Vermaaklikheid - hidden gem

Area principal for Pam Golding Properties, Jennifer Seggie, says this charming small hamlet, only 10km from the beach and approximately 35km from Witsand, is probably one of the country’s best kept secrets, and is a tranquil haven away from the noise, stress and bustle of city life.

“And this is exactly how residents like it, abundantly peaceful and quiet, while visitors say it soothes the soul,” she says. “For example, only small engine motor boats are allowed on the river, and even then no speeding is permitted. Located close to the Duivenhoks River estuary, the town offers a languid lifestyle for boating, fishing, swimming, hiking and relaxing. There is one shop and a restaurant and locals have baulked at the idea of a tarred road. Farming and fishing are the only businesses in the area, which has a colourful history.

“With only about 70 homes in total, today many of the houses here are used for holiday purposes. This was originally an area where the surrounding farmers would spend their holidays fishing and boating on the river – and partaking of the local ‘witblits’. This is how the quaint name, Vermaaklikheid, arose. In years gone by, the locals used to subsist on sweet potatoes (which were stored in old dugout limestone caves), the proceeds from limestone, and ‘witblits’ made with the harvest from small hanepoort vineyards.  However, liquor laws and modern transport changed all this,” says Seggie.

The village has retained its character with original thatched cottages and newly built cottages observing the same steeply pitched roofs. The homeowners have set up a conservancy to look after the endemic and often threatened fynbos species as well as the character of the town. Those building homes are requested to follow the guidelines, and while the land is still zoned agricultural, very little development can take place.

“For those seeking a unique property in an unspoilt environment ideal for family and friends to enjoy leisure time in peaceful surrounds, Vermaaklikheid is perfect. Whether it’s messing about in boats, swimming, fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, exploring the largely unspoilt flora and fauna of the area or whale watching nearby, this area has much to offer. The De Hoop Nature Reserve is within easy reach and affords an enjoyable day excursion during whale season,” she says.

Properties currently on the market include smallholdings and small farms, including fynbos farms, while those in prime locations on the river or ocean front attract a premium price. Prices range from R1.1 million for a rundown cottage on a 25ha undivided share to R5.5 million for a 6 ha farm with river frontage.

A prime property currently marketed by Pam Golding Properties, and which is arousing interest from a few clients who have their own small planes as there is a private airport only 35km away in Riversdale, incorporates approximately 2.5km of magnificent, pristine coastline with sandy beaches, rocky headlands, limestone cliffs, historic fish traps, middens and caves as well as about one kilometre of river estuary frontage.

Comprising some 964 hectares, this farm is VAT registered and sold as a going concern with pristine lowland fynbos, Milkwood trees, riverine vegetation and  as well as spectacular flowers such as ground orchids and the Riversdale Bluebell in springtime. The indigenous fauna such as steenbok, grysbok, duiker and rooikat are supplemented by bontebok, eland, mountain zebra, mountain rhebok and red hartebeest. Water is sourced via borehole, springs and reservoirs and there is a boathouse, jetty and boma. The buildings comprise two old cottages on the beach, a renovated main house overlooking the sea, original farmhouse, a thatched house and a ‘Kapstylhuis’. This property is priced at R39 million through Pam Golding Properties.

Says Seggie: “It is very rare to be able to acquire a piece of river estuary as well as coastline, particularly such prime beach frontage as this. There is a promontory at the river mouth – around which the farm is wrapped – called ‘Puntjie’. This is a quaint, historic cluster of Kapstylhuise which have thatched roofs which run down to ground level. I am told that this style of building originated from the time when Portuguese sailors were shipwrecked here and that this kind of house can also be seen on the Portguese and other European coastlines. These cottages are in a Trust and have to be passed on to the owners’ family members and not sold to outsiders. The coastline itself, known as the Blombos coast, is home to ancient middens, fish traps and caves inhabited by some of the earliest hunter-gatherers. The Blombos cave, not far from this farm, is of immense archaeological interest due to the fact that the some of the oldest prehistoric art, dating back more than 70 000 years, was unearthed there.”

Another interesting property located in the vicinity, on the banks of the Duivenhoks River, is also on the market through Pam Golding Properties. This idyllic country retreat of 66.6ha is priced at R5.5 million, and includes 500m of private river frontage with a jetty. Says Seggie: “Fishing is good and one can easily boat down to the estuary to a very private beach not far away. With an abundance of proteas and fynbos as well as riverine trees and vegetation, this farm dates back to the time when Vermaaklikeheid was a bustling farming community. Water-rich, with a strong spring flowing into a dam for irrigation purposes – and with registered water rights, this property can accommodate sheep, cattle, olives, vineyards and vegetables, while you enjoy the peace and quiet of living in this hamlet. There is 15-18ha of arable lands and the farm includes an original, three bedroom farmhouse with wide verandah, a labourer’s cottage and two large outbuildings.”

A further option is an historic old farmhouse set on 60ha not far from the river, and built on the original wagon route. Built in an L-shape it includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and living area, with a small outside Kapstyl building as well as a shed. This is an undivided share - with a title deed, of a 166ha farm incorporating untouched hills and valleys with indigenous fynbos flora and fauna. Spring water is close by and there is 1.5ha of arable land where one can plough, growth vegetables, olives etc and keep animals. This property is priced at R1.95 million.

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