Swartberge Nature Reserve, Klein-karoo, Garden Route, South Africa
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Deutsche Fassung German translated articles

Oudtshoorn, the centre of the Klein Karoo

A visit to Oudtshoorn has always been on my travel wish list, but it only materialised in November 2023 when Bernie and I planned a trip to the Garden Route.

Bernie’s last visit to Oudsthoorn, the world’s ostrich capital, was several years ago. Therefore, we were very keen on visiting this unique location again.

Oudtshoorn attracts travellers worldwide who are touring the Garden Route or going on the legendary Route 62. The small town is in a ‘semi-desert’ called the Klein Karoo. This beautiful location is situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, just an hour’s drive from George or an hour and 15 minutes from Mossel Bay.

Like most travellers who visit this area, we only stayed in Oudtshoorn for less than three days.

This article recommends the best attractions, activities and accommodations around Oudtshoorn.

church in Roodewal , Oudtshoorn, South Africa

The scenic beauty around Oudtshoorn

The landscape around Oudtshoorn is very diverse. The town is surrounded by majestic mountain ranges like the imposing Swartberg Mountains. The arid yet inviting environment creates a picturesque backdrop of vast plains, barren hills and spectacular gorges.

The Swartberg Mountains, which translates to “Black Mountains” in English, offer a unique canvas favourite among nature lovers and hikers. The rugged rock formations and deep gorges invite you to explore this mountain range’s breathtaking scenery. The Swartberg Pass, a historic mountain road, offers exquisite views of the surrounding landscape and is an absolute highlight for road trippers. Moreover, the landscape around Oudtshoorn is a fascinating mix of desert charm and abundant wildlife that captivates visitors and invites them to enjoy various outdoor activities.

Swartberg mountains, Klein Karoo, South Africa
The Swartberg Mountain range

Best attractions in or near Oudtshoorn

  • Five shy Meerkats at De Zeekoe Lodge Guest Farm (the sister lodge of Wildehondekloof). Watch our Youtube vlog about Wildehondekloof! This is an early morning experience where you can see the amazing creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Wildehondekloof Game Reserve offers stargazing tours on clear evenings.
  • Giraffe and buffalo walks on the neighbouring farm to Wildehondekloof
  • Enjoy a tractor ride at Safari Ostrich Farm 
  • Cango Caves, the world-famous caves, offer interesting experiences for young, old, and the super adventurous (read brave)
  • Cango Wildlife Ranch for up-close experiences with crocodiles, big cats and many more. It’s worth visiting, particularly for children.
  • Wine and Gin Tasting. There are several wineries in the area.
  • Swartberg experience. Drive the Swartberg Pass, the highest-rated pass and a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site. This challenging but scenic pass is a great way to experience the Klein Karoo. This circle route takes you over the pass to Prins Albert (the most beautiful town – worth visiting) and then back via Meiringspoort. It is about a three drive. On route visit “Kobus se gat”. Here, you can enjoy traditional Karoo cuisine on an open fire.

#1 Visit an ostrich farm

Once in the heart of the former “ostrich capital of the world”, visiting an ostrich farm is almost mandatory.

According to our knowledgeable hosts at the Wildehondekloof Guest Lodge, the ostrich boom peaked in the 1900s when ostrich feathers were considered a lucrative export. However, in the 1940s, ostrich farms went through financial difficulties but enabled some farmers to successfully switch to breeding ostriches for meat and leather. Today, many ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn serve as historical sites and tourist attractions. Visitors can visit the farms, learn more about ostrich farming, and even participate in interactive tours. The ostrich industry has evolved significantly, focusing mostly on feathers, meat, leather, and tourism.

We visited one of the most well-known ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn, the Safari Ostrich Farm, where we learned many interesting facts about the giant birds. If you know my travel buddy Bernie well, it is no surprise that we bought several ostrich leather goods in the farm’s stunning boutique.

Safari Ostrich Farm, Oudtshoorn, South Africa, Klein Karoo
Fütterung der Riesenvögel auf der Straußenfarm

#2 Do a meerkat tour in Oudtshoorn

In Oudtshoorn, you can experience meerkat encounters in the wild. Meerkat tours at De Zeekoe guest farm provide fascinating opportunities to observe these charming creatures in their natural habitat.

Interstingly, meerkats are known for their social behaviour and inquisitive nature, which makes these tours an unforgettable experience. Note: Visitors must get up very early to experience this unique phenomenon.

#3 Explore the Cango Caves

The Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn are impressive stalactite caves, among the most impressive in the world. These one-of-a-kind caves offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore stalactite formations and underground caves.

There are various cave chambers, some open to the public all year round. Two main tours are available at Cango Caves, the “Heritage Tour” and the “Adventure Tour”, which allows visitors to experience unique caves.

Adventure seekers (read “the brave”) should opt to do the “Adventure Tour”. This tour is not for the fainthearted or persons suffering from claustrophobia or dark ‘cramped’ places. You have to squeeze through narrow crevices in certain places, for example.

Cango Caves
Entrance to the Cango Caves

Is it necessary to book tickets in advance for tours in the Cango Caves?

Yes, booking tickets in advance for these tours is highly recommended.

What are the costs of tours in the Cango Caves?

The cost for the Heritage Tour at the Cango Caves:

Heritage tours are available daily at the Cango Caves between 9.00 to 16.00

The cost of the Heritage Tours for adults is R 170 (€8.50)

The cost of the Heritage Tours for Children is R 120 (€6.00)

 

The cost for the Adventure Tour at the Cango Caves:

Adventure tours are available daily between 9.30 to 15.30

The cost for adults on the Adventure tour in the Cango Caves is R 240 (€12.00)

The cost for Children on the Adventure tour in the Cango Caves is R 170 (€8.50)

#4 Explore the Swartberg Pass and Prince Albert

Although we would have loved to drive the Swartberg Pass and visit Prince Albert (bucket list items), we had limited time. Please watch out for future articles that include this scenic route of South Africa’s Garden Route.
The serene landscape of Wildehondekloof in the Klein Karoo A gravel road in the country side with flowers and mountain
The serene landscape of Wildehondekloof in the Klein Karoo

Where to stay in Oudtshoorn?

We stayed at Wildehondekloof Lodge (40 minutes outside Oudshoorn) in Wildehonde Private Game Reserve. To read more about our exclusive stay at Widlehondekloof Lodge, click here for the full article.

Wildehondekloof Lodge is the ideal location to enjoy this breathtaking landscape. Visitors can join the twice-daily organised safaris with game vehicles or enjoy mountain biking or hiking in the scenic landscape of the Klein Karoo. Don’t delay; book your stay at Wildehondekloof Lodge today and use our discount code “Travebuddieslifestyle” for a 5% discount on accommodation at the Lodge.

Wildehondekloof Private Game Reserve near Oudtshoorn Garden with large swimming pool
Wildehondekloof Lodge

Conclusion

Oudtshoorn, particularly Wildehondekloof, is the perfect location for nature lovers looking for an extraordinary wildlife experience in a relaxed luxury setting. Our stay was unforgettable and fondly reminded us of a region filled with diversity and unparalleled beauty.

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Activities near Oudtshoorn

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About Author

Petra Top is a dynamic freelance travel journalist hailing from Altusried, Germany, who expertly balances her roles as a Motorsport enthusiast, translator, author, and social media strategist. Her expert skill set includes web designing, multilingual communications, and photography, enriched by notable memberships in international travel and food writers' organisations. Petra's life philosophy—"I travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape me"—captivates her audience, reflecting her passion for exploration and sustainable innovation at Travel Buddies Lifestyle.

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