Well it’s not quite South African for ostrich, but it may as well be as it is the ostrich capital of the world. The largest town in the Little Karoo region, Oudstshoorn is located in the Western Cape province in South Africa.
My journey in Oudstorn will take me exploring the number of specialised ostrich breeding farms, the Safari Show Farm, the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm, as well as a behind the scenes tour of an ostrich feather and leather factory.
Hosted by local personality Jan Greyling, we embark on a guided tour of the feather and leather factories. An important trade for the local people, these factories products are shipped around the world to reach the catwalks of Milan to the stages at Moulin Rouge. To see first hand the process and hard work that goes into the preparation of these products is intriguing.
Having seen the use of ostrich for feather and leather, it’s time to experience another use for the bird. Arriving at Jeminas Restaurant we have the opportunity to taste the bird. A delicious meal of ostrich fillet with home made potato chips is quickly devoured, accompanied with some local Karusa wine. With a satisfied appetite, it is on to meet some ostriches in the flesh.
Located five kilometres outside of Oudtshoorn, The Safari Show Farm specialises in the breeding and conservation of ostriches. Home to over 2,500 ostriches, the farm also has a museum open to visitors and offers a tour around the farm every half hour to tourists. For the adventurous traveller, there is also the opportunity to ride an ostrich.
All ostriched out, what a better way to spend the evening than a dinner and show at the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm. Here we are entertained by local performers who tell the tale of the town’s history and how it came to be as it is today. Performed in a mixture of English and Afrikaans gives it an authentic edge.
After an exhausting day we arrive at our lodge for the night, De Zeekoe. Situated on the banks of Olifant’s River, it owes its name to the ‘Seekoeie’ (Hippopotamuses) whose natural habitat was the river and surrounds more than a century ago.
The main lodge has 16 spacious suites all with stunning views of the riverbed and surrounding mountains. Families can be accommodated in a two bedroom self catering waterfront cabin that is just three minutes drive to the main lodge. Each of the four family units has its own fireplace and private deck.
A quick outdoor shower freshens me up then it’s time to climb into a heated blanket bed. In this town of the ostrich, I fall asleep on nothing less than pillows decorate with ostrich feathers.