Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn is best known for its ostrich farms, which thrive in the arid, semi-desert conditions of the Little Karoo. It was at the centre of the ostrich-feather industry that flourished at the turn of the twentieth century. Oudtshoorn is also the principal town of the Little Karoo and is surrounded by the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountain Ranges.

Oudtshoorn is situated on the edge of the Garden Route and a convenient stop-over when travelling to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The town is on Route 62.

Adventure And Sport Cango Caves: Although experienced cavers may find the guided route by which visitors explore the Cango Caves too easy for their tastes, the 1,2-km-long caves can present a challenge to those who are afraid of small spaces. The route expects one to crawl through four tunnels, some of which are quite tight, but the end result is absolutely worth it. Each cavern is magnificent in an entirely different way. The route ends in the breathtaking “Post Box”, one of the best-known caverns in the complex.

Hiking: Various hiking trails are found in the area. The two-to¬five day Swartberg Hiking Trail is one of the most popular trails.

Art And Crafts

Klein Karoo National Arts Festival: In March and April the festival draws more than 100 000 visitors from across the country. The festival hosts productions featuring various art forms, including dancing, music, films, plays and poetry.

Cuisine

Klein Karoo Wine Route: The wine production of the area is relatively small, but many of the wines produced in the area are the best in their class. Several wine cellars have opened their doors to the public.

Ostrich meat: The region is famous for its delicious ostrich cuisine, which also include ostrich biltong (jerky).

Culture / Community Tourism

Bonguletu: The township of Bonguletu is located on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. Many of the local women have learnt how to craft items from ceramics. Their work, especially their ceramic post boxes, has become so sought-after that a “post box route” has been developed. The route visits various open-air art galleries and houses that have been painted in colourful African designs, where various arts and crafts are sold.

Entertainment And Shopping

Kuriopik: This ostrich market specialises in ostrich products and African curios.

Oudtshoorn Express: This luxury overnight steam train travels from Oudtshoorn to the small port-distilling town of Calitzdorp in the Gamka Valley.

Fauna And Flora

Cheetahland: Cheetahland offers educational tours of their facility where cheetah, lion and other indigenous predators are housed in cages landscaped to simulate their natural habitats.

Ostrich Farms: There are a number of ostrich farms in the area, each of which offers fun, excitement and the experience of a lifetime. Guided tours, curio stores, ostrich-racing and riding, ostrich meals and photography tours are on the activity list.

Scenic views: A trip over the Swartberg Pass is recommended for its breathtaking views and delightful picnic spots. The Outeniqua Pass crosses the Outeniqua Mountains and links the towns of Oudtshoorn and George.

The steep descent on the southern side of the mountain offers spectacular views of the landscape.

History And Architecture

Buildings: The large houses built during the wealthy ostrich period in Oudtshoorn’s history still grace the area and are affectionately known as “ostrich palaces”.

CP Nel Museum: The museum has exhibits on the local history and the ostrich trade.

Natural Wonders

Cango Caves: The magnificent complex of tunnels and caverns that runs under the Swartberg Mountains is one of the most impressive natural wonders in the province.

The KhoiKhoi who lived in the caves some 15 000 years ago, called it “place of water between hills”. It was indeed the force of water that carved the tunnels and caves in the ancient limestone hills. Unfortunately, over the years, the caves have been vandalised, but restoration has been done and skilful lighting and informative tours help visitors to appreciate the wonder of these caves.

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