Proud music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies!
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains!
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses!
– Walt Whitman, “Proud Music of the Storm”
We woke up to the sound of a thundering Black South Easter storm, certainly not the ideal weather to embark on our Swellendam adventure. My heart sank as I glanced over at #Swellenblog itinerary – Croc Paddling down the Breede River in the afternoon… After a quick call to our host Amanda Shackley ( Swellendam Tourism brand manager), she assured us it was all sunshine and blue skies in the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains.
That sounded like an ideal escape from the Cape of Storms!
I am a firm believer in carpooling – not only can you reduce carbon emission, a road trip is always more fun with friends! So, we caught a ride with Linda Markovina from Moving Sushi. Linda is a photojournalist passionate about travel writing and ocean conservation! During our short 2.5 hour drive to Swellendam, we learned about Linda and Mike’s two-year expedition through 42 countries over the continents of Africa,Europe, Asia and Arabia.
With slippery road conditions, we arrived late for lunch at our first stop: Tredici Restaurant. This beautiful building marks the entrance into Swellendam from the N2 highway, upon entrance, you will be welcomed by friendly smiles and the smells of freshly baked breads and roasted coffee. From spiced humus, a rainbow of pestos (sundried tomato, basil, figs, just to name a few…) and local cured meats, you can taste the freshness of ingredients in every bite! I wish we had more time than a quick nibble…
Bidding Tredici goodbye, we admired the expanding landscape on our scenic drive to Stonehill River Lodge . Don’t be fooled by its humble name – Stonehill boasts 9 luxury chalets fitted out with fireplaces, open-plan kitchen, Egyptian cotton bed linens… and an outdoor jacuzzi hot tub! Each house sleeps 8-10 people, ideal for family or friends getaway. Bring your mountain bikes and explore the dirt tracks around the property (or hire bikes from reception), lay along the Breede River banks and star gaze, or wake up to birds tweeting among the fynbos.
As promised, Swelledam embraced us with sunshine and blue skies upon arrival! We geared up and headed straight to the river bank, greeted by our river guide Neill. Similar to kayaking, croc paddling involves paddles in an inflatable “croc” with more bouyancy – and you are far less likely to get wet! This makes venturing into Breede River’s winter stream far more enticing, and it wasn’t long before the bloggers ducked straight into water.
After what felt like a 20-km marathon paddle upwind (in reality… 2km!), we emerged victorious. Armed with our newfound biceps, I was thankful for the bubbling hot jacuzzi a stone throw away from our chalet. As Cape’s storm clouds began to roll in, we watched the sunset over Langeberg Mountains…
For dinner, Amanda was ready to show off Swellendam’s newest gastroGem: De Vagebond . This marked the beginning of what was to become a 5 day Food Marathon…! Owner Hannes Pieters started out as a farmer, stumbled upon the property trade and became a successful estate agent. Upon hearing of the closure of De Vagebond, known locally as a Swellendam fixture, Hannes took it on as his first restaurant venture! With his savvy entrepreneur experience, Hannes breathed new life into the Cape Dutch farmhouse, complete with a fresh menu created by reknowned Chef Adrian Buchanan! From classic French cuisine at Franschooek’s Monneaux restaurant to sizzling Wagyu steaks in Kuwait, Adrian’s creations infused with flavours reminiscent of his travels.
We have definitely arrived in a meat-eater’s heaven! With a dazzling menu including Karoo lamb shanks, grass-fed beef steaks with chimichurri sauce, ostrich fillet and much more, it was fitting that the bloggers agreed on our rules of engagement: sharing is caring!
Are you hungry yet?