Read time: 4 minutes

Posted by & filed under Environment.   Print this post

The untouched and secret part of the Wild Coast at the Mtentu River mouth is one those places that made me catch my breath in awe.


Mtentu River and ocean views from the lodge

Mtentu River and ocean views from the lodge.

In the heart of Pondoland it’s a scene dotted by colourful Xhosa huts, cows on the rolling hills, an untamed ocean and beaches without footprints on the sand. The river is actually a protected estuary. On its southern bank is the beginning of the Mkambati Nature Reserve and on the northern bank is Mtentu River Lodge, a place where chilling and taking it all in is the order of each day. We stayed there at this rustically wonderful little lodge with its location that knows no contender.

Russel and Bridgette are the go-getters behind this gem and are backpackers at heart, just like their lodge. Their objective when opening the place was to include and uplift the community through it as well as ensuring it has as little impact on the environment as possible. Goals achieved!


Ask the tree for directions.


1. Solar and Wind Power

After doing all the research Bridgette and Russel installed a large, top quality solar panel just outside the communal area of the lodge. This baby works like a bomb. It supplies solar energy used to light the lodge, cabins and wooden walkways between the cabins. During those windy Eastern Cape days, a small wind powered generator contributes a little to the camp’s power storage too.


2. Solar Showers

These two outdoor showers overlook the ocean and epitomise Wild Coast freedom as you surrender to proper coastal living. They’re made private by their wooden shelters but you’ll feel completely part of your natural setting. If it’s been a sunny day, the hot water provided by the solar panel next to them is plentiful and the perfect warm temperature.


3. Eco Showers

The other two showers at Mtentu work on a paraffin system where you need to follow the steps provided using paraffin, candle wick and the water provided. All the action that’s needed is for you to put the wick into the paraffin and light it to get the water warming. It’s very clever. A bit of effort is required on your behalf but at least no energy is wasted.


4. Veggie Garden

The local ladies who do the cooking for guests are absolute gurus in the kitchen. They use seasonal produce and if you’re lucky maybe even crayfish caught by locals will be on the menu when in season.  Most of the vegetables that end up on those plates are freshly harvested from the lodge’s organic veggie garden.


5. Compost Heap

Very little goes to waste at Mtentu River Lodge. Not time, not energy, not opportunities and even the lodge’s waste products are not wasted at all. Any biodegradable food waste is thrown on the well maintained compost heap which in turn is used in the wild and beautiful gardens around the lodge.


Colourful Xhosa huts with a view in the community

Colourful Xhosa huts with a view in the community.


6. Community Upliftment

Mtentu does not exist in isolation, although its location may make you feel like it does. Behind the scenes the local community is actively included in the lodge’s successes. Through it jobs have been created, business partnerships launched and value has been added to the local economy. The chief is consulted when big decisions are made but generally the community and lodge coexist happily side by side in each other’s company.


Rustic Mtentu River Lodge

Rustic Mtentu River Lodge.

At Mtentu we filled our days with beach and river activities such as canoeing to see the waterfalls, walks and swims, scenic drives and exploration of the vast great-outdoors the area has to offer. The lodge’s bar and bonfire areas hum with atmosphere created by the friendly faces there. The lodge can accommodate 24 guests in 6 wooden cabins- all with incredible views. Socialised doggies are welcomed guests too which is a huge bonus to those of us with canine travel buddies. It’s a very special piece of untouched paradise, completely off the beaten track with green tendencies that adds to its allure and friendliness.


Leisure time is the order of the day

Leisure time is the order of the day.



Mtentu River Lodge

Rates start from R700 a cabin a night (sleeps four). Catering is an additional R280 per adult, kids aged 8 to 12 are R120 and kids under 8 are free. Keep an eye on their website for special offers which run throughout the year. (2016 update: self-catering is no longer available.)

Contact: Tel 083-234-0436,, [email protected]


Views that makes you catch your breathe in awe

Views that makes you catch your breathe in awe.


You may also like:

  • Julie Clarke

    Sounds awesome!!!!!!!!

  • Roselyn kidson

    Exactly as described- a little piece of Heaven on Earth!

  • Fantastic!

  • Hi Kelly, thank you for your stunning info, you definitely have inspired me to do the Otter’s Trail and I would love to try some of your other adventures. i will ust have to find some friends to do them with.


  • Pingback: Mkambati – where waterfalls and oceans meet | Bush-bound Girl()

  • Kelly, well done on this article! I found it when looking under the pet-friendly section on this blog. We love travelling with our 2 whippet canine companions and I recently started a blog on the subject. We’re especially interested in hikes and other outdoor adventures that would allow dogs:)

  • Pingback: Mkambati – where waterfalls and oceans meet | Bush-bound Girl()

  • Lance

    Well I have been going to Mtentu for the past 25 years only to see deterioration take place. The beautiful hills surrounding the lodge have become the object of destruction by people making tracks up and down cutting massive scars into the hillside. The tracks that have been made where no one had driven before. The impact of hundreds of people going there to a venue that was never designed for the type of ecological impact that is happening there. Not only visible but the amount of human excretion going into the ground is going to cause a huge health problem shortly. VERY CONCERNED

  • Lance

    Further more as for the comment going green, not really due to the impact caused by his guests and the collecting of drift wood to the extent that not one piece lying around for a 5 km range that I personally looked. My belief is collecting drift wood is illegal and yet when a guest in the area not staying at the lodge gets told we cannot fish in the river where shoals of up to 1000 kingfish swim at any one time. This was started by the original lodge builder ben and now carried on by Russell and co. What a load of kak the river was originally fished by many fishermen and there are still thousands.