For anyone who plans to do so be forewarned, if you decide to ride an ostrich on your round the world trip it is the activity that everyone most wants to hear about (with the close second being tiger petting). Screw the third world bus journeys, or getting charged by an elephant, or leaping off of platforms with arguably flimsy support- is that an ostrich in your Facebook profile picture?!
Anyway, the area around George on the Garden Route is famous for its ostrich farms, the feather dusters gotta come from somewhere and ostrich is a tasty lean red meat, so naturally touring them is always an option. And by touring I mean everyone half pays attention to how the farming part works and then goes to the paddock to ride an ostrich because of the sheer spectacle, even if it only lasts about a minute.
Ok the lighting in these first two pictures are terrible because of the shadows despite the best efforts of the German guy who had my memory card in his camera and promised to take lots of pictures (camera was dead, next best solution), but this is me climbing up onto the ostrich at the ostrich hitching post. There’s a small cloth saddle behind the wings so you don’t disrupt the feathers to sit on, and you’re supposed to grab onto the wings to hold on. The reason the ostrich stays put is right now it has a bag over its head, and the animal is so stupid it thinks if it can’t see you you can’t see it. Having about 50 kilos climb onto your back is apparently no issue either!
Properly mounted on the ostrich smiling an “ok what the hell happens now?” smile as the bag is about to be taken off its head…
And they’re off! The second the bag got off its head it became very evident that ostriches like to run like crazy once they can see and realize there’s a person on them. Fast. And there’s no real control so it just runs willy-nilly around the paddock while you hold on and two guys run behind you in case you fall off suddenly.
To give you a time scale, this is maybe fifteen seconds later rustling up the ostriches on the other side of the paddock. Haven’t fallen off yet!
Runrunrunrunrun Facebook profile picture! runrunrunrunrun…
And this was snapped just about the time when I was told “ok, jump off now” so I did. Total time of ostrich ride: just over a minute.
As a final entertaining note, if anyone’s curious we got a demonstration of an experienced ostrich rider as well. This means he can make the ostrich head in a particular direction, which is done by grabbing the neck and pointing in the direction you want to go. Probably not a particularly convenient method of travel and you probably don’t want to rely much on a creature that can shred you to death with its talons, but in the ostrich’s defense it is a smoother ride than a horse. Pity the whole thing is more difficult than it was in Super Nintendo though.