Kiara Lodge set amid the Maluti Mountains.
Kiara Lodge set amid the Maluti Mountains.
Sit outdoors and enjoy the stunning scenery.
Sit outdoors and enjoy the stunning scenery.
One of the lodge’s airy bedrooms.
One of the lodge’s airy bedrooms.
Chill and chat in the bar in the evening.
Chill and chat in the bar in the evening.

Love bunny rabbits? You’ve come to the right place when you visit Kiara Lodge, slap-bang in the middle of the spectacular Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Free State.

They may not be the main attraction but whole families follow cute Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter rabbits with feed sold at cost at reception. No one knows how they got here but you are welcome to take one or two home a source of some amusement.

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Kiara Lodge easily surpasses the other predominantly timeshare spots I’ve visited. It is maintained to a very high standard and offers so much. The Maluti Mountains are definitely one of the more beautiful places to be found in South Africa and the quaint village of Clarens is not far away close enough to have dinner there and pop back afterwards.

Kiara Lodge has its own restaurant and bar the Trout and Mallard run by Max Schwim. The restaurant’s menu is as extensive as the lodge’s offerings. Surprisingly, seafood features prominently, as do very large helpings of all sorts of comfort food. Give the ribs and eisbein a try.

The restaurant is alongside the Body Bliss Day Spa, where Thato gave me a really good massage. This is a proper spa, equipped with a steam room and indoor heated pool and even offering kiddies’ treatments.

An impressive indoor swimming pool complex has just been completed, which includes a splash pad for kids, a baby pool, big pool and two Jacuzzis as well as a bubble bed.

Step out from there, cross the new putt-putt course and you are in the sizeable kids’ games room, where dads were jostling youngsters for a slice of the action. From tots to adults there’s fun for all, from colouring-in to table tennis, football, air hockey and big screen Xbox.

Playground stuff is plentiful too, including trampolines and a giant Jumping Pillow. There are tennis courts and we churned the waters of the dam at the top of the resort on a paddle boat too. The dam is a great spot from which to get your bearings.

Lariska (Lally) Botes, Kiara Lodge’s entertainments co-ordinator and someone who just loves what she does, was our guide and partner in crime and we hiked a short way up from the lodge to admire the views and befriend some dassies.

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We had great fun.

Quad biking was our adrenalin flavour, but there is a huge array of activities on offer from art classes to 4x4 trails and abseiling.

Bokpoort, renowned for its horses, was another port of call with views of note, as the farm overlooks the whole of the Clarens Valley, surrounded by the Red Mountains.

And then it was off to Clarens. I had to buy some proper cherry liquor before being thoroughly entertained at ClarensXtreme where guides Lunchbox, Tabs and Fortune proved to be the best entertainment – full of life, smiles and energy.

Time did not allow one of their highly rated white-water rafting jaunts, but we had fun on the zip-line while kids swarmed up the climbing wall.

Back at Kiara, it was great to sit back, relax and be rewarded with a golden sunset after a brief thunderstorm, the final rays bouncing off the sandstone mountains.

Choose from two self-catering options: either apartment style or chalets. Our two-bedroom unit was spacious, well-furnished and comfy.

The higher up the hillside, the better the mountain views, but some prefer to be nearer the children’s play area below so they can keep an eye out while chilling.

Lower down are riverside units tucked away in the dappled light of trees. A tranquil setting.

So many choices all good, very good indeed.

Call 058 255 0140 or visit www.facebook.com/KiaraLodge Resort