A Place to Reflect: Labyrinth Stays
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
There is little else that represents the looping, spiralling nature of thoughts than a labyrinth. These inwardly wandering ways have been used since classical times as a pensive pastime and, in modern times, have come to represent meditative spaces ─ somewhere to wander with your body, but also with your mind and yet never get lost.
As opposed to their confusing counterpart, the maze, which is created to puzzle you, a labyrinth offers a unicursal pattern so that you can walk and think in safety and feel centred by doing so ─ maybe this is exactly what we all need after this time of confusion and uncertainty. So, as soon as you can, why not make the time for something labyrinthine and pick one of these stays.
The Edge Mountain Retreat
This property runs alongside a cliff with views of the unspoilt indigenous afromontane forest in the gorge below. To top this awe-inspiring sight off is a massive Chartres-designed labyrinth in the garden which is well worth exploring. Accommodation is offered in self-catering and B&B cottages on the edge of the cliff or in the peaceful six-hectare garden and guests can enjoy meals at the on-site restaurant.
Nearby attractions and activities include the Amathole Forest, its hikes, mountain-biking routes and waterfalls such as the 39 Steps and Madonna and Child Falls, as well as The Voice of Earth Eco Shrine and various quirky restaurants and galleries in town.
Old Joe’s Kaia
At this family-owned retreat, halfway between Machadodorp and Nelspruit, guests have their pick of rondavels and kaias on a self-catering or B&B basis. Enjoy vegan meals on the wooden deck at tree-top level, try your hand at vegan cooking, learn the names of more than sixty marked trees, have a swim or take a stroll along the beautiful seven-circuit classical living labyrinth at the bottom of the garden.
The Weskus Hokkie is a unique stay, located on the Steenbokfontein Seeplaas outside of Lamberts Bay. As it is only two kilometres from the sea, it is the ideal secluded stay for a nature lover, surfer or a couple. The roofless outdoor bathroom will ensure a great view of the stars at night. Guests can explore the caves and rock art on the farm, stroll through the mother of pearl labyrinth or take in one of Tannie Kitta’s wonderful meals along with a story at Die Plaaskombuis Restaurant.
Nearby attractions include the seafood buffet at Muisboskerm, Bird Island Nature Reserve and Sir Lambert Wine.
Third Rock Guest House
This distinctive guest house dates back to the South African War and offers accommodation in a self-catering house and two en-suite guest rooms. Boasting an archetypal labyrinth laid out with desert rose succulents and a garden with a variety of roses and indigenous plants, shrubs and trees, guests have ample space to dwell and decompress.
Nearby attractions include hiking trails, the Sand River Memorial, Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, 4×4 routes and the Welkom Museum.
As the name suggests, these five quaint, secluded cottages are situated at the edge of the Knysna Forest and welcome guests to explore the forest, be it by hiking, biking, swimming in rock pools or picnicking. The labyrinth on the property is a tiny five-circuit spiral, but if you like, you can also attempt the nearby Circles in the Forest Route named after Dalene Matthee’s well-known novel which should have a similar, refreshing effect.
AfriCamps at Doolhof Wine Estate
This glamping resort in the beautiful Boland offers a self-catering experience on an award-winning wine farm at the foot of the Groenberg Mountain Range. Soak in the wood-fired hot tub, have a braai, go for a wine-tasting or hike or bike on the farm, and when you need some quiet time, head over to their classical labyrinth for a meditative meander.
Nearby attractions include a scenic drive along Bain’s Kloof Pass as well as swimming sites at the bottom of the pass, tastings at wine and brandy estates, Redemption Leather and coffee shops and restaurants in Wellington.
Ready for a unique eco-glamping experience? Then pull up to the water’s edge in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve near Paternoster and make your way to one of the ten two-sleeper sea shacks. The units offer an off-the-grid experience and guests can join others around the fire pit or walk the labyrinth on the property.
Nearby attractions include horse-riding on the beach, the Cape Columbine lighthouse, Die Winkel op Paternoster, Wolfgat Restaurant and an array of beautiful beaches.
The Rest Farm
Located at the top of a reservoir in the Sneeuberg Mountains, this Karoo farm offers the perfect stay for families, couples and solo travelers in two rustic self-catering cottages. Go rowing on the river in the forest, hike or bike in the mountains, stare at the stars while enjoying an outdoor shower, light a fire or play in the snow. The stone labyrinth in the veld is just one of the beautiful features of this peaceful haven.
Nearby attractions include the shops, galleries and restaurants of Nieu-Bethesda, The Owl House, hiking and biking trails and the fossil museum in Nieu-Bethesda, not to mention attractions in nearby Graaff-Reinet and the Valley of Desolation.
Skoorsteenberg Farm and Cottages
Huddled among the arid plains of the Tankwa-Karoo, Skoorsteenberg Farm and Cottages is the ideal escape for nature lovers. Here guests can experience stars in their eyes, view game, feed farm animals or pet donkeys. The two self-catering cottages sleep six guests each and have a firepit and a porch where guests can enjoy the sunset. With no cellphone reception, how about you switch off completely and take a soulful stroll along the spiral rock labyrinth?
Onse Rus Guest House
This three-star guest house in Prince Albert, a favourite among Karoo lovers, partners with a nearby farm, MyShire, to offer day trips out of town and into nature. The guest house itself is walking distance from all the wonderful attractions and restaurants in town and offers accommodation in five guest rooms and amenities like Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, lush garden, braai facilities and a bar. A trip to MyShire can be arranged at the guest house and will see guests wandering the magical eleven-circuit medieval labyrinth or taking in breathtaking views whilst enjoying a walk or a picnic.
Nearby attractions include The Showroom Theatre, antique shops and restaurants in Prince Albert, a ghost or historical tour with The Story Weaver, scenic drives in Meiringspoort and the Swartberg Pass, Gay’s Guernsey Dairy, the donkey sanctuary and cooking classes at African Relish.
And if you’d like to get lost, here are two bonus mazes.
Sequoia Garden Retreat
This fairytale retreat is located in a six-hectare garden surrounded by the hills of Magoebaskloof. With its heavenly garden, it is only fitting that the maze (not a labyrinth this time!) on the property consists of azaleas that shoot out bright pinks, reds and purples in the spring to dazzle those attempting the course. Among the bountiful beauty of its gardens are two romantic and private self-catering cottages and two dams for trout or bass fishing.
After a day of strawberry picking (in berry season, of course), guests can get lost and found in the massive hedge maze at Redberry Farm. Offering accommodation in a self-catering cottage overlooking the Outeniqua Mountains, Red Berry Farm might just be the perfect family stay. It has a coffee shop, bar, tea garden, and kids’ activities such as balancing bubble balls on the river, bumper boats and cars, animal feeding, and pony and train-car rides.
Nearby activities include the George Transport Museum, Silver Lily’s Cheese Farm and Wonki Ware’s factory shop.
May you come wander and wonder in these beautiful, peaceful places as soon as you are able.
Main image: Onse Rust on TravelGround