vegetable seedlings to homes in the community (as well as providing fresh produce to those in need). On top of that, the dreadlocked tour guide, Brother Zebulon, had a great sense of humour and made me feel very welcome in a world that was completely foreign to me. Interestingly, smoking of cigarettes is not allowed in the Rastafarian village…
5. Discover the Timber Route
Knysna’s history lies in its trees and The Timber Route is a great way to explore the forests, find out interesting history about the town and shop for Knysna wood artworks and furniture, along with enjoying tranquil picnic spots or cycling a mountain bike route. Visit the Knysna Museum on Queen Street to see Millwood House (an original home from the mining village of Millwood), a general store from the early 1900s, The Old Gaol and plenty of historical relics and photographs depicting Knysna’s history. Pop into St George’s Anglican Church on the Main Road to see beautiful examples of local woodwork steeped in history.
Visit Timber Village for furniture and artworks made from Knysna timber. Take a drive to Forest Legends Museum in the Diepwalle forest to learn some of the forest’s secrets, visit The King Edward Big Tree (+600 year old Outiniqua Yellowwood) and the Dalene Matthee Big Tree & Memorial. There are also countless picnic spots (Jubilee Creek is one of my favourites), scenic passes and drives, as well as hikes and mountain bike trails.
Everyone’s budgets are different and it was impossible for me to experience all the budget options that Knysna and its surrounds have to offer in a few days. If you know of anything worth doing, a restaurant worth eating at, or a place to stay that won’t break the bank, please let us know in the comments section.