HomeExchange.com™ - Listing #38054 - Enjoy the comfort of a large private home with swimming pool and view in South Africa's premier holiday resort on the famous Garden Route along the Cape south coast
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Listing ID # 38054
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First, the living area. This consists of an open-plan living room two storeys high, a dining room and a kitchen. The living room is north-facing (a good thing in the southern hemisphere) with huge glass doors, allowing you to enjoy every possible bit of sunshine. It also has a fireplace and, to make assurance double sure, undercarpet heating.There is a sattelite TV and iPod paystation in the living room.
The dining area has a large yellowwood (a beautiful yellow indigenous wood) table with eight chairs. The kitchen has a granite-top island food preparation area that enables the person cooking to chat with anyone in the living area, spacious cupboards, fridge, washing machine and dryer, dishwasher, eye-level oven, touch-sensitive hob, two sinks (basins) , an extractor for cooking smells, a microwave, and an extensive collection of crockery and cutlery. There is a courtyard at the back of the kitchen with washing lines and an outside basin.
The one set of glass doors leads from the living area out to a barbecue area with a fireplace for barbecues and a wooden table with seating for six people. This is roofed over so you can barbecue even when it rains. The other set of glass doors lead into the swimming pool area - the swimming pool is about two metres from the door. It is a large recently renovated pool set in a beautiful garden area that is totally secluded - you can walk around naked the whole day and no one will see you.
Still in the living area, if you go up the stairs, you get to a mezzanine floor with an open passageway overlooking the living area, a bedroom, a walk-in dressing room with plenty of cupboard space leading to a toilet/bidet/washroom, and an upstairs living area with a lovely couch that can also turn into a double bed. There is a king-size extra-length double bed in the master bedroom, which also has undercarpet heating. There is an en-suite bathroom next to the main bedroom, with toilet and shower.
When it is just the two people staying here, you never have to leave the living area except to go into the garden, for it is so spacious and sunny, with lovely views of trees and gardens from all the windows.
Also on the mezzanine floor are two decks, one large and one small. The large one has a swing couch to laze in.The smaller one has a hot tub (spa) large enough for four people in a secluded spot.
From the larger deck another set of stairs leads steeply up, first to the roof and then across the roof and up the chimney. On top of the chimney is a viewing deck with a wonderful 360 degrees view of the bay, the estuary, the town and, in the distance, the massive range of the Tsitsikamma mountains.
It sounds odd to have a viewing deck on top of the chimney, but I did say this house is unique. The top of the chimney is two metres across, and made of solid concrete (the smoke comes out at the sides) . The viewing platform is just a comfortable size for two chairs, plus a small table with drinks on it. The view is superb, especially with sunset. Wonderful place for a sundowner, but don't overdo it: the stairs are steep.
Timber has been extensively used both inside and outside the house, although the basic structure is brick. The front door is a huge piece of wood about a foot thick.
The garden is fairly large (about 1000 square metres if that means anything to you), and well established. It has a jungley feel to it in the back, while in the front there is a sizeable lawn and more of an English-type garden. Between the front garden and the street there is a thick hedge, about 7 metres tall and 5 metres wide, which cuts us off from the street completely, making it very private.
We have neighbours on the one side (a beautiful house in American colonial style but with a tall fence in between and owners living in UK) and an empty plot on the other side.
The whole property is surrounded by a palisade fence, the gate is electrically operated with a remote, there is an alarm system, outside electronic beams and panic buttons - if for any reason you feel unsafe you can push the buttons (in the bedroom and next to the front door) and armed response will arrive in a minute or two.
The second section of the house is a round tower, with two large rooms, both circular in shape. The one on ground floor we use as an office, while the the upstairs one we use as indoor cinema but it can also be used as a bedroom (we have spare bedrooms in the garage) This section also has a bathroom, with toilet, bidet and shower. The bathroom has a large open-air courtyard that is completely private.
The final section of the house has two large rooms, one bedroom with a double bed, and another that is also used as an office, a passageway and a huge bathroom, with toilet, bath and shower.
There is also a garage for two cars.
We have had a number of wonderful exchanges over the past 7 years: the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Honduras, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands,Turkye, etc. Without fail it worked for us and for our visitors.
The estuary, the river valley leading into it from the mountains, and the seaward shoreline of the estuary are all national parks. Sea birds breed in some areas. Other parts are densely wooded. There is a strong tide in the estuary but it is perfectly safe to swim there, and the beaches around it are lovely for kids and dogs. It is great for kayaking, fishing and boating.
In whaling season (June to October) you can see plenty of whales in the bay, and dolphins and seals you can see at any time.
Two blocks behind our house (five minutes walk, minute by car) is a major new shopping centre with several supermarkets and about 50 other shops and restaurants - you really never need to go shopping anywhere else. The shopping complex was completed recently, and built so as not to interfere with the appearance of the town. It is just far away not to be a nuisance, but close enough for convenience.
If you want to visit more shops, you can go up the steep hill above the house to the town centre, which basically consists of one street with shops on each side.
There are two major sea beaches in Plett (as Plettenberg Bay is known in South Africa): Central Beach, which also features fishing boats and a spectacular hotel on a peninsula, and Robberg Beach, a 7 km stretch of beach along the bay. A few minutes drive to Keurboomstrand on the other side of the bay gets you to another beach that stretches even further.
The bay itself is formed and protected by the Robberg Peninsula, which is also a national park, and a stunning place to go hiking. There is a huge seal colony there (Robberg means "seal mountain"). On one side of the peninsula you have quiet and calm seas, on the other side pounding surf. The views are out of this world.
Plettenberg Bay has no railway line, no industry and no port. It is expanding rapidly as a resort town, but fortunately the best parts - the estuaries, valleys, rain forests and mountains - are all national parks and therefore protected.
The beautiful town of Knysna is 30 minutes' drive away. It has a much larger estuary, with a dramatic entrance to the sea known as The Heads, but the sea is not close and visible as in Plett. It is a much older and historically a more interesting town than Plett, but also a favourite holiday resort and retirement village. Knysna does have a railway, a waterfront and some light industry.
Plett and Knysna are just two of the favourite spots on this stretch of coastline known as the Garden Route, which is, together with Cape Town (550 km away) on every overseas visitor's itinerary. The nearest major airport is at George, 100 km away, along a beautiful coastal road.
Infrastructure is generally very good. First-time visitors are constantly surprised: they expect something that looks like wildest Africa, but this particular part of the country, with all its lakes, forests and mountains, looks more like southern Europe - Southern France, say or Italy (but without the old buildings).
Restaurants are plentiful if you do not feel like cooking. Apart from the ubiquitous steakhouses, hamburger joints and pizza parlours, there are fantastic restaurants, some ethnic (e. g. Italian, Thai), some specialising in seafood, some specialising in expensive food for the rich and famous.
What to do? If you are adventurous, the world's highest bungee-jump is just 50 km from Plett, from the bridge over the Bloukrans River. There is every kind of water sport: deep-sea fishing, surfing, scuba diving, etc. Hiking is very popular, either through the forest or the mountains or both. There are numerous marked trails. Birding is a national sport, and there are lots of bird ID books in the house.
There are plenty of crafts shops and art galleries along the coastal road, for this is a favourite spot for artists to live. For the family, you can touch elephants, go to Monkeyland, the Kango Caves, etc. If you are looking for lonely beaches with no sign of human beings - there are plenty of those. And if you are a golfer, this is paradise.
There are even, believe it or not, no less than three horse polo fields around Plett, and the world championships are held here in January. Apparently the players are mostly British and Argentinean.
If you travel into the interior, you leave all signs of human habitation behind almost immediately. The mountain ranges that separate the coastal plain from the interior plateau are awesome. Once over the first ranges, you enter the Little Karoo, a quaint and interesting valley that stretches for hundreds of miles between two mountain ranges. Once over the next range, you hit the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert with little vegetation and even fewer people: the tiny villages there are 100 km apart.
If you feel like getting away from the world, you can visit the aptly named Valley of Desolation near Graaff-Reinet, or the ostrich-farming town of Oudtshoorn, or travel across the most rugged pass in the country, the Swartberg Pass, to visit The Hell - a white settlement that was completely cut off from the outside world for two centuries,
Cape Town is half a day's drive away in one direction, Port Elizabeth (another major port city)three hours in the other direction.
The weather in Plett is usually good: 300 days of sunshine a year. The rainfall is neither summer (as in the interior) nor winter rainfall (as in the area around Cape Town) - it is spread throughout the year, with the result that it is always green with plenty of wild flowers.
The rainfall is heavier in areas around Plett than in Plett itself, and supports spectacular rain forest, the largest remaining forested areas in the country. But don't expect much wildlife (except small animals) outside game parks. And don't worry about snakes - they are there but you never see them.
Temperatures are pleasant. In winter, days are comfortable (no snow or frost) but nights can be cool. In summer it never gets too hot - highs in the late twenties (Celsius) are normal, with little humidity. The climate must be amongst the most temperate in the world.
Of course, there are periods of bad weather, like anywhere else. Houses right on the beach can be battered by the wind at times, but our house is far enough from the sea front, and completely protected by trees, so wind is never a problem.
The main holiday season is early December to middle January, when the whole of South Africa closes down and departs to the coast. Plett(and indeed the whole eastern and southern seaboard) becomes unpleasantly cluttered, the roads full of traffic jams, and the beaches congested. Avoid this period like the plague. All the rest of the year it is quiet and pleasant but not dull. There is a constant traffic of overseas visitors, especially German, British, Dutch and Belgian, but there are just enough of them to ensure that all the restaurants and guest lodges stay open.
The best months weather-wise tend to be February to April.
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We keep a Volvo station wagon as well as a Volkswagen Golf in Plett, which we are willing to exchange. There are two mountain bikes.
It is no problem to rent a car at George or Port Elizabeth airport (Hertz, Avis etc. are all there), and it takes an hour and a half to drive from George to Plett (three hours from PE). You can fly to George or PE direct from Johannesburg International Airport.
You do need a car in Plett, since public transport is non-existent except for African taxis, which you don't want to use.
We do keep a motor boat on the river but you need a skipper's license to use it.
We deeply dislike smoking, so if you smoke, do it outside and do not throw the stubs in the garden. Children are welcome but there are two things to watch: the swimming pool area (which is fenced in to stop small children) and the upstairs deck areas. There are doors to stop children from getting onto the mezzanine floor or out onto the decks.
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We prefer to go overseas in the northern hemisphere spring to autumn (fall). December is normally a no-no for us, for that is the time the whole family spends at Plett.
This year we would like to go to Germany, especially Berlin, in August, to coincide with the school holidays of our grandchildren in England who will join us on the holiday.
My name is Basil and my wife's name Marietta. We live in Plett most of the time, but spend a couple of weeks now and then in Johanesburg to look aftyer our businesses. We are both 62 years old and have been married for 41 years.
We both run and own our own companies. I am a book publisher and Marietta has a training company. I have been in book publishing all my life, first with international publishers (McGraw-Hill, Macmillan) and then on my own. Marietta was in vocational education most of her life, until she ventured into her own company, which has turned into a runaway success.
We have two children. Riaan (36) has his own IT company and lives in the UK. He is married to Tahiti, who is a South African of Indian origin who is a clinical psychologist. They have two children, Andre (8) and Kyle (6).
Our daughter Marieke (30) is a dietician but these days a full-time mom with a small baby (Jacques.She also lives in Cape Town with her husband Jannie, who is a computer specialist.
We have three dogs, Bilbo,Olga and Oscar. All are Golden Retrievers.
From our names you can probably tell that we are South Africans of Afrikaans stock, meaning that our Dutch ancestors settled here in the 17th century and that our first language is Afrikaans, a language similar to Dutch.
It is interesting to note that while English is the language of business in the country, there are no less than 11 official languages in South Africa. English is spoken as first language by a minority of White and Indian people. The vast majority of people speak various African languages (but don't worry, in Plett you can speak English to anyone).
Nederlands, English, Afrikaans