Cape Town might have Table Mountain, but KwaZulu-Natal has a whole mountain range.
Ask a Durban city slicker what they like to do to unwind, and they’ll tell you – head to the Midlands or further inland to the mountains. Logistically, you should tally up the amount of time it’ll take you to head to King Shaka International Airport, check in and then fly to Cape Town. In the same amount of time, you could be settled in and sipping a glühwein in the Drakensberg. Why go south to see a mountain when you can just head inland and explore a whole range of them?
Not just a holiday spot
Sure, the scenic mountain range and sprawling farmlands make for beautiful vacation shots, but the area is also home to many people who opt to live on the slower side of life.
A community that collaborates
Philipa Farley is one of them, who moved into the Midlands for family reasons, and ended up raising her own in the area. As a digital and legal consultant, Philipa finds that she enjoys her flexibility, while her children live a farm style life, placed in a beautiful setting. Philipa credits an active community with creating a cosy lifestyle; “Here, we have a wide variety of people from all kinds of different backgrounds so what is important to one person isn't important to another. Within pockets of the community, there are people who really do work well together and love it. You'll get a go-ahead person who puts together a farmer's market and then makes sure everyone remembers when it is on and they advertise. The associations like the fire protection groups and the landowners’ associations also make a huge effort to advertise and keep the community informed. Clubs like the Lions River Polo Club also do a great job of hosting community events and being a base for people to come together.”
But it's so far away from everything
Living in the Midlands doesn’t cut you off from the world, as some may lead you to believe. As Philipa says, “Yes, you can happily stock yourself up for the month if you drive from Mooi River down to Howick…and I do mean stock yourself up with soap, clothes, good meat, organic veg and all sorts of treats and preserves. The quality is great and time and care gets put into the product.”
A history lesson
Historically the Drakensberg and Midlands has featured quite prominently in South Africa’s heritage. Many a museum and gallery can be found along the way, as well as a number of battle sites, commemorative monuments and, of course, the cave paintings you’ll find in certain spots. Take a trip to the Clarens Formation, and you’ll discover that there’s evidence of dinosaurs living here, and an abundance of cave paintings to be found. Yes, real dinosaurs, along with an array of other fossil fauna that the area is renowned for.
The Midlands Meander
It started as a brown paper map, that linked together the galleries and art studios dotted around the region. Over the years, the Midlands Meander has evolved, to include small businesses, hotels and accommodation establishments and so much more. Linking businesses together like this makes it easy for adventurers and daytrippers to explore the very best the Midlands has to offer, while offering Midlands-based entrepreneurs a unique angle on advertising. It’s the easy way to figuring out where to go and what to do while you’re visiting, and you’ll be supporting local businesses along the way.
Sharing its wisdom
While you’re exploring the Midlands, you’ll definitely be greeted with the telltale warm hospitality that seems to be imbued into everything around the area. If you’re not sure where to go, ask a local and they’ll direct you with ease. If you’re looking for an insider’s tip on something special to do, a community member can help. If there’s one thing living on the slower side of life seems to teach, it’s that there’s always a willing hand of help nearby. In the Midlands and Drakensberg, supporting each other is not just lip service - it’s a way of life.
Top Ten Things to Do in the Midlands
- Pop in for a coffee and a ride on the mini steam train at Piggy Wiggly
- Let the kids play in the outdoors play area at Yellowwood Café
- Pick up some delicious cheese and meet the goats at Swissland Cheese
- Stop in for Barbz Big Breakfast at Barbz Café
- Shop for quaint and quirky handmade clothing at Scatterbox
- Get the very best fresh produce at Karkloof Farmers Market
- Take a look at the premier pottery on display at Dargle Valley Pottery
- Enjoy scones and cream at The Pickle Pot
- Treat yourself to a coffee at Steampunk Cafe
- Devour a delicious lunch at Blueberry Hill
Properties listed for sale in the KZN Midlands and Drakensberg region comprise approximately 22% % of the total sale listings in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Approximately 17% of the interest (views) in properties for sale in the KwaZulu-Natal province is attributable to properties listed for sale in KZN Midlands and Drakensberg.
Properties listed for rent in the KZN Midlands and Drakensberg comprise approximately 5% of the total rental listings in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Approximately 4% of the interest (views) in properties for rent in the KwaZulu-Natal province is attributable to properties listed for rent in KZN Midlands and Drakensberg.
Median asking prices for KZN Midlands and Drakensberg properties
R1,395m: For a typical property (three-bedroom house)
R1,4m: For a property in a complex
R1,39m: For a house
R880,000: For a flat/apartment
Median monthly asking prices for KZN Midlands and Drakensberg rentals
R7,400: For a typical rental property (four-bedroom house)
R5,030: In a complex
R5,400: For a house
R3,500: For a flat
Property types for sale
Property types for rent
Can I afford to buy in KZN Midlands and Drakensberg?
The monthly bond repayment to purchase a typical property in KZN Midlands and Drakensberg, namely a three-bedroom house, with the median asking price of R1,395m, is R13,003 a month over 20 years at prime of 9,5 % with no deposit.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.