Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn is the "ostrich capital of the world", situated in the Western Cape in South Africa and world-known for its ostrich farms and the nearby Cango Caves.

Understand

The town was founded in 1847, but scarce local water supplies limited the town's growth. However, despite the lack of water, ostrich farming proved to be a prosperous local industry, leading to significant growth during two "feather booms". During the first boom, which lasted from 1865-1870, the value of ostrich feathers (per pound) nearly matched the value of diamonds. Overproduction led to falling prices, although a smaller boom occurred from 1900-1914.

Today the town's economy is primarily reliant on tourism and ostrich farming, with the largest ostrich population of any place in the world. The human population is about 60,000, making it the largest town in the Little Karoo region.

Get in

By plane

There is no airport in Oudtshoorn. The nearest airports are in George (very small, local flights only), Port Elizabeth (domestic flights only) and Cape Town (domestic and international flights).

By bus

The main bus companies serve Oudtshoorn on regular schedules.

By car

It`s a scenic drive on the R62 from Montagu and the trip from George over the Outeniqua pass offers some spectacular views. Worth the drive!

By train

Up until a few years ago there was a regular train service east to Port Elizabeth as well as south to George, Knysna and Cape Town. However, these trains have been stopped and as of early February 2007 there are no scheduled passenger trains to or from Oudtshoorn.

See

The Cango Caves.

Do

Ostrich farms

The "feather barons" made Oudtshoorn the "ostrich capital of the world", and today tourists can visit some ostrich farms in town. In most cases these are show farms, set up specifically for visitors, and most offer the same experience - an hour-long tour that explains everything about ostrich farming, from incubation through ostrich products, a visit to see the animals including a chance to feed ostriches and ride an ostrich (subject to weight limits), and finally a trip to the gift shop to purchase ostrich souvenirs. Don't expect the same experience as you would get seeing wild ostriches roaming the savannah - ostrich farms are most definitely farms, and the animals are domestic animals raised for human consumption, so they are not treated with the same respect as their wild brethren. Nonetheless, if you can get past any moral qualms the farms are interesting places that are worth a visit. Many farms offer discounts to guests of hotels that they have partnerships with, so be sure to ask at your hotel before visiting a farm.

Other activities

Climbing near Oudtshoorn

Events

Buy


Eat

As this is the ostrich capital, this is the place to taste everything one can get out of this species. Most of the ostrich (show) farms offer a restaurant or braai facilities.

Drink

Sleep

Go next

Go to the Garden Route and visit the Tsitsikamma National Park. Cape Town is also not far away (go there via the scenic R62).

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.