Synonymous with the Cango Caves, ostrich farms, and crocodiles, Oudtshoorn is the main town of the Little Karoo, and has drawn visitors for decades. As early as 1780, when Dutch colonists discovered the caves (which Southern Africa’s earliest inhabitants had occupied for 80 000 years) tourists have flocked to the area to sample the exotic life.
Today, there are so many attractions that one needs a chunk of annual leave to experience them all. The town’s main tourist strip is Baron van Reede Street along which are located the historic Queens Hotel, art galleries, souvenir shops, and plenty of quality restaurants, before it eventually leaves town heading north past the well-known Cango Wildlife Ranch to the Swartberg Mountains and the Cango Caves.
In the suburbs, the bustle of the town centre quickly subsides to a laid back shuffle where long-standing traditions survive amongst encroaching modernity. Here beautifully preserved sandstone mansions (Feather Palaces dating back to the boom in ostrich feathers in the early part of the previous century) stand amongst more humble abodes, and deep stoeps and shady gardens provide refuge from the summer sun.
Look out for
Cango Caves - one of Southern Africa’s Seven Wonders and an archaeological and historical highlight of the area. There are several daily tours of varying duration and difficulty.
There are several ostrich farms around Oudtshoorn. One that has been going for around 40 years is the Safari Ostrich Show Farm. It lies just 6km south of town along the R328 towards the coast.
Cango Wildlife Ranch offers the chance to ‘Wet your Pants’ and partake in the world’s first crocodile cage diving. The ranch offers a host of other great attractions as well, including close encounters with some of the big cats. Open 365 days a year.
En route to the caves, just past Schoemanspoort, turn right off the R328 onto the gravel road to Rus en Vrede Waterfall.In Baron van Reede Street the sandstone C.P. Nel Museum, with its prominent clock-tower, is worth a visit. It has a long list of great exhibitions including a history of the ostrich.
Oudtshoorn Ballooning offer 1-hour sunrise ‘drifts’ over the town and surrounding countryside.
Take a day to undertake the scenic circular route over the Swartberg Pass, through Prince Albert and back to Oudtshoorn via Meiringspoort and De Rust.
Wine tasting and sales - Kango Wijnhuis and Grundhein.