After spending a few wonderful days in Mossel Bay, it was onto Oudtshoorn (pronounced oats-hor-on) via the small city of George. Oudtshoorn felt a lot like my home in Adelaide, it has a much warmer climate than any of the coastal towns along South Africa’s garden route, and had a very dry, dusty and arid landscape, much like that of South Australia. Oudtshoorn often gets missed by those travelling along the garden route, but it is very much worth the (semi) slight detour.
The Cango Caves are one of several notable attractions to the Oudtshoorn area. Located about a 30 minute drive out of Oudtshoorn, the Cango Caves are absolutely amazing limestone caves, with incredible natural formations that are guaranteed to take your breath away. There are two tour options, the Heritage tour and the Adventure tour, and I am sure that you can guess which tour I chose to join! The Adventure tour is somewhat physically demanding in that it soon becomes incredibly hot and humid within the caves, and there are a LOT of steps to climb. There are several narrow and shallow caves that require kneeling, crouching, sliding and climbing, but even those of average fitness levels shouldn’t struggle with this. I found that the biggest difficulty was not slipping over on the wet and slippery cave floors! Hot tip: wear closed toed shoes with some heavy duty grip.
I should also say that my photographs definitely do not do the caves justice! They are far more large and magnificent than I was able to capture.
Next on the agenda was a short drive to the Cango Ostrich Farm where the main attraction is that you can attempt to ride one of these enormous animals. It certainly isn’t an easy feat and it should be noted that only people weighing less than 75kg are eligible to ride. If riding ostriches isn’t your thing, you can feed them, hug them and stand on real eggs to test the claim that they will be able to support your weight.
Next it was onto my final destination, and the real reason that I had come to Oudtshoorn, the Cango Wildlife Ranch. The ranch is a bit like a zoo, offering guided tours through to see and observe all the animals, but the main difference is that the park offers animal encounters, allowing you to get up close and personal with selected animals, including crocodiles! Crocodile cage diving was what I had really come for, and I could not wait to get up close and personal with one of these magnificent creatures. For only around $34 AUD you are able to spend quite a while observing a huge croc! I must admit, I should have found the experience at least a little bit scary, but in true Ellen style, I was more excited than nervous!
After my crocodile dive I also took the time to hang out with some cheetahs and lemurs before walking back to the centre of Oudtshoorn.
When I returned to my hostel – Karoo Soul – I discovered that buying milk in bags is apparently a thing in South Africa and witnessed what is hands down one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
Nights spent in Oudtshoorn: 3
Number of days over 40 degrees celcius: 3
Don’t forget to pack: Sunscreen
Mode of transport: Shuttle organised with Backpacker’s Paradise hostel
Crocodile cage diving – am I totally nuts or would you be brave enough to give it a go?