03 Jul 2008
The scenic Underberg area of the Southern Drakensberg stands to benefit from a boost for the local economy and tourism if the go-ahead is given for a proposed upgrade of the entire town and surrounding rural nodes.
So says Angela Walker, joint area principal for Pam Golding Properties. "The KwaSani Townships Development and Inclusion Initiative has evolved from several feasibility studies undertaken by the municipality," says Walker. "This looks at the future growth and town planning of Underberg not only in terms of aesthetics and landscaping, but public ablutions, future positioning of the service industry, middle income housing, education and civic aspects, transport and logistics (eg a truck stop), recreational facilities and infrastructure such as roads, sewerage etc."
In terms of the rural areas, the proposal looks to establishing a network of Development Opportunity Nodes which will operate as a focal point for development and creation of opportunities for surrounding rural households and increase the range and frequency of goods and services supplied to these areas. Initially this would be achieved via the introduction of periodic markets and government services and eventually village squares, community halls, public ablutions and recreational facilities.
Says Walker: "This bodes well for the area and will undoubtedly increase the demand for homes, B&B's, farms and smallholdings. Interestingly, we are currently busy with many enquiries for properties - including farms - and steady sales. The Meadows Country Estate is now taking shape, with 16 attractive upmarket homes in the 'Natal Verandah' design style - ideal for maximising the scenic views - now completed and selling well, priced between R1.4- and R1.8 million. In addition we are marketing a fully furnished four bedroom, three bathroom luxury home for R1.83 million as well as vacant sites of 900sqm in size priced from R375 000."
Smallholdings currently on the market range from a five hectare property priced at R2m, with a rambling holiday house and Umzimkulu River frontage, up to a 150ha property priced at R4.8m that includes an enormous, very appealing home fronting onto the Ngwangwana River. Apart from being famous for its trout, the Umzimkulu River, where the annual Drak Challenge Canoe Race is held, is considered one of the cleanest rivers in the country for paddlers.
Says joint area principal Moira Bath: "From a tourism aspect for those interested in acquiring a B&B, the area appeals to visitors seeking a pristine environment which has not been adversely affected by unattractive or uncontrolled development. Of course one of our major attractions is the fact that we can have snow here any month of the year - it even snowed on New Year's Day about a decade ago. While snow is generally anticipated between April and September, the most likely months are from June right through to September."
Bath is currently marketing a magnificent country estate set on 46ha of farmland with landscaped gardens, water features, swimming pool and two dams. The buildings comprise a 440sqm, thatched main homestead with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, a second two bedroom, two bathroom modern dwelling, plus six fully furnished and equipped guest suites - four of which are self catering. Priced at R10.75m, the entire estate is fully furnished and equipped. There is also the possibility of future sectional title development on the estate.
Walker says the largest industry in Underberg remains farming - particularly dairy - followed by tourism. "While the climate is harsh the water supply from rivers and dams is better than many other areas and farms here are extremely sought after. They seldom come up for sale and when they do they are often snapped up by a neighbouring farmer for expansion as a good dairy farm needs 500-1500ha. Prices for commercial farms vary between R5 000 and R30 000 per hectare, depending on land use ie grazing, arable or irrigated land. The larger farms are those which are most profitable despite rising production costs so it's not surprising that some farmers manage milking herds of 500-1200 animals."
Also on the market at present is a 517ha farm in the Sani Pass Valley - adjoining the Ukhahlamba National Park - with 145ha under irrigation, 320ha of high quality grazing, Nkomozana River frontage, seven hectare irrigation dam and a further 12ha irrigation dam under construction and a small feature dam in front of a second home. In addition to the fully automated dairy parlour there are two homesteads and a guest cottage in excellent condition. While currently successfully farmed as a dairy enterprise, given the magnificent setting of the property in a virtual amphitheatre encircled by the Drakensberg, real opportunities exist for further development - with an agri-tourism development application currently pending. Located on the doorstep of a World Heritage site this dairy/lifestyle farm is marketed at R16.75 million.
For further information contact Pam Golding Properties Southern Drakensberg office on or email.
1. This fully furnished, four bedroom, three bathroom home in the Meadows Country Estate is on the market at R1.83 million.
2. View of dairy cattle in the snow in the Underberg area.
For more information contact 033 7011563 or email email@example.com.
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