Swellendam is one of the Western Cape’s best kept secrets, only a two-hours’ drive from Cape Town along the N2 that runs from Cape Town all the way to Port Elizabeth, east of this sleepy town. This beautiful town is often not thought of, except as a passing stop on the way to the Garden Route, but stop for a few days and explore, Swellendam has much to offer a traveller.
Swellendam lies at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, a patchwork of farmlands and hectares of indigenous forest and offers a magical beauty that is hard to beat. The town has become the largest Youngberry growing area in the world and includes berry farms where berry-picking and liqueur tastings are just some of the outdoor fun that can be had here. Only a few kilometres outside of town visitors will be able to enjoy the stunning nature trails and picnic spots in the Bontebok National Park and although it may not offer Lions, Leopards and Elephants, it does offer some rare and beautiful antelope such as Grey Rhebok, Red Hartebees, Bontebok and Cape Zebra.
Being the 4th oldest town in South Africa, Swellendam is steeped in history with plenty of historical sites, cultural attractions as well as museums and art galleries. The town is small and pleasant enough to ride a bike through and visitors can rent a bike from the local tourism office, along with a map detailing all the major attractions, and leisurely pop in to each in their own time.
Swellendam has plenty of places to browse, shop and enjoy delicious pastry sides that go so well with coffee or tea! Visit Pennantwing Coffee Shop for a wonderful arrangement of gifts and curios or Chocolate etc. for jewellery, gifts and divine Belgian chocolates!
Accommodation wise Swellendam has several hotels and B&B establishments, a municipal caravan park and plenty of other accommodation to choose from.
Places to Visit
Things to do and see
- Sulina Faerie Sanctuary
- The Berry Farm
- The Lavender Farm
- Bee Things
- Wildebraam Berry Estate
- Kunstehuijs Fine Art Gallery
- Bukkenburg Pottery Studio
- Star-gazing in Swellendam
- Rasondale Farm Stall
- Bontebok National Park
- Swellendam Hiking Trail
- Two Feathers Horse Trails
- NG Kerk Swellendam
- Drostdy Museum & Old Gaol
- SwellenMark Shopping Centre
- Swellendam Golf Course
Swellendam receives approximately 462 mm of rain annually with rainfall occurring throughout the year.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 15˚C and 28˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 5˚C and 18˚C.
There are daily flights into Cape Town International Airport, to the West of, and George Airport, to the East of Swellendam. Both Airports are approximately 205 km’s away via the N2. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
For a memorable three months in 1795, Swellendam was one of the capitals of the world. Its citizens, enraged at misrule by the Dutch East India Company, dismissed their magistrate, declared an independent republic and appointed a president.
Soon, however, the British occupied the Cape and the rebel republic which consisted of only twenty houses scattered along the valley of the Korenlands River, faded away.
After Cape Town and Stellenbosch, Swellendam was the third settlement to be established by the Dutch East India Company. Founded in 1747 and named after the governor, Hendrik Swellengrebel, and his wife, Helena ten Damme, the town lies in a handsome setting below the Clock Peaks of the Langeberg range. From some of these peaks, knowns east to west as Seven o'clock, Eight o'clock, Nine o'clock, Ten o'clock, Eleven o'clock, Twelve o'clock and One o'clock, the time can be told by the way the shadows fall from their summits.
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