Take a trip down Route 62

Private Property South Africa
Meg Wilson

Take a trip from the west coast to the east coast via Route 62 and discover scenery, towns and people you’ll never forget, as well as some of the best property value in SA.

Modelled after the historic Route 66 linking Chigaco to Los Angeles in the US, Cape Route 62 is the ‘back road’ between Cape Town in the Western Cape and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape – more scenic and actually shorter than the N2 highway that hugs the coastline all the way between these two cities. Tracing a tranquil path through the Cape Winelands, the Breede River Valley, the Klein Karoo and the Langkloof before turning back to the coast, the route provides spectacular vistas of imposing mountain ranges, fruit and olive orchards, vineyards and patchworked fields in well-tended valleys, and is dotted with historic country towns and villages with a warm welcome for travellers. And it is an ideal holiday route, offering tourists a huge range of activities from visits to wine farms and game reserves through cultural tours and museums to hiking, biking, mountaineering, canoeing, horse riding, fishing, caving and, at the end of a tiring day, a relaxing soak in a hot spring pool.

However, the towns along the route are also increasingly popular among those looking for a holiday or retirement home or an opportunity to semigrate and live a less stressful life away from a big city.

Following Route 62 southeast towards the Breede River Valley, the next town along is Robertson, which has a very well- developed tourism sector and a growing reputation among would-be semigrants

Winelands

Heading northeast from Cape Town, Route 62 passes first through Paarl, which is the seat of the Drakenstein municipality and famous for the solid rock Paarl Mountain, the Afrikaans Taalmonument and excellent schools, as well as the historic wine farms that surround it. It is also, says Pam Golding Properties (PGP) area manager Surina du Toit, a ‘highly desirable’ place to live, with a close-knit community, a selection of beautiful homes and superb facilities and amenities.

“It is consequently an increasingly popular choice for homebuyers who want to raise their children in a wholesome and healthy environment, retirees who enjoy the scenic beauty and small-town pace of life, and overseas buyers who are attracted to its unique heritage and are buying homes here for use as guesthouses and B&Bs.”

Rawson Properties Paarl franchisee Lizette Joubert says there is currently high demand for houses in the R1 million to R1,8 million bracket, but that the town offers a healthy mix of properties to suit all budgets, starting with bachelor apartments priced at less than R500 000.

The next major town along the route is Worcester, which anchors the biggest wine-producing area in the country. It is surrounded by wine and table grape farms and has 20 wine cellars on its wine and olive route. Situated between the Breede and Hex rivers, it also has plenty of water and is a very attractive town as well as the regional hub for industry, transport, shopping, tourism and education.

There is a large variety of properties available in and around Worcester, ranging from one-bedroom apartments priced at around R300 000 and smaller houses at prices from around R500 000 to luxury homes that sell for as much as R3,5 million.

Following Route 62 southeast towards the Breede River Valley, the next town along is Robertson, which has a very well- developed tourism sector and a growing reputation among would-be semigrants. Just 160km from Cape Town, it enjoys a mild climate and has a well-developed infrastructure including a hospital, ample shopping and sporting facilities, and both English- and Afrikaans-medium schools. Its property market also offers excellent value for money, says local PGP agent Jolette Viviers. “Entry-level cottages start from around R550 000 to R600 000, while a small family home can be obtained for between R650 000 and R850 000. Even a large family home will not cost more than R1 million to R2,5 million.”

According to Johanna van Wyk, cofranchisee of the local Rawson Properties outlet, buyers in Robertson can acquire three- or four-bedroom homes on stands of 1 000m2 to 3 000m2 – many of them with small orchards, vegetable gardens or vineyards – at prices from around R1,2 million to R3 million. “There are, of course, more expensive homes on the market, but in my view those priced below R2 million currently represent real bargains in almost every case.”

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Breede River Valley

Also in the Valley of Wine and Roses is a cluster of towns and villages – Ashton, McGregor, Bonnievale and Montagu – where some of the most charming and affordable property in the Western Cape is waiting to be discovered, says PGP Boland and Overberg MD Annien Borg. “These towns are growing in popularity thanks not only to their beautiful scenery and accessible location, but also due to their low crime rates and gentler pace of life. And being just two hours’ drive from Cape Town or less, they are a very viable option for those wanting a second property or holiday home. And there is excellent value for money on offer here too.”

For example, in Bonnievale, says local Seeff agent Neil Rademeyer, there is “an abundance of property options” at very affordable prices, including river-front country houses and lifestyle and agricultural farms. Famous for its cheese and other dairy products, the picturesque village lies between the Breede River and the Langeberg and Riversonderend mountains and is surrounded by fruit, wine and dairy farms. Smaller homes in the village start at around R750 000 and large country homes at around R1,2 million. Smallholding prices range upwards of R1,5 million to around R2,1 million, while commercial farm prices start at around R3,8 million (for a 120-hectare farm with a main homestead, several outbuildings, good water sources and equipment).

To the north of Bonnievale lies Montagu, which is reached by driving through the spectacular Cogman’s Kloof and is renowned for its hot springs and dessert wines. In recent times, says Nelda Wiese, owner of the local Chas Everitt International office, it has also been building a reputation as an outstanding adventure and ecotourism destination – and gaining an increasing number of families as permanent residents because it has its own excellent schools.

Local land prices, she says, start at around R330 000 for stands in a centrally located security complex and around R550 000 for stands bordering the nature reserve. Home prices, meanwhile, start at around R550 000 for two-bedroom apartments and at about R800 000 for new two-bedroom freehold units.

The village is also known for its large number of historical homes, notes local Seeff agent Patruzchka Müller, and although these don’t often come on to the market, prices can range from around R875 000 to R4,9 million depending on area, size, style and condition.

Klein Karoo

Heading east again, you reach the Tradouw Valley and the village of Barrydale, set at the foot of the Langeberg mountains and the edge of the Klein Karoo. “The village is rapidly developing into a tourist hot spot with trendy eateries, art galleries and boutiques that serve a growing mix of residents that include artists and retired professionals and those who have relocated to enjoy country life,’ says local Seeff agent, Gwenet Constantinides, ‘and while prices are still very affordable compared to other country hot spots, these are rising as demand grows. At the moment, though, stand prices start at around R220 000 and cottage prices at around R440 000.’

In the Klein Karoo itself, the little farming towns of Ladismith and Calitzdorp also boast a wonderful selection of historic buildings and homes in styles that range from Cape Dutch and Victorian to a simplified Georgian design of the 1830s. In Ladismith, three-bedroom family homes on large stands are priced from around R700 000, while in Calitzdorp there are three-bedroom cottages available from around R500 000 and family homes from around R750 000. Then right at the centre of the region lies the beautiful town of Oudtshoorn, where the property market has really been flourishing in the past three years.

Reasonable property prices, a safe environment and the convenience of having the George Airport only 65km away all contribute to Oudtshoorn’s popularity, and it offers property buyers many options, from its renowned ‘ostrich palaces’, sandstone mansions and Victorian cottages to brand-new golf-estate homes, sectional-title townhouses and two retirement villages. Currently advertised properties include stands at prices from around R300 000, small cottages from around R400 000 and three-bedroom family homes from around R800 000. At the top end of the market, traditional sandstone mansions and estate homes start at around R2 million.

Jacques de Beer, PGP area principal in the Klein Karoo, says there has been a huge increase in demand lately for rental properties in the town. ‘We have had a tremendous inflow of military and police personnel in Oudtshoorn, and the International Flight Training Academy here has also brought in 50 new trainee pilots. Current rental rates range from around R1 600 a month for well-maintained bachelor flats in town to about R5 500 a month for a four-bedroom home in the best neighbourhood.’

In the Klein Karoo itself, the farming towns of Ladismith and Calitzdorp boast a wonderful selection of historic homes from Cape Dutch and Victorian to a simplified Georgian design of the 1830s

Langkloof

Leaving Oudtshoorn, you cross the rest of the Klein Karoo, passing through the farming towns of De Rust and Uniondale – where lifestyle farms with spectacular views are on sale at prices from around R1,4 million to R2 million – before reaching the Langkloof, the fertile valley that is the second-largest deciduous fruit-producing area in SA and especially famous for its apples and the Apple Express steam train. This is one of the most scenic sections of Route 62: the road through the valley is lined with orchards, with beautiful mountains and perennial streams as a backdrop. It runs through the tiny villages of Avontuur, Haarlem, Misgund, Louterwater, Krakeel, Joubertina, Kareedouw and Assegaaibos before turning towards the coast and linking up with the N2 highway to Port Elizabeth. The prices of homes currently advertised for sale in this region range from just under R500 000 to around R1,35 million.

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