Situated in the heart of the Little Karoo and locally referred to as the Klein Karoo, Oudtshoorn is a lovely town that makes a popular stop on any holiday in the Western Cape of South Africa, especially along the scenic drive between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Ostrich Portrait © A. Kniesel
Surrounded by the majestic Swartberg Mountains, the landscape around Oudtshoorn is a patchwork of farms and forests that receives more than 300 days of sunshine each year. The area is part of the Cape Floral World Heritage Site, and the stunning displays of fynbos and other local flowers make for great vacation photos.
Oudtshoorn's main claim to fame is as the 'ostrich capital of the world', and several farms in the area offer tours, shows, and other family-friendly activities for visitors. The presence of so many of the unique birds is also apparent in the many ostrich feathers and eggs available in tourist shops. There is also an abundance of ostrich on the menus of local restaurants, complemented by excellent local wines.
The other most popular attraction in Oudtshoorn is the Cango Caves, South Africa's largest show cave system. Towering stalagmites with names like the Bridal Couple and the Hanging Shawl are visible in the 3,200 feet (1km) of the caves that are open to visitors.
A number of nature reserves are located nearby, and while they may lack the excitement of the Big Five, those looking for a wilder experience can explore other animal farms in the area offering up-close-and-personal experiences with cheetahs, meerkats, and even crocodiles.
Great hiking and mountain biking trails, golf courses, horseback riding stables, and 4x4 routes provide plenty of activities for busy holidaymakers in Oudtshoorn, and there are plenty of cosy guesthouses and B&Bs available after a busy day in the sunshine.