Situated halfway between Cape Town and George on the N2, Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa, founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1745. Situated at the foot of the Langeberg mountains, the town is known for its beauty, architecture and history. In days gone by Swellendam served as a refreshment station on the long slow journey up the coast; today this tradition continues as visitors are offered warm hospitality, rest and relaxation on their travels. The town offers a variety of accommodation, from luxury guest houses to chalets, camping facilities and self-catering cottages on farms in the area.
Don’t miss the following attractions:
• At Rooiklip Nursery geologist and environmentalist Jaap Viljoen has taken a hobby to new heights: he has around 20000 aloes as well as a few thousand cycads and clivias. In aloe flowering season the exhibition centre is overflowing with colour.
• The Drostdy Museum is packed with all the paraphernalia of life back in the 18th century. In the garden round the back you will find a collection of smithies, tanners and tradesmen's workshops.
• At the Old Gaol coffee shop, a community project, you can watch bread baking over hot coals in the garden or sample the delicious traditional menu with a trendy twist.
• In November and December you can pick berries at Wildebraam, the youngberry estate in the Hermitage Valley, or try their tempting liqueurs.
• For a different experience you can do a Ubuhle Besintu cultural township tour with Meisie Bokwana (call 084 775 1269).
• Just minutes from Swellendam, the Marloth Nature Reserve offers magical walks to waterfalls, indigenous forests or the regal Langeberg Mountains which tower over Swellendam.
Swellendam Tourism Bureau
Tel: +27 (0) 28 514 2770
Mossel Bay is a coastal village and harbour conveniently placed halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on the Garden Route. This popular holiday destination offers sunbathed beaches and the refreshing waters of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a gentle climate all year round, it’s perfect as a peaceful winter retreat or a lively summer holiday.
The Portuguese explorers Bartholomew Dias and Vasco da Gama were the first Europeans to drop anchor in the bay late in the 15th century. It became a useful place for ships to stop because there was fresh water available and the local inhabitants were open to bartering. In 1601 the Dutch navigator, Paulus van Caerden, called it Mossel Bay as he discovered the culinary delight of mussels. Today mussels harvested in Mossel Bay are rated by gourmets among the finest in the world.
Mossel Bay provides rich stimulus for history enthusiasts with many intriguing historical buildings, museums and artefacts testifying to its roles as harbour and nature kingdom. If you would like to see the life-size replica of the Caravel, the ship which transported Bartholomew Dias into the bay, visit the Maritime Museum. Another popular attraction is the 800 year old Post Office: it was here, in 1500, that Pedro dAtaide left a letter in a seaman’s boot for passing ships. For spectacular views visit the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse.
Mossel Bay will beckon your daring side with a wide variety of adventure options such as shark cage diving, ship wreck diving, surfing, snorkelling, power boating, horse riding, abseiling, and bungi or bridge diving.
Mosselbay Tourism Bureau
Tel (044) 691-2202
George is situated on a 10 kilometre plateau between the Outeniqua Mountains to the north and the Indian Ocean to the South. It is ideally placed, as the centre of the Garden Route, to explore the vibrant and scenic wonders of the area. As befits the largest town in the region, you will find a range of sophisticated amenities: accommodation, banks, conference facilities, shopping malls, transport and sporting facilities.
The superlative beaches of Herold’s Bay, Victoria Bay and Wilderness, and the world-renowned hiking in the Outeniqua Mountains are all within a few kilometres of George. The town itself boasts many historical landmarks: the Slave Tree, an ancient oak planted by Landdrost van Kervel, has a huge chain and lock embedded in the trunk where slaves were attached; and the King Edward VII library is an outstanding example of Edwardian architecture. The Outeniqua Transport Museum houses a superb collection of different modes of transport, but especially old trains, many of which you will never be able to see anywhere else.
If you are an art lover, the Cape Palette Art Gallery is a must see. It accommodates a huge range of different artists’ work in a gallery which is spacious, airy and filled with natural light to complement the work.
At Redberry Farm you can enjoy a number of activities in gorgeous, natural surroundings: pick strawberries, board the mini train for a ride through strawberry fields, ride a pony, explore the giant maze and enjoy bumper boats.
An easy hike, ideal for children, is the circular Forest Buzzard Trail starting at Witfontein Forestry Station. It meanders through pine plantations and indigenous forest and features a waterfall, a wonderful place to picnic and soak up the quiet.
George Tourism Office
Tel: 044 801 9299
Wilderness is set between the Kaaimans River and the Goukama Nature Reserve, bordered by the majestic Outeniqua Mountains and surrounded by many rivers, lakes and lagoons. The evocative, endless, unspoilt beaches are ideal for long walks, shell collecting, fishing or swimming, making it a nature lover’s haven and internationally recognised holiday destination. The climate is wonderful all year round, temperatures hardly ever dropping below 8°C.
For water sport enthusiasts, there is a 2500 ha National Park with five rivers, five lakes, two estuaries and 18km of coastline. Bird watchers are also catered for with the diverse range of water birds that breed here. Other options for holiday makers include hiking, dolphin and whale-watching, hang-gliding, paragliding, horse riding, mountain-biking, scenic drives, Wilderness Lakes Art Route, and ferry cruises. To add to its allure, Wilderness also offers craft markets selling beautiful, locally crafted items.
Don’t miss the famous "Map of Africa Viewpoint" for a breathtaking vista of the Kaaimans River Valley. Another great viewpoint is Dolphin Point which offers a magnificent view of endless ocean and regular sightings of dolphins and whales. The Kaaimans River Bridge is a well known spot for photographers wanting to capture the natural splendour and the Outeniqua Tjoe-Choo as it passes over the ocean on its journey between George and Knysna. The Woodville Tree, thought to be about 800 years old, is another attraction in the area and a favourite picnic spot.
Wilderness Tourism Info
Tel +27 44 877 0045
Sedgefield is a laid-back village mingling salty sea air with the fresh fragrance of pine trees. With four unspoiled beaches it offers a variety of water sports, from swimming to fishing, boating, canoeing, windsurfing, waterskiing, and sailing. At the same time it provides the bird watcher with a wealth of varied and amazing bird species found within the different eco-systems; enjoy the many hiking trails and bird hides established for this purpose.
If you’re a keen photographer, Gerickes Point will keep you riveted with intriguing rock formations.
Sedgefield is a paradise for paragliders, with no shortage of spectacular flight spots.
This unique rustic village is famous for the award winning Wild Oats Community Farmers’ Market (held every Saturday) where you can experience delicious local produce, vibrant atmosphere and good conversation.
Sedgefield Tourism Info
Tel: +27443432658 / +27443432007
Knysna is a much sought after holiday destination, situated between verdant forests and a peaceful lagoon opening between two spectacular rugged sandstone cliffs known as the Heads. The Knysna Lagoon is one of the few places in the world that supports an oyster hatchery, and the oysters are considered among the tastiest in the world.
With many hiking trails to choose from, you can lose yourself in the breathtaking wilderness of the Knysna forests amid age-old yellowwood trees and the famous Knysna Loerie. This is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa, bounteous growth comprising tall and ancient trees, ferns, creepers and colourful wild flowers. Once home to great herds of Knysna Elephants, very few remain today.
In earlier times Kynsna was the centre of the timber industry in South Africa, supplying yellowwood and stinkwood for railway lines, shipping and house-building. Today you can still find many shops specializing in woodwork and traditional furniture.
If you are curious about the past, visit the fascinating Materolli Museum depicting the Millwood Gold Rush of 1876. A mining village sprang up to accommodate the miners and today you can see the fascinating ruins in the Millwood Mining Village ghost town. You can even go on a guided tour of the main Bendigo Mine -up to30m underground. Enjoy a tranquil picnic afterwards at Jubilee Creek, the exact spot where gold was discovered.
Buffalo Bay is the closest beach to Knysna, safe for swimming and a great angling spot. There is also a small slipway available for small boats.
Knysna Tourism Bureau
044 382 5510