The Best Things to do around Swellendam: De Hoop NR & Bontebok NP

The best things to do around Swellendam: De Hoop Nature Reserve & Bontebok

On your way to the Garden Route we recommend it to take a couple days in the Swellendam area. This is a beautiful area that is often overlooked by tourist. It contains two national parks, and one of the most beautiful and oldest villages in the western cape.

The best things to do around Swellendam (summary):

  • Visit the Bontebok NP for a picnic, swim or walk.
  • Spend a day or two in De Hoop National Park to go hiking or whale watching.
  • Watch the sunset on the mountain range.
  • A day trip to the most southern point of Africa: Cape Arulhas.
  • Visit the Marloth Nature Reserve

It's a great option to include Swellendam in your 5-day garden route itinerary.

Bontebok at the Hoop nature reserve next to swellendam

Bontebok's at de Hoop Nature Reserve close to Swellendam

Swellendam a pitoresk town in the Western Cape

During our South African road trip, we spent three days in the charming town of Swellendam before heading to the Garden Route. We booked a highly-rated B&B (Mountain View 9.5/10) through that exceeded our expectations. It is a well-done mid-budget accommodation with a beautiful garden full of sunbirds and bee-eaters. You can opt-in for the cottage with a jacuzzi! The owner was organized and welcoming, and we even received freshly-baked cookies in our room. It was the perfect place to stay during our travels.  As the B&B also has an indoor braai - it's also a great option if you are staying in Swellendam in winter or while it's raining.

B&B Mountainview Lodge in Swelledanm
B&B Mountainview Lodge indoor braai for winter staying n Swellendam

Left the cottage with private jacuzzi. Right the indoor braai open for all guests of the B&B Mountainview Lodge in Swellendam

What are the best things to do around Swellendam?

  • Visit the Bontebok NP for a picnic, swim or walk.
  • Spend a day or two in De Hoop National Park to go hiking or whale watching.
  • Watch the sunset on the mountain range.
  • A day trip to the most southern point of Africa: Cape Agulhals.
  • Visit the Marloth Nature Reserve

Is Swellendam worth a visit?

Swellendam is the 5th oldest town in South Africa. This results in beautiful buildings with a historical centre. The city is at the edge of the wine region and the garden route. Which makes it a great stop to explore the regions.

Is it safe to stay in Swellendam?

Yes, it's completely safe to stay in Swellendam. We recommend taking a B&B close to the centre so you can explore the village on foot.


The smallest national park in the whole of South Africa. As the name reveals, it’s the home of the endangered Bontebok. The park was founded with the main goal of protecting the Bontebok from extinction and thankfully, this approach is working! The population of wild Bontebok has grown in this area (not only the park) from 17 to 2000. You can go on a nice 5.5km walk along the Breede River to spot these antelopes in their natural habitat. This is also a great place in summer for a swim or a nice braai. It's a very small park, and there is very little game (e.g. zebra's, ostriches).

 The entrance fee to BonteBok National Park  is R150 for foreigners, R75 for SADC and R50 for South African citizen. Entrance to the Bontebok National park is free with the Wildcard. 

The Bontebok national park Breede rivier

The Breede rivier in the Bontebok National Park. You can explore the bush trail along the river bends.

Is it the best place to spot Bontebok's? We don't think so. Because that will bring us to the next stop.

De Hoop National reserve

One of the highlights of our trip through South Africa was visiting De Hoop National Park. In the park, you can make beautiful hikes on the big sand dunes while spotting whales in the meantime. But, we particularly liked it, because we could camp unfenced in this park! We had the most lovely neighbour's here visiting our camp regularly, such as bonteboks, zebras, mongoose baboons, and ostriches. Plus, many many birds!


Unfortunately, we experienced a stormy night at Good Hope with loud wind and rain, and figured out that our rooftop tent was leaking.. After too many drops on our heads, we eventually abandoned the tent and slept for a bit longer in the front seats of our car (not ideal, but it worked). Thanks to the heavy amount of rain, we had our first mud-driving experience in Zazu the next day. Despite the rough night, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Good Hope National Park!


If you want to sleep in de Hoop Nature Reserve you will have to book via the official Sanparks website. Entrance is free with the wild card.

The famous Bontebok's grazing close to the camping lodge in De Hoop Nature Reserve. The camping itself is unfenced as there are no large predators in the park.

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