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Karoo 'Riviera' dazzles

Renowned for its wide open spaces and typical Karoo character homes, a far lesser known fact about the Karoo is that it also has its own "Riviera" which stretches along a number of appealing waterfront towns such as Oviston, Gariep and Vanderkloof.

"Passing through three of the Karoo?s four provinces, with the Northern Cape and Free State enjoying the lion?s share of water frontage, the Orange (Gariep) River is akin to a winding oasis which creates the Karoo?s very own 'Riviera'," says Wayne Rubidge, Pam Golding Properties? area principal in the Karoo.

He says the heart of this Riviera is where these three provinces meet at the two inland lakes of Gariep and Vanderkloof; the third province being the Eastern Cape.

This picturesque, centrally located and water-rich area has a low population density and healthy climate and is surrounded by the Great Karoo?s expansive open spaces.

Still relatively undiscovered and with a tranquil, laidback lifestyle, the Karoo waterfront towns of Oviston, Gariep and Vanderkloof are experiencing a surge in property interest. This is spurred on by an appealing outdoor lifestyle with hundreds of kilometres of waterfront living ? including numerous water sports, good value for money, low crime, lack of noise and pollution as well as their central location between Cape Town and Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban and just two hours from Bloemfontein.

"Currently most of our buyers in these towns are from the nearby, surrounding areas as well as Bloemfontein, mainly due to the fact that these areas are still relatively undiscovered," says Rubidge. "However, these destinations are now marketing themselves as resort towns with high appeal for those looking to acquire leisure homes, a home to retire to or a lifestyle alternative away from busy city life. The Karoo?s 'Riviera' is, however, still accessible within a seven hour drive and with its own airstrips as well as access via the nearest airports in Kimberley and Bloemfontein. Key attractions are the fact that this is still a relatively pristine area with no industry, mining or sprawling urban areas and also affordable, offering home buyers good value for money."

Surrounded by the Rolsfontein Nature Reserve and with views over Lake Vanderkloof and its many islands, the exclusive and beautiful town of Vanderkloof in the Northern Cape has arguably the most scenic setting and is home to many exclusive residences.

Property here sells for between R500 000 for a two bedroom home, up to R1-million for a three bedroom home with scenic lake views, while a waterfront home runs into several millions which is still comparably less than coastal homes.

Currently properties on the market in Vanderkloof include the luxury Meerenberg townhouse development on the waterfront, where a three bedroom home sells for R1.5-million. Larger properties in the complex is selling for up to R2-million.

Surrounded by nature reserves

A trendy guesthouse with good lake views and which sleeps 10 is priced at R1.4-million, while the most exclusive lakefront property with private jetty, boathouse and swimming pool is also on the market for R4.4-million. This double-storey, open plan, architecturally designed house has three bedrooms and five reception rooms with modern finishes and lake as well as island views from every room.

Unlike many other inland waterfront properties these river and dam front properties are surrounded by provincial nature reserves and the quality of water is excellent. There are public and private mooring facilities as well as a yacht and fishing club. Besides being able to accommodate large motor boats and yachts the facilities are also popular for smaller, family-sized craft for outings to the game reserve, fishing or visiting the many spectacular islands with their abundant birdlife.

Situated in the Eastern Cape on the southern side of Lake Gariep, adjacent to the 16 000 hectare Oviston Nature Reserve, the small resort town of Oviston is the perfect place to retire to, with an average house price of around R300 000 for a three bedroom home.

Over the past 14 months 13 homes have sold in Oviston.

"Most of the houses in this average price range are converted, prefabricated houses built at the time of construction of Lake Gariep and are now affordable resort-style residences," says Rubidge. Currently on the market is a three bedroom lake-front house for R600 000, an appealing three bedroom home priced at R420 000 ? located within walking distance of the lake and suitable for a retired couple ? and a four-bedroom home with lake views is priced at R950 000. A 1200m? lake-front stand is also available for purchase priced at R200 000."

The business town of Gariep is located in the Free State on a hill overlooking the dam and vast open spaces of the Karoo. This is a bustling town with resorts such as the Forever Gariep Resort, a yacht club, golf course and surfaced air field which caters for medium-sized planes and which is also popular for national glider events.

Appealing farms with river frontage

Average prices here are a little higher with a well-appointed three bedroom house priced at approximately R500 000. Entry level homes sell for around R420 000 while higher end homes go for around R700 000. Currently on the market is a three bedroom home on a 1054m? stand priced at R522 000 ? ideal for a couple who are retiring. Homes with views over the lake or open spaces of the Karoo can sell for up to R750 000.

In addition, the Karoo "Riviera" along the Orange River has some appealing farms with river frontage on offer.

Average farm sizes are from 1000 to 3000 hectares and sell for around R3000 per hectare for non-irrigation farmland. However, much of the area is used for irrigation farming purposes, interspersed with large stretches of river frontage that offers game and lifestyle opportunities.

On the market is a 2800 hectare game farm complete with river lodges, excellent fishing and a river rafting safari business. With eight kilometres of prime river frontage this property is priced at R10.943-million.

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