- Oudtshoorn, nestled between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges, offers more than just ostriches.
- It rose to prominence back in 1860 and is known as the “ostrich capital” of the world.
- You can no longer hop on the back of an ostrich for an adrenaline ride – there are many activities in the biggest town in the Little Karoo region.
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Domestic tourism is the only travel for most South Africans at the moment, as local travellers still remain on a global red list as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are looking for a road trip destination beyond crowded beaches and packed cities, Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo is within reach from several directions.
Known as the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn is situated between between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges in the Western Cape.
Two ostrich-feather booms, during 1865 and 1870, and again from 1900 to 1914, truly established the town. Its economy is still primarily reliant on ostrich farming, and on tourism that is often linked to the birds.
You can no longer hop on the back of an ostrich for an adrenaline ride, but there are many other activities in the biggest town in the Little Karoo region.
Here are some things you can do in Oudshoorn that doesn’t always involve ostriches:
Explore the Cango Caves
The Cango Caves were inhabited since the early stone age, and it is also considered South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction.
The majestic formations of stalactites and stalagmites will leave you feeling insignificant in comparison to the epic layers of limestone rock hunching over you.
Bush safari, elephant feeding, and lion experience
At Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, you can go on a bush safari, see how meerkats come out from their slumber and soak up the sun, or learn about cheetahs in their natural environment.
Go for a game drive where you might see giraffe protecting their territory and calves, hippos going for a swim, or take it further and watch lions rip apart the food they are fed.
The lodge also took in orphaned elephants - Jabari, Bulelo and Malaika - who aren’t shy to take a snack from their visitors when you get to feed them. These gentle giants offer hugs with their heavy and prickly trunks and even come with their own personalities.
You are guaranteed to walk away with interesting information on some of Africa’s beasts.
Cango Wildlife Ranch - where you can dive with crocodiles
This unique zoological facility is home to over 90 species that are kept here for conservation.
One of those is crocodiles that you can see eye to eye. But don’t touch, that might be the last thing you do.
Cango Wildlife Ranch is the world’s first croc cage dive, so if you are brave enough, hop in a cage and delve into the eerie waters the reptiles call home. Or you can pet a cheetah or stroke a Lemur as it gets cosy on your lap.
Wine tasting, and craft beer
Oudtshoorn is part of one the world’s longest wine routes – the R62 or Route 62 as you meander to the Little Karoo.
There is an array of vineyards where you can tickle your tastebuds at your own pace. There are also options such as a litchi bomb, and local craft beer.
Camel rides, water slides, ziplines and more, for the kids
Wilgewandel Holiday Farm is perfect for families, even more so for children after the long drive to Oudtshoorn.
There are camel rides, water slides, ziplines, an more
The farm, which is 2km from the Cango Caves, also offers home-cooked meals and accommodation after a full day of activities.
5-star camping, with views of the epic Swartberg
Surval Boutique offers luxury accommodation with views of the Swartberg Mountains.
If you prefer the outdoors, then camping – but with electricity and a bed – at Kleinplaas Resort is the place to be. No tent? No problem, you can get a fully set up one.
If you are starting to feel homesick and want home-cooked food, look no further than House Martin Guest Lodge in De Rust, where you will share diner with the owners in their inviting dining room.
And yes, the ostriches are a must…
Visiting one of the many ostrich farms remains a must.
Oudtshoorn's ostrich industry dates back to 1864, when ostrich feathers became a fashionable accessory among European nobility. Feather exports saw a sharp increase from the Cape Colony during the mid-1860s, and by 1870, feather auctions were being held in Mossel Bay.
Their curious nature brings these birds close to humans, so close that you can feed them. And there’s more to ostriches than meets the eye. They have two pairs of eyelids, their gender is only known after a couple of years, and they run fast - really fast.