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Wednesday, 08 August 2007

The Romance of Emily Moon

Written by Diana G Armstrong
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riverThere are very few places anymore where you can stay with magnificent river views and an elegant meal for the all inclusive price of $150 for two people for two nights. Emily Moon River Lodge, however, is just that place. Located in Plettenberg Bay, about 300 miles from the southern tip of Africa, this is the perfect place for an exciting and romantic getaway.

While it may be a lengthy airplane trip to get to Emily Moon River Lodge, there are opportunities, especially April through September, for some bargains. Remember, April through September is winter and considered South Africa’s “off season”. The weather is relatively mild, though – their June weather is similar to southern California’s December weather.

Emily Moon River Lodge is situated on the "Garden Route" in South Africa. This route is between the cities of Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The scenery is more than a garden, with stunning mountains dropping right into the ocean, and a rocky shoreline that is probably more spectacular than the Californian coast from Santa Barbara to Monterey.

Emily Moon sits high above the Bitou River. Watch the sun go down at this vantage point as the river meanders down to its estuary and into the Indian Ocean about three miles away.

The lodge is crammed with artwork from far flung locations like Indonesia that sits side by side the wonderful African wood carvings. Silver candelabras blend the old Colonial Africa with the atmosphere of the new Africa and the celebration of indigenous art. The hotel has a "Hemingway's Africa" feel with an Asian twist, and log fires complete the ambiance.

The hotel restaurant is incredibly romantic. Dine in the glow of candlelight from dozens of candelabras and under the gaze of African tribal art.

Larry the chef does an excellent job in presenting a special meal in this African Camelot. The staff were all laughing and joking when I visited them to see where they create their wonders. Peri peri sauces and herbs dot the landscape of their world.

restaurantOur dinner with a group of old friends was a real treat. We were told we could choose a starter and entrée, or an entrée and dessert. Prawn Rissoles, Caesar salad or tuna spring rolls were the choice for starters. Main courses included springbok shanks, rib-eye steaks béarnaise, lamb loin chops and Thai chicken and prawn curry.

My choice is the springbok shank. It is simply delicious. It has been braised in a most aromatic broth of leeks, red wine, thyme, carrots, onions, tomatoes and celery.  The meat simply falls off the bone and it is fragrant and not 'gamey' as one would expect of this African venison. The color of the broth in which it was served was a deep rich brown and the aroma was filled with thyme and leeks. All the main courses are accompanied by delicious vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes.

Delicate dessert choices were panna cotta, crème brulee and a stunning South African dessert of guavas and crème Anglaise. The attention to detail for each course was impressive and innovative and the meal was presented as it would be in any elegant restaurant in New York or Los Angeles. Unlike in NY or LA, a good wine is served at under $10 a bottle.

emily moonSo, you’re probably wondering how you can get to Emily Moon. My suggestion is to fly into Cape Town and spend a few nights in this city of unrivalled beauty. You can book a room at Whale Cottage at Camps Bay, Cape Town – a romantic bed and breakfast with reasonable deals ($120/night) for two people. Go to for more information.

Visit the winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl just outside Cape Town to get in the mood, and then rent a car and drive up (5 hours) to Emily Moon.

South Africa's Game Parks are also best visited at this time of the year, so what would be more romantic than combining the garden route with a visit to Kruger National Park for a safari? You cannot beat Kruger National Park where excellent accommodation is available for $100 per night for 2 people: .

But pop the question at Emily Moon.


Emily Moon River Lodge

Plettenberg Bay

Phone: 27 (0)44-533-2982

©2007 Diana G Armstrong

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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