Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, a town with 17,537 inhabitants situated in the Western Cape province. The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture. Swellendam is situated on the N2, approximately 220 km from both Cape Town and George. Wikipedia
Early travellers and explorers who visited the Cape in the 16th century traded with the Khoikhoi people who lived on these shores and in the interior. When the Dutch East India Company established a replenishment station at the Cape in 1652, trade continued inland as far as Swellendam.
In 1743 Swellendam was declared a magisterial district, the third oldest in South Africa, and was named after Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel, the first South African born Governor, and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. This outlying settlement soon became a gateway to the interior, and was visited by many famous explorers and travellers including François Le Vaillant (1781), Lady Anne Barnard (1798), William John Burchell (1815) and Thomas William Bowler (1860). In time, a village was established beyond the Drostdy, where artisans including numerous wainwrights and traders settled. Swellendam was the last outpost of Dutch civilisation on the eastern frontier and thus the services of the residents of the town were of utmost importance.
Famous pioneer families of Swellendam
Some of the well known families that settled in the region and have stayed for decades are the Barry family, the Moodies from Scotland, the Steyns, the Streicher family, the van Eedens, the Rothmanns, the Tomlinson and the Dunn family. Both Johannes Brand and Francis Reitz spent childhood time in the same Cape Dutch house in Swellendam. Both became presidents of the Orange Free State.
Climate in Swellendam
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 in Swellendam
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 as it is the largest whale nursery in South Africa. The town is situated at the foot of the Langeberg, and there are many hiking trails, ranging from day-walks to a 5 to 7-day trail.
Agriculture in Swellendam
Read more about Swellendam here, on Wikipedia