The Knysna National lake Area is not a national park, but is monitored by the Parks Board to make sure that ongoing development is environmentally friendly.
The lagoon has borne witness to centuries of trade in timber, ivory and gold, but nowadays the shores are lined with residential areas, a busy waterfront of shops and restaurants, a yacht basin, boat yards and the famous Knysna oyster hatchery.
Boat trips of all sorts can be undertaken and boats can also be hired, but as much of the lagoon is very shallow, it is essential to keep to the buoys marking the deep channel.
No inexperienced skipper should attempt to exit the lagoon by way of the Heads, as this is a difficult and dangerous passage strewn with rocks and strong currents.
The exceptionally beautiful Knysna National Lake Area is home to the endangered Knysna seahorse, which clings on to plants with its tail and changes colour to match its surroundings.
The sandbanks and salt marshes of the lagoon and river mouth, teem with life and in turn provide food for an immeasurable number of organisms. Whales and dolphins are regular visitors along the entire Garden Route coastline.
Elephant were all but hunted to extinction in the Knysna area and only one remains. She is a grumpy old matriarch who turned down the friendship of some playmates brought in to keep her company.
She now roams the forests alone while the other elephants have been re-located to a wildlife reserve.
There are a growing number of private reserves along the Garden Route who have stocked up with game such as elephants, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, buffalo - all of which were indigenous to the area once upon a time.
Many of the woodland birds are surprisingly colourful birds including redbilled woodhoopoe, Knysna woodpecker, paradise flycatcher, Knysna lourie and lesser doublecollared sunbird. While at the lakes, wetlands and lagoon you may see fish eagles, cormorants, kingfishers, blacksmith plovers and Egyptian geese.