Swellendam, Cape Overberg

The picturesque little town of Swellendam is just off the N2 about 240 km outside of Cape Town and connects the Southern Overberg with the Garden Route.

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.

Additional Reading

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

Travellers' Reviews

4 Reviews from SA-Venues.com travellers. All reviews are verified.

Verified reviewexcellent

Had lovely time xploring Swellendam/surrounds...cycling/walking allover. Nice selection of coffeeshops...Also bought the Best Olives we have ever tasted. .were Salt dried Olives by "Thunderwood Olives" & mmmmm real sa Biltong by "Karoo Sky Biltong" wow wow best Biltong ever...Well Done Swellendam. Mc

October 2018

Derick Mcdonald (Capetown)

Verified reviewexcellent

A common misperception is that Swellendam is just a beautiful place to stop for lunch or for a one-night break in the journey. As discovered by those who are willing to take more time on their travels rather than rushing to the better-known and highly touted destinations, Swellendam has far more to offer than “lunch”. The beauty of its setting is indisputable, the backdrop of the mountains framing a small historical town, bursting with heritage and bustling with countryside activities. It is the berry growing centre of South Africa, and during the harvest, berry picking and berry festivals are a fun part of the rural offering. Not just one, but two nature reserves bound the town – Bontebok Park, small but incredibly diverse, and Marloth Mountain Reserve which offers opportunities for the casual rambler to the most hardened hiker. The town itself is very attractive, with the Drostdy quarter beautifully maintained and offering an excellent day of exploration - museums, art galleries, potteries and of course the stunning Moeder Kirk. There are some unique discoveries to be made – the Faerie Sanctuary, Berry Liqueurs, Tradouws Pass, Lang Elsie’s grave, the most beautiful nine-hole golf course in South Africa. For those who like their holidays stuffed with activity and adventure Swellendam is ideal – river rafting, fuffi slides, sunset booze cruises on the dam, zorbing, canoeing, gliding, paint ball, rock climbing, mountain biking, cross country riding…the list is endless. As a base to visit the surrounding area, Swellendam could not be better placed: twenty minutes to the start of great wine routes, forty minutes to the nearest beach, day trips to see whales at De Hoop or Witsand, game reserves, Barrydale with its Labyrinth and Peace Pagoda, everything and more. And most importantly – the quality of the guesthouses and restaurants is second to none! The hospitality providers in this town formed a unique group some years ago, whereby they committed to achieving a standard of excellence. They have worked together in a spirit of “co-petition” with the guests’ needs at the forefront of everything they do. No-one will be disappointed with their choice of bed for the night – and the ability to eat out at a different restaurant every night: from pizza & pasta to fine dining, from bistro to braai, from the best Italian restaurant in the Western Cape, to traditional Cape cuisine. There is no doubt that Swellendam has more to offer than lunch.

December 2012

Amanda Shackley (Swellendam)

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