Phantom Forest Nature poolThe Phantom Forest Eco Reserve is tucked discreetly within a pristine tract of forest that is rooted to the banks of the Knysna Estuary. It is characterized by a human footprint so reverently subtle, that it compliments rather than detracts from the transcendent 137ha setting within which is sits. This reserve’s eco sense and sensitivity has earned them several accolades: “Africa’s Best Eco Tourism Destination” in 2007”, “World’s Leading Green Resort” in 2008, and a 2009 nomination for “Africa’s Leading Green Hotel” from the World Travel Awards. In 2015 Phantom Forest was once again nominated as Africa’s leading green hotel.


The reserve was built a little more than a decade ago, before ‘sustainable development’ was even a buzz word. Ecological consideration was seldom a factor in Knysna’s bourgeoning expansion. From the very beginning, the owners of the Phantom Forest proved a tour de force for eco-tourism, their fingers set firmly on a conservation pulse. Their actions have always been guided by a profound respect for the environment, they knew then as they do now that they are custodians of a precious vestige of Knysna’s Afromontane forest heritage.

Phantom Forest Moroccan Tree suite Bathroom


Peppered along a series of sinuous wooden walkways are 14 elevated tree suites, each constructed according to green building principles. The organic architectural character of the Phantom Forest is inspired by this natural realm, and as a result blends perfectly within it. Not a single mature tree was removed to make way for these suites; instead, each was adapted to the ‘design’ of the forest.

Where the exterior of the suites are almost rudimentary in nature, the interiors are, by contrast, luxuriously appointed. Decorated with African inspired flair, some suites hint of colonial nuances, with natural textures of subtle creams, earthy tones and black. Others depict North African chic, with lavish silks in a vibrant palette of colours and white cotton percale linen offset by beautiful hand embroidered textiles.

Phantom Forest Upper Tree Camp suite


The Eyrie, the reserve’s social hub, is where guests are treated to sweeping views of Knysna’s sublime liquid landscape. A whimsical mix of contemporary African artefacts, such as hand carved, hand painted furniture, beaded animals and woven baskets, this charming lounge is where guests embark on the Phantom Forest’s legendary culinary journey. After selecting from a six course menu, guests are escorted to the Forest Boma for an unhurried feast of sensory indulgence.

Their nightly changing menu includes contemporary adaptations to international and local fare using only the best seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Diners have a choice between four starters, four mains and four desserts, each so mouth watering in description that making a decision is no easy feat.

For groups and functions between 16 and 24 guests an unforgettable evening with a more exotic slant can be enjoyed in the reserve’s other restaurant. the Chutzpah. A Moroccan inspired creation that pays tribute to North African cuisine, with the perfect blend of fiery flavours, tangines, dates, Turkish delight, hookah pipes, mosaic, and illuminated ornate screens all make for an unforgettable dining experience.

View from Phantom Forest Eyrie lounge deck


Culinary delights aside; the reserve possesses countless other qualities.  There is a soul stirring walking trail that winds fluidly through a verdant tract of indigenous forest. The united vertical ascent of stately tree specimens makes a commanding statement on the landscape and this forest kingdom will without doubt leave an indelible mark on your spirit. Guests can also enjoy a range of signature wellness treatments at the Body Boma, where indigenous flora-inspired products are used in all the therapies.

The to-do list is endless, but many simply opt to merely relax on the private deck of tree suite to bask in the unpolluted breath of the forest…

Phantom Forest is one of the most laudable examples of sustainable tourism in the country.

Phantom Forest Moroccan pool


“Looking back on my life in Africa, I feel that it might altogether be described as the existence of a person
who had come from a rushed and noisy world, into a still country… so lovely as if the contemplation of it could itself be enough to make you happy all your life…” – Karen Blixen