Featherbed Nature Reserve is a privately-owned reserve and South African Heritage Site that captures the essence of Knysna’s beauty. Located on a protected portion of Knysna’s Western Head, an iconic landmark on the Western Cape’s gorgeous Garden Route, the reserve is only accessible by ferry. To protect its natural splendour, only a limited number of people are able to visit each day and must be accompanied by a specialist guide.
Knysna is the 3rd oldest harbour in South Africa and the 2nd largest wetland in southern Africa. The steep cliffs of the famous Heads form a barrier between the tumultuous waves of the ocean and the peaceful waters of the estuary. Featherbed derived its name from sailors who cast anchor into the tranquil bay waters to enjoy what felt like “sleeping on a feather bedâ€. But even more interesting than where Featherbed got its name, is how it came to be.
In 1938, a strange fish was found off the east coast of South Africa. Fish expert, Prof. J L B Smith identified it as the Coelacanth, which was thought to be extinct for over 70 million years. Prof. Smith wrote a series of books on his discoveries and, with the proceeds, bought the land at Featherbed. An exhibit documenting Prof. Smith’s obsession with the Coelacanth can be found at Featherbed’s Forest Restaurant.
Featherbed offers a 4-hour Eco-experience that includes: • Return ferry ride on the Knysna Lagoon to the Western Head. • 4x4 drive to the top of the headland to enjoy sensational views over the Indian Ocean, lagoon, Knysna, and forested mountains • Specialist guide giving information on history, fauna, and flora. • Optional guided 2,2km walk (suitable for all ages and fitness levels) through the coastal forest and fynbos into ancient Khoi San sea caves • Buffet lunch at the Forest Restaurant, a rustic wooden deck under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
Aside from the eco-experience, Featherbed also has an open beach where members of the public can arrive on their own boat. The Featherbed Beach offers limited table seating, food, and drinks, and makes a great summer outing.
Featherbed is home to a breeding program for the Knysna Loerie, the endangered Knysna Sea Horse, and the rare Blue Duiker - one of the smallest antelope species in the world, standing roughly 30cm tall. Visitors to the reserve also have a chance of spotting the Black African Oyster Catcher, one of South Africa’s rarest coastal birds.
Featherbed is an exceptional reserve where people of all ages can learn to appreciate nature at its finest. Don’t leave without purchasing a memento from the Blue Duiker curio shop!