Western Cape DestinationsSwellendam, Cape Overberg
Swellendam lies at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains and has become popular in recent times as a place to retire and as a retreat for artists seeking a lifestyle outside of the city rat race. One of the oldest settlements of colonial times, Swellendam is seeped in history and buildings such as the Drostdy date back to the time when Swellendam was declared a magisterial district in 1743 and named after Governor Hendrik Swellendgrebel and his wife, Helena Ten Damme.
The Tourism Bureau in Swellendam provides a brochure, aptly entitled ‘Swellendam Treasures’, full of appealing snippets of information about the various National Monuments in Swellendam and the surrounding area and the Drostdy Museum is definitely worth a visit to ogle the amazing collection of late 18th and early 19th century Cape furniture.
Today Swellendam, apart from being a peaceful and certainly an appealing town with its numerous restaurants and pubs that make it such a popular stop-off en route to the Garden Route, is also a flourishing agricultural village.
Swellendam is the largest youngberry growing area in the world, due mainly to the unique microclimate of the Hermitage valley just a few kilometres outside of Swellendam, and includes farms such as Wildebraam Liqueur farm, which offers liqueur tasting and a cellar tour. The foot of the Langeberg is home to a number of fruit and dairy farms whilst the dryer and flatter region, further in from the mountain, is predominantly sheep and grain farming.
Only 6 km outside of Swellendam is the Bontebok National Park, home to the rare and beautiful antelope of the same name and dedicated to saving it. 126 different species of bird have been identified here and there are other small buck and charming picnic spots on the banks of the Breede River. The Marloth Nature Reserve offers gorgeous examples of the local wild flowers and fynbos and the hiking trails alone make it worth the visit. The 81 km Swellendam trail provides a number of stopover huts at regular intervals and there are several day walks.
Swellendam has retained its ability to refresh both gastronomically and cerebrally - it began its life as a refreshment station for those undertaking the rather tedious journey up the coast - with the beauty of its surroundings and the fine fare provided by its coffee shops and restaurants.
For more info about Swellendam see our articles on the SA Travel News Blog:
• Sultry Swellendam
• It's a Lovely Day for Swellendam
• The Swellendam Hiking Trail - A 6 day hike in the Langeberg Mountains
• Swellendam - A swell weekend getaway