“The Ultimate Destination…”
Welcome to Oudtshoorn, situated on the edge of the Garden Route, this is the largest town in the Klein Karoo.
Oudtshoorn (pronounced “oats – horn”) offers all the amenities of a regional capital, with all the charm of a traditional “plattelandse dorp” (rural town).
Experience the joy of life in the country and breathe in the healthy, unpolluted air. Taste the art of the fine local wines and dine on the excellent cuisine of restaurateurs from a five course meal which could include Ostrich (Oudtshoorn is home to the largest ostrich population in the world!)
Outdshoorn is a town with the most sunny days per year in the whole country, 365 sunshine days, 4 summers and sunny, dry winters. Shielded from the coastal belt by the mountain ranges, the Klein Karoo also enjoys mostly windless days.
Set in a fertile valley cupped by the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountain ranges, this farming area and town owed its early affluence to the Ostrich Feather Booms of the 1880’s and the early twentieth century. Nowadays, it relies mainly on agriculture and tourism for its economy.
The area was originally inhabited by Bushmen, evident by the many rock paintings that are found in caves throughout the surrounding mountains.
The Klein Karoo is described as a botanical hotspot. It is the only place where fynbos (the Cape Floristic Kingdom) overlaps thicket and succulent vegetation. The surrounding Swartberg Mountains are listed as part of the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage site!
Every road into the Klein Karoo crosses a spectacular mountain pass and all lead through this fantastic vegetation. Nowhere else in the world can you find so much floral diversity within such close proximity: A semi-desert scarcely 80km away from a coastal rainforest…it’s almost hard to imagine.
Oudtshoorn is the start of the Route 62 wine route. Some of the best South African Port style wines are produced in the surrounding areas.
Enjoy a selection of accommodation from first class hotels to safari lodges, inns to guesthouses. These are either found in town or at various surrounding farms, but you are assured of a relaxed, friendly, hospitable atmosphere offered by the Klein Karoo locals.
The wealth from the Ostrich Booms disappeared as quickly as it came, leaving only a legacy of beautiful architecture in the Art Nouveau and Victorian styles. Some of the main historical landmarks include:
- The CP Nel Museum. In 1972 the CP Nel collection was brought to its present home. As a result, this sandstone building, with its beautiful clock tower, was saved from demolition. The building as a whole dates back to the second “ostrich feather boom” (1900 – 1914) and was declared a National Monument in 1981.
- Arbeidsgenot, the home of C.J. Langenhoven, known as the father of the Afrikaans Language
- Le Roux Townhouse Built in 1909, when Oudtshoorn was in the midst of the second Ostrich Feather Boom. Money being no object, this Townhouse was designed by one of Oudtshoorn’s best-known architects, with the most modern innovations, and built with the best of imported and local materials.
- The Dutch Reformed Church, the oldest church in town, erected in 1837.
- Ride an Ostrich at one of the farms. Some of the most popular farms include the Safari Show Farm, The Cango Ostrich Farm and the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm.
- Visit the Cango Caves, a mere 30 kilometers outside of town and certainly one of the main reasons for placing this Oudtshoorn on your itinerary. This is the largest show cave in Africa and is home to some of the biggest stalagmite formations in the world.
- Cango Wildlife Ranch Where you can get close and personal with Lemurs, Cheetahs, Tigers, Caracal Lynx, Reptiles, Giant Tegus and more. They even offer Crocodile Cage Diving encounters! This Ranch is biggest and oldest Cheetah contact center in the world.
- Meerkat Tours Experience the magic of walking with Wild Meerkats, the only Meerkat conservation project in the world. Observe & Conserve with this unique eco-tourism project!
- Oudtshoorn Hot Air Ballooning, a unique sensation with breathtaking views.
- Camel Rides, enroute to the Cango Caves.
- Swartberg Adventures offering multi-activity day trips. Includes hiking, quad biking, kayaking, caving and abseiling.
- Explore Route 62, modeled after the iconic US Route 66. Following mountain passes leading to lush green valley’s boasting crystal streams and rock faces dating from hundreds of millions of years ago. Also home to no fewer than 500 different species of succulents, an abundance of orchards and vineyards too. It’s reputed to be the longest wine route in the world!
- The Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees, better known as the KKNK (“Little Karoo National Arts Festival”), is South Africa’s largest Afrikaans language arts festival and takes place in Oudtshoorn every year. South Africa’s biggest Arts Fest
- The Klein Karoo Klassique, a festival of classical music and Klein Karoo cuisine, wines and art.
Getting There (approximate figures)
Whichever way you approach it, you’ll have to traverse a mountain pass to get to Oudtshoorn. George and Mossel Bay are the closest coastal towns, a scenic approximate 1 hour’s drive.
Click here for all listed accommodation in Oudtshoorn and the nearby vicinity.