“Hidden in private woodland above Knysna’s lagoons, 14 eco-chic treehouses with 2 fine restaurants and freshwater pools”
The treehouse cabins are built on raised platforms and scattered throughout the forest-reserve. They each have bedroom, sitting area and a bathroom, all of which have tinted windows looking straight into the trees, plus a private terrace. The Classic Tree Suites have a natural African-chic look - hand-woven coir carpets, cane partitions, animal-skin rugs, wood-beamed ceilings - while the Upper Tree Camps have the added luxury of an alfresco sunken Jacuzzi bathtub. The Moroccan Suites have huge four-posters and vivid Moorish fabrics.
The gorgeous bathrooms come with a heated towel rail, fluffy towels, a double shower and best of all, a huge bathtub next to fabulous picture windows which look out to the forest; you can often spot monkeys while you soak. No surprise that Phantom Forest has some of the cleanest guests around!
We spend the rest of our relaxation time out on our private deck, where there’s wooden seating, a birding book and an in-house checklist for ticking off the 100+ local species. It’s a great spot to unwind and I fell to thinking, à la Gary Larson, how the birds might enjoy a similar checklist for humans: pale-faced Londoner, orange-breasted Teutonic sunbird, the lesser-spotted honeymooner…
Wander along a raised walkway to the Eyrie lounge and bar, where you can enjoy light meals throughout the day, and sip pre-dinner cocktails. When the chefs are ready for you, you’ll be escorted to the thatched Boma restaurant.
We enjoyed a thick, tangy soup of carrot, coriander and orange; a tender ostrich fillet (tastes like gamey beef) with grilled vegetables and a surprisingly uncloying peanut sauce; and fruit sorbets to finish off. We washed it down with a plummy Good Hope 97 Cabernet Sauvignon, and then chatted to other guests around the fire. A lovely evening, and well worth the cost, though vegetarians may find their options less impressive.
The Moroccan-inspired Chutzpah restaurant opens for groups of 12 or more. It offers North African specialities; mezzes (pine nut and sultana dolmades, cinnamon and almonds filos), light fish courses, palate-cleansing frozen fruit, and meaty tagines with fragrant spices, pomegranates and apricots.
Knysna’s waterfront restaurants are also charming. Try the Knysna Oyster Company’s decadently slurpy oysters (both wild and farmed), or The East Head Café’s fish and chips (a firm favourite) while enjoying stunning views of the lagoon mouth. If you’re heading out on an activity straight from the reserve, a picnic can be provided.