Cookhouse is one of the Eastern Capes relatively unknown villages. It is approximately 165 km’s away from Port Elizabeth and forms part of the Blue Crane Route along with other Karoo towns of Somerset East and Pearston.
Despite not being a popular holiday destination, the quiet town has a quaint charm and character of its own. The town covers only about 50 square kilometres and its residents are mainly Xhosa speaking South Africans. Travellers who do visit Cookhouse en route will no doubt enjoy the lovely landscapes surrounding it and its warm friendly locals.
If you find yourself spending a few days in the area, you will find hiking, walking and mountain biking trails you can use to explore the beautiful natural surroundings. If you are more of a history buff, Cookhouse has a famous railway station, once vital and bustling, and now, though still in use, a shadow of what it was in its heyday. The sense of the ghosts of the past hovering over the station, to be noted by passengers passing through has been immortalised in verse in Chris Mann’s poem, “On Cookhouse Station".
For more attractions and activities, a bit more travelling would be required, perhaps you will see the well-dressed ghost when you visit the Somerset East Museum, pop off to Bedford for a round of golf or travel into Cradock for a few museum visits. Don’t forget to stop in at the Padstals (Farm Stalls) along each route, you will find the Daggaboer Farm Stall near Cradock and the Melk en Heuning Padstal along the N10 between Cookhouse and Middleton.
Accommodation options in the surrounding area includes small historic hotels, convenient self-catering, B&B’s, farm stays and game lodges.
Cookhouse receives approximately 358 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during Autumn and Winter.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 29˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 3˚C and 17˚C.
Cookhouse is sited on what was once the border between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa territories, the Great Fish River formed the eastern boundary of the Cape Colony until 1819. The village was located on the farm Roodewal and, as was common with many early colonial settlements, it was founded near a river crossing.
The name of this small town is said to have originated in the late 1700’s and most likely derived its name from a small stone house used for shelter and cooking by troops camping on the bank of this river or as also suggested when Suzanna van Aardt supplied provisions from her “Cookhouse” to transport riders waiting to be able to cross the Great Fish River. Another explanation links the name to the hot climate as experienced by the troops stationed there.
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