Being from Port Elizabeth (known as the friendly city), I know how to spot a friendly city or town. That being said I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcoming and friendliness that surrounds Swellendam. My weekend away at AfriCamps at Kam’Bati gave me not only the weekend break that I needed but also a bunch of happy, friendly faces who highlighted the welcoming energy of Swellendam.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and were greeted by Lize and Tanja who checked up on us to make sure that we had everything that we needed for the weekend. They also dropped by extra bags of wood for us since we knew we would be making use of the woodstove. However, in all my many weekends away with family and friends, there has always been a braai master around to make the fire and braai the meat. This time, there was none and this is the first time that I realized that I do not possess these skills
Lessons learnt from my first braai master/ fire making experience at AfriCamps at Kam’Bati in Swellendam:
- You need more than two pieces of firewood on the pile to successfully make a fire.
- Breaking off a small piece of fire-lighter and using that to make a fire is pointless!
- I would not survive life without Youtube and Google. (I google everything) No wifi meant that I couldn’t quickly Youtube a video to learn how to make a fire.
Thankfully Tanja was around to teach us how it is supposed to be done (This must mean that I am truly a Glamper and not a Camper). She broke it down into simple steps and gave us pointers on how to make it last longer. From then on we were all set for the weekend.
With the fire up and warming the tent, the next day was spent lazily hanging out in the tent, snacking on the deck and napping under the comfy duvets and electric blankets. Between the woodstove and the electric blankets, there is enough heat to keep you nice and toasty while you are inside the tent. We spent quite some time on the deck of the tent taking in the view and watching the birds that paraded for us. The view at AfriCamps at Kam’Bati makes you feel as if you are watching National Geographics’ bird channel.
Our Sunday was left to explore more of Swellendam and we were definitely lucky because we got Annelize as our driver and guide. It’s different when you have a local from the area showing you around. Usually, we would have driven ourselves from AfriCamps at Kam’Bati to the different spots in Swellendam, but then it would have been just driving from point A to point B. What we got with Annelize was so much more, she gave us some insight into the area, history about life growing up in this area and we made a new friend.
Annelize is one of the many friendly faces from Swellendam. She owns the transport company, Swellencab. Her services range from smaller taxi services, Cape Town pick-ups, and drop-offs, to larger groups and the everyday worker commutes. Contact : 0285142149 / 0785835494
Our first stop was Rain. This is my favorite store in Cape Town for a number of good reasons and getting to see it’s flagship shop Swellendam was high on my priority list for my visit to the area. I love the story behind Rain, it’s unique range of products, the packaging on their products, their spa (which I have yet to try out) and most importantly their company philosophy.
Their products are all locally sourced and sustainably harvested. These organic products are created by well trained and equally friendly staff. The welcome we received when we arrived at the store added to the whole experience of Swellendam. Elmarie, the stores’ manager gave us great suggestions on products to compliment what we were looking at. (Side note, We were looking at everything!) All my past experiences with Rain have been for gifts for other people, this time, I set out to spoil myself.
From Rain, we headed on to the Fairy Sanctuary. When I first found out about this place I initially thought that it was just for kids. I had no idea what we were in store for. Sitting on top of a hill, not far from the center of town is this magical place. The owners had initially bought one property and turned it into this wonderland, they then expanded this onto a second property. Enter through the gate and you are greeted by fairies, gnomes, crystals and other interesting creatures. Not just for kids! This place will give adults a childlike sense of wonder and as you walk through the garden you will get to see how one person’s passion can turn into something beautiful.
This place is such a treat for little kids. They have their own play areas and they get to lose themselves in their imagination for a while. Let them wander around and search for their favorite magical characters.
I suggest adding the Fairy Sanctuary to your list, for a different experience.
Annelize dropped us off at AfriCamps at Kam’Bati around 5pm and it felt as if we were saying goodbye to a friend.
After this trip to Swellendam, I can honestly say that this place and its’ people are one of the real gems in the Western Cape. If you want a taste of true South African hospitality and if you want to feel that welcoming energy, take some time out and go explore Swellendam.