Welcome to the vibrant world of Oudtshoorn, where a tapestry of exciting activities and rich history awaits your discovery. Beyond the fame of its charming ostriches, this town along the Garden Route beckons you to explore many captivating experiences. Let’s embark on a journey of wonder and adventure together.
1. Cango Caves
Nestled at the foothills of the Swartberg range near Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves stand as a magnificent testament to nature’s artistry in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. This intricate cave system, estimated to be around 20 million years old, is carved into a dense limestone layer, presenting an awe-inspiring underground wonder.
The Cango Caves, renowned as South Africa’s oldest tourist attraction and one of the largest show cave systems in Africa, have captivated visitors for centuries. Their unique geological formations, unusual in this region, are believed to have formed due to faulting, creating an otherworldly underground landscape.
Historically, these caves have been a focal point of human activity since the Early Stone Age. Their popularity surged in the 1800s, leading to the need for conservation efforts. The first Caves Regulation, established by Lord Charles Somerset in 1820, was a pioneering environmental protection measure, prohibiting souvenir collection and preserving this natural marvel.
2. Meerkat Adventures
This sunrise tour, pioneered by Five Shy Meerkat Tours, offers a unique opportunity to observe these charismatic creatures in their natural habitat. The adventure begins with a warm cup of coffee near their burrows, where you patiently wait for these habituated wild meerkats to emerge and bask in the morning sun. These fascinating tours, dependent on fair weather, provide an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of meerkats, who are part of the Shy 5 wildlife group.
Meerkat Adventures, a must-do experience in the area, leaves guests with a deeper understanding and appreciation of these adorable animals. The tour includes comfortable seating arrangements near the burrows, ensuring a relaxed and enjoyable observation. It’s an exceptional opportunity to witness the natural behavior of meerkats up close, making for a memorable and heartwarming encounter in the wild.
3. Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall
This serene waterfall, nestled in the Swartberg Mountains along the Oudemuragie road, offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle of everyday life. Located about 35km from Oudtshoorn, the journey to the waterfall includes a scenic drive followed by an 800-meter hike through a lush trail alongside a rippling stream, crossing quaint bridges and surrounded by vibrant flora.
This tranquil spot is not just a picturesque retreat but also plays a crucial role in the region, supplying a significant portion of Oudtshoorn’s water. Visitors are invited to enjoy the shaded picnic areas and braai facilities at the entrance, perfect for a leisurely meal amidst nature. However, these facilities are thoughtfully kept away from the waterfall to preserve its natural beauty and ecological significance.
The path to the waterfall, though short, offers a delightful walk filled with natural beauty, leading to the stunning oasis of the waterfall. The journey, including a stretch on a gravel road, adds to the rustic charm of the adventure. Despite the lack of wheelchair access and the prohibition of swimming, Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall remains a captivating and peaceful spot, ideal for those seeking a serene encounter with nature in the heart of Oudtshoorn.
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4. Cango Ostrich Farm
The Cango Ostrich Show Farm is a unique and memorable addition to any Oudtshoorn itinerary. Situated just 14km from Oudtshoorn and en route to the famous Cango Caves, this farm offers an enriching and convenient stop for travelers. The farm prides itself on individual attention, ensuring each visitor enjoys a personalized experience amidst the scenic beauty of the valley.
Tours at Cango Ostrich Show Farm are not only educational but also engaging, providing visitors with the opportunity to closely interact with these magnificent birds. Whether it’s giving an ostrich a neck massage, standing on their robust eggs, or feeding them directly from your hand, each activity is designed to bring you closer to these fascinating creatures. The guided tours, lasting about 45 minutes, are conducted by knowledgeable guides like Bassie, who make the experience both informative and enjoyable.
Apart from the interactive tours, the farm features a wine house, a well-stocked curio shop, and a welcoming restaurant. The farm’s layout and facilities cater to the comfort and accessibility of all visitors, including those with disabilities. The gift shop offers unique souvenirs, from feather dusters to ostrich skin handbags, capturing the essence of this distinctive experience. The Cango Ostrich Show Farm stands out as a delightful and insightful destination, perfect for families, solo travelers, and anyone interested in learning more about ostrich farming and conservation.
5. C.P Nel Museum
The CP Nel Museum in Oudtshoorn, a treasure trove of history and culture, stands as a testament to the region’s rich past. Originally designed as the Oudtshoorn Boys’ High School by British architect Charles Bullock in 1906, this grand sandstone building, with its late Victorian Colonial style and Corinthian decorations, epitomizes the architectural splendor of the era. The museum owes its existence to the foresight and dedication of several key figures, including Colonel CP Nel, whose valuable collection of antiques, bequeathed to the public, forms the core of the museum’s exhibits.
After narrowly escaping demolition in the 1960s, the building, once a symbol of the Ostrich Feather Boom’s prosperity, was repurposed to house Nel’s collection and was officially opened as the CP Nel Museum in 1972. The museum not only encapsulates the ostrich trade’s impact on Oudtshoorn but also the cultural history and lifestyle of the Little Karoo region during the Victorian era and early 20th century. It features a unique Synagogue inside, still in use today, adding to its cultural significance.
Declared a National Monument in 1980, the CP Nel Museum continues to draw visitors with its fascinating exhibits and historical significance. It stands as a beacon of the region’s history, preserving the legacy of its key figures and the community’s collective efforts to safeguard their heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious, a visit to the CP Nel Museum offers a deep dive into the rich tapestry of Oudtshoorn’s past, ensuring its stories continue to resonate with generations to come.
6. Wilgehandel Holiday Farm
Just 2 km from the Cango Caves and within easy reach of other local attractions, Wilgewandel is a must-visit for those seeking fun and adventure in the Oudtshoorn area.
At Wilgewandel, guests of all ages can enjoy a plethora of activities. Experience the unique thrill of camel rides, make a splash on the water slides, or soar across the farm dam on the foefie slide. Mini-golf enthusiasts can test their skills on an 18-hole course, while animal lovers will delight in feeding rabbits, goats, ostriches, and more. For the more adventurous, there’s paintball target shooting and donkey cart rides, available on weekends and holidays. The Tractor Train offers a leisurely tour of the farm, and the pedal cars and rowing boats are perfect for those seeking a bit of exercise.
The accommodation options at Wilgewandel cater to every preference, with both self-catering and bed & breakfast choices available. Guests can unwind in comfortably furnished rooms, complete with practical amenities like gas heaters and rechargeable bulbs for uninterrupted comfort during load shedding. The on-site restaurant serves a wide range of mouth-watering dishes, from tramezzinis and burgers to salads and breakfasts, all at reasonable prices. Even during power outages, guests can still enjoy a selection of meals from the load shedding menu.
7. Highgate Ostrich Show Farm
Highgate Ostrich Show Farm offers an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of ostriches. As the world’s first and most renowned ostrich show farm, established in 1938, it serves as a captivating educational hub in the heart of the Klein Karoo valley.
Visitors to Highgate Ostrich Show Farm are invited to engage directly with these majestic birds, experiencing the unique thrill of feeding ostriches by hand. The farm’s skilled staff demonstrate the intricate art of crafting beautiful items from ostrich plumage, eggs, and leather, offering a glimpse into the utilitarian aspect of ostrich farming.
More than just a viewing experience, the farm provides an interactive journey where guests can choose to sit on or even ride an ostrich, under careful supervision. This novel experience is complemented by the breathtaking views of the Klein Karoo valley, seen from the unique vantage point atop an ostrich.
8. Cango Wildlife Ranch
Discover the Cango Wildlife Ranch, an exceptional conservation center in Oudtshoorn, originally established as a crocodile show farm in 1977. This sanctuary, now home to over 90 different animal species, focuses significantly on the preservation of endangered animals, including the majestic cheetah. Its evolution into a hub for both conservation and education makes it a highlight for anyone visiting Oudtshoorn.
Visitors to the Ranch can enjoy guided tours that merge educational insights with interactive experiences. The ‘Valley of Ancients’, inspired by historical connections to nature, offers an immersive journey into the world of conservation. The Ranch’s ‘Natural Encounters’ program allows for close interactions with various animals, such as cheetahs, tiger cubs, and Nile crocodiles, providing a unique and memorable experience.
Central to the Ranch’s mission is the Cheetah Preservation Foundation, dedicated to the survival and protection of cheetahs and other endangered species. Through initiatives in captive breeding, research, and public awareness, the Foundation plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation. A visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch offers more than just entertainment; it’s an enlightening exploration of the importance of animal conservation.
9. Safari Ostrich Farm
Established in 1956 by Derek Fisch and Harry Lipschitz, the farm began as an educational site about ostriches and has evolved into a thriving attraction that still honours its original mission. Visitors can embark on the world’s only tractor tour of an ostrich farm, where the Safari Guides provide an intimate look at these majestic birds, including the South African and Zimbabwean breeds, the rare White Ostrich, and even emus. The tour also offers insights into the ostrich breeding process and the history of ostrich farming.
At the Safari Restaurant, guests can pre-book set menu meals featuring export-grade ostrich fillet or steak, while the Safari Café offers a more casual dining experience with a variety of meals and drinks in a serene garden setting. In addition to the culinary offerings, Safari Ostrich Farm also boasts an extensive range of Ostrich Leather Products. These handcrafted items, ranging from handbags to wallets and belts, are made by skilled artisans and showcase the unique texture and quality of ostrich leather. Visitors can also find beautifully crafted ostrich eggs and feathers, making for perfect ornamental gifts. This blend of educational tours, fine dining, and exquisite craftsmanship makes Safari Ostrich Farm a must-visit location in Oudtshoorn.
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