Situated in the Western Cape province, Swellendam has been used as a gateway between Cape Town and the South African interior and the Garden Route since the 1500's.
The historical town is the third oldest in the Republic of South Africa with over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture.
Rich in heritage, it remains a popular stop over, allowing travellers the opportunity to relax and recharge. It is resting between the Langeberg Mountains and the N2 highway, approximately 240km from both Cape Town and George.
Swellendam is the perfect place to set up base camp and explore the surrounds of Cape Agulhas, Malgas, Buffeljachts and the Robertson, Barrydale, Ashton and Bonnievale wine routes or enjoy the variety of adventure activities on offer.
The region has a predominantly Mediterranean climate. There are long summer days in January and February. During February and March, summer draws to a close, with prevailing South Easter winds. April and May are autumnal months, with milder days and occasional showers. June and July bring the Cape winter, with mild weather, rain and possible snow on the mountain tops. August and September are the start of spring.
Fauna and flora
Three nature reserves are situated near Swellendam, Marloth Nature Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Bontebok National Park. Bontebok National Park is where the rare bontebok was protected when it was close to extinction. The population has increased from 17 individuals in 1931 to a sustainable number today.
The area is botanically diverse with an abundance of wild flowers and fynbos. The 250ha indigenous forest at Grootvadersbosch is the most noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Woods like these are rare to find in the Cape this far west of the Knysna forests.
Wildlife such as the formerly endangered bontebok and Cape mountain zebra inhabit the area. Other species include bushbuck, klipspringer, grey rhebuck, Cape grysbok, baboon, mongoose, genet and the occasional leopard, as well as a species of ghost frog and a unique forest emperor butterfly. Over 200 bird species found near the town include waterfowl, the crowned eagle, black eagle, Narina trogon, paradise flycatcher and the Knysna woodpecker.
Witsand, a small coastal town about 50 km from Swellendam is one of the best whale viewing spots on the South coast. The town is situated at the foot of the Langeberg.