18 June 2013 by Kate Els

Guest post: Riding ostriches in Oudtshoorn

‘Hold on tight and don’t let go’ – these are the last words I hear before the rancher pulls the white bag off a male ostrich’s head.

Karoo ostriches enjoy the arid climate of the area. Image: South African Tourism

This is a guest post from Nadine Pober of The Nadwork after her trip to South Africa as part of the #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers' trip in May.

'Hold on tight and don’t let go' – these are the last words I hear before the rancher pulls the white bag off the male ostrich’s head. The ostrich turns his long neck around and sees me looking slightly scared. He starts wondering why this chick is sitting on his back and he starts running...

Nadine, looking rather surprised to be on an ostrich Nadine, looking rather surprised to be on an ostrich

Ostriches can run up to 70km/h and their kicks can kill you. Why on earth would anybody want to ride such an enormous bird? Because it’s fun! When I hear that riding an ostrich is an option during our #MeetSouthAfrica tour, I get overly excited.

After leaving Cape Town we head along the Garden Route, past Ronnie’s Sex Shop and hot springs on Route 62. The beauty of South Africa stuns me again and again. After a night in Sedgefield, we arrive at the Cango Ostrich Farm. Here I get the warmest welcome ever as a female ostrich hugs me! Their feathers are really soft and the fine neck hair tickles me a little bit.

Time for a hug! Time for a hug!

After such a lovely greeting it’s only polite to give something back. And a good guest never comes empty-handed. So when I am asked to hold a bucket of food for the ladies, I don’t hesitate. But no one ever told me how ostriches are fed!

While I think I am still posing for my next Facebook profile picture, I feel this ticklish hair on my face again. Hungry beaks are coming from all sides! I don't even realise what is happening to me. I completely underestimate the length of an ostrich’s neck – and their determination to empty the white food bucket. It somehow feels like a Thai massage: you don’t really know what’s going on, but it feels nice.

Feeding the big bird Feeding the big bird

All of this is just a precursor to the big moment: riding an ostrich in South Africa! I am finally about to tick it off my bucket list.

We all know the funny picture of an ostrich burying its head in the sand. But what I don’t know is that an ostrich actually believes that if it can’t see you, you can’t see it either. Almost like playing hide and seek with my little niece.

The rancher catches a male ostrich and pulls a bag over its head. The ostrich then gets really calm (because he thinks he is alone). He is then led into a rack, which makes it easier for you to climb on. The rancher shows me how get into a safe position and grab underneath the ostrich's wings in such a way that it won’t hurt him. The rancher then tells me to hold on tight and pulls the bag off the ostrich's head.

And there you go! The ostrich tries to run away from me – but I am still behind him, so he tries to run faster and faster. Luckily we are in an enclosure, so we don’t run out into the wild.

Riding an ostrich Riding an ostrich

The only way to get off the ostrich is to fall off! The good news is that this is easy, because two guards who are running after me catch me safely.

Adrenaline is pumping trough my veins; I’m a little bit sweaty and my feet are shaking – but what an amazing experience. I totally feel like a winner! South Africa has again made a dream come true.

Winner! Winner!

Nadine will be posting more blogs about her experience in South Africa. Follow her on Twitter @thenadwork to make sure you get the latest posts!

Category: Adventure, Attractions

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