Ostriches and Caves in Oudtshoorn

Have you ever wondered what it is like to ride on an ostrich?  Squeeze through tight passageways in underground caves?  Or take a scenic drive along the arid landscape? Well, we had a chance to do all three in the town of Oudtshoorn (located in the Western Cape of South Africa).  If you start the day early, you can do all three activities in one day.

Ostriches Galore

After driving along the Whale Coastal Route, we made our way to the town of Oudtshoorn.  This town is home to the world’s largest ostrich population.  There were so many ostrich farms along the roads.  It was such a beautiful sight to see their wings span out and their graceful walk across the fields.

We saw ostriches in action at the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm in Oudtshoorn. Our hostel manager at Karoo Soul Backpackers recommended going to this farm and he also provided us with a discounted rate of 42 rand/$6 USD (usually 66 rand/$9 USD).  Many accommodations, especially hostels, will provide discounted rates for activities in the area.

The day started with a tour of the facilities.  We learned that male feathers were considered more beautiful and valuable than female feathers.  Male feathers would be used in attire or decorations; female feathers would be used as dusters.

What is the life expectancy of ostriches?  Ostriches tend to live up to 55 years old in the wild; they tend to live up to 30 to 40 years old on the show farm.

Have you ever tried ostrich?  Ostrich meat is super delicious and healthy.  The taste is similar to beef, however, it is leaner.  If you have the chance, I would highly recommend eating ostrich meat.

After our tour, we had a close encounter with the ostriches and had a chance to ride them.  It was quite a weird experience as your legs were tucked under the feathers and yours hands are safely planted on the incredibly flexible neck.  We were in a closed environment so we did not have to worry about going out into the wild.  To land on the ground, we slid off the ostrich’s bottom.

We also had a chance to see an ostrich race. I felt awful in the beginning as I watched these animals race for our amusement. But I could not stop the feeling of excitement (such as watching a horse race) as I watched the ostriches race to the finish line.  Go Road Runner Go!

The Magic of the Caves

After our adventure with the ostriches, we made our way to the Cango Caves.  If you feel active, I would highly recommend the adventure tour.  Through our hostel, we received a discounted rate of 70 rand, $10 dollars (usually 80 rand, $11 dollars).  There were so many small passageways to squeeze through that I felt like a genie in a bottle.

I felt like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade as I made my way through the dark passageways.  The Indiana Jones tune (dun dun dun…) was my soundtrack as I made my way through the magical caves.

The Cango Caves were formed over 20 million years ago when acidic ground water chemically eroded the limestone.  Within the caves you will see dramatic stalactites and stalagmites.  Supposedly the earliest people found shelter here 80,000 years ago.  The caves were discovered in 1780 by Dutch colonialists. 

I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes and clothing.  The tour lasts a few hours.  If you have the time, you can watch a short film about the caves and visit the small museum.

A Scenic Drive into the Arid Landscape

After our pretty full day of ostriches and caves, we made our way to the Swarthberg Pass.  The Swarthberg Pass is considered to be one of the most spectacular drives in South Africa.  From the sandstone architecture to the small town ambiance, it makes for unforgettable drive.

To reach the Swartberg Pass, take the R328 (also known as Cango Valley Rd.) north of Oudtshoorn.  At the summit, you will enjoy amazing views of the Klein Karoo region.  The arid landscape coupled with the rocky formations make for a picture perfect moment.

For another scenic drive and to return to Oudtshoorn, take the R407 where you can travel through the Meiringspoort Pass, a natural ravine created by the Groot River.   Then, drive along the N12 to return back to Oudtshoorn.  Make sure you start driving back before sunset as the drive can be a bit dangerous at night.


About Jan

In 2004 and 2010, I set aside time to travel the world in 3 parts. In 2004, I traveled to Thailand, Europe, and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. In 2010, I traveled to 3 continents: Asia, South America, and Africa. I am not sure if I have a fascination with the number 3, but I seem to be constantly traveling by numbers.
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4 Responses to Ostriches and Caves in Oudtshoorn

  1. Shu says:

    Your website is so pretty!! You got to ride on ostriches!! Did you ride on camels too? Looks like fun =)

  2. Li says:

    Love your post. Thanks for sharing your fun ostriches riding experience. 😉

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