When it comes to gifts for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions, more and more of our friends look for experiences over material things. We are no different. We are blessed with incredible friends who gifted us with a nights stay at Umlambo River Lodge. It was a tranquil stay along the Sundays River that allowed a respite from city life and a chance to reconnect with ourselves and each other.
The Greater Addo area is one of the less ‘discovered’ areas of the Eastern Cape. There is a lot on offer (both in activities and panoramas) and there are hidden gems scattered across the region. In our opinion, Umlambo River Lodge is definitely one of the gems of the area.
After a glorious day in Addo Elephant National Park, we headed to Umlambo filled with excitement and ready to relax. The last stretch of road to the Lodge is gravel but easily managed by a standard car. We entered through a gate into an orchard. The Lodge isn’t far from this orchard gate. We arrived in the early evening and the splendid sunset over the lemon trees gave the start to our stay a magical feeling.
We had booked the Malachite Cottage and would book into this cottage again. The cottage was beautifully decorated, clean, and comfortable. The bed was a large double bed and was surrounded by a mosquito net. There was a TV that could be swivelled around to face different angles and two cosy armchairs. The cottage is self-catering with a kitchenette and braai area. There was also a private garden, deck and jetty. These features are standard in the cottages (see the list of cottages here).
On the Umlambo website, they advertise a three-course dinner (including beverages), which we had pre-booked. It was a ‘treat yo’self‘ weekend and after the day of driving, we were happy to not cook. When we had booked in, the hostess informed us that we were the only guests who booked dinner. We were offered the choices of eating dinner on our cottage patio or at the restaurant. We chose to have it on our patio. The setting and food was everything and more than we expected.
Our menu included a stuffed mushroom for a starter (delicious), a chicken curry and rice for the mains (divine, divine, divine!) and Amarula malva pudding for dessert (beyond heavenly! Really, it was incredible). Menus are not set (so don’t expect our menu for your stay) but we are sure that no matter what is presented for dinner, you will enjoy it! The hostess and a server brought each course to us and returned to the kitchen in between. They were both friendly and obliging. It was a magnificent end to a spectacular day!
We hoped to have a good long lie in, but our body clocks woke us up at our usual 6:30 am time. We snuggled in bed until 7 am. We opened the curtains and enjoyed tea in bed with delectable homemade rusks (the rusks were so good that we had finished the jar before we had checked out).
Before breakfast, we went for a quick paddle on the river. Each cottage has access to the river, with a canoe and paddles at each cottage’s jetty. It was a fantastically different start to our normal routine. The birds were chirping, the fish were jumping and we were happy.
Continuing our no-cooking weekend, we had booked the bed and breakfast option. After a quick shower after the canoeing, we headed to the restaurant for breakfast. Unsurprisingly, it was wonderful and inviting. The staff had prepared a table on the edge of the patio that looked onto the river.
Breakfast started with a fruit bowl, to which you could add yoghurt, seeds and or raisins. There were also homemade breakfast muffins. Your hot breakfast order is taken and served after. The hot breakfast options include eggs made in any way you wish, tomato, mushrooms, bacon, sausage – basically, the chances of having what you desire are high. The breakfast was absolutely delicious! We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ate.
There is a swimming pool to the left of the photo above. The pool looked amazing overlooking the river and it was sad that we didn’t have longer to stay and enjoy it. From the homely accommodation to the scrumptious food to canoeing on the river (or swimming in the pool) and the private garden – this place is somewhere we would love to go again! It was a great place to unwind and enjoy precious moments. We are sure that time booked here will be remembered fondly in the years to come.
Website: Umlambo River Lodge
Addo Elephant National Park is roughly 30 minutes from Umlambo River Lodge. Spend the day game viewing. Zuurberg Mountain Village is less than an hours drive into the mountains (and if you want to follow on from our no-cooking weekend, you could enjoy their Sunday Lunch). The town of Kirkwood is also nearby, and if you want a longer road trip then head to Steytlerville and Jansenville.
Deepest thanks to the Fowlers for this wonderful experience!