Per's Swellendam Diary
The Hideaway in Swellendam South Africa

Things to do in Swellendam and the surrounding Overberg area


Things to do in Swellendam and around Swellendam, Western Cape, South Africa


Click to reveal map of numerous day trips around Swellendam
Nestling at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam has much to offer visitors who have an interest in history, nature and outdoor activities.

Situated on the N2, approximately 240km from both Cape Town and George, Swellendam is the perfect choice for a halfway stopover or as a base from which to explore the area.

Rainfall is spread over the year (55% winter and 45% summer). There is little wind and temperatures are moderate. There is no shortage of water and gardens are lush and luxuriant. The cost of living is reasonable and the town is clean and efficiently run.

The people are friendly and there is no political strife with a virtual absence of serious crime.

5 Fun Day Trips around Swellendam!

Route map of 5 different day trips you can take when you stay in Swellendam, including:
• Things to do in and around Swellendam
• A Karoo route, including Suurbraak, the Tradouw Pass and Barrydale
• Various routes to include the coast
• Wine & fruit growing route
See the map here

Local historical buildings in Swellendam

The third oldest town in South Africa, the shady oak-lined streets of Swellendam seem to groan with history.

Visit the Drostdy Museum, the old Gaol, the intricately built Dutch Reformed church that acts as a focal point of the town alongside a clutch of other historical national monuments - and all within just a few minutes' walk from the Hideaway.

See our page about Swellendam's interesting History
See more detail of things to do in Swellendam itself

A tranquil waterfall and plunge pool at Marloth

Marloth Nature Reserve

Just minutes from Swellendam, the wonderfully peaceful Marloth Nature Reserve boasts magical walks to waterfalls, indigenous forest and even allows you to go to the top of the majestic Langeberg Mountains which tower over Swellendam.

Visit the Marloth Nature Reserve website

Whale Watching

The coast just a short drive from Swellendam is one of - if not the - world's most famous whale watching areas.

From De Hoop to Witsand you can watch the once almost extinct Southern right whales breaching and splashing just a pebble's throw from the shore.

The months of September, October and November are the best whale watching months, but you are almost guaranteed of seeing whales throughout the winter.

The wild coastline at Hermanus
Photo: Mark Stevens


Visit the coastal town of Hermanus (only one hour and forty five minutes away).

Go Whale watching between August and November and watch out for the town's "Whale Crier" who, with the aid of a dried kelp horn, broadcasts the location of the latest sightings, or take a stroll on the sandy white beaches.

Betties Bay and beyond

On the R44 from Hermanus to Gordon's Bay lies the Kogelberg Nature Reserve which has more plant species per hectare than any other place on earth.

Many of these are spectacularly beautiful and extremely rare. Ask Stephen or Jackie to guide you to the best, and surely most generous, fish and chip lunch you'll ever have - a bustling, ramshackle corrugated iron restaurant called Hook Line and Sinker hidden away from the tourist spots in Pringles Bay.


Enjoy a round on the beautiful Swellendam Golf Course. As one guest recently commented, "the golf was spoilt a bit by the magnificent views".

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The shore at De Hoop
Photo: Jackie Young
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The hand-operated ferry at Malgas
Photo: Jackie Young

De Hoop Nature reserve

The Marine Nature Reserve at de Hoop is one of the best places in the world to view the Southern Right Whale, some 40% of the population of which come to de Hoop’s 23,000 hectare coastal reserve.

On land, the reserve is home to 86 mammal species including the occasional leopard, 1500 plant species, of which 108 are rare or threatened and more than 250 species of resident and migratory birds.

De Hoop has something to offer all manner of nature lovers, its 70km of rugged coastline and sheltered rock pools provide ideal swimming in addition to land based whale viewing.

Visitors can choose from a range of hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as guided interpretative fynbos and rock pool walks and birding excursions.

You can also cross the Breede River with the last hand operated ferry in Africa (Malgas)

Visit the De Hoop Nature Reserve website

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The rare bontebok
Photo: Jackie Young

Bontebok National Park

This 8000 hectare national park is home to the threatened Cape Mountain Zebra and Bontebok.

It boasts 196 different birds and 490 different plant species. The plants and flowers are at their best in April.

Enjoy a walk in the park, or as a guest of the Hideaway, you're offered a special tour around the Bontebok National Park with our previous owner Adin Greaves - who's written a book on the Park - at a discounted rate.

Visit the Bontebok National Park website

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Weltevrede on the Breede Valley Wine Route
Photo: Jackie Young

The Breede River Valley Wine Route

A few kilometres from Swellendam, a turning off the R60 takes you towards Bonnievale and through the beautiful Breede river valley, which is dotted with vineyards and tasting rooms.

Some have restaurants and there is even the opportunity to have a picnic by the banks of the river or on a short river cruise.

Longer boat trips are available with opportunities for swimming, bass fishing and bird watching from the boat, followed by a picnic or a braai in a delightful spot under the blue gum trees by the river. Please ask Stephen or Jackie for more details.

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The natural spring at the Van Loveren wine tasting garden.
Photo: Mark Stevens

Van Loveren Tasting Garden

Relax and enjoy wine tasting in a beautiful, shady garden with a history of its own (including a bubbling natural spring).

Van Loveren produces 23 different wines in its modern cellar.

It has a range of cultivars that has married well to this fertile valley with its robust undertone of lime.

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The Agulhas light house at Cape Agulhas
Photo: Jackie Young

Cape Agulhas

The southernmost town in Africa and the closest point to where the Indian and Atlantic oceans officially meet. L'Agulhas means needles in Portuguese.

This refers to the jagged rocks which claimed many ships due to the fact that the compass shows no magnetic deviation at this spot which led to fatal navigational errors.

Visit the Shipwreck museum and the Agulhas National Park with more than 1750 botanical species and a coastline supporting breeding sites for many rare birds such as the African Black Oyster Catcher.

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Fynbos on The Fynbos Road
Photo: Jackie Young

The Fynbos Road

Fynbos is the natural vegetation occurring in the Western Cape.

The Fynbos Road stretches for 100 kilometres from Agulhas National Park to the birding hotspot of Stanford, circumventing urban areas and meandering through peaceful rural landscapes.


The historic village of Elim situated halfway between Bredasdorp and Gaansbaai was founded by Moravian missionaries in 1824 and has been declared a National Heritage Site.

The vineyards of the Elim region on the Agulhas plain stretch south east of the village on the Fynbos Road. Its unique location has made it one of the newest and yet most exciting wine producing areas in the world.


Established in 1838, Napier is a beautiful little town that still retains much of its old world charm. It is fast gaining a reputation as an artist's community playing host to numerous cultural events. Along the main road you will find a host of art galleries and collectors shops including a toy museum.


Without a doubt, Montagu is the ultimate Breede river valley destination and arriving there through the Kogmanskloof gorge number among the most dramatic arrivals in the country.

Montagu is best known for its hot springs, but serious rock climbers come for its cliff faces which are regarded as among the country’s most challenging.

If you don’t feel like climbing, you can still reach the top of the Langeberg mountains on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a highly recommended 3 hour tractor ride from Protea Farm which can be booked for you by Stephen or Jackie. The views can be stunning.

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The scenic Tradauw Pass outside Swellendam.
Photo: Jackie Young

Tradouws Pass

If you are after a simply beautiful drive through rugged terrain then makes sure you take the 14 kilometre long Tradouws Pass between Swellendam and Barrydale.

It is so craggy and arduous that you will wonder how the pass originated. It was actually constructed in 1873 by a large gang of prisoners.

It is a truly breath taking drive.

Fishing and the Breede river

Enjoy a day's fishing in the Breede river or simply cruise past historical Infanta and one of the oldest lighthouses on the coast.

Opportunities for river rafting also exist through the faster flowing rapids areas. Learn about the local bird population, fishing resources and whales.

The Breede river estuary fishing is, and has always been, the best in South Africa. Please ask Stephen or Jackie for more details.

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A great place to a swim
Photo: Jackie Young


Visit the beautiful, almost-deserted beaches of Infanta, Witsand, Arniston and Struis Bay.