The Bitou River

Meandering from The Tsitsikama Forests to Plettenberg bay

The Bitou River and Emily Moon River Lodge

The Bitou River is a beautiful river that meanders it’s way toward the ocean from The Tsitsikama Mountains to ocean in Plettenberg Bay. The river flows through a diverse landscape, including estuarine areas, wetlands, and coastal dunes. The Bitou river has a special place in the hearts and minds of all at Emily Moon River lodge, providing the serenity and views that Emily Moon has become known for.

Each room at Emily Moon River Lodge has a view of the Bitou river as it meanders it’s way between the reeds, providing a vital life source to the animals, birds and fish that call the river home.

Bitou River Origin & Course

The Bitou River originates at Buffels-Nek in the Tsitsikamma Mountains, which forms part of the Garden Route National Park. The Bitou is 23km long and forms part of the Keurbooms-Bitou estuary, flowing through a picturesque valley, passing through forests and agricultural areas before passing Emily Moon River Lodge and finally reaching the Indian Ocean at Plettenberg Bay.

Bitou River Flora & Fauna

The Bitou River and its surrounding ecosystem are known for their rich biodiversity. Along the riverbanks, you’re likely to encounter a variety of plant species, including indigenous trees, shrubs, and wetland vegetation. The flora in the area contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem and provides habitat for various wildlife.

In terms of birdlife, the Bitou River and its estuary are significant habitats for numerous bird species, both resident and migratory. Birdwatchers can expect to spot species like herons, kingfishers, gulls, terns, and various waders. The estuarine environment offers a mix of habitats, including mudflats, reed beds, and open water, which attract a diverse array of avian species. Bird watching is a very rewarding activity along the banks of the Bitou River, with bird watchers often adding unique sightings to their birding achievements.

The river’s estuarine environment also supports various aquatic species, such as fish, crabs, and other invertebrates. These aquatic organisms contribute to the overall food web of the ecosystem and provide sustenance for the birdlife and other predators in the area. Fishing along the Bitou River and into the River Mouth is especially challenging with both fly fishing, lures and bait being used to catch a wide array of fish. Guided fishing experiences from local experienced fisherman can be arranged through reception, giving you the unique local knowledge sometimes necessary for a good days fishing on the river.

bitou river emily moon

Conservation and Recreation

The Bitou River and its estuary are of ecological importance, and efforts have been made to conserve and protect this environment. This estuarine area is a sensitive ecosystem, providing valuable breeding and feeding grounds for various species including the much-loved sea horses which inhabit parts of the Keurbooms-Bitou Estuarine area.  Found in only three Southern Cape Estuaries (the Knysna, Swartvlei and Keurbooms Estuaries) the Knysna Seahorse is an iconic species for Knysna, South Africa and the world. The Knysna seahorse, Hippocampus capensis, is an endemic fish species in South Africa belonging to the fascinating group of teleost fish renowned for their unique reproductive strategy where males carry and give birth to live young. It is the only known seahorse species to be completely estuarine dependent.

Recreational activities along the Bitou River include birdwatching, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and guided boat tours that offer visitors a chance to explore the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of the area while learning about its significance. Kayaking the still waters of the Bitou river is not a strenuous canoeing experience and can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

the Bitou River and its surrounding areas in Plettenberg Bay offer a range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Keep in mind that the availability of activities and their details might have changed since then, so I recommend checking with local authorities or tourism offices for the most up-to-date information.


The Bitou River and its estuarine environment are known for their diverse bird species. Birdwatching enthusiasts can enjoy observing a variety of waterbirds, waders, and other avian species that inhabit the wetlands and riverbanks.


Depending on local regulations and seasonal considerations, fishing is permitted along certain sections of the Bitou River and the estuarine environment. Common catches could include Kob, Spotted Grunter, Leervis/Garrick, Steenbras, Shad/Elf and Skipjack. Local knowledge by one of the many highly experienced fly fishermen in the area is an excellent way to spend a day.

Nature Walks and Hiking

Many trails wind through the surrounding areas of the Bitou River, offering opportunities for nature walks and hikes. These trails will lead you through indigenous forests, wetlands, and viewpoints overlooking the river and its estuary. The views are spectacular and the nature quite unique. The natural beauty of the area shines as a beacon of nature conservation in the Western Cape.

Picnicking and Relaxation

Several spots along the riverbanks are suitable for picnics and relaxation. Enjoying a meal or a quiet moment while immersed in the natural beauty of the area can be a delightful experience. For the more adventurous, a trip over to the Keurbooms river enables you to hire a small boat to find secluded beaches up the Keurbooms river.


The picturesque landscapes, birdlife, and scenic river views provide ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture stunning shots. If you are a nature photographer, you are in for a real treat. The huge trees, abundant wildlife and birdlife will keep your shutter snapping for days.

Please remember that the availability of activities can vary based on factors such as weather conditions, local regulations, and the time of year. To ensure you have the most accurate and current information about activities along the Bitou River, consider asking at Emily Moons reception if you have booked a stay at Emily Moon, or contacting local tour operators, tourism offices, or nature reserves in the Plettenberg Bay area.