A Thousand Words Photo Essay

The Knysna Estuary

They often say that a picture is worth ‘A Thousand Words’, so we thought it would be a great idea to start a blog series of photo essays with this title, in order to convey both the beauty and the diverse web of life that one can expect when visiting Knysna and booking a trip out with Ocean Odyssey.

All images taken by Lisa Leslie

The magnificent Knysna Heads viewed from the open ocean. These looming sandstone headlands which stand sentinel at the mouth of the Knysna Estuary, are one of Knysna’s most famous landmarks.


Knysna’s pristine Western Head, which has fortunately escaped the rampant urban development seen on the Eastern Head. Here visitors will find the privately-owned Featherbed Nature Reserve, a South African Heritage site.


Two humpback whales photographed cruising very near to the opening of the Knysna Heads on their epic annual migration.


Archaeological evidence from the Stone Age was found in some of the caves situated near the Western Heads and is therefore closed to the public. Access is granted for research purposes only. The Knysna estuary has been a focal point for human activity at least since the mid-Pleistocene. The various sites identified around the Heads would have provided distinctly different advantages for these early people, and they give researchers insight into the strategic choices of Stone Age foragers.


Weather conditions shift often in this dynamic estuarine environment. This photo was taken after an advection fog developed and draped a veil of mist over the ridge adjacent to the ocean.


The sea conditions at the mouth of the Knysna Estuary are extremely dynamic and are affected by both seas conditions and tides. It is considered one of the most dangerous openings in the world and during unusually feisty winter storms waves can reach enormous heights. Some days however, are so flat that you can paddle out through the heads in a small canoe.


Low tide and beautiful skies on the Knysna Estuary. The incredible web of life sustained by this iconic system is partly due to the twice daily tidal shifts, during which millions of cubic meters of water are exchanged through the opening of the estuary.


A lone, local fisherman heads out to collect bait in the early morning light. The mansions of Thesen Island’s affluent residents can be seen in the distance.


Low tide on the Knysna Estuary, which has the largest Cape eel grass beds in the country, providing refuge and food for many hundreds of species.


Knysna is for the birds. With such a variety of diverse habitats, the Knysna Estuary plays hosts to a large number of different bird species. Seen here is a Sacred Ibis feeding on the mud flats during low tide.


The Knysna Quays: a bustling marina and popular tourist hub boasting many shops and restaurants.


Sometimes during the winter months a thick mist hangs above the surface of the estuary, usually dissipating when the suns rays get a little stronger.