Featherbed Nature Reserve

Featherbed is flourishing

Eighteen months - and two spring seasons - after the 2017 fire, and Featherbed is looking glorious! Our indigenous fynbos and coastal forests are flourishing like they haven’t done for ages, and the birds, the insects, and the small animals are back at work with a will.

In truth, we didn’t need to do much to ensure this success - nature has wonderful mechanisms for restoring itself after fire - but we did carry out one, vital intervention: we removed (and we’re still removing) as many of the invasive alien seedlings as we could.

Plants from other areas - trees, shrubs, grasses - will become invasive in a new environment if they don’t meet enemies there (bugs, funguses, and so on) that slow their rate of reproduction. This leaves the locally indigenous vegetation unable to compete for space, air, and water - which is exactly what happened at Featherbed, beginning in the 1960s: an Australian wattle (Acacia cyclops, which South Africans call rooikrans) established itself here, and although we’ve always had a programme of cutting them down by hand, it seemed at times that we were fighting a losing battle.

But the fires reduced about 95% of the rooikrans on the reserve to ashes - which gave us an invaluable opportunity to restart with a clean slate.

So, we hired a team of fifteen people, and they began to remove the seedlings that emerged four and six months after the fire (this is normal - the seeds can lay dormant in the soil for decades). They marked the land into plots of 900 square metres, and they pulled by hand - at times as many as 200,000 plants in a single plot - and left the carcasses where they fell in order to return the carbon to the soil.

Even as they were doing this, the fynbos (Cape macchia) began to reappear - the succulent groundcovers, the astonishingly green emerald grass (actually a sedge!), bulbs like the watsonias and the paintbrush lilies, and shrubs like the dune olives and the wild sage.

The soft, early rains that fell after the fires helped too, and the forest species - particularly the milkwoods and the candlewoods - began to resprout (many of them had been singed, but not killed), and keurboom seedlings (short-lived, indigenous pioneers that we hadn’t seen at Featherbed in generations) began to germinate.

We kept records, of course: our horticulturist catalogued the plants as they appeared, and he’s now found at least 300 species (and counting!) on our 75 hectares at the mouth of the Knysna Lagoon.

But the numbers don’t begin to tell the story of this astonishing explosion of life: you really should take a tour to see it for yourself.


The rebuilding and rehabilitation timeline - Before & After the fires of 7 June 2017


October - November 2018

July - August - September 2018

April - May - June 2018

January - Febuary - March 2018

October - November - December 2017

July - August - September 2017

7 June 2017 - The day of the Fire

Featherbed Nature Reserve 2017
Before the Fires



Read about our eco experience and book your excursion


The Featherbed Nature Reserve, situated on the Western Head in Knysna, is the premier eco-experience on the Garden Route.

  • Return ferry trip on the Knysna Lagoon to the Western Head.
  • 4x4 vehicle & trailer drive up the headland onto the Reserve, stopping at spectacular viewpoints.
  • Specialist guide giving information on history, fauna & flora.
  • Optional guided 2.2km walk through coastal forest and fynbos into ancient sea caves.
  • World renowned buffet lunch at an outdoor restaurant setting under a canopy of Milkwood trees.
  • Wonderful family outing, suitable for all ages and fitness levels.



3 Hour - Eco Experience

4 Hour - Eco Experience (Includes Buffet Lunch)


Daily Departure:

08h30; 14h30 (3 Hour - Special Request Groups / Excluding Buffet Lunch)

10h00; 11h30 (4 Hour - Lunch Included)

- All departures are subject to the minimum pax requirements achieved

- All our departures are subject to weather conditions


Departure Point:

Departs from Featherbed Ferry Terminus on Rememberance Drive off Waterfront Drive


Group Size:

Maximum 98 pax per trip - 2 vehicles used, each with own guide



Valid from 1st February 2023 – 31st January 2024


Please note children’s rates are applicable to family leisure bookings only and do not apply to school or special interest groups. Kindly enquire for our school packages via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click here to view our Cancellation & No-Show Policy

Eco Experience >> BOOK NOW

Eco Experience & Lunch >> BOOK NOW

Featherbed Co.

Remembrance Drive
off Waterfront Drive

Main Phone: +27 (0)44 382-1693
Alt Phone: +27 (0)44 382-6261

Mobile: +27 (0)72 662-5798

E-mail: bookings@featherbed.co.za