Activities at Toorfontein

Activities in the Area

  • Explore the Enon Conglomerate Rock Formations and look for more Bushman rock art.

  • Go hiking in the Spekboom veld and remember to take your binoculars with for birding - some 76 bird species have been identified in the area - ranging from the diminutive lesser double-collared sunbird weighing less than 10 grams to the black eagle that weighs more than five kg.

  • Adjust your program to ensure you are at Toorfontein there during the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees held annually in April. This is the largest Afrikaans festival of its kind in the world. The Ostrich Festival is held annually in October.

  • Visit the CP Nel Museum (corner of Baron van Reede and Voortrekker St) and explore the doings of the Little Karoo people of yore. Le Roux Townhouse forms part of the museum and should be included.

Oudtshoorn ostrich ranch  Donkey cart  Ostrich racing in Oudtshoorn

  • Explore the subterranean labyrinths of the Cango Caves as part of a guided tour.

  • Visit one of the larger ostrich farms (Cango, Highgate or Safari) and find out more about Oudtshoorn's famous birds, watch and ostrich race, or ride one yourself.

  • A visit to Arbeidsgenot, the house of Oudtshoorn's most famous son, CJ Langenhoven, is worthwhile.

  • Stroll across the unique suspension bridge straddling the Grobbelaars River.

  • Indulge in some of the local cuisine in De Rust. Oudtshoorn has numerous restaurants in Baron van Reede Street, one rated under the top ten in South Africa. Most good restaurants have, besides a wide variety of food, ostrich and crocodile dishes on their menus. Be adventurous - try to eat a single ostrich egg - equivalent to 24 hens eggs!

  • Walk Baron van Reede and High Streets to see the colourful collective face of Oudtshoorn through its people, buildings, monuments, old graveyards and local traditions.

  • Browse through some local curio shops where numerous ostrich by-products such as handbags, wallets, etc can be bought.

  • The Cango Wildlife Ranch lies on the outskirts of town on the Cango Caves road and has animals like crocodiles, alligators, lions, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars as well as a number of smaller reptiles and snakes.

  • A number of ostrich palaces can be viewed in and around town. See how the ostrich barons lived almost a century ago.

  • A few km before the Cango Caves is Wilgewandel, where camel rides can be taken against the mighty Swartberg backdrop.

  • Cango Angora Rabbit Show Farm is situated 16 km from town towards the caves and provides information to visitors regarding the angora rabbit industry. Visitors may observe wool spinning, jersey manufacturing and take pony rides.

  • Cruise up the awesome Swartberg Pass and experience breathtaking views of the Cango Valley far below the mountain.

  • For those interested in the geology of the area a trip along the Kruisrivier road (between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp) and Vergelegen (running from east to west between the Oudtshoorn and De Rust road and the Oudtshoorn and Cango Caves road) is essential. On these routes, more fine examples of Enon Conglomerates can be seen.

  • Treat your taste buds at one of the excellent local wine farms. Calitzdorp is regarded as the Port Capital of South Africa.

Tortoise  Protea  Birding at Toorfontein

  • Cruise through De Rust and the stunning Meiringspoort which cuts through the Swartberg. Meiringspoort has a number of picnic, braai, and restroom facilities as well as a fine information centre depicting the history and natural history of the Swartberg and the pass. Do not forget to visit the 61 m high Groot Waterfall. On your way back, stop at the quaint village of De Rust to browse, buy and have lunch.

  • Visit the 74 m Rust en Vrede Waterfall near the Cango Mountain Resort - a deep ravine with riverine forest vegetation in the heart of the Little Karoo.

  • Take a trip through the hauntingly beautiful Seweweekspoort pass (beyond Calitzdorp and near Amalienstein) to Gamkapoort Dam.

  • There are four holiday resorts in the area that can be visited; the three star Kleinplaas resort in town, the Calitzdorp Spa with its rejuvenating hot springs towards Calitzdorp, and the Cango and De Hoek Holiday Resorts near the Cango Caves at the foot of the Swartberg.

  • Travel to Gamkaskloof, also known as Die Hel, and pop in to the curio shop of Annetjie Joubert, the last surviving Gamkasklower left in the valley. Annetjie sells fresh produce from the valley and has vast knowledge of the history of the lost clan of Gamkasklowers living in total isolation from the rest of the world for two centuries. The road to the Hel can be treacherous - make inquiries of its condition or arrange for a guided tour.

  • Visit the Gamka Mountain Nature Reserve near the Calitzdorp Spa, where you can observe the rare Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra). A 4x4 vehicle is necessary.

  • Book for an unforgettable eco-tour with Oudtshoorn's Meerkat Man who will lead you through the mysterious world of meerkat magic.

  • The Jewish Synagogue in Baron van Reede Street contains numerous Russian Jewish artifacts from a time when Jewish immigrants flocked to Oudtshoorn during the great ostrich boom.

  • For the freshwater angler there are dams in the area. The Stompdrif Dam and Gamkapoort Dam are freely accessible, while arrangements have to be made to obtain the keys to the Koos Raubenheimer Dam.

  • Take one of many hiking trails in the area, which include trails at Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, Red Stone Hills, Mons Ruber, De Hoek Holiday Resort and the Swartberg Pass.

  • Go hot-air ballooning over Oudtshoorn.

  • Take one of many 4x4 trails available around the Little Karoo.

  • Take a scenic drive through the area, which could include Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp-Groenfontein-Kruisrivier-Matjiesrivier-Cango Caves-Schoemanspoort-Toorfontein. An alternative route is Oudtshoorn-Swartberg Pass-Prince Albert-Klaarstroom-Meiringspoort-De Rust-Toorfontein.

  • Spend the day with a professional archaeologist or paleontologist at Scholtzkloof, where they will explain the traditions of Bushmen and show some more of their rock art as well as a Khoi burial site - regarded as sacred.

  • Other towns to be visited as day excursions are Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Sedgefield, Wilderness and George. An interesting route to Knysna is via De Rust, Uniondale, Avontuur down Prince Alfred's Pass through the indigenous forests to Knysna. Make inquiries about the condition of the road, as the last 70 km is gravel and the road does wash away from time to time. At King Edward V11 Tree in the Diepwalle Forest there are good picnic/braai facilities with water and flush toilets.

  • Go fishing or snorkeling at the place of your choice between Storms River and Mossel Bay.

  • When travelling the Garden Route you can visit the Knysna Elephant Park, Monkeyland or go bungy jumping (the world's highest) at Bloukrans.

  • At Mossel Bay, sea excursions that take one around Seal Island, home to hundreds of Cape fur seals, can be booked. While in Mossel Bay, remember to visit the Post Office Tree - a huge old milkwood tree used as postal service as far back as 1501, when letters to Portuguese seafarers were left in a pot and a shoe under the tree. The tree was described by Cornelis de Houtman in 1595 as looking 'like a little castle'. The town also boasts the Dias museum which accommodates artifacts and replicas of the ancient Portuguese mariners.

  • When travelling to Knysna, remember to visit Thesen's Island and the Heads, two distinctive landmarks of the town.

  • Take a day trip to Baviaanskloof, a mysterious valley to the east of Willowmore that has been declared a World Heritage Site. Several wild animal species such as black rhino and buffalo have been reintroduced to Baviaanskloof.

  • Pay a visit to the farm Spreeufontein where 251 million year old footprints of mammal-like reptiles can be seen. Prior arrangements with the landowner must be made.

  • Spend the day relaxing around the campfire at Toorfontein and enjoy the views and the birdsong.

Views of the mountains in winter

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