Charming, unforgettable, unique are just some of the words used to describe the tiny Karoo Heartland town of Nieu-Bethesda. One thing is certain – it’s a tiny town with a huge personality. Visitors to Nieu-Bethesda never fail to be amazed by the charisma of the town’s residents and its ability to take them back in time. Here are 5 secrets of our favourite Karoo Heartland hamlet.

The Owl House really is that amazing

Dreamscapes abound in and around Helen Martin’s Owl House. From the mundane articles that surrounded her, this creative soul extracted and created a masterpiece of sun-faces, owls, statues and more – all set against a backdrop of walls and ceilings coated with elaborate patterns of crushed glass embedded in bands of brightly coloured paint. Let your imagination run wild as you stroll through the Owl House.

Authentic food at Karoo Lamb

The Karoo Lamb, located across from the Owl House is the perfect place to sit on the stoep and watch village life pass you by.  You can expect local Karoo fare including Karoo lamb and venison and do try the breakfast fry-up made in the Karoo’s largest frying pan.  Slow cooked, tasty and heart-warming.

Fossil hunting

The fossils of the Karoo tell the story of life in South Africa 253 million years ago before even the dinosaurs roamed the earth. A time when all the continents were linked in one supercontinent, Pangea, and the mountains of the Cape were the size of the Himalayas. The rocks of Nieu-Bethesda will tell you a story of a time before time. A visit to Ganora Guest Farm’s private fossil collection is a must.

You can sleep in a water tower

The perfect location to unwind and stare at the stars, the Water Tower was originally a water tower, then a Buddhist meditation room and now a place to stay. Comfortable and quirky, you’ll love snuggling in at night in your circular room, with lamb’s wool duvet and mohair blanket. 

Don’t forget to look up

The night sky – seen sparkling cold and clear from Nieu-Bethesda will teach you lessons you won’t learn in the city. The Karoo night sky is quite famous for its crystal clear beauty.


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