Outdoor experiences for all ages
Whether you are 8 or 80 and whether you want to be adventurous or simply relax in nature, Oudtshoorn is the place to be. Have you ever winked at a crocodile, or walked with an elephant, kissed by an ostrich or looked a giraffe in the eye? If not, come to Oudtshoorn and we will show you how and where.
Tourists find it amazing that, within a few minutes from town, they can dive with crocodiles, have breakfast while watching hippos, feed elephants, ride camels, donkey carts and tractors and walk in caves formed millions of years ago.
There is so much to see in the Klein Karoo and so much to learn that it would probably fill several books. Did you know, for instance, that there are three different types of ostriches – even a pygmy ostrich – and that you can see all of them right here on our doorstep? Were you aware that the oldest ostrich show farm in the world is near Oudtshoorn and that you can time-travel millions of years into the past by simply going underground? If you thought that you would have to travel to the Sahara to ride a camel or go to India to walk with elephants, you would be wrong.
And, if you think you would never get close enough to a crocodile to smell its breath, you would also be wrong. (Although you probably won’t smell its breath under water, but you will certainly be able to count its teeth as it grins right in your face.)
So, let’s take you on a quick tour of what is waiting to be explored:
Formed deep under the Swartberg Mountains millions of years ago, these caves are known across the world for their spectacular chambers. At the moment, due to strict Covid regulations, only the heritage tour is available and takes visitors through six breathtaking chambers. The guided tour is an easy walk of 60 minutes and includes some stairways. The caves are situated 27 km from Oudtshoorn and open seven days a week, from 09:00 to 16:00 but closed on 25 December.
Wilgewandel Holiday Farm
This is the ideal spot for parents and grandparents to stretch their legs while the kids get rid of cropped-up energy. Situated only 2 km from the Cango Caves, Wilgewandel offers a variety of activities for the whole family. There are camel-rides, water slides, trampolines and rowing boats, to name only a few. Those who are thirsty, peckish or really hungry have a wide variety of menu items to be enjoyed in the shaded area, from where the whole children’s area can be watched.
Cango Ostrich Farm
Situated only 14 km from Oudtshoorn, right next to the road leading to the Cango Caves, is Cango Ostrich Farm. Park your car and take a guided tour on foot to see what ostriches are all about. Here you will also discover that not all ostriches are taller than a human being, because at Cango Ostrich Farm you will also meet dwarf ostriches. Before returning to town or continuing towards the mountain for more adventures, visit the restaurant for some nourishment and browse through the gift shop in the main building.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
Would you like to walk with elephants… or be hugged by one? Have you ever been on a bush safari or watched a family of meerkat enjoying the sun and performing their daily rituals? These are only some of the activities offered by Buffelsdrift Game Lodge where you can stay as long as you please, because they also offer excellent accommodation and a restaurant with scrumptious meals. A short drive of only 6,5 km out of town will take you to the entrance and then it’s a hop, skip and jump before reaching the parking area above the main building. Luxury tented accommodation, game drives, walks and sipping a sundowner while watching hippos in the large dam is the perfect way to experience Africa in the Klein Karoo.
Cango Wildlife Ranch
The expression “animal encounters” aptly describes what Cango Wildlife Ranch offers. There are more animals, birds and reptiles to see than you will ever be able to remember after a visit. Follow your guide through an area filled with bats of all sizes, cross a shaking bridge, and meet Oudtshoorn’s famous crocodiles. If you are brave enough and not afraid to venture into the play pen of these pre-historic wonders, treat yourself to a cage-dive with them. Cango Wildlife Ranch is also home to a world-renowned cheetah conservation centre… the only place in the Klein Karoo where you can sit next to one of these magnificent animals and hear it purr (but much, much louder than a cat). If you are not brave enough, then follow the catwalk and see the variety of wild cats from a distance. There is a restaurant and a well-stocked gift shop where you can conclude your visit.
Safari Ostrich Show Farm
When last did you take a ride on a big trailer behind a tractor? If you visit Safari Ostrich Show Farm you will be taken on an ostrich tour on one of these, but probably in more comfort than the one you last experienced on Uncle Pete’s farm. During the tour you will not only see South African ostriches, but also Kenyan and Zimbabwean ones. Safari Ostrich Farm is situated only 6 km from Oudtshoorn, on the road to Mossel Bay. It has a gift shop where choice products made from ostrich leather is on display and the many trees in the spacious garden as well as the wide verandah at the main building offer you the perfect setting to sit down and have a light meal or a slice of cake and a cuppa from the coffee shop.
Chandelier Game Lodge
Is it possible to look a giraffe in the eye? Yes, if you visit Chandelier Game Lodge. Here you can take your time and get really close to these majestic animals. And if you are lucky enough, you may be able to feed one. Chandelier is sprawled over a large area and offers the ideal opportunity to experience the natural veld on one of its game drives on your way to see the buffalo. You will be greeted by Njoem the Khoi-San who lives at Chandelier and who will take you on a short walk to introduce you to the way the Khoi-San have lived off and cared for nature for hundreds of years. Chandelier also offers accommodation, and apart from stocking game it is a working ostrich farm. It is situated 7 km from Oudtshoorn on the road to George.
Highgate Ostrich Show Farm
A visit to Highgate means a visit to the world’s very first and original ostrich show farm, open to visitors since 1938. Apart from this achievement, it also features an internationally known restaurant, The Pepper Tree. Highgate will introduce you to all the facets of the ostrich industry, from breeding to plucking and the manufacturing of various items made from leather, feathers and eggs. All these are sold in a well-stocked gift shop. Hop onto a donkey cart, visit the different camps where ostriches are kept and convince yourself of the strength of an ostrich egg by standing on one. (The egg, not the ostrich.)
Nova Hot Air Balloons
After you have followed all the roads that have taken you to every corner of the Klein Karoo you might want to see from the air where you have been. Or perhaps, before you set off, you would like an aerial view of the area to ascertain which road will be leading you in what direction. Whatever the reason, you can do it in the comfort of the safest mode of air transport known to man – a hot-air balloon. Nova Hot Air Balloons are situated on the Garden Route, but they also undertake flights from Oudtshoorn. Allow the qualified pilots to take you to the sky and follow the wind wherever it takes you. This is certainly an event that should be on anyone’s bucket list. Imagine getting airborne at sunrise and quietly floating high above the ground without wings, without a roaring engine and without windows preventing the wind from blowing in your hair.