Sparklers and bubbly

And glasses held high –

Amazed at how fast

The years have sped by…

Bitou River Lodge,

Green and gold in the sun,

Happy Birthday to you!

You’re now Twenty-One!

I still can’t believe it…

Bitou River Lodge, Year One
Bitou River Lodge, Year One

What we love about our Twenty-One-Year-Old: 

  • Walking under the trees we planted (once we’d cleared the aliens in the cow field we bought, there was nothing left. We’ve planted every tree. Paul did the planting, I did the pruning).
  • Shopping at Woolies at 5am in peak season to beat the crowds (back in the day, there was no Woolworths, no Pick ‘n Pay, no Checkers…now we have Woolies with local-friendly hours…gotta love it!)
  • Being ‘green’ (when we started, Eskom was reliable and cheap – but whenever a tree fell on the line & cut off our power we had no lights, no breakfast and, worst of all, no water. Total panic. Now we have amazing solar lamps designed by Paul, we cook with gas and water is fed to the taps & showers by gravity. No more pumps and generators!)
  • The animal sagas that have made us gasp (otters vs geese, fight to the death / the genet in our kitchen / the seal swimming past our lawn / the baby Blue Cranes whose super-long toes got caught in the fence & whom we freed / the hoarse bark of a leopard next door / spotting Little Bitterns / tiny baby Crakes / monkeys swimming across the river to raid the bird tray…
  • Our cheerful, reliable staff (our ‘skattebol’ Cathleen has been with us since Day One!)
  • Our awesome guests, without whom we’d have thrown in the (bath) towel years ago (many have become regulars and great friends…Don & Zillah have booked their nineteenth stay for next year). Huge thank you to you all!


What we’re doing to celebrate:

  • For the whole of October we’re offering top specials: 21.OFF │3:4:2 │DOUBLE.UP
  • We’re running a Photo Competition with three nights for two guests up for grabs
  • We have challenging (song) clues in our Tricky Ducky Treasure Hunt
  • There’s a Happy Birthday Selfie Station
  • And of course our usual canoeing –
  • as well as Spring birding: think nests, bright plumage, feathery visitors

Want to join us? Want more info?   0829786164 Sue


TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013.2014.2015.2016.2017.2018.2019

TripAdvisor Hall of Fame                      2017.2018.2019

Dr Evil Classic 2016

‘Day Two. Definitely.’                                                                                                                                              

‘Day Two, the best views!’                                                                                                                                                ‘

Oh, Day One – we love climbing. And those views…!’                                                                                                                                              

‘Day Three, amazing scenery!’

He’s done it again.

Dr Evil, that is.

The 2016 Pennypinchers  Dr Evil Classic, held each year in Plettenberg Bay, has been even better  than the previous four, with cyclists arriving from all over the country & even from overseas, to take part. The three-day race has always been tweaked so that it’s not the same as the year before, but this year it was totally re-invented : ‘You can’t have the same old, same old’ says Dr Evil.

So how was it different?

Registration still took place at Wittedrif High School and Day One started from the school with a rousing send-off from the kids in uniform. It was a crisp, sunny day of climbing up hills & through forests & over farmland, with the final descent taking cyclists back to the school. It was a long, tiring ride but the scenery made it all worthwhile.


On Day Two everyone transferred to Cairnbrogie Dairy Farm, a 25-minute drive from Bitou River Lodge/Wittedrif. This seemed to be most people’s favourite stage. The route passed from Cairnbrogie into the Harkerville Forest & over part of the Red Route, before returning to the farm for some long, rough single-track riding. This was not enjoyed by everyone :  ‘Tough to do on a hardtail, I’m gonna sell it!’  ‘So much cow dung! In my face, even!’  (Did nobody mention that Cairnbrogie is a dairy farm?) But the route ran next to the sea and the views were stunning. Lunch was served in the Cairnbrogie Barn as the last riders straggled in.


Then another complete change of scenery for Day Three. The venue for this stage was a vineyard at The Crags – a part of the Plett Winelands – the Kay & Monty Vineyard, a 20-minute drive from Bitou River Lodge. The weather had also changed – to rainy. The day was short but very steep, with even more climbing than on Day One. Great views from the tops of the climbs, but great caution on the descents, with the tracks becoming slippery in the rain. Big fires & glasses of wine welcomed the cyclists in the tasting-room, where the mood was relaxed & cheerful, everyone mud-spattered, joking & laughing.


Over the three days everything seemed so organized, so punctual, so effortless. Of course it never really is effortless.  It comes down to a lot of organized people working together as a team. Volunteers manned the water stations. Volunteers acted as marshals & sweepers. Volunteers directed traffic.  Volunteers placed banners, flags, directions to the Race Village. Three different Race Villages, that is.

Squirt, the bike-washers, had to move & re-erect all their masses of poles (to hang the bikes on) from a school  netball pitch (Day One) to a hay barn (Day Two) to a tractor-shed (Day Three), which was hectic.


But it all worked. So very well.

Will it happen again next year? Not sure. So far there’s no sponsor.

We’ll have to wait & see.

With our fingers crossed…..



Dr Evil Classic Muddy 2015

Dr Evil 2015

The End!  #muddy #tired #worth it  And just like that the Dr Evil Classic is over for another year.

Dr Evil 2015
Dr Evil 2015 – Muddy

The ‘Dr Evil Muddy’, is how most people will remember it. Bikes slipping & sliding downhill and slipping & sliding uphill. Chains jamming. Gears seizing up. Brakes failing.  What didn’t fail, however, was the sense of humour of the cyclists, who (mostly) grinned through it all.

The hosts, too, were unfailingly cheerful about the invasion of their school. On the first day, the start chute was lined with Wittedrift High school-kids cheering the cyclists on. When ‘Greg’ had to go home to fetch his shoes, everyone waited for him & gave him a hero’s clap to send him on his way. Prefects handed out medals. The netball courts were used as a cleaning zone. Bikes were stored in the school hall for safety. Everyone was welcoming.

There were a few hiccups of course. Two cyclists couldn’t find Cairnbrogie (“But they said it was in Harkerville!”) & missed out on that day’s ride. The mud made Day Two, shorter & more scenic this year, but still difficult, a day of falls & injuries. And ironically, with the rivers flowing full & the fields sodden, Wittedrift High ran out of that very commoditiy – water – on the last day, & had to send all the bikes home covered with mud. Minor details these – the race was, once again, a total success.

And, in the end, the mud became a badge of pride. It told a story: three days of challenges, accepted & survived. Three days of concentrating only on the partnership of body & bike. Three days of forgetting about work worries. Three days of exploring some of the secret trails around Plett. A muddy bike meant you’d done it.

Hopefully they’ll come back & do it all again next year for the Dr Evil Classic 2016.

Just without the mud.

Dr Evil Classic Countdown

Dr Evil Classic‘The Dr Evil?’ said our cyclist guests from Cape Town in April, ‘Nah. It’s too far to come for a three-day race.’

‘The Dr Evil?’ said our cyclist guests from Upington in April, ‘Bring it on!’

And there you have it. The Dr Evil Classic is about attitude, pure & simple.

Face it, Upington isn’t an ideal place to train for the Dr Evil. Hills are hard to find. Mud is scarce. The Dr Evil is all about hills, every year – & this year, mud will be that extra ingredient to add to the challenge.

We’ve had so much rain that our valley, where the race is held, is totally waterlogged. The Bitou River is wide & brown. The water lilies are drowned. Our neighbour’s field has become a pond for Yellow-billed Ducks, Spoonbills, African Black Ducks & even Cape Teals. Flocks of Sacred Ibises keep our ponies company. The sun pops out happily after each bout of rain, but doesn’t do much to dry up the wet. And with so few days to go until the start of the Dr Evil, we’re running out of sunny days. The wet is here to stay.

But the guys who cycle the Dr Evil will take it in their stride, mud & all.
On Wednesday they’ll arrive, assemble their super-bikes, register, eat ; & go to bed nice & early. We’ll wave them off the next morning, clean; & get them back a few hours later, filthy, tired, cursing Dr Evil (he’s used to it), but ready to do it all again the next day. And do it well.

They’re here for the challenge, for the adventure, for the satisfaction of working successfully as a team. They’re here for the cameraderie. They’re here to do better than they did last year.
They’re here because it’s fun.

It’s all about attitude. The Dr Evil Classic… Life…