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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in South Africa

Oudtshoorn: the small town with big appeal

If you like exploring under your own steam, ‘the ostrich capital of the world’ has plenty of treasures waiting to be discovered…

By Alisha Kirk
Academy and Special Projects manager and head tour guide at Tourvest Destination Management

If you like exploring under your own steam, Oudtshoorn has plenty of treasures waiting to be discovered. It’s known as ‘the ostrich capital of the world’, and the trade has definitely left its mark on this little agricultural town in the heart of the Little Karoo. Thanks to booms in the late 19th and early 20th century, the wealthy ‘feather barons’ were able to build mini palaces in different, but equally lavish styles – you’ll find some fine examples if you head along Baron van Rheede Street. The initial boom also attracted about 100 Lithuanian Jewish families, and there’s still a small synagogue here today. Nowadays, the area’s ostrich farms produce meat and leather rather than feathers for fashion accessories, and several of them welcome visitors, too. Safari Ostrich Farm, for instance, which is only 6km from town, offers a range of tours where you can interact with the biggest birds on the planet.

Some of my favourite attractions, and perhaps a bit overlooked thanks to Oudtshoorn being on a wine route, are the olive estates. There’s something very peaceful about their landscapes. These gorgeous farms host daily tours which take you through the history of olives, growing, production and harvesting. The day wouldn’t be complete without the tasting where you get to explore fruity, bitter and pungent notes that really change one’s views of an olive.

I love being outdoors, especially if I have a generously filled picnic basket and a blanket in tow. If you’re the same, try taking yours to Meiringspoort Waterfalls; the Prince of Wales made the effort to visit this spot in 1925, so you know that it’s worth the time to pop in and just relax. There are several legends linked to it; it’s said that a mermaid lives in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall halfway through the Poort. Aside from the tales, the area is truly picturesque and will definitely appeal to photographers and birdwatchers. 

Then, of course, there are the Cango Caves, one of the country’s most impressive cultural and natural landmarks. This 20-million-year-old cave system at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains consists of a series of underground chambers cut into a thick layer of limestone. It’s the biggest show cave system yet discovered in Africa – and it’s a magnificent spectacle.

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Alfred & Alisha Kirk

South African born and bred, Alisha Kirk has been a National Culture Guide for almost 15 years and currently spends much of her time training and developing the country’s next generation of tourist guides. When not working or picnicking at Meiringspoort Waterfalls, she enjoys travelling around her homeland with her camera and binoculars in search of fabulous birdlife.

Alfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Andy, who's travelled extensively in South Africa. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - ex banker who can show you the hottest foodie spots in Cape Town, the award-winning young sommelier who can introduce you to Stellenbosch's finest wines and the walking safari ranger who can guide you to the best game.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656