It is always great to find those lesser known towns when you are traveling. Places that do not necessarily land on your radar when researching places you should visit. South Africa has many of those towns and we stumbled on a few during our road trip from Cape Town to Durban.
After spending three days in Cape Town and heading towards Port Elizabeth to visit the Addo Elephant Park for a safari, we needed to find a place to stay to break up this trip. After doing a little research on the best places to visit from Cape Town, we stumbled upon the town of Oudtshoorn. With so many great things to do in Oudtshoorn, it was difficult to fit it all in the time we had while we were there.
In this post, we talk about everything you can do when you are in Oudtshoorn, where you can stay, and what you can eat. Everything you need to know to travel to this wonderful city.
Cango Wildlife Ranch
Cango Ostrich Farm
The Cango Wildlife Ranch is a sanctuary for endangered species, most of which were rescued animals. The entrance fee includes the guided tour and costs about $15 USD for an adult. This includes a free tour of the grounds and afterwards you are free to walk around at your own pace.
We entered the grounds and waited for our free tour to start. With about 15 minutes to spare, we went to the one place that would not be covered in the tour. The bird atrium. A tall caged in area filled with various birds. You open the first door and make sure it closes behind you, and then open the next door to expose yourself to the swooping birds in the atrium. I thought it would be a great opportunity to photograph some of these birds that I would not usually have the opportunity to do. Natalie clenched my backpack and stayed close. I got a few good shots off before a couple of birds came swooping down on us and Natalie went right back to the door to get out. Unfortunately, it seemed one of the birds had a good idea to wait until she opened the door to get out as well. We had to wait while there was a bird on my backpack, in Natalie’s hair, and it seemed like the whole cage was going crazy all around us.
We spent a morning at Cango Wildlife Ranch in Outdshoorn, South Africa. See more from our travels throughout South Africa: https://tothenationsworldwide.com/category/africa/south-africa/ . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelLife #TravelPics #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #DigitalNomadCouple #creativetravelcouples #travelisthenewclub #traveldudes #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #igshotz #exploretocreate #travelandlife #huntgram #worldplaces #ig_udog #udog_peopleandplaces #bestvacations #theworldshotz #travellershouts #passionpassport #marbltravel #outdshoorn #cangowildliferanch #southafrica
Finally the bird left from the doorway, we opened the first door quickly. Me being the gentleman I am let Natalie go first and then I closed the door to make sure no birds on my backpack would follow. Once I knew I was clear, I opened the door and spun around to shut it. No birds followed us out, and we were out in the clear and ready to wait peacefully for the tour to begin.
We then took the tour that allowed us to see everything they had to offer and to learn more about each of the animals. It was sad to hear that for most of the animals at the ranch were endangered because of our effect on their natural habitats or poachers. From otters, to vultures, to hippos, many of these animals are becoming increasingly threatened because of our effects on the environment.
On the positive side, being able to see the interaction of these animals in person was a wonderful experience. From the lemurs hoping around on their playground alongside flamingos to the swift movements of the otter in the water, our tour guide provided insightful information about each of the animals we encountered.
The tour proceeded along a path on the ground and continued up onto a wooden walkways where 15 feet below us were lions, tigers, and cheetahs. Though the lion spends most of its time sleeping and most of the animals were not active in this leg of the tour, our tour guide was an excellent and knowledgeable host.
Pay an extra $20 USD and you get an encounter with an animal. This is what sparked some interest to me. There was an opportunity to be placed in a cage and submerged in a pool filled with crocodiles! I highly recommend that you check this out if you ever go there. The ONLY reason I did not do this is that I was talked out of it by the tour guide. The reason being was that it was still morning and all of the crocodiles were not active at that time of the day and would not go in the water. I was let down.
We were left with the choice of adult cheetahs, baby cheetahs, and lemurs. We thought about the lemurs for a minute, but understood that they would be hopping all over us and playing with us and decided we were not ready for that this early in the morning. Next was the baby cheetahs, but we were also told that they can get a little aggressive like a puppy that does not know what its teeth or claws can do yet. We were told that the adult cheetahs are extremely tame and that was our best option.
Without hesitation, we went with the cheetah handlers and they discussed with us what to expect. We had a very thorough wash down of our hands and shoes so as to not contaminate anything or spread any germs to the cheetahs. We were told not to make any sudden movements and to get behind the trainer if anything was to happen out of the ordinary. This is when we started to second guess our decision…
Both cheetahs were laying down in the shade at the very back of their enclosure. We slowly made our way with the two trainers and the photographer. I started by going in behind the cheetah on my right and squatting behind it. This is when its head popped up and looked back at me. At the corner of my eye, I saw the trainer react to the cheetah and thought something may go wrong. Still, I reached my hand out to the cheetah and stroked its wiry fur. Its head went back down and it was Natalie’s turn to come up to the cheetah on the left.
Without hesitation, she strolled up and crouched in behind her cheetah. Fearless, she began petting the animal and we posed for the photos. It was an experience that we would not forget on this trip. It was amazing coming that close to an incredible animal that we hoped we would see on a safari in the near future, but were satisfied with this encounter.
Tag somebody that would love to pet the cheetahs at Cango Wildlife Ranch! What an experience! Petting adult cheetahs in Outdshoorn at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in South Africa. See more from our travels throughout South Africa: https://tothenationsworldwide.com/category/africa/south-africa/ . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelLife #TravelPics #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #DigitalNomadCouple #creativetravelcouples #travelisthenewclub #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #igshotz #exploretocreate #travelandlife #huntgram #worldplaces #ig_udog #udog_peopleandplaces #theworldshotz #travellershouts #passionpassport #marbltravel #TravelCouplesInspiration #travelustcouples #outdshoorn #cangowildliferanch #southafrica
I understand the controversy of keeping animals at a ranch. However, we were assured that these were animals that would not be alive if it were not for their rescue. Whether they were found in bad health or were infants left by their mother, they were all rescue animals from the wild. They cannot be released back into the wild or they would not know how to survive on their own. Hence why the Cango Wildlife Ranch is such a great opportunity to see these animals for yourself and pay to keep the facility operating for the animals there.
Our cheetah experience came to a close, and we were on our way out, washing our hands and shoes one more time before heading to the souvenir shop and exit.
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We arrived at the farm, and did not have to wait long before we were already on our tour. The tour was about $9 USD per adult and lasted about 45 minutes.
The tour commenced from the lobby and continued throughout the grounds of the farm. The tour guide discussed the emus in the one section of the farm and continued by talking about his favorite ostrich who gave Natalie a hug by wrapping it’s neck around hers.
We then walked around to a sitting area where the workers showed us how putting a bag over the ostrich’s head will make it completely compliant. It is interesting that if their heads are covered, they feel safe and hidden, and thus making them maneouverable.
We also held an ostrich egg, and discovered that the ostrich egg could hold 24 chicken eggs! We also could put our entire weight on any end of the ostrich egg and it would not break.
Ostrich farms in Outdshoorn, South Africa! What an interesting tour of their farm that Cango Ostrich Farm offers. Fascinating animals. See more from our travels throughout South Africa: https://tothenationsworldwide.com/category/africa/south-africa/ . . . . . #Travel #TravelBlogger #TravelPhotography #TravelDiary #TravelLife #TravelPics #TravelAddict #DigitalNomad #TravelCouple #DigitalNomadCouple #creativetravelcouples #travelisthenewclub #traveldudes #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #igshotz #exploretocreate #travelandlife #huntgram #worldplaces #ig_udog #udog_peopleandplaces #bestvacations #theworldshotz #travellershouts #passionpassport #marbltravel #southafrica #outdshoorn #cangoostrichfarm
We finally came to the point where the tour guide chose me out everyone to come up to the fence where five to ten ostriches were gathered. He told me to put my back to them, hold a bucket at my chest level, and feel the ostrich massage.
At that point, he backed me up to the fence and watched as the horde of ostriches attacked the bucket in my hands, wrapping their necks around my face, neck, and arms to get to the bucket.
It was an interesting feeling and experience being at the Cango Ostrich Farm. And with that, the tour was finished. There was a meal that you could partake in for a price that we did not inquire about because we were already behind schedule to get to Port Elizabeth. It was around 1 p.m. and the drive would take 5 hours, just enough time to get us there before sunset.
Visiting an ostrich farm was nowhere near the top of our bucket list. However, having visited and learned more about the farm and the animal was a great experience. There really was no better way to spend our time before venturing off to the next city. We really wish we had time to visit those caves though.
This is the place that we were disappointed we could not make it to. Cango Caves is located 29 kilometers from Oudtshoorn and is situated by the Swartberg Mountains with vast caverns and halls of limestone caves. They offer easy and more adventurous tours for those that are interested.
Be sure to book your tours in advance as they do book up fast. The Heritage Tour is the easier tour of the two. It lasts 60 minutes and costs 150 Rand per adult. This includes entrance into a chamber with a guide and continuing to Van Zyl’s Hall, progressing to Botha’s Hall, into the Rainbow Chamber, to the Bridal Chamber, on to the Fairyland Chamber, and finally the Drum Room. Each of these rooms offer incredible sites from vast open areas to incredible stalagmites. It is the perfect tour for a family or those who are not wanting to challenge themselves in claustrophobic conditions.
The Adventure Tour is a 90 minute tour and costs 220 Rand per adult. This tour is not for those who are pregnant or suffer from claustrophobia. It will challenge you. This tour includes much of what the previous tour includes, but it dives deeper into the cave. This includes 200 steps down Jacob’s Ladder into the Grand Hall, through Lumbago Alley where the height of the area is about four feet, into King Solomon’s Mines, on to the Devil’s Chimney which includes a passageway that is 74 centimeters to 30 centimeters in height forcing you to squeeze through, into the Coffin, through the Devil’s Kitchen which involves a steep shaft up about 10 feet that is 45 centimeters high, and finally on to the Devil’s Post Box which will challenge you to squeeze through a 27 centimeter to reach the end.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is the a short 15 minute drive from Oudtshoorn and a great place to get your safari fix while in this town. On the way to Cango Caves, it makes for the perfect addition to complete a full day in the town. It is complete with a spa, restaurant, accommodation, and a safari.
During the game drive, there are a wide range of animals that you can encounter from hippos, giraffe, eland, zebra, buffalo, and more. These game drives are around two hours in length and include refreshments at scenic lookout points. Being situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, this makes for the perfect scenery. Bush safaris start from 585 Rand per person.
Night drives are available only to those who have book accommodation at the lodge and allows you a chance to see caracal, genet, porcupine, aardvark, and aardwolf using a spotlight from the vehicle with so many more animals to spot at night. At the midway point you will enjoy a refreshment break and enjoy the beautiful night skies. Night drives start from 585 Rand per person.
In addition to these drives, you can book an elephant feeding, walking, or brushing. These are interactions with three elephants that were orphaned when their parents were poached. The park now tries to provide them with the best possible love and care. The elephant feeding is a 30 minute activity that costs 355 Rand per person and involves a feeding and interaction with one of the three elephants. This allows you to feed, touch, and take photos with one of these giants. The elephant walking is a one hour activity that costs 920 Rand per person and allows you to go for an early morning or late afternoon walk around the waterhole. The elephant brush and feed is a 45 minute activity for 535 Rand per person that involves brushing the three elephants and feeding them.
There are meerkat safaris which allow you to get close to these wonderful creatures and their burrows. You can also book a lion experience where you can view three young lions and their feeding in an enclosure that lasts between one and two hours and costs 565 Rand per person. These lions were relocated from a Namibian Conservation and Buffels Drift was chosen for its size of space for them to live. They were born in captivity and therefore would not be released into the wild.
Stargazing is also a popular activity while at this game lodge and well worth it if you are staying there overnight. You can also book time at the spa starting at 280 Rand for 30 minute treatments.
Cape Town to Oudtshoorn
Oudtshoorn is a 4.5 hour and 420 kilometer drive East from Cape Town. Using this route to Oudtshoorn, you will miss the Garden Route which is a gorgeous stretch of coastline. Add a few more hours to your drive or plan an extra stop to L’Agulhas and you can plan a much more scenic route towards Oudtshoorn. We chose to rent a vehicle while we were in South Africa during our road trip from Cape Town to Durban. It was the best decision we made and we would definitely recommend this to you during your stay in South Africa, especially if you plan to travel lengthy distances. Alternatively, you could fly domestically to Oudtshoorn from Cape Town or other airports in South Africa.
Best Restaurants in Oudtshoorn
Finding places to eat in Oudtshoorn is not a difficult task. With the town being so well known for its ostrich, there is the perfect place we can recommend you to go try some of the meat and various other dishes to satisfy your taste buds.
Winery in Oudtshoorn
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge Restaurant
This is a lovely place for a night meal and well worth the small indulgence into local cuisine in Oudtshoorn. While we were here, we ordered the Jemima’s Meat Sampler which included ostrich, venison, and beef for 240 Rand. We also ordered a salad and some local wine with a pudding dessert to finish off our meal. This restaurant is highly recommended.
If you are looking for a winery near Oudtshoorn, the Karusa Vineyard is right near the Cango Ostrich Farm and a great place to taste local wines, beer, and grab a bite to eat while you are at it. There are wine tastings available as well as lunch menus that change with the season and what fresh ingredients are available locally.
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge also includes an a la carte authentic Karoo cuisine restaurant. This restaurant overlooks the waterhole and you can spot some of the animals right from the wooden deck area. You will be able to experience local cuisine and fresh produce along with some of the best wines that South Africa has to offer.
Affordable Accommodation Oudtshoorn
Looking for a budget accommodation in Oudtshoorn or maybe a bed and breakfast? The city has a variety of affordable accommodation for you to comfortably stay during your time in town that will provide you with excellent proximity to all that the city has to offer you during your stay.
Hotels in Oudtshoorn
Finding the perfect lodge, guesthouse, or bed and breakfast in Oudtshoorn is not difficult. There are several reasonably priced and high reviewed places within the town that is in perfect proximity to many of the attractions that were included on this list.
Check out some of these:
If staying overnight at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge is something you prefer to do, then it is best that you book in advance. There are several luxury tents available that include king or twin beds, en-suite bathrooms, private outdoor hot water showers, air-conditioning, free WiFi, and a digital safe. There are family tents and even a swimming pool available for those staying on the lodge.
There are also a few units that are specifically situated in close proximity to the waterhole and are ideal spots for you to view the wild animals from. You are literally on the water’s edge from your doorstep (though currently because of the drought in the area, the water level is not at its full height).
Rooms are available from 1595 Rand per person or 2355 Rand for a single room and up depending on the season. You can package these stays with various activities including game drives and feedings that were previously mentioned.
Oudtshoorn was the perfect town for us to visit while we were on our way from Cape Town to Addo Elephant Park. It provided us a wonderful time to visit various attractions and to accomplish almost everything we wanted to do.
There is more than enough things to do in Oudtshoorn that will satisfy a full day trip to the town up to a few days and longer. We spent a full 24 hours in the town and there were still things that we wanted to do while we were here. We wish we could have stayed longer in this lovely town.
Have you ever visited Oudtshoorn? We would love to know your thoughts or answer any questions that you may have. Leave a comment below.