Small Town, Big Hearts: Oudtshoorn

There’s a lot more to Oudtshoorn than just ostriches. We explore some of this small Karoo town’s other magical endearments…

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There’s a lot more than meets the eye to Oudtshoorn. This once-sleepy village on the outskirts of the Klein Karoo is a popular milestone on a trip down to the Garden Route as it marks the end of the dry, flat Karoo and the start of the Outeniqua Mountains – the last barrier to cross before arriving at the evergreen Garden Route coast. For those who take the time to stop in Oudtshoorn, however, there’s plenty of adventure to be found even before the mountain passes begin.

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Known as the Ostrich Capital of South Africa, Oudtshoorn does indeed offer many feathered and flightless activities. From ostrich racing to egg-eating competitions, curio shopping to farm visits, ostriches are indeed the lifeblood of this little town.

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Beyond the farms lie the Cango Caves. South Africa’s biggest natural underground cave complex, the Cango Caves is a breathtaking marvel that absolutely has to be explored to be believed. Guided access on the site will take you deep underground and into some of the most spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations in the world, glittering with light and filled with spooky shadows. The neighbouring Wildlife Ranch offers excitement of a different kind in the bright above-ground sun

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The nearby Swartberg Mountain Range, part of the Cape Floral World Heritage Site, is packed with stunning examples of fynbos, succulents and other wonderfully eye-catching plant life. Enjoy a hike or a mountain bike ride through the quiet dusty tracks before settling down for the night to enjoy a hearty meal of Karoo lamb, cooked to perfection at any one of the many quaint B&B’s around the area.

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The town of Oudtshoorn itself offers some fantastic accommodation options. Friendly locals who are always up for a chat and a pint can be found on all corners of the town and inside some of its wonderful homely bars and restaurants – always curious about what takes travellers beyond the borders of the town they call home. In the words of one of the better known B&B hosts on the town’s main thoroughfare: “It does, after all, offer everything anyone could ever want. So what’s the point in carrying on to travel somewhere else?”

Article by Andrew Pearson – http://www.southafrica.net/