South Africa
beauty, you'll never forget

1. Blue Crane Route Rural

The Blue Crane Route, along the R63, will take you through three beautiful Karoo towns in the Eastern Cape, Pearston, Somerset East and Cookhouse. The area is named after the South African national bird, the Blue Crane and spans 9 836 square kilometres. This is bird watching country, literally, as it comes as no surprise that about 350 species of birds occur in the Blue Crane Route area.  This makes it one of the richest areas for birding in the Eastern Cape, and possibly the most diverse in the country. The area boasts all three mouse-birds, all three yellow-vented bulbuls and all three bustards and the mountain plateaus harbour special birds such as the Verreaux's Eagle, Cape Eagle-owl and the Wing-snapping Cisticola. The Blue Crane Tourism Office has a check list available for…

2. Cookhouse

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…

3. Pearston

Pearston lies in the Karoo Heartland, a small town with only one main road and true Karoo hospitality! The town originally lay on the wagon route between Cape Town and Somerset East, with the challenging Bruintjieshoogte Pass (Browns Height Pass) lying between the two towns. The peaceful hamlet, immortalised in the book “The Plains of the Camdeboo” by Eve Palmer, personifies the Karoo where the scenery is characterised by mountains and koppies in the distance across an endless expanse of Karoo plains. Pearston offers wide open spaces, star gazing and wonderful nature reserves with hiking, walking and mountain biking trails. The town forms part of the Blue Crane Route which follows the R63 from Pearson through Somerset East to Cookhouse which provides excellent bird watching…

4. Somerset East

Somerset East Church on Nojoli Street

Heart of the Blue Crane Route Somerset East is a small, quaint town set at the foot of the Bosberg Mountains and forms part of the Blue Crane Route. The Blue Crane Route follows the R63 through Pearston, Somerset East and Cookhouse. Lying on the fringes of the South African Karoo, Somerset East is a picturesque and convenient stop-over on the route between Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. Those who do stop here will not be disappointed. The town lies very close to the Bosberg Nature Reserve, which offers a number of hiking trails – this is birdwatching country and the natural beauty here is relatively undiscovered! Somerset East also offers some great fishing, mountain bike trails…