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Ride an Ostrich in Curaçao at The Largest Ostrich Farm Outside Africa
Living in South Africa, I got used to seeing ostriches. So I felt at home in #Curaçao, since it's the site of the largest ostrich farm outside Africa. Can you believe that?! The ostriches were #active and let us feed them from plastic buckets. It was an experience that made me feel closer to my roots - despite being on an island miles and miles away.
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, 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 ‘a-ha’ moments.
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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.
While the ostrich is the world’s largest living bird, the average adult male ranging from between 8 to 10 feet tall and weighing in at over 250 pounds, their bite is worse than it looks. Rather than your finger having one of those wounds you can tell your grand kids about in years to come, it feels more like a tight pinch, nothing more, nothing less.
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.
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.
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.
Even though they’re eager for the feed, an enclosed gated area keeps you safe from their strong feet and claws. Although they have wings, oddly enough, they cannot fly. Instead, the wings are used for balance and you’ll notice that they’ll extend their wings when running and then, if the bird suddenly needs to change directions, his wings can serve as a rudder, so he can quickly take another route if necessary to avoid danger or predators.
Although they have wings, oddly enough, they cannot fly.
The wings are also used in mating rituals and courtship displays which we saw on the grounds – hilarious! The bird raises his wings and the one being courted will sag hers. The mating dance was much shorter however than the long mating ritual I experienced with Blue-Footed boobies in the Galapagos Islands.
In addition to its museum, you can purchase stone sculptures, wood carvings, African ornaments, wall hangings, feathers, jewelry, painted ostrich eggs and trinkets. At its on-site Zambezi restaurant, you can even order Ostrich on the menu, which you may or may not want to do if you’ve made friends with several of them on the farm during the day.