Situated halfway between Cape Town and George on the N2, Swellendam is the third oldest settlement in South Africa, after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. 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 Koornlands River, ancient oak trees and stately, whitewashed homesteads add to its charm. 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.
The open air complex of the Drostdy Museum consists of several buildings of great architectural and historic value. The Drostdy and Old Gaol are the oldest buildings in the town and date back to 1747. The former houses an outstanding collection of late 18th and early 19th century Cape furniture. At the Ambagswerf (trades yard), tools of old trades are displayed, while a water-mill grinds local wheat sold at the museum shop. There is also a restaurant in a re-constructed farmhouse as well as a gift shop in the old goal building.
The landmark Dutch Reformed Church is located in the main street with its Christo-Muslim features. Swellendam has many old buildings, some of which date from the 18th century, but many more were built during the town’s boom years in the mid-19th century. The Swellendam Tourism Bureau has a pamphlet, ‘Swellendam Treasures’, which provides the visitor with interesting snippets of information about the National Monument buildings in the town and surroundings.
Visit the Bontebok Nature Reserve. The rare and beautiful Bontebok antelope and other small buck species can be seen at this park, which is only 6km out of Swellendam. A total of 126 different bird species have also been identified here. Situated along the southern slopes of the Langeberg Mountains, the Marloth Nature Reserve is a botanist’s dream with an abundance of wild flowers and fynbos. Hiking trails have been established and for those who wish to undertake the entire 81km Swellendam trail, there are six huts positioned at regular intervals. There are also several day walks through indigenous forest to spectacular waterfalls.
Enjoy scenic drives through the 315m high Tradouw Pass of great scenic splendor or wend your way along the Bonnyvale-Robertson wine route. Visit De Hoop Nature Nature Reserve or ride on South Africa’s last hand-pulled pont at Malgas (40km from Swellendam). One hour’s drive to the ocean – watch whales from the cliffs of Hermanus, fish, surf or suntan at Cape Infanta and Witsand, or stand on the southern-most tip of Africa at Cape Agulhas.You could even visit the Breede River Bird Sanctuary.
Go on a Two Feathers horseback trail, go mountain-biking, paddle on the Breede River or enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Buffelsjag dam. Experience the thrill of flying or gliding by a winch at Swellengrebel Flying Club. Discover the magic of Sulina Faerie Sanctuary which will fascinate young and old. The whole family will love the walk in the fairey garden. Other activities such as golf, squash, tennis, bowling and water-skiing are available.
Map of Mountain View – Swellendam