Focus on Oudtshoorn, Little Karoo, South Africa

This is the tourist capital of the Little Karoo and ostrich capital of South Africa with thousands of the beady-eyed birds all over the place. Big bodies but small brains, these long legged monsters eat pebbles to aid digestion and are particularly attracted to the odd earring or glinting necklace from unsuspecting tourists. At the turn of the century ostrich feathers were in such demand that the fashion conscious paid a premium and feathered the nests of the barons who built magnificent mansions known as ‘Feather Palaces’. This fine architecture can still be seen around the sedate and pleasant town.

There are several ostrich show farms which still sell the beautiful downy feathers but now make more money out of the desirable soft strong knobbly leather. There is also an export demand for the eggs, one of which makes an omelette for 20 people. At the show farms you can ride the birds in an ungainly and embarrassing manner or eat them in the restaurant. The meat is deliciously tender and contains no cholesterol.

There is no shortage of things to do in this locality with a tour through the fascinating Cango Caves of stalagmites and stalactites, and Cheetahland, a place where you can stroke the fastest animal on earth while it purrs like a tractor.

There are some spectacular mountain passes with the Swartberg Pass the most sensational in South Africa. The wonderful twisted sedimentary layers of rock sport colours that look as if a painter were splashing about with his palate. The 24 km road has some awesome sheer drops and hair pin bends leading down to great echoing canyons.

By: www.go2africa.com

About Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn is situated in the Klein Karoo 55 kilometres from the large coastal town of George. First class hotels, lodges, inns, and guesthouses await the visitor. Enjoy the relaxed, friendly, hospitable atmosphere offered in town or or at the various surrounding farms. Experience the joy of life in the country!

The Architecture: Exceptional stone masonary, lending that special touch. Admire the grandeur of the numerous "ostrich palaces", established in the times of the " feather boom". Conserved to this day as museums, guesthouses and dwellings for the discerning.

The Cango Caves: One of the worlds great natural wonders, sculptured by nature through the ages. It is situated close to the Klein Karoo Town of Oudtshoorn. Mysterious and breathtaking limestone formations in a wide variety of natural colours, a subterranean wonderland. Regular guided tours daily.

The Ostriches: Amidst the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, 3 have distinguished themselves worthy to be named " show farms". Become exposed to this exotic bird species, the largest in the world. Guided tours available.

The Klein Karoo National Arts festival: An Annual gathering in March/April, of more than 100 000 lovers of the various arts, for a week of dancing, films, cabaret, classical music, comedy, contemporary music, open air concerts, plays, literary art & poetry. A momentous event, enjoying international sponsorship. Taste the fine local wines and the excellent cuisine of the Restaurants - meals which could include ostrich - all exquisitely available to satisfy every taste.

Cheetahs: A highly successful breeding station of this threatened species. . . -one of the only two in the southern hemisphere. One of the foremost examples of Eco-tourism in the world and a superb mixture of conservation and tourism. You can get yourself photographed cuddling a cheetah cub, the fastest animal on land.

Crocodiles: Gaze with the awe at the slithering reptiles species from all over the world. Imagine... more than 400 crocodiles and alligators in their prehistoric unattractiveness. They're being bred here and they're awfully nice, as long as you don't get too close!

Rivers & Falls: Numerous rivers, streams and falls have their origins in the surrounding Swartberg, Outeniqua, Kamanassie mountain ranges. Waterfalls abound, and the visitor is fortunate to safely visit two examples at the Vrede and Meiringspoort falls.

Hiking and Biking: The eco-tourist, and those thriving on the outdoor life, alike, will be faced with a large selection of challenging opportunities. Hiking and biking trails are in abundance. Make your choice from lush subtropical to semi-arid. You will leave fulfilled!

Sport: Oudtshoorn is the hub of the region for the sport enthusiast, offering a challenging modern 18 hole golf course with full amenities and squash courts. Also, bowls, athletics, tennis, cricket, rugby, Olympic standard swimming pools, motorsport, miniature aircraft and many more.

By: www.gardenroute.co.za