Things to do

There are many exciting excursions and activities on offer in the area

While the Oudtshoorn Courant quaintly announced, on 2 November 1893, the grand opening of the town’s first swimming pool at Queen’s Hotel, today there are many more exciting excursions and activities on offer in the area.

First up is the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm, where visitors can experience the world’s largest bird – the ostrich, of course, in action laying the world’s largest egg. For those who remain unimpressed, just note that an ostrich egg is the equivalent of about 24 chicken’s eggs.
In the main yard, take in the different types of feathers, incubators for these enormous eggs and how they work and what a gizzard stone is. If you’re brave enough, you can even attempt to feed an ostrich – or have a ride on a much-feathered back.
These fast but flightless birds with the magnificent feathers also produce delicious biltong, perfect for a snack, and healthy lean meat, commonly cooked on the braai.

Find out more: https://highgate.co.za/

Another not-to-be-missed tourist attraction is the Cango Caves, situated in the picturesque Cango Valley just 29km from Oudtshoorn.
Here, you can select either a Standard (easy) or Adventure Tour – depending on your fitness and ability to withstand rather tight tunnels. A wiggle through the smallest of caves here is certainly not for the claustrophobic.
All tours are led by experienced, knowledgeable and accredited Cave guides, and are offered in English – although be sure to enquire should your party prefer a tour conducted in Afrikaans, German, French, or another language.Either way, it’s universal to gaze up in wonder at the stalactites, or icicle-shaped formations that hang from the cave ceilings, and stalagmites, upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that grow up from the cave floors, in these dripstone caverns and vast halls which most likely came about as a result of changes to the Swartberg Mountain range’s limestone ridge.

Find out more: https://www.oudtshoorn.com/project/cango-caves/

Speaking of this well-known mountain range, don’t miss an excursion up the Swartberg Pass with Swartberg Mountain Tours – something that can be tailored to every budget and time-scale, from an hour or two, to the entire day.
This organisation is your specialist in day trips and eco excursions at this unspoiled UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompassing both the Swartberg Mountain range and the Swartberg Pass; the team will share their passion, knowledge and experience of the area’s fauna, flora, history and geology.

Find out more: http://www.swartbergmountaintours.co.za/

Keen for a short hike to the Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall? Simply take the Oudemuragie Road off the R328, about 35km from Oudtshoorn. Open Monday to Sunday from 9 till 4:30, the entrance fee is R70 per vehicle (for 1-6 people). From the entrance gate, drive 3km, park and the rippling waterfall will be in sight after about 800m on foot.
Don’t rush the hike though: a mountain trail will lead you over a selection of small bridges, where you’ll see lush undergrowth and a profusion of attractive wildflowers. On your return to the shaded area near the entrance, stay for a picnic or braai, if you desire.
The Rust-en-Vrede waterfall is not just a place of ‘rest and peace’ as its Afrikaans name advises, as well as a safe haven for many indigenous plants and animals. This fall also supplies Oudtshoorn with a great deal of its water, which is carried by pipeline to the town reservoir. This was the first source of water supply to Oudtshoorn, followed by the Mellville dam in 1910 and the Raubenheimer dam in 1971, both at the foot hills of the Swartberg.

Find out more: https://www.oudtshoorninfo.com/project/rust-en-vrede-waterfall/

Next up, how about a Minwater Eco Adventure in the foothills of the Gamka? Owner of Minwater (Little Water), Louis Jordaan, has a wealth of knowledge to share on the veld in general and the plants growing on Minwater in particular.
Here, you can enjoy a wide range of activities aimed at creating awareness of the wonders of nature and the need for its preservation; you’re sure to leave with an enhanced knowledge and understanding, plus improved skills of observation and interpretation.

Author of Southbound Guide to South Africa’s World Heritage Sites: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, Fiona McIntosh, says: “Louis is an absolute fundi with a contagious passion for the Karoo,” and “If you thought for a second that the succulent Karoo was boring, then this is the tonic you need. This man brings the veld to life; in fact this is, without a doubt, the best interpretative floral tour that I came across in all my travel for this book.”
Find out more: https://minwater.co.za/

Those with more of an penchant for fauna, than flora, will love the Cango Wildlife Ranch. On arrival, your guide will greet you and give you your allocated starting time. After a short wait (no more than 30minutes), you’ll be taken on a trip through the snake park, lorikeet aviary and wallaby walkabout. Other features include the Kids Zone, a Curio shop and a spot to grab a coffee, juice or bite to eat.
Your guided tour will also take you through the Valley of Ancients, with its variety of animals and reptiles, on to Cheetahland – a highlight for many – where you can meet some very big cats. The tour takes anything from 45 to 60 minutes, so the Cango Wildlife Ranch staff recommend that you set aside at least two hours to take it all in.

Remember: animals on the premises are treated with the utmost love and care, underscored by the Five Freedoms, which you can read more about, here: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/health/five-freedoms-animals 
Find out more: https://www.cango.co.za/

And last, but certainly not least – how about taking in the art and other preserved items at the CP Nel Museum. Appreciated by visitors around the globe for its poignant displays, this building has a varied and interesting history.
It’s one of the only museums in the country with a Synagogue inside (this is still in use!); it was opened as the Boys’ High School in 1907, following a time when the ostrich feather boom allowed local enthusiasts to build schools in the area; and its structure reflects a late Victorian Colonial style of a classical building.

The 30m-high tower is decorated in Corinthian ornaments, while both sides of the central clock tower have symmetrical façades and end with verandas bolstered by sandstone pillars in the Tuscany style.
Charles Paul Nel a military, businessman and collector of antiques was the man for whom the museum was apparently named. So valuable was his collection that by 1938 it had received full recognition from the Historical Monument Commission and, on his passing in 1950, the newly constituted Board of Trustees took over its administration.
In 1963 disaster struck – authorities wanted to demolish the old school building, dating back to 1903 and now housing the amalgamated Oudtshoorn Boys' and Girls' Schools.

However, a petition and other interventions from former old boys saved the building, which was then restored and made available for the CP Nel collection.
For more on the museum’s displays and opening hours: https://www.cpnelmuseum.co.za/

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