There’s something quite mystical about a maze. Think Daedalus imprisoning the aberration, Minotaur in Greek Mythology. A maze is secretive and other-worldly; when I navigate one I feel strangely adventurous and apprehensive all at the same time. What if I get lost? Will someone rescue me? Does it mean I’m stupid if I can’t get to the end? Does it mean I’m brilliant if I can? Symbolically, mazes are said to represent human beings’ experience of intuition and the senses, and I think when you’ve done one, you’ll see why.
When I completed The Great Maze at Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand, a small maze by labyrinth standards, I was secretly pleased at the escape route doors provided for those “in a hurry”.
We weren’t so lucky at the Hampton Court Maze in London. Built in 1689, it’s the oldest maze in the world and while not the longest, it was no easy feat to get through – no escape doors in that one. Still, it was kind of thrilling to have experienced the maze as famous kings and queens must have, all those centuries ago.
Some of the world’s great mazes are remarkable. The Reignac-sur-Indre in France is said to be largest plant maze coming in at 10 acres. In summer, it blossoms into an incredible field of sunflowers and is resown in winter into a new design for spring. Longleat in the UK is the longest overall maze (including plant and permanent) boasts 2.72 km of pathway and is 3 dimensional – it has 6 wooden bridges that provide tempting clues as to which direction to go in.
The Maze of the Lost City at the Sun City Resort, South Africa, opened in September 2012 and is one of the largest permanent mazes in the Southern Hemisphere. Built to match the ancient ruins of the Lost City, it’s constructed out of artificial rock, stone and wood. A 100m suspension bridge takes you into the labyrinth and the upper deck offers you splendid views of The Palace and the neighbouring Gary Player Golf Course .
And of course, most sensibly, when you reach the end of the puzzle, there is the Pilanesberg Brewery Pub where you can taste six different South African microbrewery beers. Along with the bar, there is shaded seating and on occasion, unplugged jazz to enjoy. If you are into extreme mazing, you can attempt it at night: burning torches light the way to enhance the experience of adventure and mystery. I know I’m looking forward to giving it a bash – and the promise of a cold beer at the end of it is certainly motivation enough for me.