I love impromptu travelling. In fact, the 9Lives blog is filled with various trips that the fiancé and I embark on, on the fly. We didn’t have anything planned for the long weekend in December but as we headed out for a hike in the Tradouw Pass, just outside of Barrydale, we decided to check Airbnb to see what was available in the area. We settled on the small missionary town of Suurbraak and oh damn, were we surprised!
Suurbraak, where is that?
From Cape Town, you have two options to reach Suurbraak. The first is to take the N2, across Sir Lowry’s Pass. Drive past Caledon and Riviersonderend until you get to Swellendam. About 10km outside of Swellendam, you’ll see the sign for the turnoff to Suurbraak and Barrydale. You then take a beautiful road past several big dairy farms to reach Suurbraak.
Alternatively, you can take the N1, turning off on the R60 to Robertson. From there you venture past Ashton and Montagu after which you get to the R62 and Barrydale. Just before you enter Barrydale, turn left on the R324 towards Swellendam. After driving for about 20km through the Tradouw Pass, you will reach Suurbraak.
Established in 1812, Suurbraak was initiated by the London Missionary Society said to serve the Attaqua Khoikhoi. The entire village is very much untouched by modern advances and at any given time you will probably be able to see people herding cows, donkey carts, and various other forms of husbandry through the streets.
Originally Suurbraak was known as Xairy, meaning paradise, named by the Quena tribe of the Khoi who were the original inhabitants. The entire town is made up of about 2 300 people, according to SABC News, and the majority of these people speak Afrikaans. The town forms part of the Swellendam municipality, which is one of the Top 20 municipalities in South Africa, thanks to their outstanding service delivery.
The true magic of Suurbraak lies in the fact that there is not a lot to do. This provides you with the opportunity to really explore the village. The town centre is preserved to look as it did more than 100 years ago and you will still see some of the original houses in the village. Although a few new houses have popped up along the main road over the last few years, nearly all of them have been built in the spirit of the town, sticking to small colourful Cape Dutch style houses.urbraak
There is one restaurant in town, Paradise Organic, and you must have a smoothie there. They source fresh, organic fruits and vegetables from the village and prepare fresh food daily, which means their menu changes based on availability. You will also find their shelves lined with freshly made jams and preserves to take home, as well as some local crafts.
Where to stay?
Although there aren’t many options for accommodation in this small town, the ones that are available are quite exquisite. I counted about five options on Airbnb and one of these is the one that we stayed in, Marinda se Verandah. This small cottage, run by Sarie and Marinda herself, is completely off-the-grid, with a lush green lawn and two comfortable bedrooms.
The cottage is situated next to the river, completely powered by two 12V batteries, charged by solar panels on the roof. The quaint little kitchen has a two-plate gas stove and fridge, as well as a car radio, that was tuned into RSG when we arrived, fixed to the counter. The property is extremely well-kept and, at R600 a night, is quite the steal.
The cottage is situated just outside of Suurbraak, which means plenty of privacy, and the opportunity to sit back and relax while you watch the sunset and the cows as they are herded to their camp for the evening. Time just seems to go by more slowly in this one-horse town, giving you the perfect chance to spend some quality time as a family or with your SO.
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