It’s not about price, because many of these off-the-beaten track wildlife and eco estates are high end. It’s entirely about a lifestyle – one where nature and outdoor pursuits overrule any advantages an urban existence might have – in fact, it’s the antithesis of the South African urban life that many seek. And there’s a broad mix of buyers too – not simply retirees able to distance themselves from business hubs, but young families too, who choose estates that offer this lifestyle… but are within reach of school, work, and fast intercity links.
This property genre contains a myriad permutations, from free-roaming plains game to Big Five wildlife, gated country estates to a small community.
Set in the upper reaches of the scenic Kamberg Valley – 40 minutes from Nottingham Road – is Richard and Mouse Poynton’s legendary food and hospitality heaven, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse. It’s long been a dream of the Poyntons to establish a small residential estate, and Cleopatra Hamlet’s sites (includes ownership of the +100ha estate, as well as sole ownership of the site) are now off the drawing board.
Little Mooi River
The setting is breathtaking, right on the banks of the Little Mooi River, in the shadow of Cleopatra Mountain, and bordered by the world heritage sites of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Mountains and Highmoor Nature Reserve, close to Kamberg Nature Reserve.
Living, holidaying or retiring here will be for like-minded people for whom daily school or work commutes are no longer relevant. Life here is about the extreme beauty, the trout fishing, the hikes, the solitude, and the majestic setting (a five-star gourmet restaurant as a neighbour is pretty appealing too). Needless to say, interest in these exclusive sites is keen.
Eaglecrest Wildlife Estate
For those who do need access to facilities, the 23 sites at Eaglecrest Wildlife Estate in Nottingham Road ticks boxes, with prices ranging from R500,000 to R950,000 (it’s 30% built). Here, unfenced homes are tucked among the woodlands, water sources, and free-roaming wildlife, with private wild trout fly-fishing rights on four dams. Phase two will see an equestrian development. Set in the KZN Midlands, there’s easy access to the province’s top private (and public) schools, the Midlands Meander and country retail.
Mayibuye Game Reserve
For those passionate about wildlife, Mayibuye Game Reserve’s luxury residential component is likely to launch next year – the gate house is built, and game is being released. The reserve is a 4,500ha Big Five conservation area near Camperdown, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and is an integral part of the community-conservation-private sector/business model envisaged by legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony.
Lifestyle Estate and Private Residence
There are two residential options, the Lifestyle Estate of 187 freehold units on 1,000m² sites, and Private Residence – private 1ha freehold stands. The developers consider it South Africa’s first ‘urban’ game reserve.
These are just three of many others, set in some of the province’s most exquisite landscapes – each developer honing its offering so as to appeal to like-minded people with that lifestyle at heart.
Words: Anne Schauffer