Considering a visit to Oudtshoorn? You should – it is most certainly worth a visit. It is a truly unique town to visit, and is unlike every other town in South Africa. It is an interesting visit that will offer something for the entire family to enjoy. It gets pretty hot in Oudtshoorn, so make sure you are adequately prepared with the correct clothing. Visiting Oudtshoorn is a quite unique experience that has a number of fascinating things to see and do.
Also we recommend you check out the 10 things you simply must do when visiting South Africa.
Where Oudtshoorn is
The quaint town of Oudtshoorn is situated in the Klein Karoo, between the Swartberg Mountains and the Outeniqua Mountain Range on the Garden Route in South Africa. It is a place mainly known for its Ostrich farms, but it is also home to a wide variety of other farming activities – fruit and tobacco in particular are widely farmed in and around Oudtshoorn. It is also a great stopping point for people travelling between Cape Town & Port Elizabeth as it is approximately halfway between these two cities. It is one of the 7 municipal areas in the area. Getting to Oudtshoorn can be a bit trickly as there is no airport in the town, the nearest airport is in George. Additionally there are no trains that visit the town. However it is easily accessible by road, and is serviced by South Africa’s main bus companies too.
History of Oudtshoorn
Oudtshoorn was part of a farm owned by a farmer by the name of Cornelius Rademeyer. The farm’s name was Hartbees River. And the farmers asked Cornelius.. to give them a piece of land to build a Church. So the community grew, and that stage Oudtshoorn was known as Church Square. The farmers were very poor, there wasn't a lot of money in circulation, later the name "Veldskoen" (leather shoe) Town... became the name and people didn't like it at all. In 1847 the Magistrate from George gave Oudtshoorn its name. It was named after his wife’s father, Baron van Oudtshoorn van Reede.
Oudtshoorn Ostrich Farms
Oudsthoorn is known primarily for its ostrich farms. There are four products that we get from the ostriches. Firstly there is the ostrich meat which is a healthier alternative to eating red meat – it is much lower in cholesterol & fat, and also lower in calories. It is also widely used in biltong – a true South African delicacy. Ostrich leather is highly valued as a result of its unique pattern – it has a very unique set of bumps. The process involved in the procution of ostrich leather is a specialised process. For this reason, Ostrich leather is considered a luxury item. Ostrich feathers are also unique when compared to the feathers of other birds. They are very loose, and have a stylish look to them. They are also widely used in feather-dusters. Lastly there are the ostrich eggs – these eggs are much larger than chicken eggs. They are widely used for decorative purposes as well as for human consumption. The ostrich farms are something truly remarkable. There are plenty that are hidden away, you can't see them from the street. But if you do some research, or find out a little there are unbelievable examples of these massive ostrich farms that were around 1900. Most were built around 1900 when the big boom in ostrich feathers took place. Each farmer basically tried to outdo the other. And you'll see many of these ostrich farms have a small tower. The towers mean nothing. There's no purpose - there are no steps up them... but, if you had a small tower on your house, it was a sign that you were extremely wealthy.
The Cango Caves
One of the main attractions near Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves. The Cango Caves are situated just outside Oudtshoorn. The Caves feature are estimated to be about 20 million years old and many people consider them to be one of the Wonders of the World. The tunnels in the Caves stretch for around 4 kilometres. You will find incredible stalacmite and stalactite limestone rock formations that are spectacular to see.
The Swartberg Pass
Another attraction near Oudtshoorn is the Swartberg Pass. It is considered one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the world, and is well worth a visit. It was built in the 1880s and is around 44 kilometres in length.
The Meerkat Magic Project
Another recommended stop when in Oudtshoorn is to visit the Meerkat Magic Project. This conservation project was setup by Grant McIlrath in 1993 to study meerkats in their natural environment. The project aims to garner support for meerkat conservation, and it is truly worth a visit. These incredible little creatures are extremely interesting, and is a must for wildlife lovers. Accommodation is available for those wishing to stay over, and get an early morning start viewing the meerkats.
The Wilgewandel holiday farm
The Wilgewandel holiday farm is another place one should consider visiting. Families will have a ton of fun things to do at Wilgewandel. They offer camel rides, donkey cart rides, waterslides and a whole host of animal feeding activities.There is a ton of things to do, so it is suggested to set aside an entire day at Wilgewandel.
Little Karoo National Arts Festival
A good time to visit Oudtshoorn is during the Little Karoo National Arts Festival which takes place in April or March. It takes place annually and is known in Afrikaans as the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK). It attracts over 1000 artists, and is the largest Arts Festival that takes place in South Africa. The first KKNK festival was held in 1994 and now an integral and well-attended event in the South Africa’s Arts calendar.
Accommodation in Oudtshoorn
There are a veritable ton of accommodation options in Oudtshoorn to suit all tastes & budgets. From simple camping or hostel budget options to luxury, indulgent accommodation – you will find your ideal place to stay. There are some really quirky and unique guesthouses that are found all over the town, so if you’re looking for something really original, check out the various Oudtshoorn Accommodation websites. Some of the more popular guesthouses in Oudtshoorn are: - The De Akker Guesthouse - Pictures Guesthouse - Mooiplaas Guesthouse - Oakdene Guesthouse