When it comes to my romantic berg bucket list, I’ll always choose misty mountain getaways over sandy toes on an island. I love the mystery of these romantic berg hide-aways, the inexplicable inner peace that comes with it and the deep, meaningful rest it forces us to initially endure and finally enjoy. Not to mention the fact that you get to drink red wine and sit by the fire in February as if it were already winter. That, and a lot more, is what you’re to expect at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse.
We arrived just as the mist started to come in. It had been raining all day and the dirt roads were wet and slippery, reminding me of the fact that we have just entered a world so different to our everyday life; the city life we’ve involuntarily become so accustomed to. I was happy to be in Kwazulu Natal’s Midlands, once again in awe of its unpretentious beauty and its instant calming effect.
Get cosy and comfortable
Tucked away beneath the majestic stare of the Drakensberg’s imaginatively carved profile of Cleopatra, is a romantic gourmet destination I believe every romantic soul should have the privilege of experiencing. Owned by creatives Richard and Mouse Poynton (no strangers to the area, I might ad), Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse‘s simple, yet luxurious hospitality will leave you speechless. The rooms have a rustic, but luxurious farm-style romance attached to it with touches of lace and rural ceiling details one would never have imagined to work so well together. Our room overlooked the trout-stocked dam, which has undoubtedly become the force that pulls everything together at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. Most things – whether it’s a cup of coffee, a chess game or a six-course meal – seem to happen beside, around or even on the dam. Of course, it also makes for some spectacular photo opportunities and at night, it mirrors the mist that dances and swirls above it as the berg breeze guides it back and forth.
During our visit, crackling indoor fireplaces around every corner lured us inside. There’s much to do indoors, with a lovely lounge area that boasts numerous fireside board games, charming dam-view chess boards and even a quaint little shop. Lockdown has also afforded Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse the time to make a few changes, like the lovely coffee shop setup that they’ve added to their offering. It is ideal for guests to have their morning tea, afternoon coffee and pre-dinner (or even post-dinner) drinks. I’ve yet to find a more comfortable setting than this, so be careful not to fall asleep on one of the couches after dinner. You will be sorry in the morning, because the bedrooms’ beds are certainly fit for kings and queens!
Mouse’s knack for decorating is evident all over – from the rooms to the lounges and even the dining areas. She has a way of making things that would traditionally not fit together, form some of Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse‘s best focal points. I mean, I never thought I’d ever use rustic and lace in the same sentence, yet she found a way to blend them into one fine farm-style picture that I’m sure numerous magazines want to feature. Somehow, she found a way to make rustic feel luxurious, and that in a very unpretentious, comfy and cosy way.
Being dubbed a gourmet getaway, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse‘s resident chef, Richard Poynton and his team bring nothing but the best to the table. Our six-course dinner, as well as our breakfast were both served in the Pioneer room, with walls exhibiting numerous nostalgic photos of years gone by.
For dinner, our host Marius explained the various courses to the guests from a blackboard menu. We indulged in a butternut soup made from butternuts that had been harvested from Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse‘s own vegetable garden and a prawn dish that had us craving for more. In all honesty, I was so gobsmacked with the combinations and flavours that I forgot to take down the rest of the dishes’ names! Of course, Chef Poynton’s divine ice-cream was a suitable grande finale.
We were also able to couple this lovely dinner with a bottle of one of South Africa’s finest wines from the underground cellar – a special experience and a great add-on to an already romantic evening. We chose a Gabriëlskloof 2018 Syrah, a bottle of wine that was certainly well worth celebrating our anniversary over.
At breakfast the next morning, we got to sit at the same table. Same seat, different view. Gone was the mysterious mist from the previous night and instead we were able to enjoy fish fiddling at the water’s surface and droplets falling from the trees, making circular ripples that grow in size. Guests came into the breakfast room ready and dressed for their morning hikes and we wished we could stay longer to explore the natural beauty around Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. Over a cup of coffee and a steaming hot breakfast, the decision was final: We’d be back. Even if it’s just for a massage at their on-site Copper Pot Spa.
What to do in the area
Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse is very close to Kamberg and Giants Castle. Both these sites are home to San rock art that has been carefully restored for tourists to view. Of course, the area also boasts lovely hiking opportunities – especially in summer when the mountains burst to life. Don’t miss out on your chance to swim in one of the mountain pools with its clear water, untouched by human habitation.
Another unforgettable experience to consider, is horse riding or even trout fishing in the river or one of the nearby dams. Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse could also assist in arranging a helicopter to take you right into the Drakensberg Mountains – the ultimate romantic gesture, I would imagine.
If you’re keen on doing your own thing while visiting, consider opting for the Cleopatra Homestead, a self-catering option and also Richard and Mouse Poynton’s former homestead. It is characterful and uniquely decorated, sleeping 10 adults in five rooms and 7 children (sharing with adults) with various family unit options to choose from. Apart from your own self-catering, the option is also there to dine at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, but once you’ve seen the kitchen, you probably wouldn’t want to go anywhere else!
The homestead’s lounge is where you would want to spend most of your time, with magnificent views and as if that’s not enough, the homestead also comes with its own private pool and waterfall. If you were ever looking for an Instagrammable destination, this is it. It even has its own greenhouse, a reading deck, curiosity cupboards and a wine cellar.
In addition to this homestead, they also offer a River Run Self-catering Cottage – another one for your berg bucket list.
If you are looking for a romantic hide-away in the Drakensberg, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, which also forms part of the Midlands Meander, should undoubtedly be on your list.