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Nieu-Bethesda

Eastern Cape

304km from Port Elizabeth
409km from Bloemfontein

Nieu-Bethesda Snapshot

A sleepy Karoo village circled by the Sneeuberg Mountains, Nieu-Bethesda has its origins as a church town for the surrounding farmers. What really put it on the map though was the arrival of eccentric artist Helen Martins and the legacy she left behind in the form of the weird and wonderful Owl House.

Continiuing with this creative legacy, Nieu-Bethesda has become a magnet to artists and like-minded visitors, with a decent smattering of small galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, a micro brewery and pub, a fossil museum, and more than enough beds to accommodate everyone.

The surrounding Sneeuberg Mountains (dominated by the iconic Compassberg), lie at a fairly high altitude (1350m), making the Karoo summers somewhat more bearable here than most of the Groot Karoo. Hiking trails, quite country roads, mountain bike routes and horse riding options are all on offer.

For an ultra laid-back country escape with a Bohemian twist, Nieu-Bethesda is a must-do on any Karoo roadtrip. 

Things To Do

  • Visit The Owl House on Martin Street. A typical Karoo home transformed by Helen Martins into a surreal world of colour and light, concrete and ground glass sculptures, the experience can't but leave one feeling moved.  
  • The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre showcases an interesting collection of fossils found in the area, including life-size models of prehistoric animals.
  • Take a donkey cart trip. Trips around the village can be arranged via the tourist office.
  • Much of your time will be spent strolling the quiet gravel streets, taking in the local sights and atmosphere, popping into a coffee shop to escape the heat, browsing the galleries. The church and water mill are both historic buildings worth taking a look at.
  • The Sneeuberg Brewery and Deli are located on the edge of the village and offer a range of craft beers that are far removed from your average SAB offering. 
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