Leigh demanded some ostriches - The ninth step ... Somewhere in South Africa - CycleBlaze

January 13, 2021

Leigh demanded some ostriches

Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn

It was another cloudy morning and windless too, thank goodness.  Although we have struggled with the wind on this trip, we have mostly had manageable temperatures.  The sun did break through later in the morning and the wind picked up and became a bit of a bother as well.  But that was  within striking distance of Oudtshoorn so it didn't matter too much.

Within a couple of kilometers of town I spotted a likely area for Haworthias, the group of succulent plants that I have enjoyed studying since I was a teenager.  So I pulled off to have a look and managed to find some Haworthiopsis viscosa and Astroloba spiralis.

Hunting for Haworthias.
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Haworthiopsis viscosa
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Astroloba spiralis
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Calitzdorp is the premier area for the production of Port style wines in South Africa made mostly with the traditional Port varieties of Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional.  In an agreement with the EU, South Africa stopped naming its Ports as such and instead refers to them as Cape Vintage, Cape Ruby and Cape Tawny, depending on the style.  Very old Cape Tawnies (ie older than fifty years) are often available in local bottle stores and are excellent examples of this style of wine.  With the greater use of Touriga Nacional in particular, there are some great Cape Vintages becoming available as well.

Vineyards on the outskirts of town.
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Our route today would be on the old road between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn that follows the disused railway line south of the R62.  In the past this was a jolting journey on cement slabs but we were pleased to find that the first fifteen kilometers out of Calitzdorp was now a new tarred road.  It was an incredibly peaceful ride and the cement slabs allowed my mind to wander back to times cycling the back roads of south-east Asia.  It was also relatively traffic free and it was a good decision to skip the R62

A nice new tarred road with hardly any motorized vehicles to bother us.
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The start of the cement road.
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On the cement road.
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End of the cement road.
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Last night Leigh said she would like some pictures taken of ostriches.  That was going to be easy because the Little Karoo is the main ostrich farming area in South Africa.  In the nineteenth century many farmers in the Oudtshoorn area became very wealthy on the back of the ostrich feather boom.  Nowadays they are farmed for not just their feathers but also their meat, eggs, skins etc.  In fact, almost nothing goes to waste.

The ostriches farmed in South Africa are not the local race of Struthio camelus, (the race known as  S. c. australis), but are hybrids of the southern race with birds of the nominate race from north Africa.  To find "true" S. c. australis one needs to look for wild ostriches in the larger game reserves, particularly the Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

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The sun was out and the wind was up so it was time for a break in the shade.
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To the south of us are the Outeniqua mountains over which we will ride in a few days time.
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First stop once we got to Oudtshoorn was a Steers, a local fast food chain, where we bought an ice cream to cool us down.  Then it was on to our very good digs for the next two nights.  The Pepper Tree Cottages are part of the Protea hotel chain's operation in Oudtshoorn and consists of four excellent fully equipped apartments.  We will rest here for a day and work out our route for the next few days.

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Today's ride: 61 km (38 miles)
Total: 1,887 km (1,172 miles)

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