Day trips in area
Sneeuberg Private Game Reserve is surrounded by three historical towns – It is 77 km from Graaff Reinet, 35 km from Nieu Bethesda and 40 km from Middelburg. These towns offer unique experiences and can make great day trips or stopovers.
Established in 1786, Graaf-Reinet is South Africa's fourth oldest magisterial district. The town contains over 220 heritage sites which is more than any other town in South Africa and has examples of magnificent Cape Dutch, Victorian and Karoo architecture.
What to do:
- Valley of Desolation guided tour with Karoo Connections.
- Boer War Tours.
- Khoisan / Rock Art Tours.
- Fossil Study Excursions.
- Vibrant Township Walkabouts. Visits include the kindergarden, clinic, library, church (Sundays only), a private home and taste Ouma`s (grandmother`s) tasty roosterbrood (local cuisine).
- Guided visits to working Karoo Ostrich, Sheep, Angora & Game Farms.
- Cultural Tours with Karoo Connections. Experience life as it was in the 1800s when you visit the historical Reinet House, Old Residency Museum, Urquhart House and the Military Museum. The Black Acorn grapevine planted by Charles Murray in 1870is still growing at Reinet House.
- Coffee and homemade lamb hamburgers at trendy Maria's Coffee Shop.
- Buy local gin at Johansson's shop in the courtyard next to Maria's.
- Dress up in 1800's styled clothing and have your "Memories" photo taken, printed and framed at Propix Photography Studio.
- Admire the architecture of the Dutch Reformed Church (Groote Kerk), Drostdy Hotel, Stretch's Court and the cottages in the town.
- Enjoy the artwork of famous contemporary South African artists at the Hester Rupert Art Museum.
- The Christmas Lights in Acacia Street in Kroonvale offer a memorable festive season for all. The local community decorate their homes, gardens and street with Christmas lights for all to enjoy. Join the festivities and walk the street in this secure community.
- Check out the biggest Cacti collection on the planet and walk the fascinating succulent plant labyrinth at Obesa Nursery. There is also a ceramic gallery where you can buy beautifully crafted pots in which to plant your Karoo rose-like succulent.
- Karoo adventure – take a 4×4 to the top of the mountain trail or set off hiking and mountain biking in the vast open landscapes to experience a sense of freedom, peacefulness and space.
- Take time out to enjoy films and live shows at the historical John Rupert Theatre.
- Experience authentic Karoo farm life on a working guest farm in the area.
Life in Nieu Bethesda potters along much as it did 130 years ago, when the village was founded. Stone water furrows still line the wide, dusty streets. Night skyscapes are unpolluted by streetlights, and the air is still fresh and clean. As always, the Compassberg watches over the village and Nieu Bethesdans still while away the hours on their stoeps, watching village life go by.
All around stretches the arid expanse of the Great Karoo, “where the land meets the sky”. This is a nature-lover’s paradise, a high altitude semi-desert that is home to the largest variety of succulents in the world – as well as eagles, hadehas, sacred ibises, secretary birds, blue cranes, flamingoes, otters, lizards, snakes, tortoises, bat-eared foxes, kudu, springbok, reedbuck, wildebeast, wild cats, ground squirrels and aardvarks. In times gone by, agriculture was the driving force of Nieu Bethesda’s economy; the region’s Angora goats and Karoo lamb are famous. Nowadays much of the industry is based around art. There are craft shops and galleries, potteries and sculpture gardens – most famously, the late Helen Martins’ extraordinary “Owl House”.
Whether your interest lies in art, bushman paintings, fossils, climbing, hiking, bird-watching, mountain-biking, horse-riding, game-viewing, star-gazing or stoep-sitting, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do in Nieu Bethesda.
- The Sneeuberg Brewery and deli: essentially a one-man show and the beer and cheese served here are made by the owner. Even the coffee is roasted on site.The beer is free of preservatives or additives using only malt, hops and natural spring water. There are three difference ales: the crisper more bitter Karoo Ale, the slightly sweeter Honey Ale and the smoky dark Roasted Ale.
- The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre : The centre depicts the setting in the area around Nieu Bethesda 253 million years ago during the Permian Period. The centre showcases the fossils found both in Nieu Bethesda and in other places in South Africa. The fossils date to a time 50 million years before the age of dinosaurs when the continents were merged in a supercontinent called Pangea.A visit to the Fossil Exploration Centre will be a journey back in time to a world with unfamiliar plants and animals. There are life-size models of prehistoric animals that roamed the area and illustrations of the landscape without grasses, flowers, mammals and birds. This was the time when mammal ancestors called Therapsids were the dominant species on earth.
- Donkey cart tours: Gather a colourful perspective of village life. Jakob van Staden has lived in Nieu-Bethesda all his life and has extensive knowledge of the area. He offers twenty minute guided donkey cart tours during which Jacob will share his knowledge of the history of the town and will tell you about his days as a student and how he started his business.
- Take a two hour trip up the Loodsberg Pass in an old railway trolley. The route ascends into the desert mountains, passing the occasional sheep farm and solitary windmill. The tour can accommodate up to six people. Bookings are essential.