The Turbine as your base, Knysna as your oyster

Posted by Lorraine Kearney on 14 June 2022

Our trusty steed for the weekend blitz to Knysna was the Ford Everest Sport, cruise control set and sat nav dialled in – it’s got standard mapping and Tracks4Africa if you’re worried about getting lost on a backroad.

Picture: Travelbug Rose

And seven airbags for seven seats (safety first!) as well as Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system to keep the tunes going, no sound intrusion from the quiet cabin.

Our destination, The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa. Built in 1939, it was the power station for Knysna and nearby Plettenberg Bay, supplying power generated by turbines into the Eskom grid.

The Turbine as your base, Knysna as your oyster

The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa. Photo: Marzahn Botha

It’s on Thesen Islands, site of the original Thesen timber processing plant. It was wood waste from the timber mill that was used for power generation.

The power station hung up its boots on 26 June 2001, and nine years later, the hotel opened, taking in its first guests in August 2010.

Enough history; today The Turbine is a unique hotel, with innovative and thoughtful architecture paying homage to its original use. You walk and sit and play among the turbines and machinery, making for an interesting juxtaposition between the softness of the breathtaking landscape and the hard industrial lines of metal machine.

READ: 6 Wilderness stays for seaside, lakeside & countryside living

There are 26 luxury and standard rooms in the five-star establishment, a honeymoon suite and two self-contained suites adjacent to the hotel.

Knysna may be known for its culinary offerings, but you won’t have to go far for a delicious meal: The Turbine has two restaurants – the expansive Island Café Restaurant and the vibey Gastro Pub. There’s live music on Friday nights at the latter.

The Turbine as your base, Knysna as your oyster

The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa in Knysna. Photo: Supplied

Rates and events

Rooms are from R3 900 for two people sharing, bed and breakfast – but if you move fast, you can get a 55% discount, available until 30 June 2022.

Every last Thursday of the month, the Island Café hosts a wine and food pairing dinner with various wine estates and live music at R375pp:

  • 16 June – A journey through the Winelands with Jane Simon, music by pianist Baden Hall;
  • 7 July – Alvi’s Bubbly, Alvi’s Drift winery with seafood and oysters, music by saxophonist Jaco Kriek;
  • 25 August – Meerhof Wines, music by violinist Minx; and
  • 27 October – Jakkalsvlei Wines food and dinner pairing.

The Knysna Oyster Festival runs from 1 to 10 July, and The Turbine is offering some accommodation specials and fun happenings – check the website. It is about the eating, but also about the sport, the shopping and even the chess tournament.

The Turbine as your base, Knysna as your oyster

Goudveld or Goldfield State Forest. Photo: Lorraine Kearney

What to do

When it comes to entertainment, there is a lot, from spa treatments at Turbine Spa to the Turbine Water Club, which arranges a variety of water and land-based activities such as lagoon cruises, forest walks, and canoe and bicycle hire.

You can’t go wrong with sunset cocktails and canapes cruise on the lagoon to end the day.

Knysna Lagoon at sunset. Photo: Lorraine Kearney

It prepares you for adventure and adrenaline the next day. Start gently, with a hike in the ancient Knysna Forest – you can do the three-hour, 9km hike, or the easy 3.1km Kringe in n Bos circular walk, passing the giant 1 000-year-old Outeniqua yellowwood old along the way. It’s in the Goldfield State Forest. For a swim in a cool forest pool, it’s the long hike you need.

It’s free with a Wild Card, R50 pp without.

And then, zipling. Yee-ha! Knysna Ziplines is your go-to. You can do a four- or six-cable tour, about 200m above the Kranshoek SANParks picnic site.

Yes, there is a GoPro you can rent (for R350), and yes there is a scramble up the mountain between cables five and six.

Don’t fret if you are a bit nervy. The experienced guides know just how to put you at ease. Lucas Jwara and Aubrey Singcu were perfect for this panicked passenger.

It’s R600 pp for the four-cable tour and R850 pp for the six-cable tour.

Rest, relaxation and fun – weekend mission accomplished.


Do, dine and sleep: touring KwaZulu-Natal’s iSimangaliso Wetland Park

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