Oudtshoorn is a small town located in the Western Province of South Africa, and is the biggest town inside of the Little Karoo area. Holding the biggest number of ostriches on earth, Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world. It contains numerous specialised ostrich breeding farms and it is not only loved for its wide big bird population, but also for its exquisite contrasts and natural splendour. There are also plenty of fun and interesting things to participate in in Oudtshoorn that are suited to most any age.
The ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn are drenched in rich history, making it a fascinating subject to learn about when travelling through this area. The development and history of the town is almost directly related to the growth of the feather industry from the 1860s. At one point in time, ostrich feathers were considered extremely fashionable to the more elite of society, thus resulting in a booming ostrich feather export industry throughout Oudtshoorn. Expert guides offer intriguingly educational tours, leading you through all aspects of ostrich farming as well as the significant roles that these big birds play in the daily life of the town.
The Provincial Nature Conservation Authority, Cape Nature, is responsible for the running of two of the Klein Karoo’s biggest wilderness regions, including the Swartberg Nature Reserve and Gamkaberg Nature Reserve. Most guests know of the Gamkaberg from having explored the Tierkloof Ravine – one of the most private and pristine areas of the country, whilst most Swartberg guests have become familiar with the Reserve from exploring the Swartberg Pass and from paying visits to ‘Die He’ (‘The Hell’).
As with most things in the Klein Karoo, there is much more to the Swartberg and Gamkaberg than initially thought. Both of these beautiful areas offer a true wilderness encounter that can be enjoyed through a wide selection of trails, including Swartberg Hiking Trail and plenty of 4X4 routes. There are fantastic accommodations on offer here, such as comfy campsites, bush camps and even historic cottages that are filled with charm and quaint allure.
The Klein Karoo, specifically in the Oudtshoorn region, provides a wide array of bird-friendly environments that ensure that a large array of birds can be observed from within fairly close proximity from the hotels and guest houses in the area. These habitats range from lush plant life along the constant streams, the thick vegetation on the hill escarpments, the fynbos which can be found on the hilltops and on Swartberg itself, to the vast bushveld with succulent shrubbery and man-made living environments such as dams.
A perfect getaway for most anyone who enjoys nature, Oudtshoorn is without a doubt one of South Africa’s fantastic features that is not to be missed when visiting the country. The town might be relatively small, but is always entertaining and filled to the brim with natural beauty.