Cradock, the “Capital of the Midlands”, was founded in 1814, on the farm Buffelskloof. It was named after Sir John Cradock, who, realising the need to establish two new frontier strongholds, chose the site where Grahamstown stands today as the eastern frontier stronghold and the site where Cradock stands today as the western frontier stronghold. Today, Cradock serves as an important agricultural centre in this mohair-, lucerne-, dairy- and fruit-farming area.

Adventure And Sport

Golf: Enjoy a quick round of golf on Cradock’s nine-hole golf course.

Fish River Canoe Marathon: Cradock is a popular destination for canoeing and-white-water-rafting enthusiasts. Every October, the famous Fish River Canoe Marathon attracts large crowds to watch the best canoeists in South Africa. The Marathon starts at Lake Arthur and Grassridge Dam.

Hiking: Various hiking trails traverse the two reserves in the area, the Commando Drift Reserve and the Mountain Zebra Park. The shorter Bushman Trail and the 10-km Cradock Spa Hiking Trail offer slightly less strenuous alternatives.

Water sport: The Commando Drift Dam in the Commando Drift Nature Reserve allows swimming, angling and boating.

Archaeology And Palaeontology

San rock art: The Mountain Zebra National Park’s protected heritage includes several San rock art sites.

Entertainment And Shopping

Cradock Mineral Spa: Relax in the healing, so-called “triple” mineral waters – water containing equal concentrations of chlorides, sulphates and bicarbonates. The resort has both indoor and outdoor pools to swim in.

“Die Tuishuise”: For a night to remember, bed down for the night in one of the delightful, restored cottages in Market Street and experience true Karoo hospitality and cuisine.

Shopping: Do not leave Cradock before purchasing a mohair carpet or jersey and a model windmill or car made of wire, all locally manufactured.

History And Architecture

Congregational Church: This church, a national monument, was originally built for the Reverend Robert Taylor. After renovations, the new pulpit was built directly over his tomb.

Cultural History Museum: Within the Mountain Zebra National Park lies a Cultural History Museum that covers the history of the pioneers in great detail.

Doornhoek House Museum: Another interesting feature of the Mountain Zebra National Park is the historic Doornhoek House Museum, a house of major importance in European Karoo history.

Dutch Reformed Church: The first pastor of the parish had the church built in the same style as the St Martin’s-in-the-Field Church in London, in an effort to make his English-born wife feel more at home.

Grave of Reginald Koettlitz: Koettlitz was a member of Robert Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1912 and his grave is one of Cradock’s major attractions.

Great Fish River Cultural History Museum: The museum is housed in the second Dutch Reformed Church and depicts the typical settler lifestyle of 1806, time of the second British occupation of the Cape.

Local library: The library houses some of the works by Olive Schreiner as well as a first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Olive Schreiner House: Olive Schreiner, one of South Africa’s most revered writers, the author of “The Story of an African Farm”, lived a solitary existence in this house, built in typical Karoo architectural style. You can also visit her grave, a three to four-hour hike to the summit of Buffelskop Mountain.

Fauna And Flora

Commando Drift Nature Reserve: The reserve is situated 60 km north of Cradock on the Tarkastad road. The Commando Drift Dam is situated within its borders, This 6 000 ha reserve, a mixture of grassveld and Karoo veld, is home to the endangered mountain zebra, blesbok, red hartebeest and springbok as well as about 200 species of birds. Swimming, boating and angling are allowed in the dam and the reserve also has a 28-km endurance hiking trail, a circular hike through the reserve.

Great Fish River Reserve Complex: This vast 45 000-ha conservation area incorporates the Andries Vosloo, Sam Knott and Double Drift Nature Reserves. The river cuts through kilometres of pristine valley thicket where large game animals, such as rhinoceros, buffaloes, hippopotami and kudu roam. Waterfowl and game can be observed from the hide at the edge of a seasonal water pan. There are several forts, such as Fort Double Drift and Botha’s Post Fort, signalling towers, barracks and graves of historic interest in the reserve complex, a legacy of the Frontier Wars. Hunting is allowed in specially zoned areas.

Mountain Zebra National Park: The mountains and narrow valleys of the Mountain Zebra National Park are home to the mountain zebra, one of the world’s most endangered species. The 6 400-ha park was set up in 1937 specifically to protect the mountain zebra. Initially there were only six zebra, but the present population has grown to over 200. The park is dominated by the 2 012-m-high Bankberg and is covered with attractive trees, a large variety of aloes and flowering shrubs. A rich store of archaeological sites can be found throughout the park, including prime examples of San rock art. A Cultural History Museum and the Doornhoek House Museum are also found within the confines of the park.

Oak Trees: Cradock’s streets are adorned with the distinctive ilex oak trees. Those on Dundas Street have been declared national monuments. The oak tree near the supermarket is believed to be one of the world’s biggest trees.

Van Riebeeck Karoo Garden: A large collection of typical indigenous Karoo shrubs and succulents grows in the Van Riebeeck Karoo Garden.

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