Swellendam, founded in 1743, is the third oldest town in South Africa and huddles at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains. The town dates from the time when the Dutch East India Company selected the Breede River valley as an administrative centre. It is named for the then Dutch Governor of the Cape, Hendrik Swellengrebel, and his wife Helena ten Damme.
Adventure And Sport
River-rafting, canoeing: Water-sport enthusiasts enjoy river-rafting and canoeing on the Breede River.
Swellendam Hiking Trail: The six-day, 81-km circular Swellendam Trail is one of the best trails in the province and runs through the Breede River Bird Sanctuary.
Fauna And Flora
Bontebok National Park: Six kilometres from Swellendam lies the smallest national park in South Africa, the Bontebok National Park. It was created to protect the then endangered bontebok. In 1960 a total of 61 bontebok were transferred here and since then their numbers have steadily increased. Cape mountain zebra and red hartebeest were also reintroduced to the reserve. Several footpaths traverse the park, offering regular glimpses of the many birds in the area. Swimming, fishing and camping are allowed in the park.
Marloth Nature Reserve: This botanists’ paradise is situated along the Langeberg Mountains and is home to many species of fynbos and wild flowers.
History And Architecture
Buildings: The oak-lined avenues of Swellendam contain many old buildings, most of which date back to the eighteenth century.
Dutch Reformed Church: One of the architectural jewels of the town is the Dutch Reformed Church whose unusual architectural features often leave visitors dumbstruck.
Old Drostdy: The Old Drostdy, in Cape Dutch style, was built in 1747 and houses furniture and other priceless memorabilia from the early days of Swellendam.
Old Gaol: The second oldest building in Swellendam is the Old Gaol.
Rheenendal Mill: The mill has been restored and houses a restaurant.