Oudtshoorn South Africa. What to do where to go
Oudtshoorn is a small town in the Little Karoo, a semi-desert, which you can drive to from Cape Town in about a day. In just 6 to 7 hours with a nice stopover here and there, this is a nice place to spend the night.
In and around Oudtshoorn there are several attractions that are worthwhile. Oudtshoorn is known for its many ostriches. The ostriches are mainly bred for the feathers, but also for the meat and eggs. Oudtshoorn has a large number of “poultry palaces”.
These are large houses built by ostrich farmers in their heyday. Although the number of ostrich farms has decreased significantly, many tourists still come to this place for the ostriches.
But much more impressive and beautiful are the Cango caves and the Swartbergpass.
SIGHTSEEING IN AND AROUND OUDTSHOORN
Oudtshoorn is the perfect base for many great attractions in the area. In most cases you will stay here for one night and about two days when you are in transit.
Although we are not 100% sure, safety in this city still seems to be a thing. It is recommended from hotels not to walk on the street in the dark.
Some restaurants also offer shuttle services to and from the restaurant. If you want to eat somewhere in the evening, then at least take a taxi, your own car or use one of the shuttle services of the restaurants.
From Oudtshoorn you can visit the Cango Caves. There are two different tours, the normal tour and the adventure tour. During the normal tour you get a guided tour of the Kangoo Caves in about one hour.
The tour is fun and the caves are very impressive. You can also see original drawings of the Bushmen. You also see beautiful stalagmites and stalactites.
On average it is 18 degrees in the cave. The caves are also known for their acoustics. If you are lucky the guide or someone from your group will sing for you.
More adventure at Oudtshoorn South Africa
If you want more adventure, you can descend even further into the caves where you certainly don’t have to be a scared cat. You descend a lot deeper into the caves and occasionally have to crawl, slide and clamber through small spaces.
For example, there is a corridor that is 74 centimeters high and that in one place is even only 30 centimeters high. The smallest passage is only 27 centimeters high. It takes a lot of your fitness and agility to get through here.
Keep in mind that if you have overcome all obstacles, you will also have to return via the same route. Restrictions apply to both height and weight and you would do well to follow the guide’s advice.
If he does not advise you to do the “adventure tour” then you should listen to him. Once upon a time there has been a lady who has not. She eventually got stuck and blocked the tunnel for nearly 11 hours before they could get her out.
Given the increased traffic, it is smart to inquire in advance whether a reservation is necessary. The normal tours depart every hour on the hour between 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM and cost 100 Rand per person.
The adventure tours depart every hour on the half hour between 09: 00-15: 30 and cost 150 Rand per person.
The Swartberg pass is, according to some, one of South Africa’s most scenic routes.
The Swartberge separate the Little and the Great Karoo desert. In about 1.5 – 2 hours you drive on an unpaved gravel road from the Cango Caves to Prince Albert.
When you search the internet for the route, you will find countless stories and differing opinions. We have also been informed by locals and read in on the internet and we recommend that you do the same.
It seems that the experiences can be very different and also the time of the year and the condition of the road greatly influence how you will experience the route.
In October 2016, the route was very accessible with a normal rental car. The road had been refurbished in February of that year and it still shows. The road was a lot wider than we initially thought, and read on the internet. Also the road was in good condition which made it very easy to ride the route.
There are (now) many places where you can easily stop and take pictures of the beautiful views. In October 2016, the road was wide enough on most parts to pass oncoming traffic with reasonable ease. In many places a wall had also been built to serve as a kind of guardrail, but still far from everywhere.
Who goes first?
Unwritten rules propose that uphill traffic has priority over downhill traffic. So if you drive uphill and come across an oncoming car, the oncoming car will have to be pulled over (and vice versa).
The average speed on the route with a 2WD car will not be much higher than 20 kilometers per hour.
When you have ridden the Swartberg pass you can drive again via a beautiful route through a gorge to Oudtshoorn. Along the way there are plenty of places for a picnic with good facilities.
You ride it for about 1.5 hours. All in all, you will be happy for a few hours with this route.
If you don’t want to go on your own, you can book an excursion from Oudtshoorn or via Kobus Se Gat, located at the foot of the Swartberg on the R328.
This is also a nice restaurant to stop for some food or drink on the way to and from Swartsberg pass from Oudtshoorn. Opening hours are from 08:00 AM to 05:30 PM. We paid 695 rand for an excursion including lunch (food and drinks).
Keep in mind that the ATM drops out regularly and that you therefore have enough cash in your pocket.
KARUSA WINE TASTING
You will not easily think of a wine tasting at the Kleine Karoo and Oudtshoorn. This is usually associated with Stellenbosch. Yet there is a nice wine farm about 16 kilometers from Oudtshoorn towards the Cango Caves: Karusa.
Karusa has various wines in its range, which, due to the climate, are mainly reminiscent of Mediterranean wines. It is a family business and – unlike most wine farms in the Western Cape – not geared to serving as much mass tourism as possible.
Ideal to relax for a while. You can taste 5 wines for 30 Rand under supervision. If you are lucky, you will be taught by the owner who will enthusiastically tell you which wines he has and which ones you are tasting.
Of course you can also buy a bottle of wine here for yourself as a souvenir or to enjoy later during the trip.
Many visitors to Oudtshoorn come here because of the ostrich farms and visit them. Unfortunately, most farms are so-called show farms. Here the perfect ostriches are “displayed” to the public and it is very touristy.
In our opinion not necessarily a “must see”; also because you can order ostrich steak in Oudtshoorn itself in a restaurant.
If you are interested in ostriches, their characteristics and the history of ostrich farming, the Ostrich Show Farm, about 14 kilometers outside Oudtshoorn towards the Cango Caves, is recommended. A tour of the farm costs 90 rand and takes 45 minutes.
You will first receive a general explanation about ostriches, their characteristics and cultivation. Then you go to the incubator and learn more about eggs and the incubation process. Then you will meet the ostriches.
Special about this farm is that they have a “dwarf ostrich”; an ostrich that is actually not what an ostrich should be. You will notice that ostriches can be quite aggressive animals. You can also ride an ostrich if you wish.
Consider for yourself whether you want this or not, given the welfare of the animal. You can also eat ostrich here, there is a burger but also kebab. You quickly pay around 71 Rand for ostrich kebab with a soft drink.
FOOD AND DRINK AT OUDTSHOORN
The Black Swan is a cozy and good restaurant on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. The restaurant is located at 109 Baron de Reede street. With traditional dishes such as Bobotie and lamb and ostrich from the Little Karoo desert, this is a restaurant worth a visit.
When you stay in Oudtshoorn they can also pick you up and bring you back with a special shuttle bus. As a result, you can also drink a beer or wine with your food and you do not have to walk through the city in the dark.
ACCOMMODATION AT OUDTSHOORN
Several hotels, hostels and B & Bs are located in Oudtshoorn. Kleinplaas is a cheap, but high-quality accommodation. This is a so-called “self-catering accommodation”. This is actually a park with all kinds of houses, ranging from 2 people to 6 people.
These cottages come with a kitchen and there is a braai nearby. Sometimes in front of the house, sometimes on the side where all the other braai are also. There is also a camping pitch and special accommodation for backpackers. There is also a restaurant for breakfast.
Another place to spend the night is Karoo Backpackers. In this small but friendly hostel you can book neat (en suite) rooms for different budgets.
The hostel has a beautiful view where you can enjoy the sunset every evening. There is also a communal kitchen and a swimming pool for cooling off during hot days. If you are with a rental car, you can also park at this hostel.
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