Situated at the foot of the majestic Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam is the country’s third oldest magisterial district - after Cape Town and Stellenbosch. It was established around 1746, and today it’s one of the best-preserved towns in South Africa with regards to architecture and history. Lying just off the N2, Swellendam’s main artery of activity is the busy Voortrek Street.
The Drostdy Museum is located on Swellengrebel Street on the eastern side of town. This is the town’s main tourist icon with its historic buildings and rooms of antique displays. The side streets are leafy and tranquil and the iconic peaks of Eenuurkop, Tienuurkop, and Twaalfuurkop rise above the neighbourhoods.
Across the mountain slopes behind town, the Marloth Nature Reserve offers hiking trails through the fynbos. Nearby the Bontebok National Park straddles the Breede River and protects both the flora and fauna of the area. Besides outdoor pursuits there are some top class restaurants, and liqueur tasting in the Hermitage Valley.
Look out for
The Drostdy Museum - was once home to the original magistrate in 1747 and is dominated by beautiful yellowwood fittings and displays of antique furniture. It’s part of the greater museum complex that includes an Ambagswerf (trades yard), and rose garden.
Architecture - the best way to appreciate the history and architecture of the town is to get the historical walk info from the tourist office.
Faerie sanctuary - Swellendam is also well-known for this unusual attraction, which is much-loved by children and adults alike.
Wildebraam Liqueurs - their liqueur range includes youngberry, honey, hazelnut, and rooibos.
Bontebok National Park - just 5km south of Swellendam, this is the smallest of South Africa’s National Parks. In addition to the bontebok the park is also home to Cape mountain zebra, red hartebeest, grey rhebuck, and Cape grysbok, as well as 200 bird species. The chalets and campsite are situated near the banks of the Breede River, with lovely swimming, canoeing and fishing in the deep pools of the river.
Marloth Nature Reserve - This nature reserve conserves a huge chunk of the Langeberg Mountains behind the town. Vegetation is predominantly mountain fynbos with small patches of afro-montane forest in the kloofs, and state pine forest on the slopes. Besides the scenery the big attractions of the reserve are the various hiking and mountain biking trails. The 6-day, 80km Swellendam Hiking Trail is a good challenge. Day visitors are welcome.