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Paternoster and the Cape West Coast: seaside romance

South Africa’s western coastline is dotted with scenic beaches and small towns, with Paternoster amongst the oldest and the most picturesque. Just 145 kilometres from Cape Town, it offers visitors a vision of an alternative life; simpler, prettier and in harmony with the sea.

You’ll discover beaches made for strolling along and plenty of quirky restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood and other hearty, traditionally South African dishes, along with a selection of the Cape’s best wines. You may want to visit the historic Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and lighthouse while you’re exploring or take part in a number of water and nature-based activities, from seasonal whale watching to spring flower safaris.

Or you might just want to hang out together on the beach and watch the sun set over the ocean as you plan your return, because when it’s time to leave, you’ll regret not staying a little longer in the coast’s romantic embrace.

For more information visit: www.paternoster.info

Rheenendal: rural exploring

Rheenendal is an area that starts just 12 kilometres from the city of Knysna on South Africa’s Garden Route. Visitors can spend days exploring its many charms; restaurants serving organic food, with ingredients foraged from the land or grown in backyard gardens, coffee shops tempting you with freshly-baked scones smothered in honey from local hives and clotted cream from the farm next door, artists creating beautiful works in small studios and romantic trails through Knysna’s Millwood Forest.

To help you plan your visit, the curated Rheenendal Ramble highlights a collection of the area’s most interesting attractions, including many cosy cottages on the forest’s edge, where a fire and a glass of red wine are never amiss, and you can book relaxing activities like forest massages or romantic picnics. There are no crowds here and each experience, whether lingering over a meal or swimming in a forest pool, gives you a chance to reconnect with nature, each other and yourself.

For more information visit: www.rheenendalramble.co.za

The Panorama Route: mountain views (Mpumalanga)

If sitting on top of a mountain and losing yourself in the view appeals, then the towns of Sabie or Graskop, both gateways to South Africa’s magnificent Panorama Route, may just be the right destination for you. While the area’s history is rich in gold-lore, its true wealth today is the beautiful landscape.

Both towns provide easy access to well-known vantage points like God’s Window, Three Rondavels and Bourke’s Luck Potholes, where many a romantic memory has been made while marvelling at one of the world’s largest green canyons. The spectacular scenery in the area also includes flowing waterfalls, like Horseshoe, Lone Creek and Bridal Veil falls, and some unforgettable hikes and walks to quiet, romantic spots that are off the tourist trail.

You can also visit Mac Mac Falls, Lisbon Falls (South Africa’s highest) and Berlin Falls, trout fish in cool, clean waters, or just enjoy being together at a beautifully situated lodge. A number of these specialise in honeymoons and romantic getaways, with spa treatments, misty mornings, and award-winning dining par for the course. There are lots of adventure activities on offer too – gorge swings, abseiling and river rafting – but it’s also perfectly acceptable to just sit back and enjoy each other’s company, and the views. For more information visit: Panorama route

Natal Midlands: country wanderings (KwaZulu-Natal)

If you enjoy slow, meandering drives through the countryside, you’ll love the Natal Midlands, which are made for long days exploring everything that country living has to offer; space, fresh air, and a surprising amount of delicious food and art. In fact, the variety of art being produced in the area gave rise to the original Midlands Meander, a route to guide visitors from one art or craft studio to the next.

There are now more routes to choose from to help you make the most of your time away, depending on your interests. They all criss cross the large area spread out around the foothills of the Drakensberg, punctuated with towns like Estcourt, Howick, Nottingham Road and Mooi River.

As you drive through the gentle landscape you’ll find romantic hotels and quaint restaurants serving delicious country fare, farm stalls selling produce and preserves, charming fields of cows, historic sites (including the Nelson Mandela capture site and monument), trout dams and streams, and patches of lush forest. And as you linger in this heartland with your loved one you might just find that it’s become your heartland too.

For more information, visit: www.midlandsmeander.co.za

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