How to Escape Into Thin Air

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

And even more so during the peak festive season, when us owners and occupants of Cape Town properties opt out of traffic jams, packed restaurants and busy beaches. Notwithstanding our immense gratitude as beneficiaries of stiff holiday rentals and increased cash flow, boosting our local economy and City’s coffers.

Happy to escape, some families vacate their homes for incoming friends or relatives, while others choose to lock up and go. In doing so, those able to also escape the Cape doctor, found their way to windless surroundings, where thin mountain air and low humidity levels prevail in KZN’s Central Drakensberg.


A beautiful view of the Ampitheatre.

True to its name, this magnificent destination offers close proximity to fly in destinations, with Gauteng just two hours away, and the city of Durban little more than three hours by car. Popular areas to visit here are the KZN Battlefield sites only two hours away, the splendid Midlands Meander, game farms and home to the Drakensberg Boys School Choir.

The interesting part about property in the Central Drakensberg, is the variety of options available to investors and visitors. Opportunities here range from timeshare facilities, to co-ownership in lifestyle options, exclusive free standing homes in private developments, and farmland, or house and cottage rentals in local villages or secure complexes. As an example, the number of timeshare options available in the Champagne Valley, that despite becoming victim to the overall economic downturn, have remained an affordable holiday accommodation option for many locals.

Continued interest from upcountry residents in luxury timeshare facilities such as Champagne Sports Resort has resulted in it reaching development capacity. After several extensions and additions completed over more than 20 years, it continues to lure city dwellers, able to afford secure, upmarket holiday accommodation in peak periods. This is when both young and older family members able to fork out hefty annual levies, share the ownership of luxury entertainment facilities for the duration of their holiday.

However, this is also where popular demand has created an overflow spilling over into alternative investment options, such as into Cathkin Estates Lifestyle and Conservation Reserve development that shares a common border with Champagne Sports Resort.

Stuart Ferguson of Cathkin Estates Lifestyle and Conservation Reserve says annual statistics reveal an approximate number of 15 000 visitors to the Champagne Valley over the three week festive season period. Traditionally a farming region, where private property ownership was almost unheard of, this investment option is now a reality. Albeit of a more permanent nature than exclusively for holiday purposes, the low density Cathkin Estates Lifestyle and Conservation Reserve in Champagne Castle offer a variety of package deals. Located in the foothills of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, it was once part of a cattle farm owned by several generations of the Stockil family. Comprising virgin grassland, indigenous forests and unspoilt mountain streams, this low density development covering less than 5% of the total estate, was launched in 2003.

Ferguson says the sales success of the first three villages has lead to the newly released Villages 4 and 5. Depending on the footprint of individual properties, measuring between 500 to 1 000 m2, a range of options come in below the R2-million mark with average prices at R1.3-million for plot and build, and building costs of top structures at around R10 000 m2. Ferguson says an additional investment option currently available here at approximately R300 000, is for co-ownership of properties, that would facilitate about three calendar weeks of usage per annum.

Also on the cards here for residents, he says will be the sharing of recreational facilities at the neighbouring Champagne Sports resort, in the not too distant future.

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