Last week two friends asked me what we would do if we were heading to the town of Swellendam for the weekend. Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, there is lots of lovely history and a walk down main street is really a journey back in time.
First stop on a visit to Swellendam is a wander through town to get your bearings… An architectural step back into history, and plenty of lovely places to stop for country feasts, ranging from terrific teas and coffees, to five star dinners, and everything in-between. There are also heaps of galleries and studios to visit and craft shops to explore. A quick browse will show you that Swellendam is one of those small towns with so many things going on a weekend is hardly enough time to spend there.
Se7en Fun Things to Do in Swellendam
- The Bontebok National Park: This would be an absolute must visit on our list. The Bontebok National Park was specially established to protect the endangered species, the Bontebok. Numbers of Bontebok have grown from a mere seventeen to a global count of 3000. You can explore the Fauna and flora of the park here, and you can download a birding checklist here. There is lots to do in this park: walking trails, mountain biking, swimming and there are picnic and braai facilities too. You can download the park map and information sheet here.
- The Drostdy Museum: If you are looking for living history then you have found it. This is a step back in time and you can wander from building to building and exhibit to exhibit… ou can visit the mill and out door oven, a charcoal kiln, a smithy, and a wagonmaker’s as well as many other vintage displays, that would have been essential to country life two hundred years ago. This is definitely not a look but don’t touch kind of museum, but rather one where you can watch folk performing their tasks of the day and experience life in the olden times simply by wandering around. There is also a store, a restaurant and a tea-room, where you can buy Drostdy flour and other gifts goodies to take home with you and remember your visit by. A visit here will take a good part of a day… it is the kind of place you want to linger a little and amble from site to site.
- Rain Spa: Swellendam is the home of the local beauty company Rain. And nothing and I mean nothing, would stop me from visiting them if I was traveling through Swellendam for a weekend. Just to meet their fabulous friendly staff and buy some of their wonderful locally sourced, completely natural, bath and beauty products. You can also linger a little longer in their spa and treat yourself to a massage… just saying. The company supports the local community, is Fair Trade and Cruelty Free. I have loved Rain products for ever, they are the perfect gift, and after recently spending a day out with them, I love them so much more!!!
- The Wilderbraam Berry Estate: Because berry picking and a picnic in the country sounds like about the best thing to do when heading out of town. There is also a tasting room packed with yummy preserves and jams… and delicious treats to take home with you to savour long after your weekend away is over.
- Sulina’s Fairie Sanctuary: I don’t think my girls would pass up a visit to a magical fairy garden, not to mention it would provide them with tons of inspiration for decorating their own garden back home.
- Chocolat Etc: one thing South African’s appear to love as they travel from small town to small town… is to eat. And there is a wide variety of wonderful eateries in Swellendam… but if you have survived hot kids asking: “Are we there yet?” for a number of hours… then this would be the place to stop for a little treat… for everyone’s sake. Beautiful, beautiful chocolates… of the must stop and linger and look around variety.
- Marloth Nature Reserve: The one thing my family would need after hours of sitting in a car to get there… would be a walk in the countryside. Right on the edge of town is the extensive Marloth Nature Reserve, which falls under the Cape Nature branch of reserves. It has a wide range of walks from short 2km trails to epic hikes, there is something for everyone and lots to see, forests, rock pools to paddle or swim in, waterfalls… picnicking. One way to totally get away from it all. You can download the reserve brochure at this link.
That’s it… Plenty of plans for a weekend away in the country and while I am always tempted to find a spot to read a good book, there is so much to do here, to draw one out on an adventure and I would have to spend the entire weekend exploring.