New private high school benefits families relocating to the scenic Underberg

Popular as an ideal getaway destination, the picturesque Underberg area in the Southern Drakensberg of KwaZulu-Natal is proving increasingly attractive to young home buyers as well as those seeking adventure sports and other healthy outdoor pursuits, says Angela Walker, Pam Golding Properties area principal.

Set on 2.5ha this gracious home and popular guesthouse establishment has sweeping views of the Drakensberg Mountains and neighbouring farmlands. With 18 bedrooms in all, including the main homestead, self-contained cottages and three B&B bedrooms, the property includes three dams and is sold, fully equipped and furnished, as a going concern. It is priced at R12.8 million through Pam Golding Properties.

“A proliferation of sporting events and activities catering for the outdoor enthusiast, coupled with the establishment of a new high school is driving the demand for residential property, particularly up to the R1.5 million and R2 million price band.

“Rapidly becoming established and offering Grades 8 to 12, the private Underberg Education Academy opened in 2011 because of the desperate need for good quality secondary education alternatives to boarding school,” she says.

As principal Jenny Grinwis points out: “Why move to the mountains for quality of life and then have to make the sacrifice of sending your children to boarding school?” Situated 7km outside Underberg on the main road through Himeville, and with extensive views of the Southern Drakensberg, the school currently has 27 students and seven educators, providing excellent tuition in all the core subjects and with a very low teacher to student ratio.

Says Walker: “The addition of this school further increases the appeal for residents in the Underberg and Himeville areas, enhancing the existing selection of schools which are the well-supported Underberg Pre- and Primary government school, and the private schools Noah’s Pre-Primary and Faithway Primary and High Schools.

The scenic view to the Drakensberg Mountains from a gracious home and popular guesthouse in Himeville. The property is priced at R12.8 million through Pam Golding Properties.

“Since the start of 2015 there’s been a definite increase in activity in the residential property market with buyers including young families – particularly where the breadwinner works abroad and looks to settle his family in this small, more secure and caring community. These purchasers seek to acquire a house or smallholding close to town and schools in the price range up to around R2 million.

“In addition, we are also seeing retirees settling here, especially farmers who wish to remain in the area, and some leisure buyers. There is also a demand for quality homes in the residential areas below the R1 million mark, as well as for units in complexes from buyers relocating from the cities and who seek the sense of security which this provides.”

Walker says there is still sound value to be had. “For example, you can still pick up a delightful cottage in Himeville for R795 000 or R895 000, or an elegant home in great position with a formal designer garden for R1.75 million. You can even acquire a brand new home in Fairmount Estate, with direct views of the Drakensberg Mountains, for just R1.4 million.”

Among recent sales concluded by Pam Golding Properties is a four hectare smallholding with dam frontage and sweeping, scenic views, situated on the edge of Himeville, which fetched R2.25 million, and a residence in sought after Thomas Street in Himeville which sold for R2.1 million.

“The leisure market is experiencing renewed interest, and we recently sold a holiday home in ‘The Meadows’, Underberg or R1.82 million. At present we have two families viewing holiday homes to purchase, and a number of further enquiries for leisure property.

“Renowned for its fishing and great walking and hiking trails, this area is rapidly becoming very popular for mountain biking.

This substantial timber home is meticulously maintained and offers a warm and authentic country abode, with spacious living room with wood fireplace, dining room, fitted kitchen, study or third bedroom, guest bedroom and full bathroom, main bedroom with en suite bathroom and dressing room. A staff or guest suite and a laundry are tucked beneath the house while a small cottage provides additional staff accommodation and 600sqm of carefully tended vegetable garden yields a return from a local market. This convenient and attractive home is priced at R1.5 million through Pam Golding Properties.

“This is home to the Nedbank Sani2 C which comprises three consecutive events that pass through Underberg, as well as the Joburg 2C, each of which bring over 1500 riders and family to the area. Then there is the Drakensberg MTHB club, which has approximately 90 members, several of whom own holiday homes in the area. Members of this club also become members of Sani Spoors, a privately run bike park with over 60km of single track trails through privately owned farms. The Drak MTB club hosts the Mascor Drak Experience on Riverlea farm in Underberg, while there are two new events on the mountain biking calendar this year – the Euro Steel Drak Descent – a two-day stage race which follows the route of the Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon. This year in September there will be another new two-day stage ride – the Mitsubishi Dragon, which takes the riders up the famous Sani Pass.”

There is also an active running club which organises the Asics Sani Stagger – a marathon and half marathon up and down the Sani Pass. And new to the Underberg sporting calendar is the Giants Cup Trail Run, a two-day run starting at the Sani Pass Hotel and finishing at Bushman’s Nek Hotel, with camping overnight near Castleburn - en route through the uKhahlamba Reserve. The individual race takes place in May while a corporate relay will be held for the first time this year in September. There is also a very active hiking club with walks of various challenges taking place every Sunday.

Other events drawing visitors to the area are the horse trials, the Drak 250 off road race, motorbike events, open gardens and two big golf competitions  - the Spring Classic and Autumn Classic. Not to be forgotten is the Drak Challenge Canoe Marathon, a major event on the annual paddling calendar, which takes place on the Umzimkulu River around February, and attracts numerous visitors to the area. And finally there is the popular Splashy Fen Music Festival, usually held over the Easter weekend, and fishing available via membership or by booking a morning or afternoon’s fishing on one of the local participating dams or river beats.

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