Frequently Asked Questions
The Swellendam Winter School is an initiative of a group of Swellendammers, keen to attract visitors to their beautiful town, and wanting to share the wonderful passion and talents of the town’s inhabitants.
The SWS is held from May to August – the winter months when the town is generally quiet when accommodation and facilities are available.
More than 50 differnt courses will be offered twice during this time, facilitated by local experts, in a variety of venues across and around Swellendam, providing an authentic experience of the people, heritage and environment.
The courses are grouped under six themes: Mind & Body, Food & Wine, Nature & Heritage, Home Craft & Design, Creative Arts & Design and Yoga Retreats.
Courses are run during the week and weekends and are of either 1 day 2day or 5 days duration.
1 Day courses start with registration at 08:30. The courses commences at 09:00 and ends at 17:00 with a lunch break at about 12:30.
2 Day courses follow the same process over 2 days.
A few exceptions to these course times apply.
- Ingrid Winterbach and Andries Gouws’ 5-day courses start 9am on Monday morning and end at 5pm on Friday – for these a Sunday evening arrival is advised. The Wednesday afternoon remains free to explore.
- Geoff Vissers Botanical Art course runs from Monday – Saturday.
- Courses with excursions may require an earlier departure and perhaps a later return to our base.
NOTE: Many courses are repeated so if you can’t make the first you can make the second.
Everybody and anybody over the age of 16 who is reasonably fluent in English and/or Afrikaans.
See ‘Course Language’ on each course page to see (1) what the language medium of the course is and (2) what other languages the facilitators speak.
Our focus in developing the Winter School has been two-fold:
Traditional: those arts, crafts, recipes and activities that are vanishing in a fast changing world
Sustainability / Nature: those activities that have a minimal impact on our earth and which explore our wonderful natural world.
On this website, click on Calendar, Courses or Themes. Read through the courses to decide which you want to attend.
Each course will have a course description, a duration, dates, facilitator’s brief biography and a course fee.
Note that bookings for each course remain open until 8 calendar days prior to the start of the course (the cutoff date).
- On the page of your selected course, click on the block on the right labeled “Take this course”. This will take you the product page for the course.
- At “Select Dates”, click on your preferred date from the “Dates” drop-down options.
- Click on “Add to cart”. Click on “View Cart” or go directly to “Checkout”.
- On the “Checkout” page, fill in your details. Remember to tell us here about your dietary requirements and any special access needs.
- Choose how you wish to pay: either Direct Money Transfer or use your credit card to make an immediate and secure online payment using Payfast.
- If you choose Direct Money Transfer, you will see an order summary and also receive this in an email. You MUST please use your Order Number as the payment reference, and e-mail your Proof of Payment to email@example.com, otherwise we don’t know that you have paid.
- Please read the Terms and Conditions and tick the box.
Apart from accommodation, dinners and transport (to/from Swellendam and around Swellendam) there are no extra costs for the courses apart from anything you may wish to purchase in Swellendam.
Included in the course fee:
- 2 x light lunches (Day 1 and 2 of 3 day courses), 4 x light lunches (Day 1 to 4 of 5 day courses)
- All course costs: facilitator’s fee, a skills development stipend for an intern, and venue costs.
Materials are included in most courses, as is transport (by minibus) for excursions and park entrance fees. Exceptions apply and are noted on each course page e.g. some art courses require you to purchase and bring along additional materials. For Clay courses, you may need to pay for your work to be couriered to you after firing.
This is explained in detail in the Terms and Conditions.
In sum: courses are only confirmed once the minimum number of participants has booked and paid. We will be in touch 15 days before the start date to confirm to give you a heads-up on the booking status, and 7 days before to either confirm or cancel the course. As soon as a course is confirmed you will receive an email with full details and an introduction to your facilitator.
If we cancel:
Should the course need to be canceled, you will be notified 7 days prior to the course start date and your payment will be refunded in full.
If a course can be postponed to another date, participants will have an opportunity to transfer to the new date.
In the event of cancellation or postponement, the SWS organisers will not be responsible for any other expenses incurred. We urge you to check the booking terms of your accommodation and travel providers.
If you cancel:
Fees will be reimbursed, less a 20% administration fee, if you e-mail us with written cancellation 14 calendar days before a course commences.
Alternative to cancellation, fees already paid to SWS can be transferred to another SWS course of your choice should there be space available, up to 8 days before the commencement of both courses (the one you’re NOT taking and the once you wish to take instead).
No fees will be reimbursed if cancellation is made fewer than 14 days prior to a course commencing.
We suggest you arrive in Swellendam by latest 12 noon on the day your course starts.
Check in at the Registration office, which is situated in the courtyard of the Drostdy Museum complex. (Look for the signage on Swellengrebel Street)
At the Registration office you will be provided with your course venue details and directions to your accommodation. You will be requested to sign an indemnity form.
We suggest that you check in to your accommodation and then drive to your venue, where at 1pm, a light lunch will be served. Your facilitator will be present to greet you. Meet other participants!
The course starts promptly at 2pm.
On the first day of your course a light lunch will be served at your venue from 1pm to 2pm. The course will start promptly at 2pm. There will be a mid-afternoon tea break, and the course ends at 5pm for the day.
We suggest that you then return to your accommodation and spruce up for your dinner at a restaurant, which starts at 7pm.
Each day we suggest you be at your venue at 8.30am for coffee and chat. The course will start at 9am and will end at 5pm. Courses end at 2pm on the final day.
We have listed our Accommodation Partners on this website. Click on them and compare, noting the specials they are offering to SWS participants. Then book your accommodation with your choice. Consider booking for an extra night or two to enjoy all that Swellendam has to offer!
Please note that it is your responsibility to arrange your accommodation in Swellendam and check their cancellation policies, so you know where you stand if your course happens to be canceled or postponed. You may wish to wait until 15 days before your course starts before booking your accommodation.
Swellendam is roughly halfway between Cape Town and George.
If you are flying in, you can choose to fly to either Cape Town or George airports.
Swellendam is +- 230km from Cape Town and the drive takes between 2.5 and 3 hours on the N2.
From the west (Cape Town) on the N2, take the third exit (left) to Swellendam. This entrance takes you to the Drostdy at the eastern end of Swellendam.
From the east (George) take the first exit (right) into Swellendam.
An alternative route and roughly similar in time and distance is via the N1 to Worcester, where you turn off towards Robertson and Ashton. After Ashton, turn right on the R60 and follow this scenic route to Swellendam.
There are also several bus and shuttle companies traveling to Swellendam, if you do not wish to drive.
See the following websites for more about Swellendam attractions and activities:
Why not stay an extra night or two in Swellendam to enjoy the beautiful environment and all that is on offer?
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