On the banks of the Great Fish River, in the Karoo heartland of the Eastern Cape lays the historical town of Cradock. This thriving rural town is regarded as the capital of the Cape Midlands, a region rich in agriculture, wildlife, and warm hospitality. To experience tranquil country lifestyle in unspoilt natural territory, have an amble through our beautiful Cradock accommodations.
Cradock’s geographical location makes it an ideal stop-over for travellers en-route to various major centres in South Africa. The town was built by the Boers in 1814 as part of a series of forts to contain the Xhosa tribes to the east of the Fish River. Both cultures valued cattle as their source of wealth and competed for grazing grounds. Although intended as a fort, the town never saw conflict and remained a typical Karoo farming town.
Many historical moments have been witnesses from its verandas, including the start of the Great Trek. The ostrich boom of 1900 – 1914 brought prosperity to the area, before the World War I ban of luxury items on ships caused its collapse. Today’s demand for leather and low cholesterol meat is causing a revival in the ostrich industry. Sheep farming is also popular. The indigenous flora has helped to produce some of the country’s finest wool and mohair, and is responsible for the distinctive flavour found in Karoo mutton. The Daggaboer Farm Stall is a must visit outlet for handmade sheepskin slippers, roosterkoek, ginger beer, pies, organic cheeses, and boeremiesies (apricots soaked in alcohol known as witblitz).
But there’s more to Cradock than farming. The town has a natural sulphur spring that attracts many visitors to its modern spa and heated pools. The original part of town is a treasure trove of fine buildings like the Dutch Reformed Church, which is a national monument. Even the Ilex Oak Trees that line the streets are a national monument. The restored old water Mill is worth a visit, as is the Great Fish River Museum that illustrates what life was like for the settlers after 1806, during the second British occupation of the Cape. Cradock also holds the Olive Shreiner House Museum, which is devoted to the life and works of the author who spent much of her early life in the town and is probably most popular for her novel ‘The Story of an African Farm’.
Sport is a major attraction for Cradock. The town hosts a number of events like the Great Fish River Canoe Marathon, which sees over 2 000 paddlers turning up every year. Athletics, cricket, rugby, golf, tennis, and bowls are all promoted in the region. Outdoor and nature lovers can enjoy a short 12km trip to the Mountain Zebra National Park, which boasts about 350 head of Cape mountain zebra, along with red hartebeest, eland, black wildebeest, kudu, buffalo, black rhino, and more. Day trips can be made to Tsolwana Game Reserve and the Valley of Desolation, both of which are approximately 2 hours away.