Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, boasting a range of exciting attractions. It features over 50 national monuments and is the largest youngberry growing region in the world. Enjoy berry picking, liqueur tastings, and a variety of historical outings. Browse our list of fantastic Swellendam accommodations.
Swellendam, named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel (the first South African born governor) and his wife Helena Ten Damme, was founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1745. However, the residents, who were frustrated at the inadequacies of the company, revolted and declared themselves a Republic in 1795, with Hermanus Steyn as President (the first to be appointed this title in South Africa). The Republic was short-lived due to the arrival of British settlers who soon turned Swellendam into a profitable commercial empire, acting as a refreshment station to merchants travelling up the coast. In June 2011, the Swellendam Municipality area (which includes Barrydale, Suurbraak, Malgas, Infanta, and Stormsvlei) re-declared itself a Republic; one dedicated to the principles of the New South Africa; celebrating rural life, racial harmony, and respect for nature and wildlife.
Today Swellendam is a prosperous agricultural area, known for its Mediterranean climate that makes it an ideal holiday destination all year round. A number of excellent accommodations, from guest houses to B&Bs, are available in Swellendam.
Swellendam has many historic buildings that serve as a reminder of its exciting past. Visitors should not miss a chance to visit The Drostdy Museum consisting of a collection of heritage sites, namely the Drostdy, the old Gaol, and Mayville House. The Drostdy, which served as the official residence of the magistrate of Swellendam, was one of the most important buildings in the town. You can also see Ambagswerf - an open air display of ancient tools and an old water mill. Visitors can enjoy refreshments such as “moer coffeeâ€, roosterkoek, and traditional breads at the coffee shop and art gallery.
Nature lovers will enjoy the plentiful nature reserves around Swellendam, including Marloth Nature Reserve, Sambona Wildlife Reserve, Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, and Bontebok National Park. Wildlife in Swellendam includes the endangered Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra as well as bushbuck, klipspringer, baboon, mongoose, and the occasional Leopard. Birding enthusiasts will marvel at over 200 species of birds, including waterfowl, eagles, Narina Trogon, Paradise Flycatcher, and the Knysna Woodpecker.
Swellendam is notably the largest youngberry growing region in the world, including farms such as Wildebraam Liqueur Farm and The Berry Farm, where one can enjoy tastings, cellar tours, and berry picking. Other activities to enjoy in Swellendam include lavender picking at the Lavender Farm, relaxing at Warmwaterberg Spa, whale watching in Witsand, golfing at Swellendam Golf Club, wine tasting along the Robertson Wine Valley, and canoeing along the Breede River. Don’t forget to visit the Kunstehuijs, Bukkenburg Pottery Studio, Sulina Faery Sanctuary, and Suurbraak Crafters.