What? Meerkats of Oudthsoorn?
Yes, there is more to the ostrich capital of South Africa than just feathers and caves.
If you head a few kilometers west of Oudtshoorn, between the creases of the Swartberg and Outeniqua Mountains, you’ll find De Zeekoe, a working lucerne and guest farm where tranquil sunsets, unrivaled landscapes and adventure beckon you closer to the heart of the Little Karoo.
The name De Zeekoe, came from the old Dutch name, Zeekoegat – or hippo waterhole – where the water-lovers with the big jaws used to frolic around the riverbed. But that was centuries ago and, if you turn the clock and fast forward to today, the gigantic creatures are long gone and a much smaller animal has taken over the grounds of the farm.
The Meerkats of Oudtshoorn
I’ve seen the big five up, close and personal in South Africa’s National Parks, but nothing could prepare me for South Africa’s small five as I visited the meerkats of Oudtshoorn; it was a wildlife experience like no other.
A short drive from De Zeekoe Guest Farm brings you to a haven of silence where the early morning cold and dark hours in the Little Karoo greets the day with coffee, homemade rusks and an orange glow on the horizon.
It is quiet; there are no city lights, no traffic and Mother Nature shouts loudly in your ear as you head into the veld on a short walk with Devey Glinister, Oudtshoorn’s meerkat whisperer from Meerkat Adventures.
His knowledge of the area and of the meerkats of Oudtshoorn is awe-inspiring and his focus on keeping the experience ethical at all times is moving; this is not the place to touch or feed a meerkat, this is a place to respect and wake up to a colony of meerkats in their natural environment while one hand is cupped around a coffee mug and another holds on to the camera, still and steady, waiting in anticipation for the priest-like creatures to wake up.
One after the other, the meerkats peek from their burrows as they seek for – stomach first – their spot in the sun. Their eyes glitter in the light as they sway and yawn, back and forth, left and right.
“Their stomach is like a solar panel,” Devey says as camera shutters click away vigorously, “they need to charge themselves with heat before they can start with their day.”
Quietly you sit in your chair in the middle of almost nowhere in the Little Karoo; the meerkat whisperer baffles you with interesting facts, a colony of meerkats wake up in front of you and as the sun rises higher to your left the day starts; on a note higher than any other note.
I sit back in my camping chair; my camera is resting on my lap, my coffee cup is empty and some of the wide-awake-meerkats have started their day and ventured off. In the distance – somewhere – cars are speeding by on Route 62 on their way to Cape Town, on their way to the Garden Route, on their way to Port Elizabeth and I wonder, do they even know? Do they know about the surprises that lies just next to the road? Do they know about the wonders of South Africa’s small five?
I think back to yesterday; I was still blissfully unaware that an experience with the meerkats of Oudtshoorn would affect me this much and I wonder, do we even know?
Do we even know what South Africa has to offer? Do we even know about all the wonders, all the creatures, all the sights? Do we even know how incredibly fortunate we are to still have open spaces, to still have places with clean air; places green, places natural and places protected?
Do we even know?
One last time, before you head back and leave the veld behind, your finger feels the camera button; you focus on the sun-gazing, pulpit-sitting, caramel coated creatures and take another photo, to engrave the image of the meerkats of Oudtshoorn forever in your heart.
A few important things to remember about the Meerkats of Oudtshoorn
Booking is essential. You can visit Meerkat Adventures for more details. Due to the early start of the tour, it would be best if you can stay over in Oudtshoorn. De Zeekoe Guest Farm offers a variety of accommodation options.
Please keep in mind that meerkats are wild animals; these animals are unfortunately often sold on the black market but should under no circumstances ever be kept as a pet. The only way to enjoy these creatures is in their natural environment.
Want to visit the Meerkats of Oudtshoorn? Pin this image to your travel board!