During the time of the Dutch East India tenure at the Cape, the “Kompagnie” as it was known, despatched their representatives into the interior in order to trade with the local khoi people who inhabited these areas and to secure provisions such as timber from the forests. One of the well-known Khoi chiefs whom they traded with was Hessaqwas. In 1725, Jan Loots, one of the first 5 Heemraden of the Drostdy held “de Klippe Rivier gelegen aan de Bruintjies Rivier” on loan. This was the beginning of the story of Klippe Rivier, which originally stretched from the Bruintjies River in the west to the Langeberg Mountains in the East. Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa, is steeped in a fascinating and rebellious past.
In 1795, Swellendam declared itself a free Republic and became one of the capitals of the world for a brief moment in time, until the British occupation of the Cape a few weeks later brought the short-lived Republic to an end. Swellendam was settled by artisans, traders and wagon-makers and by the mid-19th Century, Swellendam was a thriving metropolis largely created by the mercantile firm of Barry and Nephews. They even issued their own bank notes. Some of the gracious homes built by the successful wainwrights as well as the Barry’s business complex have been preserved, such as Auld House. In 1875 a fire revaged the certre of the town, and the only building to survive was the Oefeningshuis. The other remaining old buildings are all situated near the western entrance of the town and on the opposite side of the river surrounding the Drostdy Museum. The Dutch Reformed Moederkerk built in 1911 is a magnificent eclectic blend of Gothic Renaissance, Baroque and vernacular Cape elements. Sadly, in 1974, Swellendam’s shady oak-lined main road together with many buildings of historical significance were sacrificed when the main road was widened. The Publicity Bureau has a leaflet, which lists the old buildings, “Swellendam’s Treasures”.
Each of the bedrooms at Klippe Rivier has been named after previous owners. The original “Waenhuis” and stables have been converted into six luxury bedrooms preserving much of the original ambience. Downstairs, three spacious bedrooms each have an open fireplace, dressing room and generous en-suite bathroom with separate shower and toilet. Three loft rooms upstairs are under thatch, offer mountain views and have private balconies. A secluded cottage is for the more romantic, with its own fireplace and private garden. All bedrooms are air-conditioned.
Relax at the salt water swimming pool under the African skies, and enjoy the company of owls in the oaks. Play a game of croquet. Enjoy watching the water birds from a peaceful bench at the water’s edge - two such well placed “hides” have been created. Take a good stroll to the gum trees at the top of the farm, and if you’re feeling energetic enough you can take the gravel road which leads to the Breede Rivier. Other activities can be arranged independently. Ask for directions and take a drive to the forests to walk in the woods. Swellendam offers canoe hire, golf, hiking trails, horse riding, glider flips and whale watching flights, mountain bike hire, as well as waterskiing.