Swellendam is located in a very scenic area of the Overberg and is in very close proximity to mountains, rivers and the sea which makes it an ideal place for outdoor adventures. These outdoor adventures range from hiking in the surrounding mountains and nature reserves to canoeing and white-water rafting on the nearby Breede River. With the Indian Ocean not very far away either, there are many opportunities for sea-based water sports too such as kitesurfing, windsurfing and fishing.
Hiking and walking in and around Swellendam is particularly accessible with the Marloth Nature Reserve right next to the town. Here visitors can take leisurely walks in the forests to rock pools and waterfalls to appreciate the local fauna and flora or even go a step further and take on one of the more challenging hiking routes in the reserve and surrounds. Walks can also be done in the nearby Bontebok National Park where you can learn more about conservation and the history of the area. Another way to appreciate the scenery is from horseback with Two Feather Horse trails offering excursions in the surrounding area from Swellendam Backpackers.
With cycling and mountain biking growing in popularity all over the Western Cape and the country, Swellendam also offers various mountain biking trails. This includes various beginner to advanced routes in the Marloth Nature Reserve as well as other trails in the greater Swellendam area. These include the Canola Trail, trails in the Bontebok National Park as well as several cycling races and events. Races are held throughout the year with the most popular being the Bontebok Social, Renosterbos in Barrydale, Berry Bike and Beer Social, Swellendam Show Race, TransCape, the Van Loveren Mountain Bike Race and the Coronation Double Century.
Other well-known outdoor activities are canoeing and boat cruises on the Breede River. More leisurely boat trips can be done from several riverside resorts such as Umshanti on the Buffeljags Dam and Fish Eagle Boat Cruises along the river at Malgas. Another well-established river operator is Felix Unite which has operated in the area for several years and runs canoe day trips along the river. They also offer longer trips on request and over the holiday periods. During the winter, when the water level rises, there are also a number of challenging rapids to navigate for those looking for more of an adrenaline rush.