Oudtshoorn, the main hub of the Klein Karoo, is an incredibly popular tourist destination with exceptional contrasts and natural beauty. Known as the ostrich capital of the world, dry summers and sunny winter days make it the ideal breeding ground for the most majestic of flightless birds. Among the 400 ostrich farms surrounding the town, 3 have distinguished themselves as "show farms" and offer guided tours.
Just west of Oudtshoorn the awe-inspiring Cango Caves extend underground for over two kilometres and seem more like a work of art rather than a natural phenomenon. Sculpted as a result of 20 million years of rainwater polishing and dissolving rock and limestone to form secret passageways and stalactites in a variety of colours, the caves were declared a National Monument in 1938.
The Klein Karoo National Arts festival (KKNK) is an annual celebration of the arts: expand your horizons by experiencing a week of dancing, films, cabaret, classical music, comedy, contemporary music, open air concerts, plays, literary art and poetry.
Would you like to cuddle a cheetah cub? At Cango Wildlife Ranch, natural encounters are promoted between visitors and animals in order to encourage compassion and support in the plight that they face. Natural encounters offer you a thrilling experience and create lasting memories: imagine the contented purr and amber stare of a cheetah or an exhilarating cage-dive with a mighty 4-meter Nile crocodile! All contributions from Natural Encounters go towards the funding of conservation and breeding programs. If you would like to become more involved in protecting the cheetah you can join the Cheetah Preservation Foundation, one of the foremost examples of eco-tourism in the world.
For the sport enthusiast, Oudtshoorn offers a challenging modern 18 hole golf course with full amenities, as well as bowls, athletics, tennis, cricket, rugby, Olympic standard swimming pools, motorsport and miniature aircraft.
Oudtshoorn Tourism Bureau
044 272 0041
De Rust lies at the southern opening of the famous Meiringspoort, at the foot of the Swartberg mountains, about 35 km from Oudtshoorn. Established in 1900, this quaint village has a typical Karoo atmosphere infused with history, old-world hospitality and tranquillity. The slow pace of life and uncluttered landscape invite you to quiet your mind and enjoy life; the silence allows you to experience the call of an ostrich, the hoot of a Cape Eagle Owl or the braying of a donkey.
Declared Town of the Year in 2011, De Rust is the perfect base for a peaceful, back-to-nature holiday: you can hike, climb and mountain bike in the Kamanassie; explore the splendour of Meiringspoort or Seweweekspoort; and meander in Gamkaskloof via the Swartberg Pass. Be rejuvenated by fresh water fishing and water sport on the Stompdrift Dam. Support the Donkey Awareness Project and feel the rhythm of a donkey cart ride through the town. Stunning picnic spots can be found in Meiringspoort which has become one of the most visited spots in the Klein Karoo.
De Rust Tourism
044 241 2109
Just 4 hours from Cape Town on laid-back and scenic Route 62 lies picturesque Calitzdorp, gateway to the Garden Route. At the heart of the Klein Karoo's unique attractions, including the majestic Swartberg mountains, the dramatic mountain passes, and indigenous African flora and fauna, Calitzdorp is perfectly located within a couple hours driving of all that is distinctive in the region.
Known as the "Port Wine Capital" of South Africa, Calitzdorp boasts seven wine cellars famous for Port wines that regularly win top local and international accolades. The hot, dry climate, similar to the Duoiro valley in Portugal, results in a grape with an aroma-intensity and depth that is crucial to port making.
For photographers and lovers of open skies, the magnificent sunsets and glorious night skies embroidered with billions of stars will open a new world. The area is also renowned for its indigenous flora, especially the 500 species of succulents, 200 of which are found nowhere else on earth. The Swartberg, the Rooiberge and the mountains of the Huisrivier Pass shelter the town and add to its character.
Founded in 1821, the village is known for its wide variety of architectural styles; Queen Street is one of the oldest streets and invites you to take a gentle stroll and admire the Edwardian, Victorian and Karoo style buildings. The Dutch Reformed Church, originally built in 1857, is a national monument and contains a marvellous organ.
044 213 3775
A town of great charm and community spirit, Prince Albert is a delightful little oasis in the Karoo blessed with water from the Swartberg Mountains. It is known for its sun-ripened fresh and dried fruit, Karoo lamb, olives and award-winning local cheeses; Prince Albert Valley farmers have even restored vineyards last farmed in the 19th century. The pace of life is comfortably slow in Prince Albert, with time to chat to the locals and soak up the peace.
Named after HRH Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2012. It boasts many beautifully preserved Cape Dutch, Karoo and Victorian buildings which help to give the town its unique character. Activities for visitors include a guided historical walk through the town, a ghost walk in the evening, a well marked "koppie trail" with almost 100 listed plants, fossil hunting, a browse of the Prince Albert Gallery (where many South African artists display their work), and a visit to the delightful Fransie Pienaar Museum (one of the finest country museums in South Africa).
Just 2 kms from the foot of the Swartberg Pass, Prince Albert provides nature enthusiasts with the perfect base for exploring the wonders of the Swartberg including Gamkaskloof (The Hell) and Meiringspoort.
Prince Albert Tourism
023 541 1366