The Swartland begins some 50 kilometres north of Cape Town and consists of the regions between the towns of Malmesbury in the south, Darling in the west, Piketberg in the north and the Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel in the east. Jan van Riebeek called this softly undulating land between mighty mountain ranges "Het Zwarte Land" (the Black Land) because of the endemic Renoster shrubs. After the rains, mainly in winter, they turn black. The wide fertile plain is the bread basket of Cape Town with its golden yellow wheatfields reaching up to the foot of the mountains, interrupted by wine, fruit and vegetable plantations.
The Riebeek Valley is the centre of wine production. In the beautiful twin hamlets of Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel, at the foot of the Kasteelberg, artists and arts & crafts people have settled. The atmosphere is authentically rural. There are scenic hiking and horseriding trails.
A visit to Darling, founded in 1853, is worthwhile. In thís town there are numerous beautiful Victorian houses, the Butter Museum, which takes a look at the history of butter making, and the little theatre of the resident cabaretist Peter Dirk Uys alias Evita Bezuidenhout. During the wildflower season, after the first rainfalls in spring, the town is surrounded by carpets of rich colour.
More information and accommodation to be found on the blue INFO page.
Viticulture in the Swartland is still comparatively young, but it is grown under dryland conditions, without or with minimal irrigation. As a result, the wines from the Swartland are of an extraordinary quality and very much in demand. On the well sign-posted Swartland Wine Route you can visit the different wine farms and taste their products.
Photo left: Swartland scenery near Riebeek West. Top right: Wheatfields in the Swartland. Bottom right: Riebeek Kasteel.