The small hamlet of Graskop situated on the well-known Panorama Route in Mpumalanga is one of those places that should be visited at least once. The town, which is a 45km drive from the Kruger National Park and within walking distance of the legendry “God’s Window” view sites, hosts some of the most outstanding natural bushveld scenery in the country.
Most of the residents that reside in the area are self-employed business entrepreneurs and run businesses connected to the tourism industry. Forestry is also a leading industry in Graskop, however, in the early part of 2008 the area succumbed to devastating forest fires that has placed this division of commerce under extreme pressure in recent years. The fire which destroyed timber plantations in Sabie and Graskop has been called “forestry’s own 9/11”.
Over 84 000ha of timber was lost in the fires, which equates to almost 7% of South Africa and Swaziland’s total forested area. This dealt a devastating blow to timber business owners in the region. Nevertheless, as serious as the fire was, reports indicate that the surrounding fauna and flora has almost fully recovered. It is estimated that full recovery in respect of the timber lost will take approximately 23 years due to the long term nature of the industry. This said, the recovery plan is in progress and results so far have proved positive.
Property sales in the area have slowed since the 2007 property boom, according to recent statistics released by Lightstone. The good new is that although the number of property sales in Graskop has decreased, prices in the area have continued to increase. Of the sales that have taken place over the last 12 month, 99% of these sales were in the freehold sector of the market. The majority of recent buyers in the area fell into the age category of 18 to 35 years of age and made up 46.15% of the buying population. The highest price achieved for property in the last 12 months was R2m. The average price paid for freehold property was R518 000.
Adriaan Esparg of Esparg Properties in Graskop says that there are a number of residents that rent property in Graskop and commute to work in surrounding areas. Sabie for example has a number of large commercial plantations and is situated approximately 8km away from Graskop. “Rentals in the Graskop area are fairly reasonable and the average price for a three bedroom, two bathroom home would fetch rentals in the region of R4000 to R4500 per month for a well-appointed family home”.
In respect of educational facilities in the area, the Graskop Laerskool and Graskop High School area are centrally situated. The nearby Shalom Christian School is a private institution that currently educates 39 pupils.
As with all well-known tourist destinations, the region welcomes vast numbers of visitors to the area throughout the year and there are a large number of guest houses and lodges that are geared towards customer service. Accommodation such as Settlers Village and Log Cabin Village offer self-catering or B&B facilities to visitors to the town. Whether it is breakfast at Uncle Harry’s Pancake Den, bungee jumping on the “big swing” or horse riding through the scenic country side, Graskop has risen to the challenge becoming synonymous with great family holidays.