With the onset of winter and the first real snowfall of the season Pam Golding Properties (PGP) Karoo reports renewed interest in high altitude mountain getaways blanketed by snowfalls and with panoramic vistas. "The crisp mountain air, healthy climate, abundant mountain spring water and beautiful mountain scenery with snow-capped peaks creates a very appealing ambience for South Africans. This is in contrast to the sun-baked landscape that makes our country what it is. Specific interest is in lifestyle properties, small farms and game farms with the Sneeuberg Mountain Range north of Graaff-Reinet and the Southern Drakensberg near Rhodes being the most popular locations offering all categories of farm property," says Wayne Rubidge, PGP's manager for the Karoo.

Rubidge says many buyers from Europe have purchased land in the Sneeuberg in and around the picturesque village of Nieu Bethesda which lies at the foot of the Cape's highest peak called Compassberg - situated at 8200 feet above sea level. Snowfalls in this area are experienced about five times every winter, often conveniently coinciding with the winter holidays. Surrounded by mountains the village offers a quiet country atmosphere and is one of the last farm villages left unchanged.

Currently PGP is marketing a number of properties in the village of Nieu Bethesda, with scenic views of the Compassberg. In terms of price a two bedroom house starts from around R500 000 while a larger house with four or more bedrooms is priced from approximately R1 million. An example is a beautiful four bedroom house plus newly-built granny flat - situated in the prime central area near the renowned Owl House - priced at R1.035 million. Properties recently sold in the area include an agricultural estate sold for R2.5 million and a house on a large plot for R1.4 million. On offer is a two bedroom, classic Karoo cottage for R675 000 and a 1.5 ha agricultural estate on five agricultural stands priced at R3 million. The latter property has four en suite guestrooms with beautiful gardens, some of which produce a variety of vegetables for local residents. Residential plots of 991sqm sell for around R250 000 while the larger 4000sqm agricultural plots - some of which have lei water running in stone furrows from the village fountain - are priced at around R350 000.

Says Rubidge: "Graaff-Reinet in the heart of the Karoo and about 30 minutes' drive from Nieu Bethesda, draws many visitors to the broader region at this time of year and is often used as a base to explore the mountains. For those who visit the area and opt for a simpler lifestyle in Nieu Bethesda, farm properties on offer include two potions of undeveloped mountain farms just 20 km from the village and with spectacular views of the Compassberg. The portions are 167 and 676 hectares in size selling for R1.5 million and R2.7 million. Both properties have boreholes and the smaller erf has an old stone motel originating from the days of ox wagons. An isolated Karoo farm set on 2094ha in the Sneeuberge and ideal as a mountain getaway is priced at R4.425m; a 3000 hectare sheep and game farm with a magnificent farmhouse, restored barn and cottage as well as outbuildings and located between Nieu Bethesda and Graaff Reinet is on the market at R13 million. Another exceptional property with sweeping scenic views is a spectacular 3292 ha game farm and hideaway in the Suurberg Mountains, near the well known snow-covered Lootsberg Pass, with a beautiful three bedroom homestead and two separate guest houses. The property is stocked with a wide variety of game such as springbuck, kudu, eland, blesbuck and wildebeest, and is priced at R11 million.

Adds Rubidge: "The vegetation in most of these mountain rages changes as the altitude gradient increases and is mostly grassland in nature. Wildlife and nature are the sought after experience with hiking, horse riding and trout fishing popular activities. Game in this area includes species such as zebra and other grazers that thrive on high altitude grassland plateaus. Birding is also popular in these mountainous regions. Many visitors converge on the area to stock up with the Karoo's famous biltong and visit the shops and renowned restaurants of the venison capital of the Karoo, Graaff-Reinet, which sell a wide variety of venison products."

Issued by Gaye de Villiers

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