Still looking for your holiday escape?
With the school holidays approaching you may still be looking for a family escape in a place where you can breathe fresh, small-town air, explore, and indulge in some of the best wine and food around.
Four and a half hours from Cape Town, on the renowned R62, Oudtshoorn is a town for all ages. Having recently spent a week there, I realize that a long weekend may not be enough time to experience all this Klein Karoo town has to offer.
Quite apart from the beautiful landscape, Oudtshoorn is framed by the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains, giving guests unique entry through one of the many mountain passes that lead into the town. Off-road adventurers will be charmed by the Swartberg Circle Route passing the road to Gamkaskloof and through Meiringspoort with its famous waterfall. I understand from chatting to visitors that the falls are spectacular at the moment.
On the list of must-do’s for families definitely include a visit to Cango Caves – a natural phenomenon dating back millennia. Their guides offer insight into an underground magical world where brave adventurers once discovered these subterranean tunnels which are now an international tourist attraction and a natural world wonder.
On the way back into town from the caves, allocate enough time to stop at Cango Wildlife Ranch for lunch and an opportunity take up their special deal of a guided tour, meal and soft drink plus an animal greeting. Have your camera ready, there are many photo opportunities around every corner. Cango Wildlife Ranch are partners with the Cheetah Preservation Fund, do ask your guide about this important global project.
For wine, gin and food lovers the choice may be difficult given the many options in this area. Karusa wine produces top quality red and white wines and my favourite MCC. Other local wines found in this area include Grundheim, who also produce stunning gins and a rather lovely rum with the funkiest label I have ever seen. Domein Doornkraal is another great option so do include them in your itinerary.
If, like me, you are an olive fan then do not drive past Surval Boutique Olive Estate, I am so enthralled with their garlic and rosemary olives that I am about to courier a few bottles back to my home in Cape Town. De Rustica, just outside the quaint town of De Rust, makes award-winning olive oils having recently won the best olive oil in the world accolade. Naturally, a few bottles of this precious oil also travelled home with me.
Amongst favourite restaurants it is a good idea to visit Nostalgie Restaurant, Black Swan and their sister bistro, Mintt. We had a most delicious breakfast at Café Brulé at Queens Hotel and Cape Karoo Ostrich Emporium is open during the day for light meals.
Adrenaline junkies can get their thrills at Cango Caves Ziplines located at the parking area of the caves and the Skydiving company located at the airport is definitely an option for those brave of heart.
Accommodation options range from affordable B&B’s and Guest Houses to star-graded hotels. There are a number of self-catering, backpackers and camping options in the area. If, however, you are looking for a Big 5 game experience to add even more adventure to your trip, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge situated just outside the town is your stop.
This luxury tented camp offers game drives, elephant greeting, lion feeding and an opportunity to learn more about their Endangered Wildlife Trust work ensuring gene pool purity for cheetahs. Morning and afternoon cheetah walks are available, and funds raised on this excursion go directly to the trust.