Swellendam is a lovely little mountainous town in the Overberg region of South Africa. Often overlooked by travellers passing through on their way to the Garden Route or down to Cape Town, Swellendam really should be considered a destination in it’s own right and has much more to offer than a convenient refueling stop. Cape Tonians are beginning to consider Swellendam for their weekend getaways, and for good reason! There has been a rise in cute mountain cabins in the region as well as gorgeous lodges and unique stays. There is a thriving foodie scene and plenty of natural beauty on offer. Swellendam should be next on your South Africa bucket list!
What to do in Swellendam
Go for a hike at Marloth Nature Reserve
Marloth Nature Reserve is a lesser known gem in Swellendam. It’s a gorgeous Nature Reserve located just above the town. There are day trails, multi-day hiking trails, waterfalls, indigenous forests, fynbos mountain slopes and gorgeous vistas. Whether you pop in for a quick 2km hike up to the Duiwelsbos Waterfall or try conquer one of the epic multi-day hikes, visiting Marloth Nature Reserve HAS to be on your agenda when you come to Swellendam.
Marloth Nature Reserve Day Hikes
Plaat West 8.9km
Plaat loop 12.2km
Plaat Appelsbos loop 20.8km
Duiwelsbos waterfall 2km
Koloniesbos loop 2km
Appelsbos loop 11.6km
Tienuurkop loop 9.6km
Maps are available at the office and entry costs R50 per day visitor (card facilities available). We did the Duiwelsbos waterfall hike and it was beautiful. A short but steep walk up through the forest to a waterfall.
Marloth Nature Reserve Multi-day Hikes
The Swellendam Hiking Trail is a 5 day, 4 night multi-day hike. The hike begins at Marloth Nature Reserve office and traverses the Southern Slopes to Boskloof and then to Goedgeloof, Protea Valley and Wolfkloof. There are huts with bunks beds, mattresses, primitive toilets, and water taps at some of the huts. The hike is a tough one and should only be attempted by fit hikers. The Swellendam hiking trail prices start at R1,270 per person. Hikes can be booked through the Marloth Nature Reservations Office: 0870878250
Check out the surrounding canola fields during August
During August the Overberg region turns bright yellow as the fields and fields of canola begin to bloom. The result is something quite magnificent! Make sure to stop over on the side of the road to snap a pic of the gorgeous yellow canola fields. Read my Spring Flowers in Cape Town Guide for more tips on the best places to find wild flowers near Cape Town in spring.
Go berry picking at Wildebraam Berry Estate
Looking for a fun activity while in Swellendam? Check out Wildbraam Berry Farm for a morning of berry picking. Berry season starts mid November and runs till the end of December. They supply a bucket for picking or you can bring your own. You are welcome to purchase the bucket and lid afterward to take home at a rate of R12 for the medium and R17 for the large. Once you have done your picking they weigh the berries and invoice accordingly after packing in zip lock bags. (Blackberries R40 /kg and Youngberries R50 /kg).
During peak season you do not have to make a reservation to go berry picking, you can just arrive. They suggest that you visit early in the morning as the berries are firm and it is not too hot. Remember sun screen and your hat.
Monday- Friday 7:30-16:00
Sunday 8:45- 13:00
R25 entrance adults, R15 children entrance
You can also stay on the farm in their suites and studios. Book here.
Under the Oaks Market
Under the Oaks is a weekly Saturday market happening just behind the Grace + Merci restaurant. Visit for local arts and crafts and locally produced food and beverages. There is live music on the riverbank – from well know artists to aspiring local talent. Dog and family friendly.
Visit the Fairy Sanctuary
My family has a holiday house on the Breede River near Swellendam so I grew up with many trips here. One of the absolute highlights as a little girl was visiting the Swellendam Fairy Sanctuary. This magical place hidden in the forest is a mystical fairy wonderland. It’s perfect for kids!
Check out some of the Swellendam Foodie Spots
For a small town the foodie scene in Swellendam is surprisingly buzzing. There are loads of different restaurants to choose from but here are my top recommendations.
Grace & Merci
My favourite foodie spot in Swellendam is Grace + Merci. It’s a beautiful countryside restaurant serving up delicious brekkie, brunch and lunch dishes. Our favourites are their roosterkoek open sandwiches and the eggs benny is really good too! Enjoy a summer meal under their beautiful oak trees or from inside one of their breezy and bright rooms. Be sure to go check out their shop downstairs which has gorgeous boutique & luxury items.
Swellendam Country Deli
The Swellendam Country Deli serves a really good coffee and has lots of wonderful deli items on sale including artisanal breads, farm fresh cheese, rusks and eggs. They also have a gorgeous little flower shop section with beautiful fresh flowers and even tulip bulbs.
Ikigai Coffee Bar
I haven’t been here but apparently the bagels, sandwiches and coffee are top notch.
The Conservatory at Schoone Oordt
If you’re looking for something a little more fancy then check out the beautiful Conservatory at Schoone Oordt Country House. They serve up a 3 course brunch set in their gorgeous conservatory. You can also stay at Schoone Oordt which looks luxurious and wonderful – book here.
Where to stay in Swellendam
Swellendam town has plenty of cute guesthouses and BnBs. However, there has recently been a rise in cool cabin stays in the surrounding Swellendam area.
The Gaia Sanctuary
We were lucky enough to collaborate with The Gaia Sanctuary during our trip to Swellendam, which is located a 20 minute drive from Swellendam along the banks of the Breede River. They offer glamping bell tents and camping decks as well as the star of the show: their A-Frame cabin. It has a double bed upstairs and two single beds at the bottom. It is totally off the grid with river water, a composting loo and no electricity. The cabin has a wrap around deck with stunning views of the Breede River where you can sit for hours reading your book, listening to the birds chirp in the trees or watch the sunset. Enjoy a weber braai or cook in their well-equiped kitchenette. Book your stay here.
EcoTreehouse is another gorgeous option close to Swellendam. They offer a luxury self-catering treehouse style cabin with a hot tub in the most tranquil natural setting. It is a 5 minute drive from Swellendam town offering easy accessibility for your serene retreat. Book your stay here.
Fazenda is a luxury lodge nestled in the mountains with 3 luxury cottages and a bespoke greenhouse. The setting looks absolutely idyllic with incredible mountain views. And staying in the greenhouse looks so dreamy! Book here.