Featherbed’s iconic Nature Reserve reopens after 18 months

Destination Garden Route Featherbed Knysna reopens

Featherbed Nature Reserve  in Knysna reopens

Today is exactly one and a half year ago that the Knysna Fires of 2017 started and life changed.  For Knysna, its people and Featherbed Nature Reserve.   It was an emotional time to go through, and lots of tears were shed. Yesterday saw tears too.  But tears of excitement and joy.

The Knysna Fires

When the fires of June 2017 hit the coastal holiday town of Knysna, it raged for 11 days before the Joint Operations Committee overseeing the fire extinguishing operations was dismantled.  Thousands of hectares of pine plantations and 700 houses went up in flames.  8 people sadly lost their lives.  Featherbed Nature Reserve, on the Western peninsula of the famous Knysna Heads, went up in flames too.  It took 5 days before staff could get onto the reserve, and what they saw was devastating.  The natural fynbos, the jetty and the milkwood forest where so many visitors had enjoyed their Featherbed lunch overlooking the Knysna Lagoon had gone.  Burnt.  Gone.  A lifetime of achievements and memories gone up in flames, literally. Yesterday was one of the first trips to the New Featherbed.  It felt familiar, yet totally new.  The ferry across was familiar.  The landing jetty, the restaurant, the bar and conference facilities (to be rolled out at a later stage), the Food Forest, the pathway up to the top is all new.   The views from Featherbed Nature Reserve have always been fantastic, but with the dense bush now gone, have only become even more spectacular. Mother Nature is recovering beautifully, with help of resident horticulturist (and destination marketing expert) Martin Hatchuel and his team who have – and still are – relentlessly working on pulling out invasive rooikrans, planting soil stabilizing vygies and documenting what has come up in Featherbed Nature Reserve without any interference. The story of Featherbed, how it started some 35-odd years ago (Martin Hatchuel was also the very first guide at Featherbed at the time), how the Knysna Fires of 2017 initially brought devastation and despair, but how it ended being a fresh initiative for rehabilitation, regeneration and the vision for a sustainable and ‘green’ Knysna is one that is truly inspiring. Can’t wait to go back!   Follow Destination Garden Route on Instagram for more pictures.