While ostriches may not be a common bird for most of us living in North America, I grew accustomed to having them around when I lived in South Africa. I have ridden them a few times and in the northern Transvaal and we used to eat ostrich eggs on the farm where I stayed, oh so delicious compared to chicken eggs. The yolks tend to be richer and so you feel that much fuller that much quicker.
Because of the Dutch influence on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to come across an Ostrich Farm, but truth be told, the farm did produce more than a few ‘aha’ moments. Those from South Africa or who have traveled there know about its Dutch influence of course, but what I didn’t expect was just how “South African” the ostrich farm was going to feel.
So yes, near one of the biggest conservancy areas of Curaçao, you’ll find a little piece of Africa. Here you’ll also get access to beautiful views over the St. Jorisbaai and be able to watch the equally stunning views of the sun setting at dusk while hanging out with ostriches, crocodiles, pigs, iguanas and parrots.
You start out in a sun-covered land rover, a multi-colored one that is.
The truck will drive you through the property, while you learn about ostriches and the farm itself.
Up close. Adorable right?
Adorable that is until they want something from you….like food.
We learn a lot about ostriches from our guide, who humored us with mistakes that what he refers to as “farm interns” made early on.
Truth be told, while they are incredibly powerful birds, they are also incredibly graceful.
Take a look at his longer slender neck and how he slowly veers back, looks up and approaches the branches above him with both grace and ease.
There’s a sense of purpose that the ostrich has which I find so fascinating. Awkward looking legs, not unlike a chicken has, he walks with force and yet elegance at the same time.
That’s not necessarily the case when they do a mating dance which one such ostrich did for our guide who claims that the ostrich can’t tell the difference between a human and a bird. And, I thought you said these birds were smart, I thought.
Before you think they’re slow thinking and call them silly looking, remember that ostriches can outrun you, able to achieve speeds greater than 40 miles per hour when running and they are able to maintain that speed for more than 30 minutes at a time. One individual ostrich stride can take him 12 to 15 feet in one shot.
They are smarter than many apparently and indeed, strong. The vast majority of the bird’s body weight is encapsulated in its long and powerful legs. Odd factoid here! Unlike other birds, the ostrich has only two toes which apparently enables the bird to attain greater speeds than many of its predators. Also worth knowing is that his legs are capable of crushing a skull. Like the slow hippo you don’t think can do any damage when you initially see his lazy walk, don’t get in his way.
The reason it now takes a truck to get through the property is due to the farm’s growth over the past ten years. What started out as a family business in 1995, has now grown into a 9 acre farm and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in South Africa driving through it on more than one occasion. It is in fact, the largest ostrich farm outside of Africa today.
What’s great about this eco-friendly property is that there is wheelchair access and plenty of kid-friendly things to do as well, including a museum, making it an ideal stop over for families. The land itself is also beautiful with plenty of cacti around. I even made a few friends who indulged me while I played around with my Canon 7D and the sky’s magical clouds.
In the afternoon or it appears anytime of day really, ostriches love to eat. On the tour, you can feed them — you don’t realize just how massive these birds are until you get up close and have food to give away. Warning: hold onto that plastic bowl tightly since let’s just say that they’re not light eaters.
The Ostrich Farm
Weg naar Groot St Joris
Tel: (+5999) 747 2777 or 747267
Photo credits: Renee Blodgett
Note: I was hosted by the Curaçao Tourism Board however was not asked to write this article nor paid to — all opinions expressed are entirely my own.