Got your ducks in a row – for Valentine’s Day??

Duck Bitou River Lodge

Soooo  …  Valentine’s Day!

How does that make you feel? Do you absolutely love the whole hearts-roses-and-candlelit-dinner thing? Or does the very idea make your toes curl?

When you think about it, Valentine’s Day is all about being together, and you don’t necessarily have to celebrate that over dinner, do you?

How about….

….. watching the sun go down from Robberg Nature Reserve, with a bottle of bubbly and two glasses?

…. spending the morning learning to SUP on Mark’s boards up the Keurbooms River?*

…. or joining Mark for an afternoon’s champagne cruise up the Keurbooms River?*

…. learning to surf together at Learn To Surf Plett, with Clayton?

…. looking for fireflies at the Garden of Eden’s board walk trail: perfect for hand-in-hand?

….. walking to The Island on Robberg, stopping for lunch on That Bench, with the waves crashing below?

…. canyoning, kloofing and abseiling down waterfalls with at The Crags?

…. paddling the Keurbooms Canoe Trail to spend a night at the Whiskey Creek cabin?

…. OR simply come and stay at Bitou River Lodge on our 3:4:2 Special and enjoy romantic breakfasts and a paddle down the Bitou River together. Instead of a restaurant meal, organize your own barbecue-for-two next to the river, under the stars. Or give us a heads up and we’ll arrange a picnic basket for you instead.  All of which is, of course, available throughout the year for  you ‘all-year-round’ romantics: the 3:4:2 Special, the breakfasts, the canoes, the barbecues next to the river….

Valentines Day Bitou River Lodge

Go on.Uncurl those toes.

Have fun this Valentine’s Day!

* Mark’s website is  , the rest of the suggestions are easy to find online. You’re also welcome to mail me on

New puppy for Bitou River Lodge

Coming on Monday, ready or not!

That feeling of, Seriously? Was this really such a good decision ?? I’m not ready for this upheaval in my life! They’re going to hate me for the upheaval in theirs…

Which is, of course, nonsense.

And anyway she’s coming on Monday, ready or not.

The ‘she’ is our new puppy, a little blonde bombshell. ‘They’ are the family of animals already here, with their established routines, their easy discipline, the understanding of the rules (If You Have Just Swum In The River, You are Not Welcome On The Lounge Carpets).  Well, they might not actually understand the rules, but they mostly stick to them.

A new puppy? Not so much.

The very best thing about our animals is that they get on so well.  Mushki Cat  is The Boss & everyone knows it. He comes for walks round the farm with the dogs & they’re allowed to chase him, but they know exactly which line not to cross.  He has claws and attitude.

Mr Cat
Mr Cat

Nella minds her manners with the cat, but demands respect from Kian, who’s too chilled to care and just goes with the flow. He’ll enjoy a puppy. Nella might very well not. It’s potentially stressful being a new puppy’s owner, disrupting the familiar with the outrageous, hoping that things will work out happily for everyone.

And let’s face it, we haven’t had a puppy for years. We adopt adult rescue dogs & that’s that. This puppy adoption goes against all of our principles. But with a son-in-law who’s super-allergic to dogs – twenty-four non-stop sneezes on his first visit to Meet The Parents – and a brand new granddaughter who’s very likely to take after her dad, I’m taking no chances. I’ll put up with the puppy messes, the chewed table legs, the holes in the lawn, the puppy-training classes, the missing shoes… It’ll all be worthwhile. In the end.

And face it, she’s very cute. What’s not to love? Here she is: Lady Zazzi McDoodle. See you Monday!




Keurbooms River Adventure, anyone?


Costume? check…  Hat? check… Sunscreen? check…

And you’re good to go !  Where??  Up the Keurbooms River!

How exactly?  Well…

  1. My favourite adventure starts at Forever Resorts, meeting Mark as he loads SUP boards on to the top of the river boat. SUP stands for Stand Up Paddling, really easy & really fun, even if you’ve never done it before. Once the boards are stowed, you hop on too and the boat takes you all the way up to Whisky Creek. Engines aren’t allowed any further, so from here on it’s super peaceful.  The boards are offloaded onto the beach, you’re given a life-jacket & a quick lesson – and away you go, further upriver to the Cape Nature overnight hut.

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It’s just your group paddling the river, swimming, looking out for otters and birds (African Fish Eagle, Blue Cranes, the rare White-Backed Night Heron, Kingfishers, Cormorants, Knysna Turacos and more), admiring the lovely old Yellowwoods and Cape Chestnuts. You paddle back to Whisky Creek, have a last swim and some snacks – and the boat returns you to Forever Resorts. Magic!

Contact Mark on 060 998 1518

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  1. Add: a picnic…

… and hire a canoe from Cape Nature below the Keurbooms Bridge, or from Forever Resorts. You paddle as far as you feel like, stopping off at one of the beaches along the way to swim, laze in the sun, picnic, repeat.

Contact: Cape Nature 044 533 0322 or Forever Resorts 044 535 9309

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  1. Add: some courage….

…. and go jump off the rocky cliffs opposite Second Beach! Not for the faint-hearted!                        (And please watch out for boats)


  1. Add: a fishing rod ….

… and hire a motor boat from the Plett Angling Club or from Forever Resorts. Trail the fishing-line behind you as you meander gently up the river. Stop along the way for a swim.

Contact : Plett Angling Club 044 535 9740 or Forever Resorts 044 535 9309

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  1. Add: a sleeping bag and a braai….

… and spend a night at the Cape Nature hut. You start by packing your canoes at Cape Nature below the Keurbooms Bridge and paddle upriver beyond Whisky Creek. The hut sleeps ten. There’s a great deck with a braai area. To spend the evening under the stars up that beautiful river is a totally unforgettable experience. Try it!

Contact : Cape Nature 044 533 0322

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…..



Top 5 Beach Walks in Plett

Hi – I’m Jessie. I’ve been asked to guest blog for Bitou River Lodge. Why me? I’m a local. I’m the daughter of two “old Plett” locals, so I’m the real deal. I’ve grown up bouncing about on the beach or in the sea, and I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way.

These days, I actually live in Cape Town. And as soon as Capetonians find out that I’m a Plett local – they demand info on Plett’s best-kept beaches. I’m here to make sure that you don’t miss them when you visit!

Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m on holiday I want to eat anything, drink G&Ts, and laze about with my book. If there’s a hammock close by, you’ll probably find me in it. The only trouble with me is once I laze about too much I get itchy feet. I suddenly, urgently, need to work off my breakfast – but not at the gym like I usually do in my 8-5.

My favourite lazy activity is a good old beach walk (just as well I grew up in Plett!). Plett, as I’m sure you know, is home to the most beautiful beaches. I’m here to tell you which are my top 5.


#5 Robberg Beach

This is the obvious beach that you should have found by now. If you’re looking at the sea, Robberg is to the right of the giant hotel on the beach (Beacon Isle, or BI if you’re a local). It’s a 6km stretch of beach and is great for when you want to be social. This is the ultimate beach to walk if you’re a family with teens (this is a popular beach to walk), and also if you’d like to have a lot of spots from which to swim. Usually, there are lifeguards on the beach to make sure you swim safely.

If you’re being more energetic, it’s a great 12km run too!

#4 Lookout Beach

Lookout Beach is on the river mouth – and is one of those beaches which is affected when the river mouth moves. Most of the time, it’s there. Sometimes, it’s not. But mostly is. It’s a beach where I spent most of my time growing up. It’s a fun and relatively safe beach for kids, and there’s a restaurant (Lookout Deck…notice the trend?) right on the rocks. It’s perfect for a short walk, maybe a swim or a boogie board, and then a sundowner or fish and chips at the wooden, laid-back restaurant.

#3 Nature’s Valley

If you’ve never been to Nature’s, you should go. It’s a tiny, tucked away village of holiday homes in the middle of this forest. It’s wild, and simple. People windsurf, paddle, swim, and ride their bikes here. It’s got a very relaxed, small town feeling.

This beach, I must warn you, is exceptionally dangerous to swim at for tourists. If you’re not great at the sea, and you’re not a pro, really don’t take the chance. The water, like the land, is wild. The beach itself is beautiful. It’s stark and has big black rocks, and it’s a perfect place to get an ice cream from the shop and then walk it (and you) down the beach.


#2 Lagoon

I love the lagoon. Access it from Susan Street. This is a place where young families and dog walkers generally hang out. You’ll also find some paddlers and fishermen. The beach depends on the tide, but has no waves and is quite safe. I’ve had many a crab-race here, as well as walked our dogs on the hard sand. Often. It’s my favourite beach for winter, in particular.

#1 Keurbooms

This is my top of the list, and for those of you who don’t know it, lucky you! Keurbooms beach is a massive beach – and has many entry points and routes. My personal favourite is the route from the Keurbooms Hotel (close to Strandmeer), You walk through extensive fynbos on this winding path through the dunes on the way to the beach. When you get there, you’re often the only one there. It’s perfect for a run, for finding pansies, and for spending some time in nature. It’s a place I go to unwind.

Now that you know my favourites, try them out, and let me know which are yours!


My top 5 hikes in Plett

This is a tough one. How does one choose one’s favourite Plettenberg Bay hikes … beach…? forest….? river….? mountain….? In Plett we have them all!

But these are probably my top five:

1. The Robberg Half ( type: fynbos peninsula)


From the safe parking area on Robberg itself, you take the left path. Enjoy the views over Robberg Beach as you walk to The Gap. Then keep going on the left side. The path gets steeper until you pop out on top. Then it’s a gentle meander through fynbos until you get to Witsand, a huge sand dune. You could choose to go straight here, to The Point, but I prefer to turn right & go down to the beach. The tradition is to run the last bit. And scream. Then swim. Or walk round The Island first. Then swim. Turn your back to The Island & complete the half-circuit of Robberg, ending back at your car. It should take you 1 – 2 hours.
• Wear closed shoes (there are ants) & take water.

2. The Salt River Trail, Natures Valley (type: coastal forest)

salt river 2016

From the shop at Natures Valley, walk onto the beach & turn right. You’ll find a path over the rocks, which is not for the faint-hearted, be careful. There’s also been a small landslip but it seems stable & well walked. The path climbs from the pebble beach into the coastal forest & then down to Salt River Mouth, where you can swim. The path then goes uphill through the forest for quite a way before you turn left to the Lookout Point & then back down to Natures Valley. It should take you 1 – 2 hours.
• Only go at low tide. Ask at the shop if you’re unsure.

3. The Perdekop Trail, Harkerville (type: indigenous forest)

Harkerville forest hike

Park opposite the Harkerville Forestry office, issue yourself a permit & take a map. The trail is signposted with a horse-head logo. It’s an 8 km hike through wonderful indigenous forest. It should take you 1 – 2 hours.
• It can be unpleasantly muddy after heavy rain.

4. The Kranshoek Trail, Harkerville (type: coastal fynbos)

Kranshoek Coastal Walk

To get to the start of this trail you need to drive through the Harkerville forest to the picnic site. Leave nothing visible in your car. Cross the little river above the waterfall & follow the path down to the sea, enjoying the views as you go. The forest ends where the rocky beach begins – go left. There are two paths back up the cliff: the shorter, steeper fishermen’s path which you’ll see first, or the longer route further down the beach. Footprints mark the trail. It should take you 2 hours or 4 -5 hours depending on the route you choose.
• Wear good shoes as the beach is rocky. Take water.

5. The Garden of Eden Mini-Hike (type: forest boardwalk)

Boardwalk Plett

This is a perfect family hike if you have littlies or oldies, or if you’re pushing a pram or a wheelchair. The boardwalk winds through lovely indigenous forest & ferns, crosses the river several times & has bench-&-table areas to stop off at along the way. The mossy trunks make good places for children (& fairies) to hide. Bring an umbrella & walk here in the rain. The boardwalk saves you from the mud & the trees keep the worst of the wet away. It will only take you 20 – 30 mins.
• The boardwalk can be slippery when wet.

Contact us at Bitou River Lodge for more information or to book your accommodation in Plett. or

Biking the Plett Winelands

Last weekend Plettenberg Bay was alive with the sounds of clinking glasses at the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival, a new celebration of the emerging Plett Winelands and their fantastic wine and bubbly. In addition to the festival, the popular Tour de Plett MTB race was held- you know the one, that challenge mountain-bike race in the Bitou Valley with spectacular views, stunning forest single-track, three floating bridges and a finish on Central Beach?


Oh dear, you missed it?

So then you probably missed the Plett Wine & Bubbly Festival too? Great music, great food, free tastings of the local wines & bubblies? Also at Central Beach? Sorry for you – but all is not lost!



There’s a consolation prize.  Here’s the thing : those wines & bubblies are still in Plett! Yup. As they’re made here, there’s an endless supply. And there are lots of mountain bike trails to choose from, with spectacular views & stunning forest single-track (sadly, no floating bridges). The best part is that it’s possible to combine biking with the Plett Winelands, pedalling with tasting, friends with family….

How, you ask?

Option 1 would be to join Cycles In The Forest  , who organise an MTB ride for you at The Crags, taking you off-road & through forests & farmland, stopping off for wine-tastings on the way.

Option 2 is more Do-it-yourself, also in The Crags, where many of the Plett wine estates are located. Firstly, you’d leave your car at Bramon Wines where you’d immediately book your table for lunch. You’d then hop on your bikes, cross the N2 & cycle up the Redford Road to Newstead Wines for your first wine-tasting. Fortified, you’d head for the hills up Redford Road, passing farms, polo fields & dams until the last road on the left (5 km) where you’d follow the signs to RE Vineyards, which has a beautiful tasting room set in vineyards, with polo ponies leaning over fences & charming Lloyd to tell you about their award-winning ‘Sav’ & their ‘Champu’ MCC.


As you cycle away from rare earth, Redford Lane Wines  is on your left, a small very specialised vineyard. Leanne Lane as owner, chef & manager, is passionate about the wines she makes : one hectare of their Sauvignon & two new hectares for Nebbilio & Barbera grapes. With the interesting wines, the dam, the horses, the biltong paté & the tame Hadeda Ibis, this is a wonderful family stop.


From here it’s mainly downhill all the way back to Bramon Wine Estate  to taste their award-winning wines & the famous Blanc de Blanc, followed by a delicious homemade-bread-&-tapas lunch in the vineyards. Aaahh, life is good!

But wait, there’s more!

Until 16th December 2015, Bitou River Lodge will be offering a 3:4:2 Special on our four-star accommodation next to the Bitou River and give you a bottle of Redford Lane Sauvignon Blanc to celebrate your arrival!

Aaahh, life is not just good – it’s wonderful!



To Book your Wine & Wheels Special Offer: email Sue on  quote Wine & Wheels 342 when booking.  Let us help you to cycle the Plett Winelands in beautiful Plettenberg Bay!