UMTAMVUNA River Lodge in Port Edward is one of those places to visit at least once in your lifetime.I arrived at the lodge on a Wednesday afternoon, hoping to catch the sunset. But the rain put the kybosh on that plan so I found a place to enjoying the view of the river. As I soaked up the scenery before me, the owner, Nicole Dry, told me a bit about the place.
Her husband, Kevin, and she bought the property around 13 years ago to open a wakeboard school. It was only when the Blood Diamond crew stayed at their property for 6 months during the 2005-2006 period that their love for hospitality grew. The property is one of the most sought after wedding destinations and home to BoarderPost, their wakeboarding School. When the rain took a break, I watched wakeboard champion Matti Buys practice.
Buys, who is one of the top 10 wakeskate players in the world, is also the lodge’s marketing manager and the co-owner of BoarderPost.
The lodge offers a range of activities, including jet ski and speed boat rides and the Fat Boys tube, which spits you out into the river.
That evening we went on a sunset cruise along the Umtamvuna River. I met a friendly mother and daughter duo named Pam and Anna-Marie Venter from Joburg. The cruise was pure bliss, and exactly what I needed to unwind after a long day of touring the South Coast.
The 30-minute trip offers views of the mountains, which gives rise to the best sunsets. Travellers can enjoy champagne or pack a snack basket as they cruise down the river.
There is never a dull moment with Pam and Anna-Marie. The pair joined Mattie, Quinton, the lodge manager and me for dinner. The mood was set with lights and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The in-house restaurant is known for their delicious pizzas and we spent hours at the dinner table, exchanging travel stories and life lessons.
By 10pm, after saying goodbye to the mother-daughter duo, I checked into my room. The lodge has eight air conditioned en-suite rooms that offer air conditioned/heated satellite channels and tea and coffee making facilities.
I loved the personalised welcome message on the television screen.
The lodge has just been refurbished. White,blue and grey colours fill my room, which reminded me of a nautical theme. The room is also spacious and inviting. I loved the blue baskets that serve as drawers. They’re creative and quirky. When I turn in after a cold shower, the linen wraps itself around me perfectly. After a long and busy day, I fall asleep surrounded by silence. The next morning, I explored the grounds and take in the clean air.
On my way to the river,I spotted Bubba, the lodge’s Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. He was busy munching away when I pass him. In a fast-paced world, the lodge allows one to collect their thoughts and spend time with the ones that matter. Umtamvuna believes that they are the “starting point for beautiful memories that linger long after everyone has departed”.
As I walked back to the lodge, I know that the beautiful setting will never be forgotten!
● Clinton Moodley was a guest of Umtamvuna River Lodge during a 2-day South Coast tour hosted by Ugu South Coast Tourism.