Have you also got thrilling, but rather hazy memories of visiting the Cango Caves as a child? I certainly do! I remember the stairway leading down into the large cavern full of strange rock formations hanging from the ceiling. I also remember feeling a little uncomfortable when they switched off all the lights barring a single candle – certainly a memory that lasts a lifetime!
Recently we had the opportunity to spend some time in the fabulous town that is Oudtshoorn.
Driving up from the George on the Garden Route en route back to Cape Town, we decided to head inland via the R62 and explore a little piece of the Klein Karoo on our way home.
This route itself takes on through stunning scenery up through the edge of the Witfontein Nature Reserve and then the mountainous terrain and green foliage makes way for the sparse dry landscape of the Klein Karoo – each stunningly beautiful in their own way!
So, you ask, what is there to do in Oudtshoorn besides the Cango Caves that it is so famous for!?
Well we were blown away with how many interesting stops there are, especially as we were traveling with our kids.
Oudtshoorn is a family friendly travel destination, full of fun for parents and kids alike!
Top 10 Things to do in Oudtshoorn
1. Take a Tour through the Cango Caves
The Cango Caves itself are a once in a lifetime experience. The thrill of heading in this chain of caverns deep into the mountainside is really what family adventures are all about.
Little hands grasped onto mine as we followed our tour guide through the chambers and heard all about the history and the names of each one.
We did the kid-friendly 1 hour tour which is a circular route which is easy for kids to manage. It was fascinating learning all about stalactites and stalacmites and how these were formed by water over many years.
A real treat was hearing our tour guide singing ‘Shosholoza’ in the main auditorium where the acoustics are really something to behold!
Another point of interest that took our kids attention was a large photo takes many years ago of a teachers outing to the caves. People in olden day clothes and funny hats was a great chance to talk about our country’s history.
My son was also particularly fascinated at how they rediscovered the caves in 1780 and how Jacob Van Zyl just accidentally came across them whilst chasing down a lost sheep. We imagined him climbing deep into this dark space won a rope with a candle, certainly an inspirational explorer!
Due to an increase in visitors at peak times Cango Caves, which are the only show caves in Africa, you are now required to book your tour in advance so make sure you give them a call ahead of your visit.
The Cango Caves have a beautiful restaurant and one can enjoy lovely refreshments after your tour whilst enjoying the stunning scenery of the limestone mountains as you relive your caving experience!
2. Do a Donkey Cart Ride at Wilgewandel Holiday Farm
An alternative stop is situated on the road just below the caves and is a place where families can stop, relax and let the kids stretch their legs and experience something new!
Our kids were thrilled at all that was on offer at Wilgewandel!
Wilgewandel Holiday Farm offers traditional Klein Karoo hospitality with modern day conveniences and kid friendly fun. From the waterslides which are perfect to cool down in on a warm day to camel rides for the whole family!
This stop is more than your average lunch spot. They have a convenient ticket system where the purchase of tickets allows your kids to select the activities they would like to enjoy while sticking to the budget. From zip lines to paddle boats, a farm yards of friends to donkey cart rides there is something to suit everyone. The lovely staff are all willing to assist and help you find the perfect activity for your child. We especially enjoyed the donkey cart ride! It was lovely to hear how the guide trains the donkeys to obey him via a few sounds and whistles.
“The donkeys are very cute, lovable and adorable. The donkey cart is so much fun to ride on.”,
Rachel, age 5
Beyond the fun they also offer both bed and breakfast and self-catering accommodation and their lovely shaded restaurant deck offers the perfect spot to relax and refuel.
3. Cruise on a Camel at Wilgewandel Holiday Farm
The most memorable moment we experienced was out family rides on top four large camels. All aboard the family train of camels. As the camels stood up our kids cheered from excitement and perhaps a little bit of nerves too, as we sat high up on top of our saddles and enjoyed the swaying movement of these fantastic creatures on our walk.
What a delight to see our kids embracing something new and loving it! This really is a must do if you ever make it to Wilgewandel!
4. Slip down a Water Slide at Wilgewandel Water Slides
Oudtshoorn can get hot! We found the perfect spot for you to cool down as a family. The waterslides are a welcome relief to hot and bothered children who need some free play! Come and enjoy some thrilling fun as you experience the best waterslides in town!
5. Meet the Wildlife at Cango Wildlife Ranch
We came across Cango Wildlife Ranch and Conservation Centre and we so glad that we did! What a gem for kids!
This place is literally filled to capacity with fun and learning opportunities. It could be compared to international wildlife theme parks, although obviously this one has its own special African flavor.
This park really needs a day to be dedicated to your visit so plan your time and take it slow to maximize your visit.
Along with wonderful informative guides, the enclosures, animals and facilities are all excellent!
The ranch also has lovely restaurants and one can happily enjoy lunch on the deck before heading onto an afternoon activity.
The ranch offered us a run of thrilling experiences.
We enjoyed meeting little bushbuck, spotting swimming terrapins, watching as they fed the very hungry crocodiles and then of course the big cats!
The kids were delighted to get closer to many of these animals, they remarked on their teeth, their size, their habits and lapped up the excitement of spotting the next interesting creature!
My daughter and my personal favourites were a box of tiny Madagascan tortoises which had been brought out to get some sun, these endangered creatures are just some of the many animals that this ranch assists in their conservation efforts.
Their cheetah preservation foundation is really a phenomenal initiative that has been running for over 30 years! Isn’t that impressive!
“You should go to The Cango Wildlife Ranch because it has very cool animals and some of them are endangered. My favourites were the cheetah and the bat eared fox.”,
Josiah, age 9
6. Feed the Birds at the at The Cango Wildlife Ranch Bird Sanctuary
Our last stop at the ranch was the lovely wallaby walk and the bird sanctuary.
What a delightful experience to feed real nectar to these birds. This was really a special moment for our kids. We all waited patiently for the birds to come to us and feed. Our kids are particularly fond of birds and they was absolutely thrilled watching the birds dart up and down from the feeding tray to the floor. Our baby held her hands were held high and she expressed her pure excitement in observing these special feathery friends! Our family’s love for birds was really reignited by the time we spent at this special spot.
7. Befriend some non-flightless birds at an Ostrich Farm
Oudtshoorn is famous from one particularly large bird species – you guessed it the Ostrich!
There are many ostrich farms in this area as the environment lends itself to faming these lovely birds.
The Cango Ostrich Farm is the perfect spot to get a closer encounter with these lovely creatures. They offer tours every 20 minutes so don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to meet them up close, see a real ostrich egg, hear about the many used of their spectacular feathers and maybe even get a chance to feed them!
Read more about Becoming You’s previous visit here.
We thoroughly recommend planning a family holiday to Oudtshoorn, this Klein Karoo gem is really the most delightful spot for children to experience wildlife close up and visit a unique natural phenomenon!
8. Take a Game Drive at Buffelsdrift
This stunning lodge offers game drives to both in house guests and to day visitors. You can expect to experience true Karoo vegetation from the open game viewing vehicles. Kids will be delights to view animals such as Hippo, Giraffe, Eland, Zebra, Buffalo, Springbok and much more in their natural habitats. The drives take approximately two hours and the variety and thrill of potting animals is such a thrilling experience for any family!
Read more about Becoming You’s previous trip to Buffelsdrift here.
9. Enjoy Meeting the Elephants at Buffelsdrift.
All three of the resident elephant experience elephants are orphans that were rescued and came from Kruger Park. These majestic animals are truly one of my favourite of all the African animals and this encounter is a wonderful way for families to let their kids get a little closer to these African beauties. this hands on encounter allows children to touch, feed and feel these animals in in doing doing hopefully instills a deep compassion, love and respects for these wonderful creatures.
Read more about Becoming You’s adventure to the elephants here.
10. Seek out the Succulent Man at Minwater Farm
Do you know anything about plants? Do your children know much about plants? Well get your family to Minwater farm for a unique experience that they will not forget. Minwater farm takes its’ name from ‘Little water’, it is situated in the foothills of the Gamka Mountains. They offer special nature interactive tours which allow visitors to get closer and understand each plant, animal and object a little bit deeper. Louis aka ‘the succulent man’ possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the natural environment so sign up for a dip into nature’s treasures!
Cango Ostrich Farm
Standard Entrance Ticket: R120 per adult, R65 per child. (45 minute tour)
Tel: 044 272 4623/ 044 272 4623
Cango Wildlife Ranch and Conservation Centre
Operating Hours: 8:30pm-4pm (Low season), 8:30-5pm (High season)
Standard Entrance Ticket: R180 per adult, R130 per child.
Premium Entrance Ticket which includes an animal encounter: R350 per adult, R250 per child
Tel: 044 2725593
Operating Hours: 9-4pm
Heritage Tour: R120 per adult, R70 per child. Duration: 1 hour
Adventure Tour: R180 per adult, R110 per child, Duration 1.5 hours.
Tel: 044 2727410
Wilgewandel Holiday Farm
Activity Prices: Vary according to the activity
Operating Hours: 8:30am-5pm
Tel: +27 (0) 72 784 6732 (a/h)
Buffelsdrift Game Lodge
Activity Prices: Vary according to the activity
Min Water Farm
Activity Prices: Vary according to the activity
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