Independent, impartial reviews of Nieu Bethesda from SafariNow users
Walking down gravel roads to buy los lekkers at the corner cafe.... Nieu Bethesda may be renowned for the Owl House,but it is the heartbeat of this little jewel town that will let you return. Long walks,stargazing and settling with a good book with the back drop sounds of the donkeys and windpomp.Loved my stay and will return,beautiful place.
09 January 2013
Bernadette Teresa Chellew
It has so much beauty and many surprises!
01 January 2013
Cant help but wonder if there'd be much tourism if it wasnt for the drawcard Owl House (eery but worth the visit). In general, i love remote odd places and this is a prime example of exactly that. Has a laid back feel that is hard to come by these days, like time stood still. town itself is an oasis of trees in what is otherwise a barran landscape. well worth the visit or an overnight stay.
The cheese at the micro brewery is tops!!!
12 November 2012
Place of dreams....
Situated in soft foothills and nestled in a breathtaking valley, you will stumble upon a quaint village called Nieu Bethesda. It certainly is like finding a treasure where one least expected it!
There are not really words to describe my experience of this hidden gem. Travelling along the rustic Owl Route, a feeling of soft magic enveloped me. In the rays of the afternoon sun, I saw the village in the distance. Time seemed to have stopped and a pleasant feeling of peace settled within. Entering the information center, I met the most helpful lady and received the keys to the cozy, upmarket Pear Cottage where I was going to spend a very enjoyable stay. After unpacking my luggage, I went up the road to pay a visit to the well known Owl House. What an unexpected spiritual experience awaited me. I found it difficult to leave the place because of the inexplicable presence and nostalgia I felt. No description can do justice here, it is something that must be experienced.
The nearby Kompasberg, guarding over the valley like a sentinel, had a radiant white snow cap covering its peak. I lost myself in the dusty streets and interesting art studios. I also met one of the eccentric locals called Bruno and had the most interesting conversation with him. As dusk started setting in and covering this secluded, beautiful part of the Karoo like a soft 'karos', I watched the night sky coming to life as if with millions of fairy lights! I just could not keep myself from opening the top part of the kitchen door about a hundred times before going to bed, just to feast my eyes on the star studded vastness of the spectacular expanse. It felt as if I could reach out and touch the stars.
Unfortunately this was only an overnight stop on my itinerary and I soon realized that this was a big mistake and I just have to return for a much longer stay some day soon. It is as if the place folded me gently into its palm and filled me with a spiritual bonding that I will carry with me and it will mystically call me back again and again.
The stuff of dreams....
22 August 2012
For anyone seeking the glitz and glamour of a five-star holiday destination, I can only sympathize with your limited horizons.
I recently arrived in Nieu Bethesda for an extended sabbatical. I was traveling from Cape Town and with each passing kilometer the angst and stresses of urban living were gradually shed and replaced with the anticipation of settling into a new space and the excitement of starting work on my debut novel.
Between the N9 and my destination I pass through Rubidge Kloof and at the apex as the road bends I look down to my left into a lush valley where the farm De Toren lies nestled in the embrace of the surrounding mountains and an spontaneous smile spreads from my face into my soul.
I arrive on a mild autumn morning and even though it is a Friday, the streets are virtually deserted except for a couple of dogs who accompany me to The Karoo Lamb Restaurant where I meet my hosts Ian and Katrin Allemann who are also the owners of Spooky and Gump – who incidentally is appearing in court on Youth Day. They have been settled here in this sleepy little Groot Karoo dorpie for close to thirteen years. We sit on the spacious veranda of The Karoo Lamb – with a menu that includes regular specials of lamb, oxtail or venison potjie in addition to the usual fried Karoo Lamb chops, sandwiches and soups; situated diagonally across from the now famous Owl House – sipping coffee and getting to know each other before I am shown to the Aardvark’s Burrow, a spacious flatlet behind the old church hall where I will be staying for the next six months.
After a steaming shower I walk down the untarred roads of the village, lined with ancient pear trees, willows and variations of cypresses and pines that whisper a welcome as I wander contentedly with the constant accompaniment of rushing water in the Lei Water or water furrows that were built in the 1870’s and in the distance a deeper, more ominous roar of the Gats River which flows strongly after the recent rains.
The locals smile openly and greet with a willingness to stop for a welcoming chat; young men on their way to the local general dealer pass by on horseback with a wave, listening to the tinny music playing on their cell phones; and always in the background, rising majestically above everything else is the snow-capped Compasberg.
That evening at Die RamStal – literally an old ram stable that has been converted into the new pub – there is a bring-and-braai with a few of the local young and old farmers, mingling with some of the resident artists and craftsmen. Naturally everyone is curious about who I am and why I am here and while some approach me and chat, others just eye me surreptitiously until they are a bit more inebriated. Soon the smell of meat on an open fire fills the air and pots of stywepap and sous are added to the equation, making me salivate ravenously while trying my best to stay focused on the conversation I am having with a fellow writer who is also a co-owner of the local book store. The Karoo lamb chops with locally made wors is a carnivore’s dream and after eating my fill, the conversation continues for a while until eventually it is time to call it a night. As I leave the cozy pub I feel the chill breeze blowing down from the mountain and as soon as I leave the comforting glow of light, I stumble along in the pitch dark until I have to stop to regain my bearings and I happen to look up. The momentary panic – a remnant of the receding urban fear – is replaced by a lingering awe at the celestial splendor visible in all of its glory and as I continue on my way I smile once again with the sound of the rushing river and birdsong accompanying my footsteps: and a lone dog, barking in the distance.
The following morning I awake early and am accompanied on my walk by Spooky and Gump who gambol along playfully, oblivious of the frost covered ground. They take me on a guided tour of their favourite haunts over the footbridge and across the river, past the old mill and the Brewery, beyond the verdant fields and farms with doleful sheep watching the dogs warily and eventually back to the Karoo Lamb where the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee and frying bacon reminds me that I have to watch my weight here in the Groot Karoo. Just after nine I visit the Owl House and am completely mesmerized by the sad and lonely beauty of Helen Martin’s expression which was – as is so often the case with great artists – frowned upon in her lifetime but which has now become the lifeblood of this idyllic little Groot Karoo village which has successfully resisted the deceptive allure of what most would consider progress.
I need time to assimilate the experience and opt out of the fossil tour and the visit to the bookstore, choosing instead to sit quietly on my own along the river beneath the trees and ponder the enormity of such dedication. Besides I have time enough to visit all of the interesting places: the bushmen’s paintings at Ganora Guest farm owned by Jan-Peet and Hester Steynberg; the gallery at The Village Inn where they also have a sumptuous breakfast and lunch menu; the award winning sculptor Frans Boekkooi’s working studio; the Kitching Fossil Center where visitors are taken on a guided tour along the river; The Brewery and Two Goats Deli where Andre Cilliers brews a superior Sneeuberg beer and makes his own goat’s milk cheeses; and of course Dustcovers, co-owned by Victoria Nance who with her quirkish smile confesses that she is a seller of rare and collectible books and damn fine reads!
Nieu Bethesda has no Bank or ATM, no streetlights, only the one tarred road which ends four kilometers from town, and no petrol station; it has no neon lights and frills and certainly very little night life in the conventional sense of the word, but the one that it has in abundance is character and I for one feel blessed everyday that I awake in this pristine little corner of our beautiful country.
10 June 2012
In this world of techno consumer craziness, this hamlet truly takes you back to how life used to be. Untarred, treelined streets provide the perfect portal to days gone by. Children ride bikes and horses freely and safely as dusk descends and a magnificent firmament flickerd. The elderly walk the streets, fascinated by mysterious Karoo legends and tales of owls, mermaids and furrows.
02 June 2012
What a charming village. The drive in is one of the most spectacular anywhere.
30 March 2012
'n Naweek is te kort om alles te doen in Nieu Bethesda. Die donkiekar rit en fossiel ekspedisie is 'n wenner!
A weekend is too short to explore everything on Nieu Bethasda. The donkey-car ride and fossil expedition is a winner!
23 January 2012
This is my favourite town in South Africa. It is peaceful, quiet, green, arty and special. There are no street lights, ATMs or petrol stations. The stars at night are amazing. There are a number of unique restaurants in town with delicious food and the famous Karoo Lamb. You can walk everywhere and feel safe, even at night.
10 January 2012
It is a lovely place to stay for that one-night stopover and we would recommend it to our friends and family. A lovely, quaint little place with so much history.
09 January 2012
We enjoyed everything the town has to offer. We mingled with the owners of various shops and restaurants to get the feel of Nieu Bethesda. It was a pleasure to see the families that put an effort into their gardens and neatness of the environment, we enjoyed that very much and hope that other owners will follow to tidy up the overall looks of the town. Our Karoo dinner with both cooked rice and wheat and almost no veggies was a disappointment but the French barman made up for it. The brewey definitely won the prize for excellent beer and cheese.
21 December 2011
This place is small and dusty, some of the time. The road entering the town has been tarred, and it really doesn't take very long to reach the 'dorp' once one has turned off at the signpost to Nieu-Bethesda. It is a pretty road in with a rock formation that astounds one with it's magical appearance from within the 'koppie'.
The village people come from all over the country, city people who have decided that it is time to live authentically. It is wonderfully quiet at night, and the people work hard to bring travellers a quality experience.
The deli/restaurant served great food at reasonable prices. The sound of a violin being played by the man at the entrance to the gallery/restaurant opposite the deli, created an otherworldly feeling.
The small market selling plaits of garlic and pickles and scarves and biscuits also created an arena for a man with a guitar. The people here are unique. It is a very ancient place, filled with the sort of flavours one usually finds in a very exotic dessert.
21 December 2011
If one is anywhere near Graff Reinet, a stop at Nieu Bethesda is essential! This tiny village retains its historic charm without being 'touristy' and has lovely affordable accommodation. Quiet and peaceful, one can stroll through the village in an hour. This is a place to visit the Owl House, support a local artist, grill some Karoo lamb, enjoy locally made beer and cheese at the micro-brewery and simply relax while enjoying the spectacular views. A unique spot not to be missed!
04 December 2011
I love this historic little town. Don’t forget to visit the owl house, and take a tour along the fossilized river bed and see some real dinosaur fossils.
03 August 2011
A very different but interesting place full of art and history. With the one road now tarred, it is easy to access this remote but beautiful part of the country.
31 July 2011
An absolutely enchanting, magical place. I just needed more time there to take in the whole experience. The Owl House was a deeply touching, soulful experience that cannot be described in words. Crisp, star-studded night skies and beautiful bright days - what an unforgettable experience! Have to go back there again.
31 May 2011