Saturday, 26 December 2015

Thomas Bain - Famous builder of of mountain passes. A genius of his time

Driving around the Cape's awe inspiring mountain passes over high altitudes, one cannot be amazed at the genius and mastery of Thomas Baines.  Thomas Bain (1830-1893)was responsible for 900km of roads which included 24 mountain passes built bettween 1848 and 1888. These passes and roads played a  major role in opening up the Cape Colony of South Africa to the rest of the country.  What makes this even more amazing is these roads were built by hand, prison gangs, none of the modern machinery we see on the roads today.  The Swartberg Pass just outside  Oudtshoorn going over the Swartberg mountain range to Prince Albert was started in 1884 and finished in 1887. It is 27km long and considered as his crowning achievement. One cannot be blown away by the scenery and the dry stone walling which has held for more than 130 years. Some passes built around the Southern Cape and Klein Karoo include;
Prince Alfred Pass - Knysa and Uniondale 70km long, 1854-58
Robinson Pass - Oudtshoorn to Mossebay 1867-69
Seweweekpoort through Swartberg to Laingsberg 17km, 1869-73
Seven Passes - George to Knysna 75km,1867-83

Be sure to drive these passes and enjoy the spectacular scenery that Thomas Bain made possible to enjoy. Read more on wikipedia and about Thomas Bain and the passes to drive

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Historical Ostrich Distribution throughout africa

Visit for tours and more interesting information on ostriches some of which are from areas shown on the distribution map below

There were historically 4 main groups of  Ostrich (Struthio camelus) in Africa.

  • S. c. camelus,   the red-necked ostrich of  North Africa. Historically this was the most widespread subspecies, ranging from Ethiopia in the East,  Mauritania in the West, North to Egypt and Southern Maroccoa. It now only remains in 6 of the 18 countries where it originally occurred.

  •  S. c. australis It is found primarily in South Africa.  The town of Oudtshoorn is world renowned for farming with this particular species for its Leather, meat and feathers. 

  • S. c. massaicus, Masai ostrichEast Africa. This interesting bird has pink/red coloring on its neck and legs.  It is mostly found in southern Kenya and Eastern Tanzania, Ethiopia and Southern Somalia 

  • daggerS. c. syriacus, known as the Arabian Ostrich. Once commonly found in the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Iraq. It became extinct around 1966.

  • S. molybdophanes, The Somali Ostrich is found in Southern Ethiopia, Northeast Kenya and Somali. The neck and thighs are grey-blue, and during the mating season, the male's neck and thighs become brighter and bluer. The females are more brown than those of other subspecies It generally.  lives in pairs or alone, rather than in flocks. Its range overlaps with S. c. massaicus in northeastern Kenya.
Sources - Wikipedia

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Ostrich chicks hatching

Ostrich Chicks take 42 days to incubate and 8-12 hours to hatch.  Watch this video to get insight into how this process takes place. Visit for more info on our tour and lunch offerings

Welgeluk Feather Palace

The incedible Welgeluk Feather Palace was built in 1910 by the first owner of the farm, a certain Mr Olivier. Built from material from all over the world. This in itself is quite amazing considering when it was built.  The tiles on the roof from Belgium, woodwork from India, Stained glass windows from the Netherlands, fireplaces from England and Italian marble floor tiles.  This speaks to the opulence of the time and the value of ostrich feathers before the first world war.  Visit for more information on our tours and offerings.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Healthy Ostrich steaks, great for a braai

Ostrich is one of the healthiest types of meat you can eat.  Its great on a braai (bbq) and tastes superb. Ostrich is low in cholesterol and has very little fat in the meat.  Its is sold in different parts of the world especially European countries.  Be sure the next time you think of enjoying something different try ostrich. Visit

Monday, 12 October 2015

Klein Karoo splendour

The Klein Karoo transforms itself each year in spring after the winter rain has fallen. The normally arid landscape is awash with purple,yellow,white and other beautiful colors.  The vygies of the Mesemb family create carpets of color. They include Showy Lampranthus and Collared Ruschia have superb purple flowers whilst the Scarlet Dew Flowers create a pretty red flowers  Along the roadside motorists can see the Chinese Lanterns - endemic to this region - flowering in abundance with their lovely lanterns hanging from their branches. From the tiny Stoneflowers and Horseshoes to the largerAloes. The Klein Karoo has many interesting a pretty plant that flower magnificently during September and early October.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The story of the Barbary Ostrich

Safari Ostrich Show Farm
The story of the Barbary ostrich

Steam boat – 1911

In 1911 a party led by Russel W Thornton, for the South African government, set out on an expedition to find the Barbary ostrich what was found in middle and West Africa regions.  Their goal was to catch breeding pairs of Barbary ostriches and bring them back to South African ostrich farmers in the Oudtshoorn area.  Oudtshoorn area was first farmers to domesticate ostriches in 1863.  Thornton and his party were to find the feather caravans and the right type of feathers. It was a long and difficult rout with train, steam boat and camel caravans inland in Northern Africa.  They found what they were looking for and the sellers were Arabs from Timbuktu.  The ostrich lived in French territory and hundreds of miles away from any inhabited land.
Plugged Barbary Ostriches transported in 1911
Thornton received permission from the South African government to proceed in bringing the Barbary ostrich back to South Africa. The team have to wait months for the approval from the government and were allowed to spend seven thousand pounds to buy 150 Barbary ostriches. The French however banned export of live birds from their territory.
The explorers proceeded into the prohibited lands, pursued by French spies. The explorers divided into 3 groups and buy bales of worthless feathers to put the French spies of their scent.  The Thornton party bought 156 Barbary ostriches and porters had to carry the birds for thousands of miles to Lagos. From Lagos they had to travel another three thousand miles to Cape Town.  Arriving in Cape Town 140 ostriches survived.

Loading ostrich in Lagos

The George White - The Best Ostrich Feathers in the World

The ostriches you may see along the road in Oudtshoorn have an interesting story to tell.
The ostriches used in large scale farming stem from the cross breeding of the indigenous South African ostrich and the blue necked Barbary ostrich from North African.  141 Barbary Ostriches were smuggled out of North Africa and brought to Oudtshoorn by RW Thornton on 20 September 1911. By doing this Oudtshoorn eventually controlled the world market for ostrich feathers in this period.  Farmers became know as Feather Barons due to the wealth that was created.
The most famous of all Ostrich Feathers are known as the George White ostrich feather. In 1913 a farmer by the name of George White spotted some beautiful looking ostriches in the East London zoo. Regard by many as one of the best ostrich breeders of all time George White negotiated with the zoo to buy one.  He transported it back to his farm in Grahamstown and began to cross breed with his own bloodlines.  This produced the best and most famous of all feathers. The George White. A very dense feather with magnificent curls that will fetch around R10 000 per kilogram today. 

There are very few ostriches from the George White bloodline left today.  One such farmer who still farms with them is Ockie Olivier from the Welgeluk Ostrich Farm outside Oudtshoorn.  His uncle was a friend of George White and in 1942 George White gave his uncle some of these special birds as a gift.
The George White feather is also known as the miracle feather as it is almost flawless. So the next time you see ostriches along the road just think of the 141 ostriches from 1911 and the famous George White.
Visit for more info on ostriches and all we have to offer.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Kenyan "Red" Ostrich

The Kenyan Red can be a nasty fellow.  A very aggressive and territorial ostrich the Kenyan is clearly identifiable by his red coloring in the body and neck.  These bad tempered birds are larger than the South African ostriches, and can reach up to 160 kg.  They but do not have the same feather quality as the South African ostriches.  South African ostriches usually produce better skins as the feathers grow closer together and have a better pattern of quills on the skin.  Visit  for more information on our tour offerings.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Feather Palaces from a bygone era

The famous Ostrich Feather palaces got their names from a time long gone by.  In the early 1900's farmers made their wealth through the sale of ostrich feathers into Europe.  They were known as feather barons.  These beautifully built houses were then called Feather Palaces.  There are few that remain today The Welgeluk Feather Palace, which means good luck, is situated at Safari Ostrich Show Farm.   Some interesting facts are; the tiles on the roof are from Belgium, windows are poured glass from Holland.  The house has 18 rooms and a bath that can take 1500lt of water and sit 5 people. It was built in 1910 and is a national monument.  Come visit Safari Ostrich Show Farm or get more info at

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Breeding season at Safari Ostrich Show Farm

Its that time of year again, when spring is in the air and mother nature gets the birds humming and the bees buzzing.  During the spring and summer months, ostriches will make their nests, lay their eggs and incubate for approx 42 days.  On the Safari Ostrich Show Farm we will be collecting eggs three a week and put the eggs in incubators for 42 days before the chicks start pipping.  Watch this unique video footage of a female ostrich laying an egg and the male is close by protecting her and the nest.

Visit our website at for more information about ostriches and the tours we provide

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Strongest Egg in the world

With our breeding ostriches laying eggs since we are in the middle of the breeding season - I want to share with you how strong ostrich eggs are.

The biggest bird in the world lays the biggest egg in the world. One ostrich eff can weigh about 1,5 kg. An adult ostrich can weigh up to 180 kg.
The male ostrich sits on the egg at night and the female during the day to incubate them. She is grey and he is black for camouflage so that predators can not see it is ostriches sitting on eggs.

The eggs have to be strong enough to carry the weight of the adult birds when they incubate them. One ostrich eff can take the weight of about 220 kg vertically and 120 kg horizontally. This means you can stand on ostrich eggs and they will not break. The eff shell is 2 mm thick which sounds like nothing but is the strongest shell on any egg.

Visit us at Safari Ostrich Farm and test the strength of the eggs on your guided Tractor Tour.

The most beautiful leather in the world

When you visit Safari Ostrich Show Farm for a guided tour you will find we also have a lovely restaurant as well as a Gift Shop.
Our Gift Shop is focused on elegant and well-crafted Ostrich Leather gifts. We have a wide range of beautiful handbags, ladies purses, belts and wallets. There is something for every taste and preference.
Ostrich leather is the 3rd strongest in the world and along with its richly textured and natural finish - it makes stunning products that will last a life-time. Ostrich leather is expensive but it sought after because of its durability and flexibility. Many of our ostrich products displayed in the Gift Shop is manufactured with skins from our farm. We pride ourselves on the quality of the products we offer to our clients as well as the range and price.

Do a tractor tour on Safari Ostrich Show Farm

A visit to Oudtshoorn would be incomplete without visiting Safari Ostrich Show Farm.  Situated in the picturesque Little Karoo, 6km from Oudsthoorn on the R328.

Be greeted by our friendly, proffesional guides who will take you on an educational, interactive and simply enjoable tour.  A highlite of this tour is a relaxing and exciting Tractor tour. This is the only ostrich farm where you will be able to enjoy such an experience.   Driving through a camp of Zimbabwean Blue ostriches - yes there are different types of ostrich - you will get the opportunity to get up close and personal with these massive birds and take some great photographs.  Depending on the time of year you may even see them on their nests incubating eggs.  The tractor the takes you past the  Kenyan red ostrich who never seems to be in a good mood and the crazy Australian Emu.

Remember this is the only place where you can experience a tractor ride through part of an ostrich farm in South Africa