Investors turning to Western Cape wildlife and nature reserves

Aloe Ridge Lodge Swartberg Wildlife Estate

With all eight South African provinces offering an impressive array of game reserves, traditionally, the Western Cape has not been high on the list of priority game reserve investment locations.

Wayne Rubidge, manager in the Karoo for Pam Golding Properties, says this is largely due to the lower carrying capacity of the vegetation for large herbivores – as theWestern Capeis primarily a botanical region.

“As a result, landowners and investors have realised that theWestern Capeis more a wildlife and nature destination than a dedicated game farming region. The emergence of wildlife and nature farms or estates in this province is mainly attributable to conservation organisations who actively promote the incredible bio-diversity of the Western Cape. Renowned as a global botanical hotspot, the region has huge potential for wildlife and nature investment, and while this includes game it is not necessarily on the scale as that in the Eastern Cape and Northern Provinces. The Karoo regions of theWestern Cape, including areas such as Beaufort West, offer investors larger, more traditional game and hunting reserves,” says Rubidge.

He says popular regions for these wildlife estates are the mountain ranges that dominate the interior of the Western Cape, for example, the Cederberg, and increasingly, the Swartberg Mountain Range – much of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Swartberg is also one of the best examples of fold mountains in the world, with beautiful mountain passes winding through these geological phenomena which resulted from the lifting and folding of the earth’s tectonic plates as they moved towards each other and then collided. On either side of the SwartbergPass, which was built by Thomas Bain, Pam Golding Properties is marketing two unique properties.

The first of these is Aloe Ridge Lodge, one of only 17 properties in the 2040 hectare Swartberg Private Wildlife Estate, adjacent to the Swartberg World Heritage Site. Each of these properties on the estate comprises 120 hectares with full title deed. Priced at R9.9 million, Aloe Ridge Lodge has expansive living and entertainment areas with air conditioning and under floor heating, and equipped with state of the art facilities including a walk-in cold room, a strong room and a back-up three-phase 50kw generator. An elevated boma and pool area overlooks a dam stocked with bass, with views across to the majestic mountain range. With over 900 animals spanning 30 species, Aloe Ridge Lodge offers the owner all the benefits of living on a game farm without the management or maintenance responsibilities. The estate provides services such as pool and garden maintenance, security, housekeeping and shopping and firewood delivery.

Rubidge says another popular concept in the Western Capeis the development of appropriate properties for eco-tourism. “On the Prince Albert side of the famous Swartberg Pass and adjacent to the pass and the town is a strategically positioned 1200 hectare nature farm resort with a thatched, main lodge, set on a property that extends up into the Swartberg Mountains, offering spectacular vistas. Also marketed by Pam Golding Properties, this exceptional property with typical natural Karoo vegetation has been developed to provide self-catering accommodation in thatched cottages as well as camping facilities.” The thatched main lodge is located against the backdrop of the mountains and provides an ideal venue for conference or weddings. The property, which is priced at R10.5 million, has its own hiking trails and includes a variety of game.

Resident agent in Prince Albert, PGP Karoo’s Eric Ahrens says he has experienced an increase in high-end getaways into the region and the properties marketed each represent some of the region’s finest nature farms, reserves and estates.

Adds Rubidge: “With growing awareness of the need to preserve the world’s natural resources, we are seeing increased interest in investment in declared protected areas or proclaimed nature reserves. With the support of Conservation Agencies such as  Cape Nature many properties in the Western Cape are now registered Nature Reserves. The long term benefits of investing into conservation cannot be questioned whether this is property or species. A special example of a private Nature Reserve on offer is a 4000 ha property adjacent to the historic Matjiesfontein in the Great Karoo, less than two hours fromCape Town. The renowned hotel, like the Nature Reserve, was once the property of the original Logan family. Matjiesfontein was on the Cape to Cairo wagon route and is now part of the Blue Train experience.”

The Nature Reserve is stocked with original game found in the area and besides the farmhouse, has five well appointed, fully equipped two bedroom cottages situated close to the entrance of the reserve for easy access from Matjiesfontein and the N1.  This reserve is marketed by Pam Golding Properties’Prince Albertagent for R11.8 million, offering a unique income generating lifestyle conservation investment.

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