World-renowned for the Cango Caves and as the Ostrich
Capital, but there's much more to Oudtshoorn than just that!
Surrounded by natural beauty, Oudtshoorn is situated at the foot
of the majestic Swartberg Mountain range. Numerous rivers, streams
and falls have their origins in the Swartberg, Outeniqua and Kamanassie
ranges around the town.
Waterfalls abound, and visitors can safely visit two spectacular
examples at Rus en Vrede and at Meiringspoort - a narrow, vertical
cleft in the Swartberg Mountain, with the road through crossing
the Meiring's River no less than 32 times!
Amidst the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, three have distinguished
themselves worthy enough to be named show farms. Get to know this
exotic bird species, and, for the more adventurous, take an ostrich
The Swartberg Pass, between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert, is one
of the most sensational drives in southern Africa, declared a national
monument. It is the masterpiece of a brilliant engineer, Thomas
Bain, and dates from the 1880's, when it was hand-built in 5 years'
One of the world's great natural wonders, the Cango Caves, was
sculpted by nature through the ages. Mysterious and breathtaking
limestone formations in a wide variety of natural colours, only
some 20 odd km from town. With daily guided tours, this is really
a trip worth-while.
Then there's the town itself. Exceptional stone masonry through
the ages led to that special touch. Admire the grandeur of the numerous
ostrich palaces, like Pinehurst, established in the times of the
feather boom. Conserved to this day as museums, guesthouses and
dwellings for the discerning.
Visit the C.P. Nel Museum, with the theme The Ostrich through the
Ages, and relive the booming Ostrich Era. Visit the home of the
famous C.J. Langenhoven, Arbeidsgenot, or any of the many historical
church buildings, or experience a walk over one of the most elegant
suspension bridges in the country. And just over the mountains is
the world-famous Garden Route!
And still it does not end - visit the Cheetah Breeding Farm, one
of the foremost examples of eco-tourism in the world. A superb mixture
of conservation and tourism. This is a highly successful breeding
station, one of only two in the southern hemisphere. Be photographed
cuddling a cheetah, the fastest animal on land.
And on your way (to or from) the Cheetah Farm, why not stop a while
at the Angore Rabbit show farm, and the charming Schoemanshoek Valley.
Or gaze with awe at the slithering reptile 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!
The Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn is the 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 and poetry.
A momentous event, enjoying international sponsorship.
The eco-tourist, and those thriving on the outdoor life, alike,
will be faced with a large selection of challenging opportunities.
Hiking and mountain biking trails are in abundance, with choices
ranging from lush sub-tropical to semi-arid. You will certainly
leave fulfilled. Then there are also some National Parks and private
Even in the sporting field, Oudtshoorn is the hub of the region,
offering a challenging modern 18-hole golf course with full amenities,
as well as squash courts, bowls, athletics, tennis, cricket, rugby,
olympic standard swimming pools, motorsport and miniature aircraft.
Or you can do some horse riding, or one of various 4x4 routes,
or what about white-water rafting.
First class hotels, lodges, inns and guesthouses await the visitor.
Enjoy the relaxed, friendly, hospitable atmosphere offered in town,
or at the various surrounding farms. Experience the joy of life
in the country, and breathe in the healthy, unpolluted air.
Taste the art of fine local wines - dine on the excellent cuisine
of the restauranteurs, from a five-course meal, which could include
ostrich, to a delightful, lighter meal, all exquisitely available
to satisfy every taste.
In 1689, ensign Izak Schrijver was the first person to document
the Olifants River Valley. In years to come, this valley became
home to a flourishing farming community, owing its prosperity to
the Ostrich and Tobacco industires.
The elgant sandstone buildings, many of which are proclaimed National
Monuments, are a manifestation of the wealth and culture of the
The town itself was laid out by surveyor J Ford in 1847-48, on
C P Rademeyer's farm, Hartebeesrivier, and was named in honour of
the wife of the then magistrate at George, Mrs Geesje Ernestina
Johanna Bergh, a granddaughter of Pieter, Baron van Reede Van Oudtshoorn.