Text Hilary Haarhoff.
Vermaaklikheid is on the Garden Route coast between Stillbaai & Witsand, 30 km from Riversdale.
We had heard about this little hamlet from friends who farm in the Riversdale area. Their description of the little settlement made us put it on our ‘must visit’ list. The fact it is off the beaten track & un-spoilt by development was the main attraction.
We were not disappointed and spent 3 relaxed days at the beginning of October with our son and his family in a charming home on the banks of the Duiwenshok River. The vegetation is fynbos shrubland with a temperate climate & boasts 100 species of birds.
The Duiwenshok Conservancy was established in 2000 as a non-profit organization made up of local stakeholders committed to conserving uniqueness of the area and village and is also a Nature Conservation Protectorate. The Duiwenshok estuary is one of the last remaining pristine estuaries in South Africa.
The Villagers are encouraged to live off the land by having community forum gardens, clearing alien vegetation and selling the firewood, collecting thatching reed, beekeeping and selling fynbos flowers. Most do not have their own farm equipment so can hire tractors from established farmers for a 1000 pieces of firewood. It is well worth looking up the Duiwenshok Conservancy on the web.
Above the mouth of the river is a closed settlement called Puntjie created by farmers from the district who have over several generations holidayed & fished there. We were struck by the kilometres of cultivated land on the way to Vermaaklikheid as well as the neatness of all the farmsteads.
Puntjie, is not on travel brochures or tourist routes. Finding it isn’t straight forward either. The only gravel road to Puntjie winds through the two hundred year old Vermaaklikheid from the N2 just past Heidelberg and south to the mouth of the Duiwenhoks. You know you’ve arrived when you see the signboard indicating Puntjie that prohibites trespassers; Puntjie is only for those who holiday here. From the gate you can just make out the rows of kapstylhuis thatched cottages. The only way in is if you know someone who stays here.
At Puntjie three ocean currents meet – the Agulhas, the Mozambique and Benguela. As a result, winters produce sodden wet, grey days, and often the Duiwenhoks floods…
A visit to this little place is a breath of pure fynbos air but sadly it has recently been polluted by a devastating bush fire burning down 7 houses and the tragic death of Nico Heyns –the helicopter pilot from Knysna – while fighting the fire.
Our thoughts go out to that little community and the Heyns family.