Phantom Forest is an award- winning eco-lodge set in a 137-hectare hillside Afromontane forest reserve overlooking the Knysna River and lagoon.
The lodge has fabulous views of the lagoon, right across to Knysna Heads, but it focus’s on Knysna’s famous forests, rather than on the town itself, which is a five minute drive away. The lodge draws its inspiration from nature, but is run in a very professional manner by the owner, Kit. Previously from Joburg, Kit is into good design, good food and wine, but with a funky flavour. Two nights here would be perfect to unwind after Cape Town. It’s in same price bracket as St James, but a more unusual, off-beat experience.
In 2007, Phantom Forest won the title of Africa’s Leading Ecotourism Destination 2007, at the World Travel Awards, and was nominated in 2008 for the ‘World’s Leading Green Resort’. Quite an achievement!
The lodge facilities and the chalets are linked by long forest boardwalks, so you need to be prepared and able to walk.
There are 14 chalets, or suites, in three groups, set in the woods. They are very comfortable and attractively furnished, using silky sheets and cushions, while retaining the feeling of actually living in the forest. Six Classic suites have a sitting room area and bedroom, whereas the four Upper Tree Camp suites have a separate sitting room. The four ‘Moroccan’ suites are named after their Moroccan-style décor, and have huge bedrooms with a lounge area. All suites have a private deck; the Tree Camp suites have a Jacuzzi bath on the deck.
Food at Phantom Forest
Phantom Forest is well-known for its outstanding cuisine. The South African Food and Wine society has it on their list of best 100 restaurants; Kit feels its on a par with Le Quartier Francais, and it will certainly cost you a lot less! It has two restaurants, one is the Forest Boma, specialising in New Age International food, the other is Moroccan and rather resembles the Tower Top restaurant in Stone Town. Both serve six-course gourmet dinners.
The ‘Body Boma’ is an excellent spa offering all kinds of treatments, including mud treatments using Dead Sea minerals, and a wide range of indigenous treatments (Africa seaweed scrub, Rooibos scrub, Khoisan salt scrub, etc.), massages and fusion therapy. The personnel are highly trained and can also undertake specialist rejuvenation therapies. It is essential to book these treatments in advance.
Facilities and activities
There are two salt-water swimming pools and a hot tub in the woods. There are great forest walks, guided or self-guided, as well as canoeing in the lodge canoes, mountain-biking and bird watching (over 120 species). Alternatively, guests can spend their days enjoying all the normal facilities and activities of the Knysna area.
Access is easy – it is just off the N2 as you come to Knysna lagoon. There is a car park where you leave your car and a buggy transports you up the hill to the lodge.