Oudsthoorn is a small town in the Klein Karoo just 65 km north of George. It is nothing special to look at but it happens to be the focal location for three special tourist activities, namely Meerkats, Ostriches and the Cango Caves.
Perhaps the first thing to know about the town is how to pronounce the name properly – just think of “Oats Horn”.
Just outside the town on Route 62 is the De Zeekoe guest farm. The burrow system on the farm is said to be centuries old and it is probably the best place to see these fascinating animals. Here the meerkats are used to humans and are not inhibited in any way by your presence. But you have to be up early which means that the best place to stay is on the De Zeekoe farm itself
Meerkats hate the cold and only surface once the first rays of sunlight hits their burrow. The first one up is the sentinel; it turns to face the sun then to study the people and the surrounding bush before gazing skyward to check for their main predators, birds of prey.
Then, one at a time, the others will come up to join her and line up to greet the sun. Then it’s on with the business of foraging for grubs whilst the youngsters play.
Allow 3 hours for the tour.
Ostrich farming has flourished in the Klein Karoo for over a century and Oudstshoorn has been the centre of the trade throughout.
Originally these birds were prized only for their feathers, highly fashionable in Europe and the USA during the Art Nouveau period The industry went into decline between the wars but now is big business again, the main appeal nowadays being the lean, healthy, high protein meat whilst the skins, primarily used for handbags and other leather products. Plus tourism, of course!
There are a number of ostrich farms around Oudtshoorn, with tours organised on a daily basis. Here you can see how the birds are bred as well as the various ways in which ostrich products are fashioned and marketed.
The Cango Caves
Situated just 30km to the north of Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves are said to have been discovered by a farmer in 1780.
The caves contain halls and limestone formations and are open for tours almost every day of year, although it is essential to book first. There Standard Tour which takes an hour and the Adventure Tour, which involves getting on your hands and knees and lasts an hour and a half.
Checkout the Oudtshoorn Information website for information on all these activities.