FOR most Eastern Cape folks it is little more than a welcome pitstop when taking the long road to Johannesburg and back. But agents say Gariep Dam is one of the undiscovered gems of the countryside.
Surrounded by nature reserves, the dam and community around it lie in a central location on the southern border of the Free State, where it touches the Eastern and Northern Cape provinces.
South Africa’s largest dam, Gariep is located on the Orange River just off the N1 between Joburg and Cape Town. The dam itself is a watersports haven while the town hosts several national and international championships, including annual yachting regattas.
Voted tourist town of the year in 2010, tourism is a growing economic driver, with visitor numbers said to increase yearly. And, with only about 284 properties and a permanent resident population of just 1500, it is a tranquil and safe environment with pure country air.
Property agent Mariaan Booysen says it offers one of the best rural lifestyles and climates in the country for retirement buyers.
Affordable property options abound and these are ideal for weekend getaways and older buyers looking for a quiet country lifestyle.
A new retirement village with three affordable ownership models has also been launched here. Property options include life rights units, rental and outright purchase. Prices start at R320500 for a 38m² assistance apartment and R800000 for a 97m² two-bedroomed sectional title unit with a garage. There is also a two-bedroomed option without a garage.
Phase two includes construction of a hospital with 24-hour assistance.
“Buyers looking for a larger weekend or retirement home also have an excellent selection of well-priced properties to choose from,” Booysen says. There are still a few vacant plots in the town and some overlooking the dam; these range between 742m² and 1486m² and start from as little as R120000.
Three-bedroomed homes range upwards of R400000 and even at the top end you could pick up a large, fully furnished home with plenty of extras for about R2.5-million. One such home, for R2.53-million, has five bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, a cinema room, pool table, braai room and indoor pool. There is also a two-bedroomed flatlet and garaging. The house has stunning views over the dam and surrounding landscape.