An Afrikaner ostrich farm

Skeiding ostriches were as curious about us as we were about them.

I’m behind on blogging having been distracted by the holidays and then the heartbreaking last weeks with my beloved, nearly 18-year old dog, so am finishing up the end of our South Africa trip while on a transAtlantic cruise from Florida back to Europe. I’ll keep it brief, but I hated to let two favorite South African stays (and a pair of awesome Qatar Airways Qsuites flights home) go unreported.

Looking for something different after our time driving South Africa’s Garden Route, I was intrigued to find Skeiding Guest Farm, billed as a working ostrich farm. How fun!) Turning inland from the Garden Route, the drive to Skeiding took us through dramatic mountain passes into the Little Karoo, a rugged high plains area. We stopped for lunch at a funky little roadside café and gift shop called Bella de Karoo and descended back through the mountains to the ostrich farm at the end of some miles of unpaved road. (Bella de Karoo apparently has guest rooms elsewhere, but we didn’t check those out.)

The main house at Skeiding Guest Farm where meals are served.

Skeiding Guest Farm is run by a married couple, Neels and Anné-Lize, who both trace their ancestry back to the earliest Afrikaner settlers. Skeiding is a working farm on 1200 hectares (appx. 2965 acres). We were met at the main house by Neels who checked us in and showed us to our charming cottage with its big covered patio overlooking a sweeping vista. After settling on a dinner time, David and I headed out to hike the farm (a working ranch as well as a farm), accompanied by Clara, the friendly doberman.

Skeiding farm (clockwise from top): views of the Langeberg Mountains, a curious ostrich, view from the living room of our cottage, and hiking with Clara the doberman

On this first ramble, we saw lots of sheep, but no ostriches. We also marveled at the local birds, particularly the brilliant yellow and red weaver birds who flitted back and forth among their woven nests that dangle like straw Christmas ornaments from so many African trees.

Brilliantly colored weaver birds

We found the farm’s flock of ostriches on a later hike, laughing as the big-eyed creatures at first ran from us, then approached, looking for treats. Neels told us he’d greatly reduced the flock as selling meat became a money-losing business due to international restrictions following an outbreak of bird disease in Africa. He now mostly keeps the ostriches for guests and to sell their eggs to race horse breeders who use them for feed to enhance the horses’ coats and general health.

Neels at the braai and an excellent dinner

Food at Skeiding Guest Farm deserves a special mention as it was abundant and outstanding. Anné-Lize is the main cook while Neels is in charge of the indoor braai (barbecue). We opted for ostrich steaks, of course, which Neels barbecued to perfection in front of us. The rest of the meal, accompanied by local wine, was equally delicious. The next morning revealed an extensive spread of a dozen cheeses(!), picture-perfect fruit plates, and cooked-to-order scrambled ostrich eggs. More food that we needed, but we enjoyed every bit of it!

A breakfast feast

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.