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Swellendam Snapshot

Squeezed between drop-dead-gorgeous mountain scenery and the N2, Swellendam (230km from Cape Town) is a historic town of oak-lined side streets, whitewashed homesteads, gables, gateways and other bits and pieces from the past. The town has a less eventful present than it does an eventful past – for a brief period, a mere three months, it was an independent rebel republic with its own president after the locals became gatvol with the way things were being run. Then, in 1865, at the peak of Swellendam’s golden years as a frontier of civilisation, the town was practically razed by an accidental fire that broke out in a bakery.

Things To Do

  • Swellendam is a playground of outdoor possibility that includes walking, hiking, birdwatching and mountain biking in the beautiful Marloth Nature Reserve and Langeberg Mountains, and canoeing and fishing on the Breede River and nearby Buffeljags Dam. The Marloth Nature Reserve offers a variety of day trails and the six-day Swellendam Trail, which traverses most of the reserve.
     
  • The Drostdy Museum, the ostentatious Dutch Reformed Church, Mayville (a period house depicting Victorian existence in the platteland), and Rheenendal Mill are all worth a visit for history’s sake. Both the Drostdy and Rheenendal have restaurants – a suitable enticement for culture-phobes. Swellendam’s backstreets are also worth trawling for fine examples of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture. 
     
  • With approximately 100-and-counting guesthouses to feed off, Swellendam offers a good choice of restaurants. Housed in an amazing building, The Old Gaol Coffee Shop is our current favourite; try the roosterkoek with youngberry jam and cheese, it’s addictive. A few doors down, La Belle Alliance is a cool outdoor venue set to the sounds of a gurgling stream and foreign accents. For dining at night, cultured yokels recommend Roosje van De Kaap and The Connection – when we were there the latter had no menu, instead platters filled with whatever happens to be going on the day. Mattsens is popular among thickset local farmers and other heavy-duty carnivores – besides chunks of red meat, pizzas and fish are on the menu.
     
  • Swellendam is a convenient base for day trips to the Bontebok National Park, De Hoop and Grootvadersbosch nature reserves, Tradouws Pass, the pont at Malgas, Witsand (fishing and whales), and the Breede River Valley (wine routes).
Getaways in and around Swellendam
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From
R300pp

Berry Cottages @ Wildebraam

Swellendam, Western Cape

Self-catering cottage, garden suite and two loft-style apartments on a youngberry farm in the Hermitage Valley - 2km from Swellendam

Whether for a comfortable and convenient overnight stay or a full romantic weekend of it, Wildebraam is a failsafe option for either individuals, couples or small families. An enterprising berry farm...

From
R250pp

Bibi's Joy

Swellendam, Western Cape

'Rustic-modern' solar powered cottage in a secluded setting outside Suurbraak village - Suurbraak (20km from Swellendam)

Let’s set the tone with a recent guest comment: “If you need peace and tranquility away from the city bustle, this is the place to go. Rustic, comfortable, serene... after one day you don'...

From
R250pp

Lismore Farm

Swellendam, Western Cape

Historic farm near Suurbraak village, with a basic cottage overlooking a river - 25km from Swellendam

Barring the odd bark or human voice floating on the breeze from the tiny mission village of Suurbraak, Lismore is cut off from civilisation as we usually know it, and the setting is as natural as they...

From
R300pp

Frog Mountain Getaway

Swellendam, Western Cape

Self-catering luxury guest farm offering 3 family thatched rondavels, Nguni Cottage, Willow Lodge and Sam's Place - 18km from Swellendam

Frog Mountain is a popular family getaway, which we first came across in the form of a glowing review in The Big Issue. The farm is ideally appointed in a rural cul-de-sac; this means...

From
R200pp

Rivierplaas Cottages

Swellendam, Western Cape

Fruit farm on the Breede River with a timber cabin and a stone cottage - 16km from Swellendam

River House and Stone Cottage are secluded cottages appointed on a fruit farm along the banks of the Breede River. Both have a relaxed rustic personality suited to Budget weekenders with Huckleberry F...

From
R150pp

Die Hoenderhok & Plaashuisie

Swellendam, Western Cape

Small farm below the Langeberg with a pair of restored century-old cottages - 12km from Swellendam

Pastoral bliss and a skyline dominated by the jagged peaks of the Langeberg are surely sufficient reason for a stop-over near (12km) Swellendam? Be it a midway break between mother city and Garden Ro...

From
R250pp

The Fazenda Log Cabins

Swellendam, Western Cape

Large farm below the Langeberg, with two rustic timber chalets - 4km from Swellendam

Cue the banjo! "I wanna be a lumberjack, I wanna be a lumberjack..." Well, now's your chance! We haven't got out there yet, but judging by the glowing feedback The Fazenda sounds like the perfect ant...

From
R450pp

Diamant Guest Farm

Swellendam, Western Cape

Renovated four-bedroomed farm house with a swimming pool and mountain views - 25km from Swellendam

Newly renovated and neatly dressed to host eight happy weekenders, this well-appointed farmhouse on Diamant Guest Farm is circled by lawned gardens and an horizon broken only by the pretty Langeberg. ...

From
R340pp

Hermitage Huisies

Swellendam, Western Cape

Smallholding on the edge of town with four cottages - 2km from Swellendam

A picturesque smallholding just outside Swellendam, Hermitage Huisies has a certain quality that many guests find irresistible. There are four cottages, the original Rose Cottage, and its younger si...

From
R300pp

Die Stal

Swellendam, Western Cape

Restored milking shed in the Hermitage Valley outside Swellendam - 4km from Swellendam

The sweeping views from Die Stal towards Eenuurkop, Twaalfuurkop and Tienuurkop in Swellendam’s Hermitage Valley were once only appreciated by a few mooing cattle and their early morning milkers...

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