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WORDS: EMILY SHAW IMAGES: SUPPLIED & SHUTTERSTOCK

We bring you a summary of a few special places to while away some quality time with someone who deserves some spoiling.

The Castle, Clarens

Traditional, Sleeping Beauty style romance is on the cards at the Castle in Clarens. An unusual concept, you can expect a legitimate miniature castle complete with Rapunzel Tower, antique finishes and even a carved wooden bed. Breakfast can be provided, otherwise the kitchen allows you to prepare your meals at your leisure while enjoying some incredible, sweeping views of Clarens from the balcony.

A meander through the magical garden followed by a picnic beneath the stars is completed by a romantic bubble bath… suspended 12m above the ground. A real showstopper, Castle in Clarens is a proper escape from the mundane where you and your beloved can remain in your own bubble of fantasy for a special weekend.

GOOD TO KNOW

Time from Joburg: Approximately 3,5h
Dress code: Dreamy dresses, linen jackets and the like
Take along: Bubble bath to take advantage of the suspended bathtub
Keep in mind: This is real fantasy stuff – take someone who would appreciate the details

Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa, Welgevonden

You have the person, the speech and the date, but perhaps you haven’t found quite the right spot to pop the question. If unassuming luxury and thrilling experience are non-negotiables for your special day then Mhondoro Lodge delivers in spades.

Surrounded by the Big Five in a malaria-free region, Mhondoro supplies no ordinary bush scenario. It has recently been partially rebuilt and with the general improvements, an awe-inspiring addition have been made. Attached to the main lodge is an underground tunnel that spans 60m into the wild, ending in a spacious hide on eye-level with the main watering hole. From this vantage point you and your squeeze will be able to watch as animals big and small come to drink at sunset, up close and personal yet in total safety, creating the ultimate original moment to propose.

GOOD TO KNOW

Time from Joburg: Approximately 3h
Dress code: Comfortable but classy – most guests are smart-casual for dinner
Take along: The ring! But don’t forget something warm for the night game drives too
Keep in mind: You will need to be collected from the main gate to be taken to your accommodation. This pick-up time is between 12:30pm and 1pm on the day of your arrival.

Franshoek Farm and Polo School, Ficksburg

Just because your family is young and energetic, doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of this lovin’ season. The trick is to find a destination that has wide open spaces and lots of activities to tire the kids out, so that come sunset you and your spouse can sit back and reconnect. Franshoek Farm is just that destination – you’ll need a good four days to really explore the farm and its activities and you’ll be sure to return home with a happy family and partner to boot.

Capitalise on hot weather by swimming in natural cave pools carved out of the mountain, complete with a sandstone slide. Catch your dinner at one of the six dams on the farm stocked with large-mouth bass or view game at either neighbouring game reserves. Adrenalin junkies can horse ride, white river raft on the Ash River, or hike a two-day trail in the Wittenberg Mountains. Pair all of this entertainment with spectacular views and really comfortable accommodation and you’re all set for your next adventure.

GOOD TO KNOW

Time from Joburg: Approximately 4h
Dress code: Gumboots, hats and sunscreen
Take along: All groceries and drinks
Keep in mind: Horses are beautiful but can be dangerous. Make sure your kids know not to walk behind them or get too close to any foals that might be present.

Fairview Estates, Fouriesburg

Many of us experience a deep longing to return to basics from time to time – a sort of reset of what’s important, time to think, to rest and to live presently – even for just a few days. Fairview Estates is a fabulous and unusual spot to reconnect with oneself, nature and loved ones. A working farm, Appaloosa horses, Bonsmara cattle and alpacas are bred here and chaperoned interactions can be had as well as horse-riding lessons with a trained professional.

Opstal – a huge old-worldy stone house which sleeps up to 15 people – is the ideal accommodation for extended family breaks or for a festive weekend away with friends. Mountain backdrops, birdwatching, braais on the mammoth verandah or long lazy lunches in the garden are all elements of this hard-working, down-to-earth estate and are sure to help set you back in sync with both yourself and nature.

GOOD TO KNOW

Time from Joburg: Approximately 3h
Dress code: Layers! It may well be quite cool in the mornings and evenings but blistering during the day
Take along: Your own charcoal for the braai
Keep in mind: De Rust Cottage can only be reached with a 4×2 diff-lock vehicle