Kick Back in the Historical Town of Cradock

For a number of years, Cradock was a town I longed to explore. It seemed far-fetched that I will never be able to visit until one day I said, “let’s go“.

Cradock is one of the many historical towns you need to add to your list. Yes, the list keeps getting longer but trust me on this one.

Departing from Zoar on another scorching day in the Eastern Cape, the road is long and tiresome. Whenever we plan these road trips, we forget to add pit stop times so the duration to get to our next destination is always longer than anticipated.

We stop in a place called Willowmore for lunch. We’ve been in this town before so we dine at a new establishment called Kapoet for roostekoek and a cold beverage while we sit on the stoep, and watch fellow travellers pass by with their trailers and caravans; packed to the brim.

Another hour in the unbearable heat along the N9, we make a quick stop in the town of Aberdeen in search of ice cream which no one has so we make do with apple munchies and suck on it under a huge tree before making the 198km to Cradock.

The drive has endless views of mountainous landscapes and lush scenery. Behind wire fences, sheep and buck graze while birds soar the sky in search of food below. The Eastern Cape is truly a magnificent province, that’s for sure.

Our accommodation for the next two days is right when you enter the town. The Palms  Accommodation has many simple rooms but we select a little secluded place called Rustic Palms that acts as a mini home. A tiny patio to enjoy a cup of coffee, an open-plan space with a queen-size bed, a little kitchenette with a wooden carved table and chairs and, a bathroom with a claw-foot tub.

The island-style pool is what sold us especially after a long journey, cooling down is essential. The staff was exceptional. I particularly loved saying “Good morning or hello” to the groundkeeper. For R800 per night, this establishment wasn’t too bad.

The next morning, we went in search of breakfast. The potholes in this town are horrendous and something you can’t avoid with large trucks passing by. We find a quaint little spot called True Living; situated in Stockenstroom Street. It might not look like much on the outside but inside is a beautiful courtyard set up to enjoy your meal.

One of the main attractions in Cradock is the Mountain Zebra National Park just 12km outside of Cradock. There is a 10km corrugated road before getting to security and another few kilometers before getting to the reception. The rolling plains and deep valleys are incredible. No wonder this National Park is one of many underrated Parks in South Africa.

It might not have the Big Five but it does boast the Cape Mountain Zebra, lions, cheetah, mountain reedbuck, grey rhebok and so much more. We did a self-drive and ventured into the Park in search of species. It’s hot but bearable; not easy to spot some animals.

After 3 hours of driving around the Park, we headed home and made a beeline to the pool before the thunder rolled in. It’s not unusual in summer for thunder and lightning to occur in Cradock. After a quick afternoon nap, it’s dinnertime so off we went to find a restaurant. In small towns, there ain’t many dining places open after 6 pm so try and factor this in when planning a small town stay.

We find a place called KarooBrew; a bar-like style eatery with a casual atmosphere that’s open till 8 pm in Durban Street. We opt to sit outside as we watch the neighbours’ kids ride their bikes up and down the pavement. The staff are energetic and list off cocktails they think I should try. Alas, they offer me a cocktail called, ‘Sex on the Beach’ but here they call it, ‘Sex on the Plaas (farm)‘ because there are no beaches in Cradock.

The menu isn’t extensive but they have the basics like wraps, pizza, and chicken kebabs with a side salad and potato wedges. It’s definitely a lively spot especially over the weekends when live events such as karaoke take place.

It’s the next morning and the weather it’s much cooler. However, it’s time to leave to get to our next destination. We find a breakfast spot 2km from our accommodation. The Shed Eatery is a lovely spot that’s not only a restaurant but has a nursery and little stalls all over the property. The menu has a wide range of meals from breakfast, lunch, and supper. Not forgetting the exceptionally friendly staff and a wonderful tannie who walked the whole nursery with me to find the best succulents to bring home to my mother.

As I stood to pay, there were a group of women standing around the counter and we started chatting about us visiting, what we did, and if we ate at all 3 restaurants which we laughed at. I asked why their potholes were so extreme and even that made us chuckle harder. I mean, what else are we, South Africans going to do but laugh at the state of our infrastructure?

It’s then I realised that a town can be crumbling but the people will still make a Klein dorpie (small town) like Cradock vibrant and enjoyable.

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Till the next small town.

Stephanie Marthinus Blog