Oudtshoorn tours & holiday packagesGateway to the Klein Karoo
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Race an ostrich, cage dive with crocodiles, crawl through the Devil's Chimney and drive one of South Africa's most scenic mountain passes.
Oudtshoorn in South Africa's Western Cape is home to a collection of rather quirky attractions. The Karoo town lies in the foothills of the Swartberg mountains and is an ideal place to base yourself when you are exploring the Klein, or Little, Karoo, a semi-arid region in the interior.
Prepare to be overwhelmed by ostriches; Oudtshoorn is the global capital of these large birds, with the biggest population of ostriches in the world. Attend an ostrich derby, sample some ostrich-neck stew (it tastes better than it sounds) at one of the town's many excellent restaurants, or visit one of the "volstruis paleis" or ostrich palaces, the mansions of the ostrich feather barons who once flourished here. Most of these elaborate Victorian houses have since been converted into guesthouses or restaurants.
Swartberg Pass is a must when visiting Oudshoorn. You can drive it in a ordinary sedan but I recommend a multi-terrain vehicle with a bit more ground clearance. Pack a picnic basket and stop at the look-out points. Be sure to leave the wine at home, the hairpin turns require nerves of steel and a clear head.
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At the Cango Wildlife Ranch, you can cage dive with giant Nile crocodiles, while at the Cango Caves avid spelunkers can scamper through narrow passages with names like the Tunnel of Love and Devil's Chimney. Quaint Karoo towns like Barrydale, Prince Albert and Calitzdorp are also a stone's throw from Oudtshoorn and are great day-trip destinations. Foodies will love the road stalls and small restaurants on the way that sell the region's wine, fresh produce and, of course, ostrich meat.
If you have access to a multi-terrain vehicle, a drive along the Swartberg mountain pass is a must. The pass snakes through gorges and winds through hairpin turns so tight they'll have you clutching the car's panic handles. The views are worth it, though; Swartberg Pass offers probably the best panorama of the Klein Karoo.
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Reviews on our Oudtshoorn safaris
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