Our last stop before driving back to Cape Town was Oudtshoorn. Compared to the green and lush Garden route, this area is much hotter, drier and with the landscape we expected to see it in Africa. After one last oysters lunch, we visited the Cango Caves before checking in into the Riverside Guest Lodge, an antique filled very atmospheric old country home. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world, with its ostrich industry dating back to 1864. There are about 60’000 inhabitants and 200’000 ostriches. The Cango Caves are an extensive, 4km long system of tunnels and dripstone caverns, with their vast halls and towering formations. The main hall is enormous and there is a second cavern that is filled with towering stalagmite formations, very impressive.
In the evening, President Ramaphosa announced a tightening of COVID measures. With events being the main cause of the steep increase in infection numbers, they introduced a curfew from 9pm to 6am, put tighter restrictions on social gatherings and banned alcohol, which is leading to too many trauma cases at hospitals. Public parks and beaches would be closed in the COVID hotspots, that include Cape Town. For us, the impact was minimal. We anyway eat early and most activities and the national parks remained open, under strict adherence to wearing a mask in public (failure to comply with this could now lead to a prison sentence). Only our next morning meerkat encounter got cancelled, it was meant to start at 5.15am. Instead we visited the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm for an almost private tour. Seeing the baby ostriches hatch and hold one of them is one of our highlights of this vacation!