A certain travel brochure puts it thus: "Every visit to Knysna is an adventure." And so it is, especially in peak season when bumper-to-bumper Gauteng traffic and shuffling crowds can trigger an adrenaline rush second to none. First things first, then: Knysna (495km from Cape Town) is no longer the drowsy village it used to be, a refuge for rat-race escapees, tie-dye T-shirt makers and aspiring artists – the Garden Route's tourist boom has put an end to that illusion. Although there's no immediate beach to call its own, Knysna reigns as the undisputed capital of the Garden Route. What the town lacks in sea frontage it makes up with an ethereal lagoon and ancient forests, and a Georgian and Victorian atmosphere you won't find in other Garden Route towns. Although the town has outgrown itself, the surrounding area still offers tranquillity. If this is what you're looking for, the best self-catering beds can be found away from the centre, either along or above the lagoon, or buried deep under the forest canopy.