Nieu-Bethesda is a small Karoo village in the Eastern Cape, most well-known for the Owl House, and its artistic community.

Get in

Nieu-Bethesda Dutch Reformed Church

From the north, take the N9. Turn west on the marked gravel road, 60 km south of Middelburg, and keep going for 27 km.

From the south, take the N9. Turn west on the marked tar road, 28 km north of Graaff-Reinet, and keep going for 25 km.

From the east, take the N10 from Cradock. After 4.5 km, take the R61 towards Graaff-Reinet for 86 km to the N9. At the T-junction, turn right towards Middelburg for 600 m, and then left, towards Nieu-Bethesda, for 27 km.

Get around

  • Donkey Cart tours, +27 83 870-0381. Sam will take you on his donkey cart through town and will tell you all you need to know about the village. In Jan 2009, 15-20 minute tours of the village were R30 for an adult, R10 for a child, or you can tour the township as well for double the rate. R30 for adults, R10 for children.
  • Ganora Excursions, +27 49 841-1302. Guided tours are offered to San and Khoi shelters found on Ganora farm, where rock art dating back to 10 000 years ago can be viewed. The farm’s private museum also houses a collection of Bushman artifacts and fossils, while guided fossil walks are available if bookings are made in advance.
  • Kitchining Fossil Exploration Centre, +27 49 849-1733. The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre showcases the rich fossil deposits found at Nieu-Bethesda and in South Africa in general. The centre was established as part of a collaborative programme between the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Albany Museum in Grahamstown and the Department of Science and Technology to set up palaeotourism and provide employment opportunities.
A statue at the Owl House
  • The Owl House, +27 49 841-1733. Museum open daily from 8AM to 6PM in summer and from 9AM to 5PM in winter. A community effort to preserve the life work of Helen Martins, a home-bred artist who turned her house into an exhibit, until her suicide in 1976. Using raw materials, like concrete and glass, she and a Bushman artist sculpted the Owl House and its garden. Entry fee R25.
  • The Helen Martins Museum and Owlhouse Visitor Center, Martins St Nieu-Bethesda, +27 49 841 1733, . Open daily from 8am to 6pm in summer and from 9am to 5pm in winter. Archive of photos, letters and documents paying tribute to Helen Martins
  • NG Church, Auret Street, +27 49 841 1301. by appointment. Working gas chandeliers predate the arrival of electricity
  • The Cemetery, Grave Street. always open. Graves dating back centuries, some marked by beautiful local stone. A place to spend some quiet time
  • Bethesda Art Centre, +27 49 841-1731. Art, music, dance, theatre ... visit the gallery, see a class in progress, take part in a workshop, or catch a performance at the magical open-air theatre.
  • Creche, +27 49 841-1656. Visit the creche in the township.
  • The Two-Goats Brewery & Deli, +27 49 841-1602. Enjoy homebrewed ale, fresh goat’s cheese and homemade bread under the trees at our micro brewery and deli. You can also meet the goats who provide the cheese, a couple of cows, ducks and a peacock or two. Take a tour in the brewery and cheese factory.

There are several hiking areas around town, and good biking opportunities.

Because the village is so small, most eateries require you to book in advance for anything beyond light meals. Most food includes the local karoo lamb, so vegetarian food needs to be specifically requested. Try some sheep's yoghurt or sheep's cheese, a surprisingly mild taste, and probably more palatable for most than goat's dairy.

  • Auntie Evelyn se eetplek, +27 49 841-1780. Traditional food served with township style. Book in advance, and Antie Evelyn will prepare a set 3-course meal for you, including "moerkoffie", which, translated politely, is very strong coffee! "Vegetarian" options include fish bobotie. It was superb, but let her know in advance if you don't eat fish. Evelyn will come and chat with you, making this an enjoyable way to meet the local community.
  • The Tower Restaurant, Miller Street, +27 71 347 0308, . Open daily for all meals. enjoy spectacular curries, Karoo lamb, and vegetarian meals
  • The Brewery & 2Goat Deli, +27 49 841-1602. Visit the local brewery & deli to enjoy Bethesda beer and goat cheese.
  • Die Waenhuis, c/o Martins and Hudson Street, +27 84 862 8289, .
  • The Ibis, Martins Street, +27 72 110 6254, . reservations essential. Gourmet Karoo dining. Reservations recommended.
  • Manna, Pienaar Street, +27 72 636 9176, . most Sunday mornings, while stocks last. Better cake and coffee
  • The Village Inn, New Street, +27 76 136 9979, . closed Thursdays. Oldest restaurant in town, Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Outsiders, Martins Street, +27 49 841 1642, . by appointment. local lamb and venison


  • Boeties Pub, +27 782062925. Joing the locals for a sundowner or catch a game of rugby



There is ample accommodation in the town, with numerous guest houses available.

Go next

This city travel guide to Nieu-Bethesda is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!