By Lindsey Gibaud
There is a good reason Oudtshoorn is such a popular location for sporting events, it has the best weather. These favourable weather conditions open opportunities for loads of outdoor fun and ample social distancing.
Access to Oudtshoorn via Route 62 is in itself a picturesque tour through fruit and wine farmlands. It connects Cape Town with Port Elizabeth in a kaleidoscope of colour, culture and adventure making it the preferred route for many travellers.
Framed by the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains, visitors arrive through one of several mountain passes that lead into the town. Off road buccaneers will be impressed by the Swartberg Circle Route passing the road to Gamkaskloof and through Meiringspoort with its famous waterfall. The Gamkaskloof community has a story quite unlike any other, 4×4’ing across dust roads to the settlement makes one think how arduous the journey must have been to get supplies in and out in those difficult days.
If you are travelling with your family definitely include a visit to Cango Caves – a natural phenomenon dating back millennia. Guides offer insight into an underground magical world where brave locals once discovered these subterranean tunnels which are now an international tourist attraction and important natural world wonder.
On the way back into town allocate enough time to stop at Cango Wildlife Ranch for lunch and tour. Have your camera ready, there are photo opportunities around every corner. Cango Wildlife Ranch partner with the Cheetah Preservation Fund, do ask your guide about this important global project.
Oudtshoorn is famous for its ostriches and a visit to either Highgate, Cango or Safari Ostrich farms or Chandelier Game Lodge will allow you to tick that box. Meerkats are also a favourite and can be seen at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge or at Five Shy Meerkats.
An early morning encounter will guarantee a love for these cute mongooses and a file full of photos. Buffelsdrift also offers bush safaris, night game drives and free roaming cheetah walks. Do book an elephant walking experience and meet Joseph who raised three orphaned elephants and to this day keeps them company.
Oudtshoorn’s fantastic weather also favours hot air ballooning. Venture out early to join Nova Hot Air Balloons to meet a quiet sunrise in flight, this is a first for the Garden Route which let’s be honest lives up to its name in terms of natural beauty.
For wine, gin and food lover’s choice may be difficult given the wide selection available here. Karusa Wine Farm produces top quality red and white wines and a really good MCC. Other local wines include Grundheim, which also produce stunning gins and a rather lovely rum with the funkiest label I have ever seen. De Krans is another notable option so do include them in your itinerary.
If you are a history and architecture enthusiast you guessed right, this Klein Karoo town has a number of historical buildings of interest. Amongst them CP Nel Museum, Le Roux Town House (one of the legendary Ostrich Palaces) and Arbeidsgenot which was CJ Langehoven home.
If like me you are an olive aficionado then do not drive past Surval Boutique Olive Estate, equally delicious De Rustica just outside the quaint town of De Rust make award winning olive oils having recently won the best olive oil in the world accolade.
Just a short drive from Oudtshoorn, De Rust is an interesting and creative town. On approach you will come across Domein Doornkraal Padstal, a festival of pink feathers, fairy lights and many gorgeous things to buy. Amongst a wide choice of ceramics, glasses, jams and biscuits this farm stall sells a selection of local artisanal gins including Six Dogs, Black Mountain and more but their Tickled Pink bubbly was the showstopper. Prominently displayed in a swirl of pink feathers, there is little doubt this is a party-in-a-bottle.
Doornkraal owner Oom Sweepie has donated a hectare of his farmland to Spensplaas – this is community project created with love and it shows. Local communities donate their time to work in the gardens and in return are allowed to pick much needed produce. Local businesses are also involved via annual membership and they too are able to pick produce. The concept is beautiful, people have broad smiles and the veggie garden looks like paradise. Ask the locals to show you how to get there, you will be blown away.
MooiKaroo is a fascinating little shop selling unique gifts and crafts made by local farm ladies. The wide choice of cushions, beautifully knitted baby jerseys and shoe bags make gift shopping a pleasure. A little way down the road we popped in at Karoo Rouge another delightful space offering visitor’s an opportunity to buy art, décor and gifts, we loved the colourful Vellies on sale and the wide choice of Simply Bee products.
As suggested by a friend we stopped at The Village Trading Post on our way out of town, who can resist being served by a man wearing a top hat and a wrist full of hand-crafted jewelry. Partners Niekie and Soan run this charming store offering travelers a choice of imported coffees and fresh bakes. Soan was replanting an Amarula flower on the veranda and the small but beautiful nursery gives this location a charm rather unexpected at a petrol station.
Accommodation options are vast and varied. Delightful guest houses, boutique B&B’s and hotels each with its own flair. Apart from the wonderful weather, one of the stand-out features of the Klein Karoo remains friendly, helpful service.
There is something about the people in De Rust and Oudtshoorn, their sincere desire is for visitors to enjoy the fragrant country air, the unhurried pace of small-town life and the pleasure of sharing. What are you waiting for, start planning your trip via Route 62 to Klein Karoo and the Garden Route, you deserve it!
For more information on accommodation, activities and attractions please contact Oudtshoorn & De Rust Tourism: email@example.com 044 279 2532 www.oudtshoorn.com