Oudtshoorn: More than just an Ostrich Capital
Whenever you hear the name Oudtshoorn; a town tucked away in the Klein Karoo, it’s always synonymous with ostriches. However, it’s a place that offers more than just sightseeing big birds flapping their feathery wings.
The 431km route to Oudtshoorn from Cape Town through the Huguenot Tunnel and onto the most scenic Route 62 provides one with winding and spectacular mountain passes, lush green valleys to dusty hems; making it quite clear why it’s named the worlds best road trip journey.
Not even a picture can justify the landscapes.
You pass many small towns. Towns I dreamed of one day having the opportunity to walk down the un-tarred streets; exploring the stunning scenery all around them.
All names I have written down behind my travel notebook.
After a stop-and-go in Montagu, a fuel stop in Ladismith and a quick leg stretch near Paardenberg Nature Reserve, we reached the town with the sunniest days per year. 365 to be exact.
Nestled at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains in the heart of the Little Karoo region, Oudtshoorn is bustling in business but the community is relaxed and, friendly. Originally laid out in 1847 and proclaimed a separate division of the district of George, it’s a big town with lots of construction in the area (make sure to factor in time for stop-and-goes) attracting many international tourists and locals alike.
Things to do in Oudtshoorn
As a tourist hotspot, there are so many unique activities, restaurants, and little nooks to visit so it’s best to spend more than just a weekend.
Grundheim Wine Farm
Just outside of Oudtshoorn lies Grundheim Wines; an estate quite popular for it’s Black Mountain Karoo gin, brandy, and witblits.
It’s a family affair that has so much passion for making wine. Now in its 6th generation, in a cellar that’s more than 100 years old, one can only imagine how many wine traits have been passed along. Against the backdrop of the harsh and unforgiving climate of the Klein Karoo, it is still surprising that such unique products can be produced and still being fermented in open tanks.
Have a hearty chat with Dys, the winemaker. He can tell you stories of the Karoo lifestyle and his fun too.
Be sure to take a slow drive to the farm on a dirt road that’s sedan-friendly while you pass many ostrich farms and farmland areas and, spend the day doing wine tastings, of course.
CP Nel Museum
Named after Colonel Charles Paul Nel, it’s one of the best country museums in South Africa, located in the heart of Oudtshoorn.
Declared a National Monument in 1981, the museum houses items like feather products, ostrich eggs, the history on ostriches, fashion clothing as well as structures of the old chemist, the Standard Bank building as well as the only Synagogue to be situated in a museum.
With various exhibits and fun historical facts, you best believe to add this spot on your list. Open Monday to Friday from 08:00 am to 17:00 pm. Saturday from 09:00 am to 13:00 pm.
The Boer and Vark
If the name doesn’t drive you to see what it’s all about then nothing will. I just had to find out why to choose this name for a restaurant that’s famous for its unusual burgers.
Fun fact: The name refers to Dolphins in the colloquial Southern Cape Afrikaans. Who would’ve guessed?
Nestled in a beautiful courtyard on Baron van Reede Street, this relaxed local eatery serves local cuisines made fresh daily from scratch and, burgers that will fill your belly. The Boer and Vark take local is lekker to a whole new level.
You can’t visit Oudtshoorn and not experience Africa’s largest show caves. Crammed with stalactites, helicities, and jaw-dropping dripstone formations, you’d forget that San people used this cave as their home.
Having been here when I was 15, I don’t remember much. Now that I’m older and appreciate historical sites more, I had the best experience living it the second time around. Touching the limestone that’s cold to the touch, listening to people who are in awe of the formations and, amazed that such natural beauty exists, I see why so many flocks to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder.
With four cavern systems in total, only system 1 and 2 are open to the public as the last two is partially or totally underwater. 1 being the Heritage Tour and 2 the Adventure one, there’s more than enough to see that will take your breath away.
The caves are humid and the tunnels get narrower with each chamber so if you’re Claustrophobic, I don’t recommend you go. Booking is essential and tours are every day from 09:00 am to 16:00 pm.
Wilgewandel Holiday Farm
How many activities do you think you can possibly find on one farm? Too many, if you ask me. It’s the perfect spot for couples and families alike to spend the entire day; enjoying cool and fun activities.
Everything from pedal bikes, camel rides, feeding animals, donkey cart drives, foefie sliding, pedal boats, and going down the water slides, you bound to spend the whole day doing it all. Besides all the excitement of reliving your childhood, they have a lovely restaurant serving hearty breakfast and lunch with a well-stocked curio shop of local goodies.
Looking for more to explore in Oudtshoorn?
Oudtshoorn is bigger than just a small town so imagine the magnitude of activities, coffee shops, restaurants, and shops there are? There’s just too many to fit into a weekend. Here are a few places you should be visiting:
- Cango Caves Estate – Zipline
- Cango Wildlife Ranch
- Meerkat Adventures
- Buffelsdrift Game Lodge Restaurant
- Simzee Shisanyama Restaurant
Where to Stay?
Being such a popular destination, Oudtshoorn is not short when it comes to various types of accommodations.
I stayed at Africamps (my third one); a boutique self-catering glamping camp set on one of the biggest working Ostrich farms in Southern Africa. You’ll find buck and wildebeest, various birdlife yet completely surrounded by the Karoo landscape and, tons of fauna.
Wilgewandel is another place I’d recommend with double and family rooms that both self-catering and somethings bed and breakfast options. Make sure to book well in advance.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Oudtshoorn De Rust Tourism. However, the accommodation was paid for by myself. All opinions are my own based on my experience.
Watch our full experience in the town of Oudtshoorn!