#swellenblog | The Beginning

Just after sunrise at Umshanti

Let’s be honest. What comes to mind when you hear the name ‘Swellendam’ mentioned? I had some preconceived ideas about the place before I went, and I’m sure many of you have the same ideas – “Oh yes, I know that place. It’s those little towns you sometimes stop over at the Wimpy on the way to the coast. It’s cute, but we weren’t there for very long and once you’ve seen one Wimpy you’ve seen them all right?’. I quickly learned that judging a whole region of towns on the inside of a Wimpy is not fair. Then again, what else is there judge the place by? There are no other franchise fast food places. Personally, I think that counts in their favour, don’t you?


I'm sure this is where Windows gets there wallpapers.

When Amanda Shackley (of Swellendam Tourism) invited a broad range of bloggers to tour Swellendam under the banner of #swellenblog, to promote local tourism, I jumped at the opportunity to explore and escape of the hustle and bustle of Cape Town for a few days. The itinerary was overwhelming – armed with the knowledge that you will be spending your days with 8 (almost complete) strangers in reasonably close proximity – didn’t add to my comfort levels. Either this trip would be fantastic fun or it could turn into a nightmare. I think it says a lot about trip that by the end we all felt a bit like family.

With friendly horses in Suurbrack, you can't be further from "hustle and bustle"

Just looking at this you start to realise why this place has the lowest crime rate in SA.

The Swellendam “Republic” consists of Buffeljagsrivier, Infanta, Malgas, Stormsvlei, Suurbraak, Swellendam, and Barrydale (which seems odd considering it is part of the Karoo, on the other side of a mountain range). This post, and I’m sure the ones to follow, has been difficult for me to write. I really enjoy sharing fantastic experiences and places with people, but when you find a gem, you almost want to keep it to yourself, build a little log cabin, and tell people “Nothin’ to see ‘ere folks, keep movin’ along.”

You can find interesting little spots like Pennant-Wing, where everything is a little quirky but delicious.

And there are quite a few people trying something different, like Sijnn {pronounced "sane"} that are the only winery in Malgas, and grow their vines on very rocky land.

You see that rocky patch on the right? Those are the vines! They produce some amazing varietals like Nebbiolo, and Viogner.

It seems to be quite a few people feel the same way and has become a magnet for foreigners that stopped over for a cup of coffee while driving through, and ended up buying a property and living there. I joke not, this is a story I heard at least three times on my short five day stay there. That being said, there are people that will proudly tell you they have lived in Swellendam for their entire lives, and are the fourth and fifth generation to do so.

De Hoop Nature reserve showing off a little for us.

Our itinerary was packed, probably slightly overly so, and there were a few sights we didn’t get a chance to see that would have loved to see like the Bee Farm (although I did buy some Orange Blossom and Onion Blossom honey, and it is ridiculously good stuff!), Bontebok Nature Reserve, and the Fairy Sanctuary – I am not a fan of fairies but when four or five different sources look at you with wide eyes and a slight grin and mutter “Go see the Fairy Sanctuary.”, it intrigues me.

Gaikou Lodge- What a great place to recharge our batteries

There's so much space, and so much to do from fishing to horse riding.

Right behind Gaikou Lodge you can go horse riding in Marloth Nature Reserve. Ok no more horses in this post, I promise.

I couldn’t possibly do justice to all we saw and experienced – but I hope to share a little of it with you, here. You can look forward to reading a little more about Umshanti AdventuresDe Hoop Nature ReserveGaikou LodgeDe CompanjieDiesel and Creme and Van Loveren.

They call this the Sugar Bridge. That's because they literally used Sugar to build it.

 Some more pictures of Umshanti - Microlight flight changed my life, as did the EPIC fufi slide.

Every good place needs a happy pet to greet you. I never knew his name but the hound was a great part-time pet.

 Wildebraam Berry Estate, is a great place to taste authentic liqueurs, relishes, preserves, and jams. The Youngberry preserve is my favourite. No, the piquante preserve was my favourite. No, wait, the chilli chocolate liqueur... 

 And they have cows, and every good story needs cows happily ruminating in the background

Writing this post has brought back to mind how incredibly much there is to see and do and experience there, no wonder some people stop there on the way to some where else and never getting to that final destination.

Signing off till next time, 
Luke.

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