After Cape Town and Stellenbosch, Swellendam is the third oldest settlement in South Africa. Laying at the foot of the beautiful Langeberg mountains this place is not only famous for its youngberries, but as well as for its architecture and its history. The town is situated halfway between Cape Town and George on the N2. Swellendam was founded by the Dutch East India Company in the year 1745.
The town and its district was named after the governor of the Cape and his wife, Hendrik Swellengrebel and Helena Ten Damme. In time, a village was established opposite the Drostdy, across the Koornlands River, where artisans, including numerous wainwrights, and traders settled. To travellers and explorers, the services of these village folk were indispensable, as Swellendam was the last outpost of civilisation on the eastern frontier.
By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts has been colonized by British settlers and Swellendam was a thriving metropolis. The town served as a useful refreshment station on the long slow journey up the coast. Nowadays, in addition to serving its local and surrounding community, Swellendam glories in its past by continuing to offer travellers the services they require for rest and relaxation on their travels. Swellendam offers a variety of accommodation to suit every taste. This range includes one hotel, luxury guest houses, Bed and Breakfast establishments, chalets, caravan and camping facilities as well as self-catering cottages on farms in the area. Details can be obtained from the Swellendam Tourism Bureau.
Restaurants � Swellendam still lives up to its reputation as a foremost 몉efreshment station� and there are many restaurants and coffee shops in the town catering to travellers.
Early travellers and explorers who visited the Cape in the 1500’s traded with the Khoi-khoi people who lived on these shores.
When the Dutch East India Company established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam.
In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel and his wife, Helena Ten Damme.
This outlying settlement soon became a gateway to the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers including Le Vaillant (1781), Lady Anne Barnard (1798), Burchell (1815) and Bowler (1860). In time, a village was established opposite the Drostdy, where artisans including numerous wainwrights and traders settled. To travellers and explorers, the services of the village folk were indispensable, as Swellendam was the last outpost of civilization on the eastern frontier.
By 1795 maladministration and inadequacies of the Dutch East India Company caused the long-suffering burghers of Swellendam to revolt, and in 1795 they declared themselves a Republic, but this was short-lived due to the occupation of the Cape by the British. With the arrival of British settlers in the early 1800’s the Overberg boomed, and its capital, Swellendam, was soon the heart of the famous mercantile empire of Barry and Nephews, created by Joseph Barry.
By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts had been colonized by the British settlers and Swellendam was a thriving metropolis. The town served as a useful refreshment station on the long, slow journey up the coast. Today Swellendam is a flourishing agricultural area, and has many attractive and historic buildings which serve as a reminder of its exciting past.
The first known sketch of Swellendam was of the Drostdy, by Johannes Schumacher in 1776, when he accompanied the son of Governor Swellengrebel to the town.
Today the Drostdy forms part of a museum complex that consists of several heritage sites.
The Drostdy Museum
Living history at the Drosty Museum
The Drostdy museum is a collection of buildings dating from the establishment of the Landrost or magistracy by the Cape Dutch East india Company in 1743. The buildings contain fine period furniture, pictures and also examples of the equipment and work of the wagon builders, smiths and slaves throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Faerie Sanctuary
The enchanting Faerie Sanctuary in Swellendam is an absolute delight for youngsters (and the young at heart)
The Sulina Faerie Sanctuary is Swellendam's "special faerie and angel healing sanctuary" dedicated to the protection and preservation of all the positive energies of love, peace and light.
The Sanctuary is open from 0900 to 1630 Wednesdays to Sundays and every day during school holidays. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, for 10 days after the end of school holidays and for the month of June.
Weekday healing and meditational visits can be booked on request.
Wildebraam Wildebraam produces liqueurs, syrups & vinegar, jams and brandied fruits, relishes, chutneys , atchars & pickles, and corporate and wedding gifts at a beautiful farm on the edge of Swellendam.
They are open from 0800 - 1700 Monday to Friday and till 1600 on Saturday.
Dee Hazell offers show jumping, dressage, children's camps and much more.
Adult lessons and hacking in the foothills of the Langeberg mountains can be arranged on request.
Children's lessons are available from 1400 - 1800 Monday to Friday.
Contact: +27 (0)72 288 1028
Meisie Bokawana's Township Tours Meisie Bokwana runs a great after school project for kids in Railton, and takes visitors on a fascinating tour on request. Please ask Jackie or Stephen for details.
Contact: +27 (0)84 775 1269
Arts and Crafts
David Schlapobersky and Felicity Potter have been making pots together since 1973 and are well known for their wide range of high temperature reduction fired stoneware and porcelain. Using their own blends of clay and glazes prepared from local raw materials. They are happy to discuss and demonstrate their work and timeless tradition of handmade pottery. Their studio and showroom are open daily and visitors are welcome.
Kunste Huis fine art gallery has an excellent collection of the best of South African art available. Housed in a quaint house and set in a lovely garden this is a gem of a gallery with and intimate feel and a wide range of art by various top South African artists.
KunsmisElzebet Beyers has been fertilizing people with artistic ideas at her eclectic art gallery at 1 Voortrek Street. Exhibiting high quality work from many local artists, this little gallery is always worth a visit.
Contact: +27 (0)82 8260 100
Geoff and Louis have created a haven of interior design, fabrics, gifts and curios in a coffee shop, serving pastries and light lunches. 5 Swellengrebel Street.
Contact: +27 (0)28 514 3957
Golf Swellendam's 9 hole, par 72 golf course is unique in its beautiful setting - nestling at the foot of the magnificent Langeberg mountains. The clubhouse is open from 0800 to 1900 daily, except on Sundays when the hours are shorter.
The Marloth Nature Reserve A wilderness area of 14,123 hectares just outside Swellendam with opportunities for walks and serious hikes with overnight camping in the Langeberg mountains.
Wildflowers, majestic mountain views, many hiking trails, rock pools and waterfalls, rare birds and animals grace this sprawling national park.
Marloth Nature Reserve is named after the pioneer botanist who, together with a deputation of Swellendam residents in 1928 petitioned the Minister of Lands and Forestry to set aside part of the mountain as a nature reserve.
In 1981, the reserve was enlarged and the Swellendam Hiking Trail was opened.
Marloth Flower Route Trail distance: 5,5km (2,5 hours).
This easy hike begins and ends at the reserve office. The highlight is a section of about 2,5km that leads through rich protea and erica stands, that are very colourful in flower season. Along the way you will see small animals, Cape fynbos, patches of afromontane forest and birds.
Koloniesbos Trail distance: 6km (2,5 hours).
This fairly easy circular hike begins and ends at the reserve office. Along the way you can see small animals, Cape fynbos and birds. This circular route leads into Koloniesbos, an indigenous forest where you will find yellowwood, stinkwood and ironwood trees.
Tienuurkop Trail distance: 11,5km (6,5 hours).
This is a very difficult route. The linear circle route starts at the reserve office and leads to the peak of Tienuurkop and back. It leads through fynbos veld and patches of indigenous forest in the ravines. You are rewarded with views over Swellendam and the Ruensveld. Watch out for a diversity of birds and small animals.
Duiwelsbos Trail distance: 5km (2 hour).
This fairly easy hike begins and ends at the reserve office. The first 2km takes the hiker to the Duiwelsbos and then 1,5km leads into the indigenous forest and back. The trail turns at a small waterfall. Along the way you will see small animals, Cape fynbos, and birds. Fires are only permitted at demarcated sites.
Twaalfuurkop Trail distance: 8,5km (4 hours).
This strenuous and very difficult linear route starts at the reserve office and leads to the peak of Twaalfuurkop and back. It leads through fynbos veld and patches of indigenous forest in the ravines. You are rewarded with views over Swellendam and the Ruensveld. Hikers are rewarded with a diversity of birds and small animals.
Die Plaat Trail distance: 8,5km (4 hours), but different route options are available.
This easy route follows through patches of indigenous forest and fynbos veld, where you will be able to spot various small animals and birds.
Bontebok National Park Bontebok National Park is a place of simplistic beauty and peaceful charm. The majestic Langeberg Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for this Park of colourful riches. A part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, now heralded as a world heritage site, Bontebok National Park always offers something in bloom.
The Park is proud to promote its achievements in biodiversity conservation, from the endangered fynbos veld type, coastal Renosterveld to the namesake bontebok! Once these colourful antelope numbered a mere 17, and through effective management we are proud to affirm that the present world population amounts to around 3000. The Park offers much more for nature lovers, from a diversity of indigenous animal life to over 200 remarkable bird species.
The Breede River provides an idyllic western border to the park and offers guests scenery, bird watching, fishing, and a refreshing swimming spot. Visitors can also get a profound familiarity of the Park's endless sights and sounds while on one of the various hiking trails or on a winding bike trip. Furthermore, Bontebok provides its guests with an experience of South African culture.
Connect to the people of the past and learn about how the Khoisan lived and changed through local history. Come and enjoy all we have to offer, from adventure or a lazy day braai in a Park of natural and cultural tranquillity.
• Bontebok National Park - Bontebok Antelope, other small buck species and 126 different bird species.
• Buffelsjagsdam Sundowner Cruise - Buffelsjagsdam offers slide rides, canoeing, waterskiing and barge cruises.
• Whale Watching At Cape Infanta - At the mouth of the Breede River is the Whale nursery of the Cape.
• Drostdy Museum Complex - Swellendam of 18th and 19th century is housed in several historic buildings.
• Hermitage Youngberry Farms - Swellendam is the largest Youngberry region in South Africa. Liqueur tasting at Distillery.
• Malgas Ferry - The hand-drawn pontoon over the Breede River is the last remaining pont in South Africa.
• Marloth Nature Reserve - Various day walks and hiking trails amongst the abundance of wild flowers and fynbos.
• Sanbona Wildlife Reserve - First reserve in Western Cape to re-introduce cheetahs and lions as well as the Big 5.
• Stormsvlei Dried Flowers - Flowers are grown and preserved for export and sold here.
• Swellendam Arts and Crafts - In search of a gift... visit the many galleries, pottery studios and craft shops.
• Swellendam Historic Walk - Retrace the steps walked by explorers and Swelldam inhabitants of the early 18th century.
• Sulina Faery Sanctuary - Magical Faerie display and garden.
• Suurbraak Crafters - Popular crafters market in the historical village of Suurbraak, an old mission station.
• Tradouw Pass - 315m pass of unusual geological features and unsurpassed beauty. Ruins of the Anglo Boer War
SWELLENDAM BACKPACKERS ADVENTURE LODGE
Swellendam Backpackers is within easy walking distance of the local shops, banks and a variety of Swellendam Restaurants or you can make use of one of the Mountain Bikes for hire. The hostel offers self catering facilities of a communal kitchen which features all the modern conveniences or you can enjoy the evening steak, fish or chicken braai (BBQ) which is served at 19h00.
Swellendam Backpackers is situated in the lovely and safe Swellendam and is centrally located to all of the adventure activities of the Overberg. After an adventure full day relax, refresh and recharge in the large garden overlooking the Langeberg Mountains or around the fire
Stephy with her ready smile and know how to attitude will made sure that everything you need is right there - a great natural pool and garden, fantastic and inexpensive meals, TV, Internet access, comfortable beds; AND she will organise your adventures - whether it’s a trip to the waterfall, horse riding, hiking trips.
All you have to do is get here - they’ll sort that out for you too if you like!
• Barrydale Wine and Brandy Tours
• Bontebok National Park - SWELLENDAM
• Drosty Museum - SWELLENDAM
• Game Viewing and Game Drives - SANBONA WILDLIFE RESERVE
• Hermitage Liqueur Distillery - SWELLENDAM
• Historic Walk - SWELLENDAM
• Horse Riding Trails and Hiking - MARLOTH NATURE RESERVE
• Malgas Ferry - Breede River
• Robertson Wine Route Tours - ROBERTSON
• Barge Cruise and Sundowners - BUFFELJACHTS DAM
• Warmwaterberg Spa
• Whale Watching - CAPE INFANTA
Two Feathers Horse Trails
Duration: Hour long rides or full day trails
Extra's: Lunches (includes lunches in The Hermitage) and lessons
Attractions: Marloth Nature reserves
Bontebok National Park
Duration: Half or full day visits
Extra's: Guided game viewing, hiking, swimming, angling, picnic lunches
Attractions: Small park with high concentaration of wildlife, perfect for day visits
Cape Agulhas Southern Most Tip Of Africa
Duration: Full Day
Extra's: Entrance fees, Kapula Candle Factory, picnic lunch
Attractions: Bredasdorp, Arniston, Kassiesbaai, De Mond Reserve, L'Agulhas and Struisbaai
De Hoop Nature Reserve
Duration: Whole Day ONLY during Whale Season (Sept-Nov) or by special request
Extra's: Picnic Lunches and enterance fee's
Attractions: Over 86 animal species, whale sanctuary, 260 bird species, biking trails and more
Robertson Wine Route
Duration: Half or full day visits
Extra's: Picnic lunch or lunch on a boat, walks through Bonnievale, wine transfers
Attractions: Award winning region, no crowds, boutique estates, cheese shop
Klein Karoo Hotsprings
Duration: Half day or full day visits
Extra's: Picnic lunch or restaurants, shopping in Barrydale
Attractions: Suurbraak Village, Tradouw Pass, Barrydale, the Karoo, Ronnies Sex Shop (Pub)
Western Cape Car Hire: Public roads in South Africa are well developed and well sign-posted with driving done on the left hand side of the road. To hire a car in South Africa, drivers must have an international drivers license and a minimum of 5 years experience.
Public Transport: Public transport in South Africa is not as well established as foreign visitors may be accustomed to. While this is constantly being improved, make sure that your transport arrangements are taken care of before you travel, to ensure a stress-free holiday in our country.
Or just use what you were given and take a walk to get around locally but everything is walking distance in this wonderful town, but there is local mini bus taxi’s that will take you where you need to go for as little as R6 per trip and they can point you in the right direction for further away trips.