Riding and racing ostriches in Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Ostrich eggs are not in season in June in South Africa and the backpackers/hostel that we were staying at only served up ostrich eggs for breakfast when they were in season.  I was with two friends of mine, Tim and Bryan, who I picked up at the airport a couple days ago in Cape Town and we came to Oudtshoorn - the ostrich capital of the world - to indulge in everything ostrich.

Grocery shopping for breakfast: ostrich eggs and
ostrich sausage

"Do you have any ostrich eggs?"   The owner of the backpackers was on the phone calling around to grocery stores in the area to find one with ostrich eggs in stock.  "How much?  Forty rand.  Okay, thanks." 

He gave us directions to the store and we took off to buy two ostrich eggs and some ostrich sausage so we could make ourselves some breakfast in the morning.   We made it back by 6:30pm so we could join in the ostrich steak braai that the backpackers was having that night.  The lean medium rare ostrich steak was enjoyed by all.  Before going to bed the owner told us to come and get one of the women in front in the morning to show us how to open the ostrich egg because he wasn't going to be around.

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Tim making scrambled ostrich eggs

Julia came into the kitchen with a small rock in the morning and began hammering a hole in the top tip of the egg.  After making a hole in the shell she took a knife to pierce the membrane and began to shake the contents of the egg - equivalent to 24 chicken eggs - into a bowl.  We made scrambled eggs and omelets out of roughly a third of the egg and the three of us could not eat any more.   We were told that frying an ostrich egg didn't work very well because aside from the difficulty of flipping the egg the white of the egg didn't solidify like that of a chicken.  We tried it anyway and result wasn't anything appetizing.

Done with the steak and eggs, we wanted to settle our wagers on the ostriches themselves.   It was raining that morning and we were told that the farms wouldn't allow people to ride the ostriches when the ground was went because the ostriches would slip in the mud.  So we continued on along the southern Coast of South Africa and came back to Oudtshoorn a couple days later when it was hot and dry.  We stopped at a few ostrich farms before finding one that would let us take the ostriches out on our own.  This was a negotiation involving endless explanations of why tourists are not allowed to race the ostriches followed by an agreement that if we would "work something out" with the guides and jockeys we could race the ostriches. 

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Bryan and I ostrich racing

After a few minutes getting used to the awkward balancing act of riding an ostrich around in the corral we headed over to the racetrack.  I raced the ostrich jockeys twice.  I won the first time with a little help - a head start and a guy running behind me to ensure I didn't fall off.  The second time against the jockeys I didn't have any help - I came in last.  Now it was time for the big race against my friend Bryan.  Offers for helmets and "assistance" were refused.  We mounted our respective birds, the gate swung open and the race was on.  Bryan was in the lead early on and near the half way point the gap between us was getting larger.  It looked like Bryan was going to win the ostrich race wager - until the turn came up... and he fell off his ostrich. 

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Jenn emailed me your page and I saw that you're in Maputo! How's your portuguese? Hopefully not as bad as mine...

Anyway, you need to check out the beaches in Tofo (pretty sure it's spelled that way and pronounced tofu). You need to take a mini bus from Maputo (I think around 5-7 hours if I remember correctly) but you can easily spend 3-5 days on the beach once you get there. Best and cheapest way to get up close and personal with whale sharks (I swam with 5)!!

Enjoy, be safe and keep posting...


Sam, My Portuguese is terrible and my Spanish isn't very useful either but I love Mozambique. Thanks for the Tofo suggestion. I took the minibus from Maputo and ended up spending 9 days in Tofo - a great town! The weather wasn't very good when I was there and the dives were frequently cancelled so I did not get to swim with the whale sharks but I hope to make it back again to swim with them. Even with the wind and rain I thoroughly enjoyed Tofo: the beach, the people and the parties.


Hey, I saw your ostrich race. My mom and I watched it (laughing) and just wanted to say hi and to see how you were doing. I got the website name from Grandma. Well I hope your doing ok and that your having fun. My mom said to say hi and to wish you well and that you need to come visit when you get back stateside. Love ya,
tha Walsh's

Hi Steven, It is good to hear from you. I am continuing to enjoy my time running around southern Africa. The ostrich racing was a lot of fun - not the easiest animal to ride but it made for an entertaining afternoon. Tell your mom I say hello. I hope all is well and I'll see you when I get back.


Hey John,

Glad your having such a grand trip. It is wondeful to read about surely moreso to experience. I especially enjoyed the Rastafarian experience. Enjoy those Ostrich egg breakfasts.

Don Steele


Hi I would like to know if you sell empty ostrich eggs as I am doing egg craft and at the moment order my eggs from overseas, I would rather order local if possible.

Could you please let me know on my e-mail or if you know of a place in South Africa

Many Thanks


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Taking off to some unidentified place in the heart of Africa – somewhere with no electricity, no running water and at least one week’s journey from anything resembling a city has been a long time dream of mine.

My name is John Bradley and in May 2009, I left my job in Chicago, sold my car, moved everything else I owned into my grandma’s basement and flew to Africa. I plan to take roughly one year to overland on a budget from Cape Town to Cairo. I do not have an itinerary; I have no idea where I will be five days from now. My path is guided by the attempt to balance the urge to see and experience as much as I can with the desire to travel slowly and close to the ground.

This is where I will post my stories, photos, and videos as I move along on my journey. Feel free to post comments or send me an email with any thoughts or suggestions.

Current location: Coffee Bay, South Africa

Distance traveled: 42,790 km

Days on the road: 366

(last updated 5/16/10)

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