Deep in the folds of the Sneeuberg Mountains in the Eastern Cape snuggles a very special little Karoo village, Nieu Bethesda. Long-time visitor Chris Marais of Karoo Space highlights top things to do in Nieu Bethesda.
1. Bikers Love the Ride
On most weekends you’ll see a clutch of motorcycles parked outside a pub, a museum or a self-cater cottage in the village. There’s more than enough dust, dirt and stunning landscape to keep a hardy biker enthralled with a ride into Nieu-Bethesda.
2.The Magic Birds
Blue cranes are SA’s national birds, and down here in the grassy eastern Karoo there’s a faithful clutch of them normally found hanging around near the spot where the Cradock road meets the N9 near the Nieu-Bethesda turn-off.
Pop in here at one of the rare Karoo bookshops and chances are you’ll be amazed at the literature for sale. Everything from popular Africana to pure holiday pulp fiction has its place at Dustcovers.
Try samples of the Karoo Ale, Honey Ale and Dark Beer with your lunch at the Sneeuberg Brewery. Now start again until you’ve made up your mind as to the beer you love best. Now sit back and enjoy a laid-back Karoo afternoon under the trees.
The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre takes you back more than 250 years to the age of early reptiles that lived in the neighbourhood. The area is one of the richest fossil fields in the country.
6.Stretch the Legs
Just as the sun is turning the village pink before dawn, brave the cold and go for a classic Nieu-Bethesda walk. Every time you do this, you will have a different experience. And what better way to bond with a small Karoo town than this?
7.Enjoy the Music
Musicians from all over the spectrum like to play gigs in Nieu-Bethesda. It must be the creative atmosphere that keeps them rolling in, on the way to or back from major engagements elsewhere in the country. Check local websites for music listings.
8.The Owl House
The Owl House and Camel Yard, home of the late Helen Martins, remains the main attraction of Nieu-Bethesda. Watch the introductory video, take a wander about and see how you feel about this iconic Outsider Artist spot.
Frans Boekkooi of Nieu-Bethesda has created some stunning figures during his career. On your mid-morning meanderings around the village, pop in and see what he’s up to.
10.A Winter Hideaway
One of the best-kept Karoo secrets is that this part of the world is utterly fantastic in winter. There are enough pubs and restaurants to keep you snug, and the accommodations are mostly geared for warmth.
For more info, visit the village websites: